It started like any other mild mannered brew day. I was at Willie's house around 8:30 with all of my equipment in tow. Setting up was no issue and all looked well. The calm would not continue.
Willie's Giganta-burner would not light. I wish I had a picture of this thing to post. It's a 200K BTU house warmer that can shoot a flame about 6 feet high on full blast. It's taken a lot of abuse over the last year that I've known it including a lot of boilovers. Well it finally gave up the ghost Sunday. The last hurrah was an attempt by Willie to bypass the safety mechanisms. He shut it down when it started peeling all of the labels off and it looked like we were about to have a full on meltdown and/or explosion.
Willie had to bust out his old burner, but it was obvious that to boil the 14 gallons or so, he would have to use my burner.
Fast forward to my brewing. Milling, mashing, sparging, and boiling went off without a hitch, except I forgot my thermometer. I had to use my old floating thermo, which actually worked ok. I'm sure I mashed a little hot and probably sparged a little hot too. Colling the wort also went fine with the combo of Willie's immersion chiller and a tub with a little ice water. I had already put away the thermo, so I used the finger test (sanitized of course). Cool to the touch is fine enough for brewers of old, so it was good enough for me.
Original gravity: 1.060 on a 5.5 gallon batch. (We left the last half gallon in the pot avoiding the cold break).
Brewhouse efficiency: 82%
I pitched two vials of WLP351 Bavarian Wheat.
Willie got his giant kettle to almost boiling on his little burner. Once we switched to mine, it took off like a rocket and I actually had to dial down the heat. Since his giant kettle covers the area of the burner completely, almost none of the heat is wasted off the sides.
We finished out the day with an attempt at finishing my immersion chiller, but by that time the afternoon sun had beaten our wills and burned our skin. It was finished.
This morning, my beer was bubbling away through the blowoff tube I had set up when I got home.