Howdy, Chris here.
Any operation that relies on machinery and mechanical equipment runs into problems now and then — breakdowns, failures, computer glitches, whatever. Baird Brewing is no exception. Back a few weeks ago we experienced a particularly annoying problem, one that’s happened before — our grain auger that brings the milled malt up to the brewhouse refused to turn on.
On a normal brewday, the brewer comes in, preheats the kettle and lauter tun and then turns on the mill. After 3-4 minutes, a sensor in the mill’s hopper is triggered and a light comes on on the control panel, prompting the brewer to open the hot water valve, grain hatch and start the auger motors.
On an abnormal brewday (= totally f**ked up brewday), the sensor doesn’t operate properly, and we’re left with the job of mashing in (= mixing the malt and hot water) by hand. The first day that happens, we have to dig the already milled grain out of the hopper, put it into buckets and bags, carry it up to the brewhouse and slowly pour it into the mash tun. Since the hopper has a fairly small hatch and is filled with dusty grains, it’s not a job that any of us relish.
One good thing about our brewery, however, is that we have a backup mill that we use for our small system — gotta love built-in redundancy! That mill doesn’t have a hopper; instead we catch the milled grains in buckets directly. It’s still nice and dusty, but quicker and less f**ked up than digging out the hopper.
Luckily we only had to mess around with Dusty Mashing In for a few brews before Beer Engineer Hori came in and installed a new and improved system. Now, even if the sensor doesn’t come on, we can turn on the auger and get the grains delivered to the mash tun. The new system works perfectly every time. Life is good again.