Got the Oktoberfest/Marzen into the carboys and into the window well...so our tradition of making one lager (outdoors) per year continues....and if this beer is as good as last year's Oktoberfest...I can't wait to drink it.
We had new configurations of our mash tun and boil kettles. Problems with our design created a stuck mash in the Mash tun, so that we needed to move all the grist and water to our boil kettle and use the boil kettle as the mash tun (they are set up to do just that). We fixed (we think) the problem with the mash tun and used it for the boil. We had no problems transferring from the kettle to the carboys. This leads me to believe we fixed the problem with the mash tun (being used this time as the boil kettle). We haven't had a problem free transfer in about 4 batches.
We used the new hot liquor tank with the heat exchanger, but with our mash tun problem, had trouble getting the temps back up to mashing temps. I think that if we could have established the mash temp we would have an easier time maintaining the temp and raising it to 170 for mash out. More work is needed on process, but the equipment is showing promise.
After we solved our most pressing problems my brother and I had a long talk about where we should go with our next batch. After talking it over, we both agreed that while we would like to try something new, we need more practice with our new system. Our next batch will be our brown ale. For one, we love having a brown ale available, for two, this next brew will be the first time we haven't modified anything in a major way. I expect we can get together in two weeks or so to brew or in 4 weeks to bottle and brew. I am just glad to be brewing again.