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We are about 30 minutes into a 90 minute boil. If you look closely at this picture you can see light tan bits that aren't foam, that seem to be floating to the top. This is known as "hot break" and are proteins that are cooking out of the wort during the boil. This is something we want to happen and is one of the reasons for the boil.

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The lautering/sparging process is complete so I removed the top grain basket and now we are waiting for the wort to reach a boil. What do we do while we wait? We clean of course! I dumped the spent grain into the compost bin and cleaned the grain basket and lauter kettle and all mashing and lautering equipment. In a minute I will start stirring the foam at the top of the kettle back into the wort so it doesn't boil over when it hits boiling temps.

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After mashing, I lift the interior metal basket and rest it at the top of the Grainfather. There is a mesh at the bottom of this basket which allows the sticky, sweet brown liquid called wort to drain into the kettle while leaving the grain behind.

While the kettle heats up to boiling, I start rinsing the top of the grain with hot water from my lauter tun. This water trickles through the grain bed and extracts more sugars as it drips down into the kettle.

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After mashing, the next step is the lautering process, where I remove the grain from the mash water and rinse it with hot water to extract more remaining sugars.

This is my lauter tun. It's an electric brewing kettle that I used to brew beer with before I got my Grainfather. I fill this kettle with the appropriate amount of water, heat it to the proper temp, and then connect a hose to a spout at the bottom and use gravity to move the water to my Grainfather.

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Once all the grain is added I add a mesh screen above the water level in the kettle, attach a recirculation arm to my Grainfather's pump and tell it to start the 90 min mashing process. It recirculates water throughout the process to improve efficiency and clarity in the beer.

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After the water heats up I can "dough in" or add my ground grain to the mash water. I have a long metal mashing paddle that makes it easier to stir the grain as I add it to remove clumps, which helps improve mashing efficiency later. Basically you are making a barley porridge and the consistency at the end is pretty similar to oatmeal.

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While the mash water heats up, I grind my grain using a hand grinder. For some recipes I get my malted barley pre-ground, but I have started buying my base malt in bulk, and the barley comes whole.

Grinding the grain removes the kernel from the husk and exposes more of the starch to the water so the mashing process is much more efficient. Malted barley contains an enzyme that will convert starches in the barley to sugar when immersed in water.

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Happy Brew Year! Today I'm going to brew a simple Mexican-style dark Lager which traditionally were based on a Vienna dark lager but with US ingredients including flaked corn. In this thread I will document my brew day.

The first step is to heat up my mash water. I brew beer using a Grainfather brewing system, which automates a lot of the process for me and shaves a few hours off of my brew day.

My son asked if I would teach him how to weave so yesterday he learned how to warp a rigid heddle loom and the basics of plain weaving. Now he is busy making his mother a scarf. I'm wishing I had a smaller rigid heddle loom, this 32" Kromski is not ideal for a kid. That said, his beat is pretty consistent and he's doing a decent job managing his selvedges so far.

My copy of Ada & Zangemann by @kirschner arrived in the mail today just in time for Christmas!

I just finished reading The Romance of French Weaving which covers the history of French textiles from the early Gauls to the early nineteenth century. I learned quite a bit about the origin and etymology of fiber terms in general from it.

Next on the list is The Valkyries' Loom, which covers Scandinavian weaving history of the Norse people.

I'm enjoying reading about the weaving histories of specific cultures. Are there any others that folks recommend?

I finished my scarf! I had previously made a scarf as a gift that I liked so much that I decided to make a narrower men's version for myself. I've attached pictures of both for comparison.

This weave was pretty loose to get the pattern I wanted. As a result I had to be very careful with it off the loom, and also fix a few picks that were out of place.

I ended up washing this in hot water and agitating it quite a bit, because I wanted it to full and shrink a bit into its final form.

Somewhat technical weaving talk 

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Spot the threading mistake! It turns out there is one extra thread on the left than the right. That will drive me crazy so I will be removing all the picks and the hemstitching at the bottom and remove a warp thread.

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Here we go again. I liked the last scarf I made for a gift so much I'm weaving a narrower men's version for myself.

Fourth time's the charm! I figured out the right number of stitches per row, and overall rows to make a hat that fits the way I like. I still need to learn more about better ways to reduce stitches so it bunches up less at the top. Still, overall this was a good project to learn machine knitting with.

Now that I set up my knitting machine semi-permanently in my office, the room has become a nice shapshot of my interests, from computers to 3D printing to antique calculators.

Third hat is (almost) the charm! The fit around my head is just about perfect this time. The hat is slightly too long but other than that and a little sloppiness in parts of the seam I am pretty happy with it.

I am still going to make a fourth hat that is closer to perfect though.

I finished knitting my (adult-sized) hat this weekend. I ran out of yarn before the end so I starting reducing rows early. The result is that the hat sits high on my head. But I can take everything I learned from this hat and apply it to the next one to make one that fits me perfectly.

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