Ag Newbie - Things Learned, Yet To Learn

Australia & New Zealand Homebrewing Forum

Help Support Australia & New Zealand Homebrewing Forum:

Lurks

Well-Known Member
Joined
15/11/11
Messages
133
Reaction score
22
Hi there,

Being as it's a new year and a bit of a lazy day and I've been lurking for awhile, I thought I'd destealth and type out a bit on my move to all grain. I spent a fair amount reading, including this fine forum obviously.

I packed in my job and went back to university so I've not got a lot of money. I got back into home brew (I've brewed K&K at various points in the past) so they'd be something in the fridge to drink. Unfortunately I'm a bit of an obsessive and couldn't leave it at a kit and kilo sort of deal.

I bought a coopers home brew kit because it was about the best value set up including pet bottles. I had a couple of surprises from this, first the simple can of 'lager' it came with turned out a surprisingly quaffable beer. I was also extremely impressed with the coopers fementer, I wish I could buy those by themselves... although I came to realise the krausen kollar is pointless and just leave it off. The coopers kit was also useful to teach me that maltodextrine is the bloating powdered farts of Satan himself.

Anyway, the next thing was extract brewing. I wanted to brew something like little creatures pale ale, my favourite aussie commercial beer. I found an extract recipe, steeped a bit of wheat in that recipe (I know), boiled up hops for the first time and made a number of mistakes including basically chucking the boiled hops, all of them, straight into the fermenter. Of merely using an ordinary sieve to filter the steeped wheat. Bottling it too early.

The hops blew yer head off, bitterness was through the roof, each bottle had a lot of sediment. However by the end of that case it was just about my favorite beer in the whole world...

I did another extract recipe based on LC bright ale (extract version of Tony's recipe). I got it into my head to modify my water, based on some excel I found that set out the relationship between salts and bitterness. That was poorly researched but I didn't destroy it. What almost destroyed it was bottling way way too fast. Every second bottle has a potent sulphur cloud coming off it. If you can get past that, or you get every other bottle, it's a great drop. On reflection I should have tried some simpler hops regimens, switching galaxy for b-saaz while cascade dominates makes it hard to work out what you've done.

I had also jumped to Beersmith and was planning and recording things meticulously. This enabled one final extract brew, using up spare hops in a recipe designed in BS. I was shooting for an American brown ale style, doing a mini mash of a kilo of crystal and some carapils. This time I left it in the fermenter for nearly a month. I popped the first one last night with just a week in the bottle, I think it's going to be astonishing but boy is it malty...

It was now time for the first all grain recipe having obtained a pre-made BIAB (mashmaster I think). I buggered it up of course. I had worked out the temp of strike water (or rather Beersmith had), so I got that going on the stove top and put all my grains in an esky. I got my water in the esky, stirred it up and measured the temperature. It was too low, so I boiled up some more water and chucked it in. Then it was far far too high, and in fact 'mashed' at about 73-74 to start with. When I realised I lowered it, maybe to just into the 60s but... not great. Fortunately the wort tasted sweet, so it was going to be some sort of beer.

This was a british bitter, with a british ale yeast. It kicked off fast and died off fast, making me worry more about how much sugar was in there.

Lesson learned there was to get the water in the esky first, modify it there if necessary then whack in the grains. Next time.

So next plans are for a couple of simple all grain recipes, get a bigger pot (ordered a 50L), and try work out whether I can do a rest, then infusion and mash out or if I'm limited to a single step infusion. So far I'm doing a slow wort cool by putting the pot on the table in front of an aircon blowing on it. It makes the difference between an overnight wait and being ready to slap into the fermenter that night.

There's heaps I haven't worked out. Like a better way of doing multiple hops additions without trying to untie a hot hops bag and stuffing more hops in it. How to get cheaper ingredients, particularly hops. Maybe going simple and buying a kilo for the freezer might help. Does the sludge matter at the bottom of the cooled wort, I tend not to pour in the very bottom of it but otherwise most of it goes in.

The bag of grains takes an eternity to drain so it's not clear how you can do a dunk sparge at a higher temperature when the grains will have cooled heaps...

The hydrometer I use sinks like a stone in my water, so how I'm supposed to calibrate that is beyond me. Also I'd like a better idea of what's going on with the mash, like the PH, but I'm not buying a handful of PH strips for 10 bucks... I wonder if I can use my hydroponics PH tester...

Most of all though, I think I'm learning to get the basics right and fiddle after, if in doubt leave it alone. It's hard for a tinkerer like me :)

Anyway, that's where I'm at. A collective thanks for the awesome advice I've read off the forums so far. Naturally any comments on my noobness most welcome :)

Cheers and Happy New Year to you all.
 

Lurks

Well-Known Member
Joined
15/11/11
Messages
133
Reaction score
22
I put down another AG yesterday. Again I had real problems regulating my mash temperature. This time I chucked a bit of hot water in the 33L esky, heated up about 12L of hot water to a bit over 70. Got it into the esky with the brew bag with the intention of hitting the calculated 'add water' temperature from Beersmith. About 70.4C, then adding the grains it should come out at 67C.

It didn't, it ended up a fair bit below and I would continue to be plagued by the temperature being nearer 64C than 67 so I cautiously added some, not much, hot water. Cautiously because I did this last time and I ended up over temperature. I stirred it probably more than I should, to try make sure the immersion thermometer was giving me a good picture and maybe I got it up to 65C with some pockets of hotter given hot water additions.

It's frustrating, I thought an esky would be easier. It strikes me that I'd be better off mashing in a monster pot on the stove with a bit of gas so I can bring it up to temperature. I guess that'll let me do mash-out too without this horrific add x amount of y temperature water FAIL I'm having right now.

I did have a couple of technique wins though. I found that a full bath of cold water does a ripper at cooling the wort pot. Previously I just slapped it in front of an aircon and waited 8 hours or so. I also found I was getting plenty of liquor off the bag even into the boil so I used that to top up a little boil volume. Also worked out if I keep the end of my hop bag tied to a handle I don't have to try fish out a hot hop bag, untie burning my fingers and stuff more hops in it for the additions. Obvious really...
 

Diesel80

Well-Known Member
Joined
4/8/11
Messages
790
Reaction score
154
Location
Perth, WA
It's frustrating, I thought an esky would be easier. It strikes me that I'd be better off mashing in a monster pot on the stove with a bit of gas so I can bring it up to temperature. I guess that'll let me do mash-out too without this horrific add x amount of y temperature water FAIL I'm having right now.
If these are your first attempts at AG ( i have only made 4 myself so no expert) why not keep it simple and tweak 1 thing at a time.

A mash anywhere between 64-67 over an hour will produce wort. Don't stress too much.
Is your thermometer accurrate? You could be bang on and not know it! Tough one to check without big $$.

I mash in a 80L pot, lift bag and boil away. Easy. Lag the pot and my thermo moves 1 degree in 60 mins with a stir at 30.

I will one day deploy my esky into the mix, but i am only just getting my head around balancing grain / hops (first ones were way too bitter) and my boil off rate. My grain crush for BIAB is a bit course but compensate with a few hundred grams more grain.

Finally got a bit of a grip on my boil off rate, so getting more comfortable with the process.

As i get a few more under the belt i reckon i will push for a double batch and see how i go with that.

Keep it simple and keep it fun, don't get too caught up in the numbers.


Liquid yeast and splitting smack packs is my next thing to get a grip on :), then fixing a slipping coupling on my mill to get a finer crush going.

Welcome, have a good one!

Cheers,
D80
 

Lurks

Well-Known Member
Joined
15/11/11
Messages
133
Reaction score
22
If these are your first attempts at AG ( i have only made 4 myself so no expert) why not keep it simple and tweak 1 thing at a time.
Yes... you might be onto something. I guess I feel like the mash is the thing I'm really worried about and I didn't seem to make a lot of progress over the last attempt.

It's absolutely a wort alright, it's helluva sweet. :) Now the last (first) one I did that got mashed over 70... that's questionable, but the yeast seemed to like it...

The thermometer is not awesome but it's not cheap either, it's a pretty large immersion spirit job from G&G. Thinking about it... I might make a proper digital probe one, since that's the kind of stuff I do for fun anyway.

The mashing in a big pot and just lifting it out does seem better to me. I do like the ability to drain into something else while I get the pot on the stove for the boil, that seems to work well.

One thing, I have this very very fine 'swiss voile' bag which seems to be great, particularly since it has heaps of hoops on it. It does take ages to drain though. I bought a much cheaper one from G&G and that's really same sort of mesh as a hops bag. I would have thought it wasn't fine enough? I bet it would drain a lot fastest and be a bit easier for dunk sparges?

Interesting to hear you're getting stuck into the yeast. I've been thinking about that too, it seems pretty easy. I'd like to be able to use a starter from the fridge rather than rely on dried. I rehydrated a packet of US-05 yesterday (with around 40 degree water, like I read), pitched that half hour later. 24 hours later I've got no action whatsoever in the AG brew so something didn't work right. Presumably it'll kick off anyway but pitching in a nice few swigs of a phat fridge flask of US-05 starter would have been much better.

It also, as you say, makes liquid yeast viable. I don't mind buying one liquid yeast but I'm buggered if I'm spending $10 on yeast per brew!

Thanks for getting back to me, I was talking to meself there for a bit :)

-Mat
 

Diesel80

Well-Known Member
Joined
4/8/11
Messages
790
Reaction score
154
Location
Perth, WA
My Brew bag of choice is one i purchased off a fellow forum member. it is formerly of Gryphon Brewing over here in WA, although i checked their website and no current mention of stocking bags.

Its a cracker, really fine mesh so does need a squeeze (with gloves on) to get the last of the wort out. Difficult to do with only one person unless you can suspend the bag above the pot. A fridge rack works well for this.

Cheers,
D80
 

Joshisgood

Well-Known Member
Joined
14/7/11
Messages
136
Reaction score
1
I rehydrated a packet of US-05 yesterday (with around 40 degree water, like I read), pitched that half hour later. 24 hours later I've got no action whatsoever in the AG brew so something didn't work right.
I think rehydrating at that high a temp Might kill the yeast. I think us 05 is supposed to be rehydrated at around 27c (from memory)
 

kelbygreen

Crazy Clown
Joined
28/11/09
Messages
2,850
Reaction score
21
I think its 30-35c they need to be rehydrated at
 

scooter_59

Well-Known Member
Joined
2/3/11
Messages
80
Reaction score
1
I rehydrate my US-05 at pitching temp or just above it . This anywhere from 17 - 22 * C and I have seen it kick off within 6 - 8 hrs . At the temps that they are suggesting it would put a bit of stress on the poor little buggers .
 

argon

firmitas, utilitas, venustas
Joined
8/5/09
Messages
2,994
Reaction score
125
Why not take the guess work out of it an just follow the manufacturers instructions;

Re-hydrate the dry yeast into yeast cream in a stirred vessel prior to pitching. Sprinkle the dry yeast in 10 times its own weight of sterile water or wort at 27C 3C (80F 6F). Once the expected weight of dry yeast is reconstituted into cream by this method (this takes about 15 to 30 minutes), maintain a gentle stirring for another 30 minutes. Then pitch the resultant cream into the fermentation vessel.
 

Lurks

Well-Known Member
Joined
15/11/11
Messages
133
Reaction score
22
I think rehydrating at that high a temp Might kill the yeast. I think us 05 is supposed to be rehydrated at around 27c (from memory)
Ah, I didn't come up with it randomly. I came across this.

Quoting Dr Cone from Lallemand (Danstar):

"Every strain of yeast has its own optimum rehydration temperature. All of
them range between 95 F to 105F. Most of them closer to 105F."

That's 35C to 40.5C.

Not like I'm trying to be a smartarse or anything, but it was something I looked into. I did a packet of Nottingham in exactly this way and it went off like a fricken rocket, it was spooky. Not that some anecdotal evidence like that means I'm not cocking it up :)

Mat.
 

Nick JD

Blah Blah Blah
Joined
4/11/08
Messages
7,322
Reaction score
455
Ah, I didn't come up with it randomly. I came across this.

Quoting Dr Cone from Lallemand (Danstar):

"Every strain of yeast has its own optimum rehydration temperature. All of
them range between 95 F to 105F. Most of them closer to 105F."

That's 35C to 40.5C.

Not like I'm trying to be a smartarse or anything, but it was something I looked into. I did a packet of Nottingham in exactly this way and it went off like a fricken rocket, it was spooky. Not that some anecdotal evidence like that means I'm not cocking it up :)

Mat.
Hang out here long enough and you'll find there's a lot of "absolute truths" here that are complete bollocks. If 40C rehydration works, do it.

The amount of people who ferment ale yeasts here at 17 or 18C is astounding. Why not make a lager if your ale has no ale character?

And yet it's gospel that US05 need to be fermented at 18C. At 23C it produces the same beer - but most who tell you to never go above 18C will not have tried anything else. Even more, and not really about US05, fermenting other ales that need a fruity character at the low end of the range defeats the purpose of them.

A lot of brewers are sheep.

Heh heh, Dr. Cone.
 

Lurks

Well-Known Member
Joined
15/11/11
Messages
133
Reaction score
22
Hang out here long enough and you'll find there's a lot of "absolute truths" here that are complete bollocks.
Hehe, I'm sure you're right. When you're a noob you need to listen a lot and try work out what you think is good. I'm now trying to wade through sparging techniques and work out if I'm just making life hard with BIAB. Not to mention failing to understand why different mashes gives completely different efficiencies in Beersmith - even when you think they wouldn't...

"If 40C rehydration works, do it" - well it seems US05 didn't much like it. Of course it's entirely possible my high accuracy yeast water thermometer (pouring it over my finger to see if it felt just a bit warmer than body temp) was out of calibration :)

The amount of people who ferment ale yeasts here at 17 or 18C is astounding. Why not make a lager if your ale has no ale character?

"And yet it's gospel that US05 need to be fermented at 18C. At 23C it produces the same beer"

That's an interesting point, I have seen that a lot. Fermentis are pretty clear about the good temps. I'm trying to build a brew cooler purely so I can brew some lagers. At the moment brew temps are a bit academic, fortunately in cold-arse Melbourne our house thermostat is set at 21C so that's what it gets.

"Heh heh, Dr. Cone"

:super: I hadn't clocked that until you mentioned it :)
 

PranK

Active Member
Joined
19/11/11
Messages
32
Reaction score
0
Location
Northern Beaches, Sydney
Lesson learned there was to get the water in the esky first, modify it there if necessary then whack in the grains. Next time.
Nice lesson. About to delve into my first AG and this is very handy to know.

The bag of grains takes an eternity to drain so it's not clear how you can do a dunk sparge at a higher temperature when the grains will have cooled heaps...
Hmm, I've noticed with my partials that the grain retains liquid for an age! I guess with my esky and bazooka's, I'll just need to wait.

Thanks for the post. Very helpful for another newbie like me. :unsure:
 

Lurks

Well-Known Member
Joined
15/11/11
Messages
133
Reaction score
22
Thanks for the post. Very helpful for another newbie like me. :unsure:
Cheers fella. Lord knows I learnt enough off the forum before I jumped in but you always cock stuff up anyway...

I actually dumped the esky mash tun on the last brew and mashed in a huge 50L pot. I had less problem with temperature and I was able to do a mash out easily because it's on a burner. I think I prefer this.

Other temperature problems had a lot to do with my thermometer. One of those large immersion spirit jobs seems to have a heck of a lag about it. It's on the list to replace.

There is heaps of stuff in the bag if you have a really fine swiss voile like one, presumably you do. Squeezing it gets heaps out. There's some chatter about releasing tannins with a squeeze but that seems to be nonsense really. Lots of people squeeze like a fat aunt's thighs with no ill effect.
 

Latest posts

Top