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Questions About First Ag Brew

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lmccrone

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G'day all

So after spending hours reading articles on this website i finally took the plunge and had a crack at an all grain brew. Spend a bit of time converting three old 50 L kegs in to a brew rig and today I fired it up, it all seemed to go pretty well but i missed my post boil gravity by a long way..

I was having a go at Dr Smurto's golden ale, aiming at making about 23 L I used about 5.3 kg of grain and ended up with only 18 Litres of Wort at a gravity of 1038.

I steeped the grain in 15 liters of water at 65 C for 85 mins (although at one point it did get to 90 C when i was watering the garden, but i quickly topped it up with cold water to get the temp back down to 65 C) and then i drained that into the kettle and then sparged with more water until the run off was 1010 then I stopped (this took maybe 4 litres). I was hoping to have about 30 litres in my kettle but i had way less than that. After boiling for about an hour I topped it up with some old malt extract i had in the fridge but i still ended up with a very thin wort (on the plus side it smells amazing)

Any tips on what i could do to next time to fix this problem would be much appreciated.
 

pyrosx

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(although at one point it did get to 90 C when i was watering the garden, but i quickly topped it up with cold water to get the temp back down to 65 C)
I'd be guessing that at this point, most if not all of the amylase (the enzyme that breaks starch into sugars) were denatured... how early in the mash procedure did this happen? 90 is pretty damn high - well above even the normal "mash out" temp - so seems to me there's a pretty decent possibility that you'll have extracted a bunch of tannins from the grains as well. Not good news :(
 

kelbygreen

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how did it get to 90c??? did you have the heat on it??? I would fully throw this brew out the window. No not throw it out but do not use it to make any adjustments on.

First of all you mash into a mashtun, this should be a vessel that can hold the heat with as little loss of heat as possible. I use a esky as its got good thermal properties. If you use a keg maybe insulate it with a matting or blanket while its mashing.

I cannot see the sparge only taking 4lts of water?? did you use a refractometer or a hydrometer??? and if you used a hydrometer did you do a temperature adjustment?

What was the efficiency your original recipe was calculated at?

I think some thing has gone wrong here so maybe ask more questions and give all the info you have on the day
 

AndrewQLD

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A lot of dextrines floating around in that wort that will not ferment down, on the up side you will have a pretty tasty and malty/thick brew, just ferment it and brew it again, the right way, and compare the differences.
It's a good learning curve.
 

pyrosx

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Actually, now i'm confused - maybe he meant the strike water in the HLT got to 90 before watering down? That's not how it read first time through, but it's a possibility. I BIAB and projected somewhat - but a normal 3V setup won't have any kind of heat input available for the middle vessel, right?
 

ShredMaster

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Agree with pyro, you prolly killed the enzymes.

What SHOULD happen, generally, is that you mash the grains at the correct temperature for the enzymes to come out and play, thus converting the starch in the grains to sugars which are then fermented into beer. Steeping is generally used to soak some modified "specialty" malts where the starch-to-sugar conversion has been done for you and you are simply dissolving the sugars. The mash will have some different effects at different temperatures, you will be doing a fair bit of reading to work out the technicalities but basically, between 60'c and 70'c the enzymes will activate and above 78-ish will kill them.

There is a HELL OF ALOT more technicality to it as you will discover as you read further into it, but essentially, mash somewhere around 65'c-ish for a while and it's all good. If it got to 90'c while mashing may have borked your brew. Most of the action happens in the early stages of the mash so you may squeeze by but 90'c in a mash is a big bloody no-no.

Good luck!

Cheers,
Shred.
 

bum

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but a normal 3V setup won't have any kind of heat input available for the middle vessel, right?
Depends what you mean by "normal", I guess. Most common? Sure. Direct fired mash tuns are certainly valid (and possibly more traditionally correct).
 

kelbygreen

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hmmm could be right pyrosx, but the amount of water used in the mash will be different from brewer to brewer and the grain temp and the heat losses to equipment will be different. But yes you could be right as its his first attempt.

For eg I could mash in at 2.5lt/1kg grain but you may use 2.8lt/kg so the mash temps be different also the heat losses to the tun will be different I preheat mine with boiling water but if you mash in a vessel you heat the liquid in then you will only get the loss of the grain (close to what I do) but if you mash into a tun with no heating the tun will take up some heat to heat the walls of the tun.
 

AndrewQLD

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The question is, how long was it at 90 ?
And how "old" was the malt extrcat?
And a lot of other details as well, how much into the boil?
 

pk.sax

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Try to step mash if you can. Starting at lower temperatures and ramping gradually through a couple of steps means you'll be able to keep a better eye on where that temperature is headed.

If you are directly firing your mash tun, notice the temperature of the mash might keep rising beyond where you want to stop because of all the tun thermal mass etc so heat a little slowly on a lower flame to be able to stop. Either way, overshooting on a lower step still leaves you safe against killing all the enzymes. It's only the first one mate, we can make the perfect first one and then a bunch of shit ones! learning curve.
 

fergi

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you have made a few mistakes for your first try but it will still be your first AG so drink it and enjoy it.

it will still taste nice,
read up a bit more ,get your process written down in easy steps and when you do the next brew follow the steps,it will turn out better than this brew but its a good learning curve.
oh and next time dont water the garden, stick to the things that really matter,you have to keep your eye on the brew,

fergi
 

Nick JD

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If you mash at 90C you'll create a temporal anomaly where you'll be sucked into an alternate reality where you will make sense in threads about brewing.
 

Thefatdoghead

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G'day all

So after spending hours reading articles on this website i finally took the plunge and had a crack at an all grain brew. Spend a bit of time converting three old 50 L kegs in to a brew rig and today I fired it up, it all seemed to go pretty well but i missed my post boil gravity by a long way..

I was having a go at Dr Smurto's golden ale, aiming at making about 23 L I used about 5.3 kg of grain and ended up with only 18 Litres of Wort at a gravity of 1038.

I steeped the grain in 15 liters of water at 65 C for 85 mins (although at one point it did get to 90 C when i was watering the garden, but i quickly topped it up with cold water to get the temp back down to 65 C) and then i drained that into the kettle and then sparged with more water until the run off was 1010 then I stopped (this took maybe 4 litres). I was hoping to have about 30 litres in my kettle but i had way less than that. After boiling for about an hour I topped it up with some old malt extract i had in the fridge but i still ended up with a very thin wort (on the plus side it smells amazing)

Any tips on what i could do to next time to fix this problem would be much appreciated.
Get a braumeister thats my tip.
 

lmccrone

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Wow, that was a lot of responses a lot sooner than i was expecting, thanks guys.

Ok just to make it clear, yes I did have the middle vessel on the heat, a mistake I realise that now. I do have the middle keg insulated but i didn't have much faith in it retaining the heat for 75 mins so I had it on a slow burn, it seemed to be sitting nicely on 65 and then what seemed like all of a sudden it was at 90 C. Am i right in understanding that this is the reason for my low gravity?

There was also some surprise about my only using about 4 litres of sparge water, this was a guess as i don't have a any way of measuring the amount of liquid going into the kettle but it wouldn't have been much more than that. The gravity of the run off from the sparge (as measured with a hydrometer) dropped from around 1045 to 1010 pretty quick and i stopped there for fear that i may start extracting tannins, although it sounds like my earlier foolishness will see my beer chock full of tannins anyway.

As far as drinking it, have no fear, I'm sure i have powered through worse beer than this. Also as i said it does smell really good

Thanks again
 

lmccrone

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The question is, how long was it at 90 ?
And how "old" was the malt extrcat?
And a lot of other details as well, how much into the boil?
It want at 90 for very long, maybe 3 or 4 mins... not sure
The malt extract is probably about 3 or 4 months old
Finally I have no idea how much went into the boil i would guess around 22 litres
 

kelbygreen

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well yes heating it to 90c will stop the conversion this would be why it was a low gravity. It will not ferment out very well ether so you will prob get a high FG from the beer. I would be looking at insulating the mash tun more or maybe wrapping it in a old blanket or something to keep more heat in.

if you do need to heat the mash I would recommend constant stiring while it heats as you will have a big hot spot on the bottom and the rest of the mash may not show a change in heat. We all make mistakes on our first one and also ones after that lol but as long as you learn from them its not a true big deal you usually still make beer. Well unless your kettle falls over or something stupid lol
 

lmccrone

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I cannot see the sparge only taking 4lts of water?? did you use a refractometer or a hydrometer??? and if you used a hydrometer did you do a temperature adjustment?

What was the efficiency your original recipe was calculated at?
I used a Hydrometer and what the hell is a temperature adjustment??

The recipe was from Beer Smith, the computer program, it worked of a 70% efficiency
 

Nibbo

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Do a trial run in your mash tun...fill it with strike temp water and leave it for the 60mins or however long your intending to mash for...get an idea of how much loss occurs in there so you know what to expect...remember that adding the grain on brew day will drop the temp a few degree's...this is the joys of building your own system, learning how it works and reacts...enjoy...
 

warra48

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There was also some surprise about my only using about 4 litres of sparge water, this was a guess as i don't have a any way of measuring the amount of liquid going into the kettle but it wouldn't have been much more than that. The gravity of the run off from the sparge (as measured with a hydrometer) dropped from around 1045 to 1010 pretty quick and i stopped there for fear that i may start extracting tannins, although it sounds like my earlier foolishness will see my beer chock full of tannins anyway.
Looks to me you were trying to fly sparge?
If I'm correct, and you only used 4 litres, running that until the gravity was down to 1.010, you very probably had some channeling issues, and left behind some of the goodies you intended to extract from your mash.

I'd suggest you use a batch sparging method until you sort out your other mashing issues. Batch sparging is easier for a new brewer, and can give you good efficiency. I have always used it in my brewing, and find it quite easy. You have enough to concern yourself with familiarising yourself with your system, and you do not need the concern of ensuring your fly sparge works properly!

Have you thought about asking for another AG brewer to volunteer to check your system and methods when you do your next brew? A pair of experienced eyes may well be a shortcut to resolving your issues much sooner than struggling on your own.

Keep at it, you will get there! And it's worth it for the choice and quality of the beers you can brew at home.
 

warra48

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I used a Hydrometer and what the hell is a temperature adjustment??

The recipe was from Beer Smith, the computer program, it worked of a 70% efficiency
I take it you have the BeerSmith program?

If so, when you take your hydrometer reading, you need 3 measurements to have it calculate your Extraction Efficiency.
1. The SG reading
2. The temperature of the wort at the time of measuring
3. The volume of wort you have extracted.

In BeerSmith, you need to click on Tools, then Hydrometer Adjust. Then enter the SG reading and the temperature of the mash. Set your calibration temperature to 20C (the most commonly used), and you can then read the Temperature Adjusted SG. That's the figure you enter as your Measured Pre-Boil Gravity. BeerSmith will use that figure and your Pre-Boil Volume to calculate your efficiency.
 

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