All Grain Batches Coming out Watery
Greetings fellow brewers!!
This has been a recurring problem for me, so I am not posting a specific recipe here to accompany this, but thought this might be a good kick off for a discussion about watery homebrews.
I have done 20+ all grain batches, but I still find that historically I am getting beer that is a bit watery for my likes, seems to be lacking body. I am generally right about my OG and FG's, and have even taken to adding malto dex to most every batch as I finish it up.
My question is, where does carbonation come into this? I always do the set it and forget it method of carbonation, and use my volumes of CO2 chart to make sure I hit targets (usually between 2.3 - 2.7 depending on style) and temperatures accordingly.
Will beers pick up 'body' or mouthfeel over time in the keg as the carbonation settles even more? Usually after a week or so, I am still sensing a lack of body even though I am getting plenty of head on the beer.
Also, if you cold crash before going into a keg, can I condition at or around serving temp (for my most recent Dark IPA, around 48 degrees) and will it simply improve and mellow together overtime?
Any insight or thoughts on this would help. In summation, curious about body coming from 'better' carbonation, or also keg conditioning after cold crashing!
Process? This always helps analyze a problem. What kind of beers are you brewing? did you make a stout that was watery, or were they all pale ales or lagers? Hard to make a good guess on what you have here.
One first glance, though, I would suspect you are mashing at a lower temperature, as a higher temp will give you a bit more body (and a little sweetness).
Body is almost always related to ingredients in a beer. Mash temp of course plays a part, but ingredients are still a key.
Can you give us a sample recipe (along with mash temps and procedure) of a recipe that is disappointing to you in the body? And if you characterize this as "watery", "thin", "medium" or any other descriptors? I'm sure we can think of something.
Basically what was said above - there's a lot of things that could lead to "watery" beer, but its hard to say without more specific information about your process, i.e. your typical recipe (or even a specific recipe you recall coming out thin), the mash conditions, the boil conditions, and your recorded gravities. I think another problem is that "watery" is a somewhat imprecise term as it could mean either a lack of robust flavors or a lack of body/excessively dry beer - many beers finish very dry but they are not light on flavor by any means.
As for carbonation, it would depend on the style/recipe of beer, typical US carbonation levels of 2-2.5 volumes are very common and don't typically result in "wateriness" in home brew. However, if you were brewing, say English Brown Milds or beers designed for casking, they would probably taste off if they were carbonated to that level.
Typically speaking, I don't ever notice beers changing their perceived body; sure, suspended proteins will fall out when cold conditioned and the flavors will mellow and meld together, but I can't say the impact I've noticed from cold conditioning (which is almost always a positive effect) is a change in the perceived body, mostly just improved flavor.
Ill stick with what others have said in that "watery" is hard to diagnose without context. But, I will just throw out my thoughts.
Carbonation is definitely a factor in not only the perceived body of the beer, but the flavor as well. But, the majority of its attributes come form recipe and mash profile. I routinely mash my session beers in the range of 150-152, and get a beer with starting gravities of 1.038-1.044 which show very good body respectfully. That wasn't always the case though. I had two variables that I had neglected that also had an impact. The biggest was tannins. Admittedly, it is more of an issue with session beers, but I was seeing very low last running gravities in a few beers that lead to a higher tannin beer and thus a more "watery" beer. Also, with my darker beers I noticed a vast improvement in body and character by milling my grist coarser. This one baffled me for a while. But, at one large brewery I brewed for, we had a hell of a time flavor matching a flagship Porter that had been historically brewed on a 50bbl brew house. This was now being brewed on a 100bbl European brew house. After dozens of trials which were always picked in triangle tests as watery and lacking flavor, we called in an ex Anheuser Busch consultant that felt that our large wet mills were too efficient, and that the coarser crush of our old 4 roller mill allowed an "insulating" effect on the dark malt which led to more body and flavor. Once we started transferring ground malt from the small brew house to the large brew house, we had a flavor match.
For what its worth.
Well as the OP isnt responding I have the same question and maybe by posting my process it will answer his question as well.
Here is a recent recipe with a "thin" mouthfeel.
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
10 lbs 8.0 oz Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 88.4 %
12.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM) Grain 2 6.3 %
6.0 oz Honey Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 3 3.2 %
4.0 oz Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 4 2.1 %
1.00 oz Hallertauer [3.90 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 5 12.3 IBUs
1.00 oz Cascade [4.00 %] - Boil 10.0 min Hop 6 4.6 IBUs
1.00 oz Saaz [3.00 %] - Boil 10.0 min Hop 7 3.4 IBUs
1.00 oz Citra [15.60 %] - Boil 6.0 min Hop 8 11.5 IBUs
1.00 oz Galaxy [13.00 %] - Boil 6.0 min Hop 9 9.6 IBUs
1.0 pkg SafAle English Ale (DCL/Fermentis #S-04) [23.66 ml] Yeast 10 -
1.50 oz Belma [12.10 %] - Dry Hop 6.0 Days Hop 11 0.0 IBUs
1.20 oz Hallertauer Mittelfrueh [4.00 %] - Dry Hop 6.0 Days Hop 12 0.0 IBUs
The flavor is great, but the thin mouthfeel, like my other all grain batches, is bothering me.
Strike at 168.5
Mashed at 155 for 60 minutes.
Added 1.5 teaspoons of CaCO3.
Using PH testing strips and aiming for about 5.2 (not as accurate as a digital reader obviously but as close as I can get it).
I also add 1 camden tablet per gallon of water. It is the Crosby 2 ounces and says that 1 tablet per gallon releases 30 ppm.
Drain first runnings, pour back on top. Drain whole batch until dry.
Batch Sparge with strike water at 164 with 5.27 gallons. Added 6-7 drops of lactic acid to the strike water than took PH reading and it was fine. I stir this and let it sit for like 10 minutes so the grain settles and I can drain. Do first runnings back on top and drain all the way out again.
Then, boil for about 10-15 minutes, add bittering hops, for 60 minutes etc.
I cool it in an ice bath, usually takes about 30 minutes or so to drop to pitching temp (70F or around there).
I pitched a dry packet of US-04 on top I am currently working on improving my treatment of yeast.. I know this isn't good practice. I do not, however, get an ester off flavor from the beer and theoretically this could prevent full attenuation so you would think that more residual sugar would equal a thicker mouth feel.
Also, I get my grain at my LHBS. They milled it after I picked it out that morning and then I brewed the same day, a few hours later. I pre heat my mash water with tap water.
Bottle conditioned, carbed as close to 2.3 as I could by weighing out the amount of corn sugar I wanted, 3.61 oz.
If anyone has any thoughts I would appreciate it and hopefully this will help the OP figure it out too next time he logs in.
First, don't use CaC03- it doesn't dissolve in the mash. Your campden usage might be too high, but I'm not sure since mine are different. (Read the "brew Science forum for more on water).
But that isn't the issue here.
Are you using a thermometer that you know is 100% accurate? That's the first place to look.
don't pour your first runnings back into the MLT. You can recirculate any "chunks" but that is usually cleared up in a quart or two. Put the runnings in the MLT, and not back into the grain. That's probably a reason for poor efficiency, and not so much a thin mouthfeel, but it's a process that needs to be fixed. You didn't mention your OG, but if it's low, that would give you a thinness to the beer.
2.3 volumes is a pretty low carb rate by most US bottling standards so that could also be a factor.
the OG was 1.055 so yes, a little low. FG was 1.014.
I am using a thermometer that I believe to be 100% accurate. A digital, instant read. I am looking for a new water proof one though so I will be able to double check that variable soon.
I just mistakenly (ahem experimentally) carbed my last batch to only 2.3 volumes and it definitely feels a bit thin from what I typically enjoy. I've brewed this beer before, so I know how the body should feel, and it is a bit disappointing. Try 2.5 volumes.
I thought calcium carbonate was a common mash addition for low alkalinity in the water when brewing dark, acidic beers? Ack! When should it be used, in the boil? But that wouldn't help with mash pH...
What to use in mash to raise alkalinity then?
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