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Old 04-11-2014, 05:53 AM   #1
rjcortez
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Default Critique my mini mash extract brew process - please.

I know everyone has there own ways of doing things when it comes to brewing. Over the years my process has changed as I've learned and with experience. Even though I enjoy my process and the product, it's never a bad idea to get some feedback from others, right?

I brew 5 gal batches with a 4 gal boil. I mash in a bag(s) which always include 2 row or six row for conversion of starches from specialty grains. I start with 3 gals of cold water, put the grain bag in and bring up to 160f slowly. Maintain 155-160 for 30 minutes. Drain and rinse grain bags with cold water. Bring this to a boil. Flame out and add extract. Bring to boil again for 60 minutes. Hops for 60, 30 and 5 minutes. Flame out add irish moss and any additional ingredients like candi syrup or honey. Cool to pitching temperature. Swirl and siphon to carboy. Add water to bring to 5 gal volume. Pitch yeast from starter made the night before. 4 cups water, 1/2 cup DME, one vile of yeast. Shaken to aerate. Shake carboy to aerate wort. Cap with airlock and connect blow off tube. Wrap with towel. After one week rack to second carboy. After another week rack to bottling bucket. add priming sugar 2 cups water boiled with 3/4 cup corn sugar. Bottle condition 2 weeks. If all has gone well, I have a very nice home brew to enjoy and share.

So any glaring problems? questions? suggestions?

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Old 04-11-2014, 11:13 AM   #2
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Not much I can see thats differant to what I do.

The only thing differant to what I do is I rinse the grain with 170F water.

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Old 04-12-2014, 01:28 AM   #3
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Not much I can see thats differant to what I do.

The only thing differant to what I do is I rinse the grain with 170F water.
I don't remember when I started rinsing with cold or why. Do you know the purpose of rinsing with 170? Thanks.
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Old 04-12-2014, 01:31 AM   #4
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I don't remember when I started rinsing with cold or why. Do you know the purpose of rinsing with 170? Thanks.
Sugars dissolve better in warmer water than colder. More dissolved sugars means higher efficiency.
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Old 04-12-2014, 01:49 AM   #5
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Sugars dissolve better in warmer water than colder. More dissolved sugars means higher efficiency.
Makes sense. That's a small, easy change to gain better results. Thanks.
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Old 04-12-2014, 01:53 AM   #6
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If you're using base malt and not just specialty grains, I wouldn't start with room temperature water and bring it up to conversion temps. You'd end up with a thinner, drier beer as a result, depending on what your recipe was and how much grain you were using.

Instead, I'd bring my water up to 165 and then add the grainbag and shut off the heat and hold it there for 45 minutes or so, at 150-160 degrees. That would ensure proper conversion.

I wouldn't bother bring that to a boil, stopping the boil, adding the extract, etc.

I'd just finish the mash, pour the sparge water over, add 1 pound of extract per gallon of liquid in the boil (sounds like about 4 gallons, so call it 3 pounds), boil as usual, hop as usual, turn off the heat and add the rest of the fermentables (extract, sugar, honey, whatever) at flame out.

No need to boil, stop the boil, add the extract, boil all the extract, and so on. Lots of unnecessary steps there- plus extract has already been processed so boiling it for 60 minutes only darkens it. You can use some in the boil, and the rest at flame out, and you'll have a better beer as a result with less maillard reactions (caramelization type flavors) and a lighter color.

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Old 04-12-2014, 04:47 AM   #7
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Good stuff, Thanks Yooper.

I always include some base malt in my grain bill. I think where I got the idea to bring the temperature up slowly was from reading things over my head in all grain brewing. Different "rests" at different points, so I just averaged it out. Something else that I picked up along the way was that the mills at brew stores aren't set real fine as a rule so the grain wouldn't slip through the bag. Soaking at the lower temps supposedly will soften the coarser ground grains to allow for more conversion.

The reason I bring to a boil, flame out, add extracts, bring to a boil is because I scorched a batch and had more difficulty mixing in extracts at the lower temps. I typically use 7+ lbs of extract. I'm confused about not putting all the extract in for the full boil, it's the first I've heard that. How does not having all the extract in from the beginning effect the hot break or isn't that a concern?

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Old 04-12-2014, 01:45 PM   #8
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Good stuff, Thanks Yooper.

I always include some base malt in my grain bill. I think where I got the idea to bring the temperature up slowly was from reading things over my head in all grain brewing. Different "rests" at different points, so I just averaged it out. Something else that I picked up along the way was that the mills at brew stores aren't set real fine as a rule so the grain wouldn't slip through the bag. Soaking at the lower temps supposedly will soften the coarser ground grains to allow for more conversion.

The reason I bring to a boil, flame out, add extracts, bring to a boil is because I scorched a batch and had more difficulty mixing in extracts at the lower temps. I typically use 7+ lbs of extract. I'm confused about not putting all the extract in for the full boil, it's the first I've heard that. How does not having all the extract in from the beginning effect the hot break or isn't that a concern?
It's pretty well accepted to add much of the extract late in the boil (try a search on this forum for 'late extract addition' to see hundreds of thoughts on that) and a hot break (or lack of) really isn't a concern.

By bringing the temperatures up from cool water and grain to saccrification rests, you're not really doing the acid rest, protein rest, lower saccrification rest, etc, temperature steps. And you're not helping conversion by doing that.

AG brewers don't start with cool mash and bring it up to hold it- they start at their desired rest temperature (say, 131 for a protein rest) and then go directly to their desired saccrification temperature from there after a short rest. The vast majority of brewers don't even do a protein rest or other steps, as that can cause some problems when using well-modified malt such as poor head retention and a too-thin beer. If you want to continue doing what you're doing, and the beer is great, it's obviously not doing much harm.
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Old 04-13-2014, 01:51 AM   #9
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I have a similar process, but I mash up to 6lbs of grain in a smaller pot in a 5 gal paint strainer bag. I bring the rest of my water up to a mash out temp 170 or so in my 10 gal kettle. When my mash is done, I dunk sparge the grain in the kettle for 10 mins stirring a few times. Then, I remove the grain bag and bring to a boil (adding the first runnings from the small pot.)

My typical hop additions are a FWH, 20 min flavor addition and a big flameout whirlpool addition. I don't add any of the LME until flameout.

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Old 04-14-2014, 07:35 AM   #10
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It's pretty well accepted to add much of the extract late in the boil (try a search on this forum for 'late extract addition' to see hundreds of thoughts on that) and a hot break (or lack of) really isn't a concern.

By bringing the temperatures up from cool water and grain to saccrification rests, you're not really doing the acid rest, protein rest, lower saccrification rest, etc, temperature steps. And you're not helping conversion by doing that.

AG brewers don't start with cool mash and bring it up to hold it- they start at their desired rest temperature (say, 131 for a protein rest) and then go directly to their desired saccrification temperature from there after a short rest. The vast majority of brewers don't even do a protein rest or other steps, as that can cause some problems when using well-modified malt such as poor head retention and a too-thin beer. If you want to continue doing what you're doing, and the beer is great, it's obviously not doing much harm.
Thanks again Yooper, I really appreciate it. This is a learning exercise for me, and I value your thoughts. When I just do things the same way because thats the way I've always done it doesn't lead to understanding or improvement. It would be silly for me to ask a question without taking the time to make sure I understand the answer. There is so much of the science behind brewing I really haven't taken the time to really investigate and learn properly.

You mentioned two things that I have had pop up occasionally, too thin and poor head retention. They are the exception rather than the rule, but it does show a lack of consistency which could be corrected with improving my process a bit.

Thanks again for your thoughts, tips and suggested reading.
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