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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Beer Discussion > My first GREAT batch!! Open to critiques...
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Old 12-28-2009, 06:01 AM   #1
ChuckinWA
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Default My first GREAT batch!! Open to critiques...

So I'm a pretty new brewer with only 6-7 brew days under my belt. My goal from the beginning (as I'm sure is common) was to brew beer that would be just as good as what I can get at the pub. While my first beers were decent and certainly drinkable, they typically weren't the ones I'd reach for first when I went to the fridge. That's no longer true - I've finally made one that I would order by the pitcher at the local watering hole

This most recent beer was also my first all-grain attempt I'll describe the recipe and process below and I'd welcome your thoughts/critiques. It's the Stone Ruination IPA clone recipe from Brew your Own Magazine. Here's the recipe:

14.6 lbs 2 row malt
1 lb crystal malt (15L)
36 AAU (2.25 oz) Magnum hops (60 min) - I used 3 oz since a half opened bag seemed like a waste
15.7 AAU (1.5 oz) Centennial hops (0 min, steep for 5 min) - I used 2 oz for the same reason as above
21 AAU (2.0 oz) Centennial hops (dry hop)
WLP001 Calafornia Ale yeast

Mash at 149* for 60 minutes. Collect enough wort to boil for 90 minutes and have a 5.5 gal yield. Targets are 1.075 OG, 1.010 FG, and 7.7% ABV


My equipment, purchased second-hand from a buddy at work: I have a 5 gal Igloo mash tun, and 10 gal? kettle fired over propane in the garage. The kettle has a bottom strainer, which really came in handy with all of the hops in this recipe. I use an immersion chiller, and have a couple plastic fermentation buckets as well as carboys. Palmer's book came with the package, which I've read at least 5 times. The beer was kegged.

The process: My first "uh-oh" moment was when I realized I couldn't fit all of the grains and water in my 5 gal igloo to mash. So, I improvised by doing 2 separate mashes. I had intended to mash exactly half the grains each time, but then had my second "uh-oh" moment when the temp of my first mash turned out to be too low. I had to add hot water to bring the temp up. I added more grain in light of the additional water to keep my target water/grain ratio of about 1.25 qts/lb. My first mash was with 3 gal of water and 8 3/4 lbs grains. I sparged with 2 gal of water. My second mash was then 6 3/4 lbs grains and 2 gal water. I sparged the second mash until I had a total of 7 gallons of wort. I measured my BG at 1.050

The 90 minute boil went uneventfully, with hops at the appropriate times and irish moss at 15 min remaining. I measured my OG when poured into the fermenter at 1.066 (vs. 1.075 target). I pitched one vial of WLP001 (no starter) and fermented for 2 weeks in my basement which holds a pretty consistent 65* this time of year (I don't know what the temp inside the fermenter was, as I just laid a thermometer on top of the bucket to measure ambient temp). After 2 weeks, I racked to the carboy and dry hopped for almost 3 weeks, then kegged. At the time of racking, I measured my FG at 1.011 (vs. 1.010 target). I calculated 61% extraction efficiency, and 6.8% ABV (vs. 7.7% target).

My thoughts: The extraction efficiency was pretty low, but for my first all grain attempt and all of the associated errors, I'm not too disappointed. I'm not sure exactly what to do better next time (other than get a bigger igloo), but I suppose my sparging was not the greatest. I suspect some of my measurements could have been taken more accurately too, as I was feeling a bit rushed during the mash session. Better note taking is also on my list of goals. In the end though, I now have a beer on tap at home that I feel is just as good as any of my favorites at the local tavern.

Many thanks to all on this forum! What an incredible resource.

Bonus - thanks to this forum (again), I was able to wash my yeast from the above batch, which I just brought out of hibernation this morning for a brew session this Tuesday. It's already bubbling the airlock in the growler quite nicely!

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Old 12-28-2009, 06:13 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by ChuckinWA View Post

My thoughts: The extraction efficiency was pretty low, but for my first all grain attempt and all of the associated errors, I'm not too disappointed. I'm not sure exactly what to do better next time (other than get a bigger igloo), but I suppose my sparging was not the greatest. I suspect some of my measurements could have been taken more accurately too, as I was feeling a bit rushed during the mash session. Better note taking is also on my list of goals. In the end though, I now have a beer on tap at home that I feel is just as good as any of my favorites at the local tavern.

Many thanks to all on this forum! What an incredible resource.
Sounds like you're on the right track! Congrats!

Here's one of my thoughts about efficiency. Before you change your process at all make sure of several things:

1) calibrated thermometers and hydrometers
2) ability to accurately measure volume (don't rely on pre-stamped ale pails)
3) keep good notes and take many measurements

The reason? It doesn't matter what your process/equipment is if you can't accurately measure what you're doing.

With that being said - 61% for your 1st AG with some minor equipment problems isn't bad at all.

Once you are confident that your measurements (temp, gravity, volume) are accurate, read up at: http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php...ing_Efficiency and http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php...use_Efficiency

These are excellent resources written up by HBT's own Kaiser.
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Old 12-28-2009, 01:28 PM   #3
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You asked for Critiques..
If you are following a good balanced recipe, just throwing in extra bittering hops because you have them will throw it out of balance and not taste as the recipe creator intended.

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Old 12-28-2009, 06:16 PM   #4
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You asked for Critiques..
If you are following a good balanced recipe, just throwing in extra bittering hops because you have them will throw it out of balance and not taste as the recipe creator intended.
But as long as the OP loves the beer, that's probably the bottom line.

Congrats on finding a recipe you love!!
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Old 12-29-2009, 08:23 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies all. AZ IPA, I can certianly use improvement in all three of the areas you mentioned. Lowlife, you're absolutely correct. H2P, you are also correct! I wasn't so much concerned that my beer be an "exact" replica of Ruination (in fact, I haven't even tried the two side by side yet - and at the rate it's disappearing I'm not sure I'll have the chance), but I just targeted a beer I enjoy and went from there. In the end, I'm just happy to have made a beer that is finally my first choice (over the commercial bottles) when I go to the fridge!

PS - H2P, I'll be visiting the UP in February on vacation for a couple of days - hope to get some good sledding in!

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