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Old 12-06-2009, 04:52 AM   #1
jamesnsw
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Default Ah yes, I'm not getting conversion (I think?)

I've done 2 AG BIAB brews now, and am thinking I need to do something different. I don't think I am converting very well at all.

The first brew I got 53% efficiency, and the second I got 73%. However, both have an odd taste, kind of like malt o' meal or something. It's really prevalent in the second, which is a lighter session beer- it's more hidden in the first.

Also, fermentation for both stopped above 1.020, even with good temp control and aeration, etc.

They each are hazy- not chill haze, but a permanent haze even when it's warm. No clearing even after awhile in the fridge.

This last point, put together with John Palmer's troubleshooting appendix and these other things, made me think that perhaps I am extracting starch from the grain, not converting it to sugar, and then brewing with that.

Main question:
Does my diagnosis make sense? I only have read about the hydrometer finding the sugar content, but wouldn't it also register starch content? So I would end up with a reading of 1.041, think I have 73% efficiency, but 50% of those are unfermentable starches that never converted, for instance.

--
Some things I've thought about/questions you'd probably ask anyways-

  • I don't have iodine to test it with, but I'll be picking that up before the next brew day.
  • My first mash was at 154° for 60 minutes. Second was at 154° for 90 minutes.
  • My thermometer is calibrated at freezing, and is within 1 degree of where boiling should be at my altitude (even pulled out the GPS to get the altitude), so that should be pretty close.
  • My mash thickness has been in the 1.5-2 qts/lb range.
  • I sparged & mashed out on the second, but not the first.


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Old 12-06-2009, 01:30 PM   #2
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If there is starch in the beer, it will still be there. So get some iodine.



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Old 12-06-2009, 03:00 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42 View Post
If there is starch in the beer, it will still be there. So get some iodine.
Any suggestions to convert more starch?
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Old 12-06-2009, 04:59 PM   #4
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recipe, grains used, sparge temps - details needed or everyone is just guessing.

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Old 12-06-2009, 05:18 PM   #5
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Here are links to my brew logs.
Brew 1 - Pecan Nut Brown
Brew 2 - Short Sleep Ale

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Old 12-06-2009, 11:43 PM   #6
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My main question, I guess, is, is my diagnosis right? Am I getting (and measuring) starches that haven't been converted to sugar?

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Old 12-06-2009, 11:55 PM   #7
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Did you do a starch conversion test on your mash ?

Did you do what David42 asked & test to see if you've still got starch in one of the finished beers?

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Old 12-06-2009, 11:58 PM   #8
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I guess the main point that everyone else is trying to make is: it's hard to tell without more data. Have a read through the articles at http://braukaiser.com/, especially the ones about efficiency. Use his efficiency spreadsheet on future brews to determine where your losses really are.

While we're on the subject of being exact, GPS altitude is about as good as referencing a map to calibrate your thermometer. Sure, it'll get you close, but pressure altitude (more specifically, atmospheric pressure) is what's really important. A good, current weather report will include that information.

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Old 12-07-2009, 01:15 AM   #9
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find out the moon phase too while you're at it. JK.

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Old 12-07-2009, 02:13 AM   #10
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James,

I use a similar technique as yourself. My first BiaB AG registered a 55-60% efficiency. I've tweaked my technique as I have progressed and my latest batch, AG#6, was up to 70%. And had I not needed .75 gallons of top off water I think I would have been 75-80.

I mash with only 1.3 quarts of water to pound of grain. By request, my grain is crushed at .035 to maximize extraction. I also try to keep my strike water to 152 for 75 minutes and I double batch sparge (10min at 170).

I'd say that even with Irish Moss additions my BiaB batches look hazy at first. However, this seems to really resolve itself the more time you give it in bottle. For instance, I did a Belgian Blonde Ale in April that looked hazy and tasted excessively yeasty for 2-3 months. But, since the end of summer it's very clear and quite tasty. Best brew I have made and it was only my second AG brew! I'd recommend just giving it time.

Also, recently I mashed my Oatmeal Stout way too high at 158 for 60 minutes. After two weeks in primary it seemed stuck at 1.020. I expected it because of the higher temperature mash. However, after two more weeks in primary (total of four) I bottled it last night at 1.013. Even without noticeable fermentation, something was going on. Now, I'm not sure I like it at 13 as I liked it at 20. I tend to like sweet Oatmeal Stouts so we shall see how it turns out. Again, I'd recommend giving it more time in primary.

Sounds like you are keeping good notes. It might take time, but I think you'll get to where you want to be with your technique. Good luck.



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