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Old 02-15-2012, 08:00 PM   #1
thomasgorff
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Default All grain frustrations

I have made an all grain system with two 10 gallon cylindrical coolers and a 15 gallon brew pot. I have not mastered the equipment yet and have noticed there are a lot of variables that tend to make my beer inconsistent. In almost all my beer that I have made with the new system, I have missed my OG marks by a somewhat substantial margin. I have made 41 gallons of beer with the new system and I am very unsure about the consistency of my beer. A few problems that I want to get out there and understand are as follows: 1.) I am using hopville to formulate my recipes and the OG they give me with a 70% Efficiency is just not adding up. Why is there such a big difference? 2.) I am not sure how to formulate the amount of water i need pre boil to end up with 5 or 10 gallons, Sometimes I make the mark and other times I end up with way less beer than I intended but my OG is pretty on point? This makes no sense to me if the recipe I created is for a larger volume. 3.) Why so much trub?! The last batch I made was a stout and when poured into a glass, you can advisably see particles suspended within the beer. I know there are a lot of questions within this post but if anybody can help me move in the right direction to continue my love for brewing, its the friendly people of homebrewtalk! Thanks in advance and I not only welcome but I am looking forward to some criticism.

If I need to elaborate on my brewing procedure to get better insight, please let me know. Thanks

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Old 02-15-2012, 08:10 PM   #2
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All grain systems have a LOT of variables that you have to consider, and those variables can change drastically between different set ups. Your mash tun set up, sparging techniques, and grain crush will all effect your mash extraction efficiency, and you will need to know this number for your recipe formulation. You will also need to know how much water your grains are absorbing during the mash (.12 gal/lb is usually a pretty safe number). You will also need to know and understand your water losses during the brew day, boil off, loss to trub/chiller, shrinkage, etc.

Try doing a few brews the old fashioned way, with pen and paper, keep track of everything and try to understand what is happening exactly throughout the brew day. Keep track of how much water you put in the mash, how much wort you collect after sparging, your pre-boil OG, the amount of wort collected at the end of the boil, your actual OG... Then take a look at all these numbers and try to get an understanding of what all is going on with the water losses and calculate all of your critical numbers. You really need to have an understanding of what is actually going on during a brew day to understand what the software is calculating.

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Old 02-15-2012, 08:12 PM   #3
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Just a quick look at my typical process. Heat water to 165 (12 degree difference to account for the grain temp). Add water inside my cooler (mash tun) with the grain for usually 60 minutes while stirring occasionally. Heat additional water to 170 and put inside my liquor tank. Sparge grain bed at a slow consistent water in water out speed. Add the first bit of the wort into liquor tank and sparge that back into mash/lauter tun. Boil the wort for usually about 60 mins. After, I introduce the wort chiller until wort is at pitching temp. I poor the wort into fermentor directly from brew pot (is that the correct move or should i siphon it?) and pitch my yeast..... any body see any flaws in this method or is that a pretty standard procedure?

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Old 02-15-2012, 08:19 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thomasgorff View Post
Just a quick look at my typical process. Heat water to 165 (12 degree difference to account for the grain temp). Add water inside my cooler (mash tun) with the grain for usually 60 minutes while stirring occasionally. Heat additional water to 170 and put inside my liquor tank. Sparge grain bed at a slow consistent water in water out speed. Add the first bit of the wort into liquor tank and sparge that back into mash/lauter tun. Boil the wort for usually about 60 mins. After, I introduce the wort chiller until wort is at pitching temp. I poor the wort into fermentor directly from brew pot (is that the correct move or should i siphon it?) and pitch my yeast..... any body see any flaws in this method or is that a pretty standard procedure?
Your procedure is pretty standard same as mine on my old 5 gal system. Make sure you are sparging and pulling off wort very slow. I used to sparge to fast and never hit my og number. Now I take about 45 mins to sparge a 10 gal batch. You should be getting about 6 gal of wort.
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Old 02-15-2012, 08:20 PM   #5
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ok,
I'll give it a shot.
1) Not sure, never used it.
2) Boil volumes is one of the easiest things to calculate. Lets say that you need 12 Gallons pre-boil volume, to boil down to 10 gallon batch size for 60 minutes.
1) Take your grain bill in lbs and times by 1.25, so lets say 21 lbs of grain for 10 gallon batch. 21X1.25= 26.25 qts if you want gallons divide by 4. This is what you mash in with.
2) Next, take your initial drain amount, lets say you got 3.5 gallons or 14 qts on your initial drain, take that amount and subtract it from your total volume needed.
3.5 - 12 = 8.5 gallons total remaining to get to your 12 gallon preboil volume.
3) Take that number (8.5) divide by 2 for equal batch sparges and you should end up pretty darn close to your desired volume.
4) Sparge twice with 4.25 gallons each time.

The trick is to know how much volume you need pre-boil to boil down to your desired amount. Once you know your equipment well enough to do that, its easy. That only comes with taking lots of notes on brew days.

3) Lots of trub can come from many things, are you vourlaughing each time you sparge? If so, are you doing it enough? All the times that I help friends brew, they dont do it enough, giving them lots of extra trub. Are you skimming the foam thats at the top of the pot that forms right before the boil, that will help reduce sediment.
Are you kegging, or bottling, if you are bottling, with priming sugar, then you will have sediment in your bottles, but that can be filtered as well, I know several brewers that filter with cheese cloth every step of the process, and have great beer with hardly any sediment in the bottle.

For what you have described, more than likely your frustrations are from something very small that can be tweaked to improve your brewing process. Hang in there, you will get great results.

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Old 02-15-2012, 08:23 PM   #6
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On your start temp I never heat to a specific temp before mashing. I always heat to boil and add what I need to get close to temp and if I go over temp I just add cold water to bring me back down to exact temp. But thats just my .02

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Old 02-15-2012, 08:25 PM   #7
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I was gonna say to keep records on paper. You will be amazed how much you forget by the end of a brew day. I start with a checklist already drawn up on my book, and check off each item as it gets done. I also make notes of times, temps and other noteworthy issues. That way if something goes wrong or I miss my gravity numbers I can go back and see where the adjustments need to be made for the next attempt. I was a welder for a long time and when I first started out I kept a log just like that and it helped me a ton over time. Good luck and keep on brewing, sooner or later it will all come together and then you will have consistent beer everytime.
Bob

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Old 02-15-2012, 08:31 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thomasgorff View Post
Just a quick look at my typical process. Heat water to 165 (12 degree difference to account for the grain temp). Add water inside my cooler (mash tun) with the grain for usually 60 minutes while stirring occasionally. Heat additional water to 170 and put inside my liquor tank. Sparge grain bed at a slow consistent water in water out speed. Add the first bit of the wort into liquor tank and sparge that back into mash/lauter tun. Boil the wort for usually about 60 mins. After, I introduce the wort chiller until wort is at pitching temp. I poor the wort into fermentor directly from brew pot (is that the correct move or should i siphon it?) and pitch my yeast..... any body see any flaws in this method or is that a pretty standard procedure?
Since I now know you are fly sparging, It is even more important that you take notes on your water volumes. Some people actually dont measure the water they sparge with, they just go until they collect the desired boil volume, however if you are trying to get exacting results each time, this method wont work for you.

As has been mentioned, slow constant sparge speed, to avoid channeling, is a must, the flow should be adjusted just so theres about an inch of water over the grain bed at all times.

Another option is to batch sparge, which some people say is easier, and actually takes a lot of the guess work out of sparging, then you could go back to fly sparging when you want to. You already have all the equipment needed to batch sparge, just another option.
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Old 02-15-2012, 08:49 PM   #9
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batch sparging is definitely something I will look into more. Are there any benefits or disadvantages to that technique?

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Old 02-15-2012, 08:59 PM   #10
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i was just reading through your earlier posted steps.... what is the initial drain? and if you are fly sparging would you always have fluid draining until you reached your pre boil volume? I guess I am a little confused about steps 2-4...

2) Next, take your initial drain amount, lets say you got 3.5 gallons or 14 qts on your initial drain, take that amount and subtract it from your total volume needed.
3.5 - 12 = 8.5 gallons total remaining to get to your 12 gallon preboil volume.
3) Take that number (8.5) divide by 2 for equal batch sparges and you should end up pretty darn close to your desired volume.
4) Sparge twice with 4.25 gallons each time.

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