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Old 08-30-2011, 01:55 AM   #1
n240sxguy
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Default Brewed first AG today. Advice? Suggestions?

Ok, finally got to take my freshly built rig for a run. I have a 3 tier wood brew stand. Turkey fryer with 7.5 gal pot on top, 48(I think) qt cooler with copper manifold and copper sparger in the middle, and another turkey fryer burner with a converted ke on the bottom. First batch was an Irish Red. I took gravity readings at just about every step of this one since it was my first. I used sparge pal app on my phone to get water numbers, then modified them how I saw fit. 10.25 lbs of grain, 1.25 qt/lb, 3.5 gallons of strike water. Mashed at 152 for an hour. Did vorlauf, then sparged 7 gal @ 170 for about an hour. Collected what I thought was 6.5 gallons of wort. In hindsight, it may have just been 6 gal based on the markings on my keg. Since this was my first time to use my new brew pot, I boiled the heck out of it; apparently too much. I ended up with only 4 gal of wort in my fermenter. The ultimate kick in the butt with all of it was I think my last runnings got too low. Here come the hydrometer numbers. Calibration with 74 degree water .9965. First runnings 1.076 @ 61. Last runnings 1.0047 @ 64. Pre boil 1.0416. After boil 1.052 at a little under 80(forgot to write down the exact temp.) @ 4 gallons. Didn't take another reading after adding a gallon of boiled, cooled water. I calculated my efficiency at 72.75%, but that is skewed because it was only 4 gallons.

Second batch went a little better. I was still pissed about the first batch, so I missed some readings on this one. It is a Newcastle clone. 12.125 lb of grain. Same mash thickness. Mashed with 4 gal of 165 degree water. Ended up mashing for about 80-90 minutes because my first batch was still cooling in the BK. Ended up sparging it into a bucket. I think that worked better for me since I could tell exactly how much I was collecting. I used 7 gal of 170 sparge water, and collected 7 gal of wort. I added a gallon of sparge water because I didn't want to come up short again, and I planned to keep a closer eye on the readings toward the end of the sparge so I wouldn't go as low as the first batch. So, here come the numbers. Don't have first runnings. Last runnings 1.0105 @ 77 degrees. I was happy about that. Pre boil 1.046 @ 60. After boil 1.058 @ 60. I boiled this batch just a little less vigorously, and ended up with right at 5 gallons in the fermenter. It was bittersweet. Better than the first one, but not quite the 5.5 I was hoping for. A hop bag may have gotten me there. The bottom was thick with hop pieces. Efficiency on this one came out to 85.02%. Very excited!

Anyone have any comments or suggestions that would help me out?

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Old 08-30-2011, 02:00 AM   #2
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If your fly sparging im not sure how your second runnings came in so low on your first batch... what was your recipe?

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Old 08-30-2011, 02:04 AM   #3
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Since I don't have all the lingo down yet, second runnings would be the last thing to go in the BK right? That's what I called the last runnings. Recipe was as follows: 9 lb UK 2 row, 13 oz crystal 50-60, 5 oz chocolate.

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Old 08-30-2011, 02:17 AM   #4
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If your spinkling water over the grain bed with a copper manifold your fly sparging... basically you are letting the water wash over the grain at the same rate the MT is draining, and when the wort that is draining is less than 1.010 (you really need a refractometer to measure this) or you have reached your target boil volume, you stop. Although for 9 pounds of grain it doesn't seem like you were really that low for your OG after boiling. I think you did fine. You should always try to keep some DME around to fix those low gravity situations though.

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Old 08-30-2011, 02:31 AM   #5
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I didn't really think the after boil reading was that bad, even though I knew it would be lower after I added the extra gallon of water to get it up to 5 gallons. I used all of the sparge water, and only drained out what I planned to boil. Somewhere between 6 and 6.5 gallons. I was concerned about the whole leaching tannins that everyone talks about, and the fact that I managed to end up with only 4 gallons. There was a little more left in the bottom of the BK than when I tested it with just water; so I guess with the possibly closer to 6 gallon preboil amount, maybe I boiled off and left behind 2 gallons. Just seemed like a lot. I don't think I left quite a half gallon in the BK. 1.5 gallons seems like a lot to boil off. How do you boil? Is it just a gentle roll, or a violent sloshing? My first batch was violent most of the time. My second batch was somewhere in the middle, with the end getting closer to the rolling boil.

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Old 08-30-2011, 02:38 AM   #6
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I usually just do a gentle boil, unless I really overshot my preboil volume or im making a really strong beer and want to boil a lot of water off as quick as possible. Really for your first AG session it sounds like you did pretty good. I know my first one didn't go nearly so smooth.

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Old 08-30-2011, 02:45 AM   #7
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I'm glad I saved the Newcastle til last. I figured I could work all the bugs out before I got to it. OK, mental checklist, gentle boil, and DME. Great! Thanks for your suggestions.

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