Converting this extract to AG
So one of my first brews was a Brewer's Best Extract Cream Ale kit:
2.5gallon boil volume
3.3 Light LME
3 lbs Pilsen DME (late addition)
1 lb corn sugar (late addition)
1oz willamette @ 60m
1oz willamette @ 10m
It was a real hit with most of my friends, and one of my favorites. rather than pay $35 for the kit, I wanted to recreate it, reasonably, in AG.
without further ado, my attempt:
5.5 final volume
.5# flaked maize
1.5# cornmeal cereal mash
1# cane sugar
.5 willamette @ 60m
1oz willamette @ 10m
My efficiency is pretty damn awful right now, coming in around 55%, so that's the reason for such a big grain bill. If I overshoot (only my 3rd or 4th AG batch, still trying to learn the process), then I end up with a beer with a bit more of a kick...
Only issue with what I found is that I was only able to get my hands on 3# of Pilsner malt, so i had to compensate with a bit more 2-row. Am I close on this one?
The second question, rather than pay out the butt for dextrose, I'm wondering if, in this small amount (only 1LB) I'm going to run into any problems using cane sugar in its place? I know Jamil's cream ale recipe calls for cane, so I'm guessing I'll be OK, but wanted to check.
Any red flags up here? The beersmith numbers are the same as the brewer's best kit instructions, so I'm feeling optimistic, but wanted to run it past the experts before I jump in feet first on this one.
Looks fine! If you go with table sugar, use a little less (maybe .75lb) or if you don't mind a little hight FG then just add to your grain bill instead.
Sweet. Thanks. I'll probably lower the sugar to .75 and hope against hope that I can push past 60% or so on the mash. That would make my day.
Where are you that you can't get pilsner malt?
The beer sounds fine, but it really isn't a comparable grain bill. LME = 2 row + a bit of carpils. Pils DME = pilsner + a bit of carapils. The comparable recipe would just be a 3.3to3 ratio of 2 row to pils + a touch of carapils and a lb of corn sugar.
That said, you've got a perfectly reasonable base for a cream ale. There really is no reason not to role with it and see how it goes.
For future batches, you might want to keep your "1st attempt" recipes as simple as possible. It's pretty hard to pick out small amount of subtle grains in a complex recipe. It's a lot easier to say "Hey, this needs a little more sweetness/body/whatever" and then brew the next batch with the same grain bill + something that will provide a little of what was "missing". Compare that to this recipe where you already have 5 grains. If something is a little off, you are going to have to know a lot about each ingredient to know how to tweak it.
Have you started working through some possible causes? I know there are a million possibles, but you know the old def of insanity (trying the same thing over and over, expecting different results....). Have you compared your crush (I assume your getting it crushed at this point) with pictures of a proper crush? A very coarse crush seems to be the common thread in a lot poor efficiency complaints.
1. I'm in Iowa City Iowa, and the nearest 'real' brew shop is about a 40 minute drive away. One of our local drug/liquor stores carries some brewing supplies, but in terms of Pilsner, they only had 3 pounds, and I bought out all they had. I can do a quick check tomorrow to see if they've got another 2 pounds to throw on there, it's been almost a week, they've probably re-stocked.
2. THANK YOU! Excellent! I swear I'd done a lot of googling to try and find a chart of "This DME = this in AG" and came up empty, so the carapils were the thing I was missing. Shockingly, I have a half pound of carapils left in my rubbermaid-o-ingredients. I also (leading into #3) found a pound of dextrose I didn't know I had
3. Great suggestion to simplify the recipe. Based on the addition of carapils, I took the corn out. I was only using that to work against my crappy efficiency and give a little bit of that corn tinge, but staying simple is the very much best way to go about this right now, thank you for reminding me of that.
#1 - A coarse crush. My friend lent/gave me (he's basically quit brewing) his mill, a CrankAndStein, but he didn't have the slightest clue how to adjust the crush size or anything like that. I experimented, and still came up fairly empty. No instructions online anyplace that i can find. My crush looked like this , which people said was OK, but come to find out after, people actually thought it was fairly coarse. I'm just gonna run it through twice for tomorrow's brew, and hope for no stuck sparges.
#2 - Not stirring hard enough during the infusions. After adding my sparge water, I stirred it around, but not vigorously. I was worried about disturbing the grain bed. Have since realized that the ~10m or so most recommend letting your infusions sit, along with a few liters of vorlauf set the grain bed just fine, I'll be a little more vigorous with my stirring, to make sure everything gets disturbed and rinsed with each of the sparges.
#3 - My sparge water was too cool. I was worried about tannins, and the number "170" was stuck in my head, so that's what my sparge water was at, not realizing that in order to get that last bit of conversion, I needed to bring the entire grain bed up near 170 (168 is what 'they' say, i'm told), so this next go-round, i believe my sparge water will be ~180 when i drop it in, trying to get the very last bit.
A little nervous with the double crush that I might run into stuck sparge, but I'm hoping with only 11.5 pounds of grain in the tub, I'll be OK.
With those suggestions in mind, here's the new, simplified recipe, that should line up fairly well. I've upped my efficiency guestimate to 60%, because I'm feeling cocky tonight (maybe it's the two IPAs and hoppy wheat I've had?).
Hops are the same, aiming for 150-151 on the mash, 1.25 quarts per pound, a pair of 2-gallon infusions, which gives me a 6.2 gallon pre-boil volume, which (in my setup, stovetop) will put me at a 5.5 volume into the fermenter. hopefully at a stunningly pretty 1.054 OG, drop in some notty, finish at 1.008 or so, and success.
If I go crazy and my mash is way more effective, i'll either deal with a kickier beer, add some more water to the fermenter, or only do .75 dextrose. Probably the more water, cause who doesn't like more beer, yeah?
That looks a little more reasonable, agreed?
Sounds like you have a plan! From the picture, I'd say you have plenty of room for a double crush without worrying about a stuck sparge. Just double check that it's not pulverizing the husks too bad on the second go round.
Absolutely killed this mash. Double crush, better sparge temps, better mixing of my infusions, lead to a mash efficiency of about 79.5%. That, combined with overshooting my volume (can't fit 6 gallons in a 6 gallon BB, whoops) lead to a longer boil to get down under 5.5 gallons, which meant I overshot my OG by about .007 (1.055 vs 1.062), so it'll have a bit more bite to it, but I'd much rather go that direction than come out with a 4% watered down nothingness. Thanks for the advice in this thread, you guys rock.
Glad it worked out! 79.5%......can't ask for much better than that. Congratulations!
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