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Old 04-02-2007, 04:31 AM   #1
greg75
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Default Did my first AG today

I brewed an ESB recipe that I found on the Internet, with a few minor changes I made to it (substituted Crystal 80 with Crystal 60 and a tad of Crystal 90, upped the hops a bit, used different yeast). Everything went great during the mash...I used Beersmith to calculate the strike temperature and amount to use, and I hit my target mash within two degrees (wanted 154, got 152...which I'm more than happy with).

So, then I vorlaufed, and drained into the kettle. I then added the sparge water, which was also calculated by Beersmith. This is where I ran into my first issue. I was left with 1-2 qts. of sparge water in my pot when my cooler was completely filled. I'm guessing I calculated with an inaccurate grain absorption rate (I used what seems to be the standard of .1 gal/lb). I'll have to do some thinking here.

Anyway, after I got everything in the kettle, I realized I was a little short on my desired boil volume. I ended up adding the remaining water that was meant for sparge water, which got me close to my target, so I thought "good enough".

The whole boil went well, except for the fact that after sixty minutes, I was quite a bit lower on my final volulme than I wanted (about 3 qts). Obviously my evaporation rate is quite a bit higher than I estimated. I added some water to get close to desired volume before chilling, so not really a huge issue, I guess.

My immersion chiller did not work very efficiently. It took about 35 minutes to get to pitching temp, where I was expecting about 20 minutes. Wort temp dropped like crazy all the way to about 100 degrees, but then it slowed down to a crawl to get to pitching temp. Law of diminishing returns, I suppose. Finally I got the wort to 68 degrees and I was ready to put the stuff into my carboy for fermentation. This is where things got bad.

First off, Bazooka T screens are useless, as far as I'm concerned. I used all pellet hops, and the Bazooka T is a magnet for them. I spent about 30 minutes using my mash spoon to scrape break/hop sludge from the screen to allow the wort to go through the valve. I was not too happy about it, to say the least! I think I'm going to have to look into exclusively whole hops, which I think would work well with the Bazooka T, or bite the bullet and buy one of those damned Hopstoppers. Any opinions would be appreciated.

I ended up with 5.5 gallons in the carboy. I calculated my recipe for a finished volume of 6 gallons, with the hopes of getting 5.5 in the carboy, so I was pretty psyched about that! Unfortunately, so much sludge got through, seemingly due to me scraping the hell out of the Bazooka T and putting all that junk into suspension. I'm not too worried about it, because it should settle out in primary, but I'm beginning to guess I'm actually closer to 4.5 to 5 gallons of wort, once all the junk is factored out.

I calculated a OG of 1.065, and got a reading of 1.070. I'm not sure if it's because I ended up with less volume that the gravity was higher, or because there was so much crap floating around in the sample I measured with, or a bit of both. Either way, it's pretty close, which I'll take on my first AG.

Overall, I'd say things went really well, with just a couple of minor hiccups. I'm really looking forward to getting this process down to a tee, like many here already have. I couldn't have done this without all the help you've all given me the last few months. Thanks to all who took time to answer my questions!

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Old 04-02-2007, 04:34 AM   #2
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Great and all, but pictures...

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Old 04-02-2007, 04:42 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spyk'd
Great and all, but pictures...

It was a one man show. My wife was busy taking care of both of our sick boys, and to be honest, pictures never crossed my mind, anyway! Also, I didn't have any beer during the whole session, let alone a homebrew. That's sacrilege, I know, but I knew I'd start caring a little less, and cutting a corner here or there if I had too many...

But, not to worry, I'm enjoying a cold one now!
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:47 PM   #4
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I use a herb ball for pellet hops you can find them online at kitchen supply stores some online homebrew stores might have them too, my LHBS carries them.

I also made some out of 2 each stainless steel wire mesh sink strainers from wal mart and use the homemade jobs for whole hops and plugs.

I just hang them off the side of the boil pot with a piece of copper wire and pull them out after the boil.

Very happy with the results.

Congradulations on your 1st AG

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Old 04-08-2007, 12:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abracadabra
I use a herb ball for pellet hops you can find them online at kitchen supply stores some online homebrew stores might have them too, my LHBS carries them.

I also made some out of 2 each stainless steel wire mesh sink strainers from wal mart and use the homemade jobs for whole hops and plugs.

I just hang them off the side of the boil pot with a piece of copper wire and pull them out after the boil.

Very happy with the results.

Congradulations on your 1st AG
I'm going to look into a herb ball. Sounds like a reasonable solution.

I was just at LHBS today, buying ingredients for an IPA I'll be brewing next weekend. Obviously, there's going to be a lot more hops in the IPA than the ESB, so I really wanted a quick solution to the clogging of the T screen. Without having a herb ball readily available, I went with LHBS's suggestion of tying a muslin bag to the top of the keggle, closing it off with a clothespin, and adding the hops into the bag. It seems like it should work reasonably well to me. I'll let you know how it goes!
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Old 04-08-2007, 12:36 AM   #6
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Today was my first time using my Bazooka and it worked perfectly with whole hops. This was the reason I went with the Bazooka because I use whole hops exclusively. I would definitely suggest making the switch, you will be much happier. Mine drained quicker than I though it would and not once did it come close to getting stuck. It did let all the break material into the carboy but I don't have a problem with that.


Congrats on your first!


Dan

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Old 04-08-2007, 12:42 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Willsellout
Today was my first time using my Bazooka and it worked perfectly with whole hops. This was the reason I went with the Bazooka because I use whole hops exclusively. I would definitely suggest making the switch, you will be much happier. Mine drained quicker than I though it would and not once did it come close to getting stuck. It did let all the break material into the carboy but I don't have a problem with that.


Congrats on your first!


Dan
I definitely have pondered the whole hop option over the past week. The problem I keep running into is that I'm really limited in what kind of hops I can use if I exclusively use whole hops. It seems like Fuggle, EK Goldings, and Czech Saaz are readily available in my area, but beyond that, it gets kind of hard, depending on what shop I go to. As for pellet hops, I can find anything and everything I've ever wanted. I really do want to attempt a whole hop brew some time just to see if I can detect any differences in the finished product...which will also serve as a good test for the Bazooka screen at the same time.
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Old 04-08-2007, 12:45 AM   #8
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If you haven't checked them out yet
http://hopsdirect.com
http://freshops.com

this is where I get my hops from and I can get pretty much anything I want. Both high quality but there are minimum orders. I ordered a bunch and split them up and vacuum seal them and put them in the freezer. I don't really see a difference except in flavor and aroma with leaf hops..bittering is about the same.


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Old 04-08-2007, 03:09 PM   #9
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Our club does a bulk order every year. This is where I get the majority of my
whole and plug hops. Any pellet hops I need I can get locally at my LHBS.

I vacuum seal and freeze them.

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Old 04-08-2007, 04:14 PM   #10
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I almost always use pellets for bittering & almost always cuss at the bazooka when it clogs.

I have a spare 30 qt pot that I put the water for the final sparge into. Once I get a longer LP hose for the new burner, I'll use it as a hot tank.

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