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Old 02-19-2010, 05:06 AM   #1
lpdb185
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Default first AG batch was a disaster!!

basically, Murphy's Law was in full swing.

1) added 3.25g of 175F water to MLT, preheated for 5 min, added grain, and it settled at 140F!! added another quart at 175F and got 143. added another quart at 185F and got 148F (was looking for 150F). i said **** it and let it ride.

2) prepared water for first sparge and checked temp (looking for 180 figuring the MLT and grain would not absorb too much heat now). dropped the ******* digital thermometer in the ******* water. just brought it to a boil and let it cool about 15 minutes figuring it would be close. added to grain and it settled at 150F. added another quart of near boiling water and got 154F. again, i said **** it and let it ride.

3) sent my wife to my dad's to get a meat thermometer. she came back with a dial thermo that read from 50F to 550F (WTF??). it was pretty much worthless. used it anyway, prepared another 2.2g at what i believed to be 190F. grain settled at 152F. added another quart and got 155F.

4) at this point, i had damn nead 8 gallons of runnings for a 5gallon batch. once again, i said **** it. took my pre-boil gravity and got 1.037 when it was supposed to be 1.054.

5) brought my wort to a boil, added hops, and let it go for 1hr. only had .5lbs of DME, so i added all of it. added brewvint 1% boost and finished boil. flamed out and started the water to my CFC. opened ball valve on keggle.......and NOTHING. at this point, i'm seriously considering dumping it and trying another day. finally got the damn SS scrubby out of the pick up tube, but it still wouldn't drain worth a ****. after about 30min, i had about 5.15 gallons in the fermenter.


so, there are 2 things that amazed me. 1) 185F water + 10lb grain = 140F. 2) 7.75g boils down to 5.15g after only 60min of boiling and cooling through CFC.

plus, my hop strainer is apparently half worthless as my wort looked like a brown lava lamp with all the hops and hot break (best guess) floating around in it. so, i put the lid on and stuck air lock on and figure i'll let it sit overnight and let all the **** settle out, transfer off of said **** and pitch yeast.



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Old 02-19-2010, 11:54 AM   #2
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Hey that's the same thing that happened to me. I had a thermometer with a 4' wire probe, Don't get it wet. This I came to find out later. I ended up with an OG @ 1.035. Tastes good though. Get a good thermometer, like cheap and failsafe. On my next try I intentionally overshot temps, Tried to over pre-heat MLT and had much better luck. I have since had similar problems, and instead of spiking the mash with hot water (the more water you've got, the more boiling water you need to add to get temp up, Damn you Newton!), you can always do a decoction to boost temp. Otherwise you end up with a no sparge.



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Old 02-19-2010, 11:55 AM   #3
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What was your OG into the fermentor? It's most likley cold break in the fermentor, it will all settle out and the yeast will use it. Just do a primary only skip the secondary. When your FG hits, put it outside or somewhere you can get the temp down as cold as you can for a week or until it clarifies. You'll end up with a pretty good looking beer I imagine, maybe just not at your target ABV%.

What type of MLT are you using? Remember that your SWMBO is your SWMBO!

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Old 02-19-2010, 12:08 PM   #4
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As you get used to the heat loss in your system, you'll be able to get very close to your desired temps without adjustments. If you miss high, adding some ice is the easiest way to go. If you miss low, you can just scoop some of the mash out, bring it to a boil in a separate pan, and then add it back to the mash to raise your temperature. That's also known as doing a decoction.

If you miss your pre-boil gravity, you can also just boil the hell out of it until you get closer to where you are supposed to be, and then start your timer and hop additions.

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Old 02-19-2010, 12:18 PM   #5
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What was your target OG? Boiling ~8 gal down to just over 5 starting at 1.037 gives me a OG of about 1.058 into the fermenter... just playing with numbers in Beer Smith. That doesn't seem too bad to me.

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Old 02-19-2010, 12:44 PM   #6
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Some things I have learned along the way that might help:

  • Skip the preheat and just mash-in with hotter water. I used to preheat but now I have no idea why I did that. Use (learn) Beersmith, which allows you to put in the temp of your grains & mashtun and then recommends a water temp. It is pretty good once you've mastered it.
  • Measuring your grain temp is inaccurate until it rests in the mashtun for at least 5 minutes. The whole thing, including the walls of the mashtun, takes time to stabilize.
  • Your mash will convert at 140. No worries. Just leave in there an extra 30 minutes to be sure.
  • Hydros are extremely inaccurate at high temps. Let it cool to near room temp. Since they are calibrated for 60F, correct for this if your temp is higher or lower (see Beersmith). Also, while sparging, the boil pot can be seriously stratified. Strong wort (first runnings) can sit at the bottom below the later runnings. If you dip in that pot to measure gravity, stir first.
  • Cold break in your fermenter is no big deal. I wish it settled in my brew pot, but I only get a mediocre whirlpool. I use a suspended hop bag and an unobstructed dip tube. I have never had any sort of blockage.
  • If you are batch sparging, get a nice fine grind and never worry about that being a source of your efficiency problems. Stir well at mash-in to avoid dough balls.
  • RDWHAHB.
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Old 02-19-2010, 12:54 PM   #7
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Your experience doesn't sound that far off from a normal beginner AG session.

It all works out in the end.

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Old 02-19-2010, 12:57 PM   #8
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Your first all grain sounds like my 5th all grain.

My last was a disaster at 52% efficiency. I used a cookie sheet as a "false side" since I had too much grain for my 5-gallon MT.

It also turned out the best beer I have ever had.

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Old 02-19-2010, 01:01 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Conodor View Post
Your experience doesn't sound that far off from a normal beginner AG session.

It all works out in the end.
+1 I agree with that.
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Old 02-19-2010, 02:46 PM   #10
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Certainly more than half of your problem was not having a good thermometer. Get your self something like this http://www.cutleryandmore.com/details.asp?SKU=11512
Actually, get that one exactly because it's waterproof and recalibratable. Two things a brewer need.

The other half of your problem is not being accurate on how much of what temp water will equalize to what temp. SOFTWARE! When you add hot water to a cold cooler, just don't assume it didn't take much heat. After the preheat period, measure the water temp. Depending on the grain/water ratio and grain temp, your strike may need to be 165 or 170F outside of what the cooler wanted to steal. Software will fix you up.

You don't mention much about when you perform the MLT drains.. You only talk about infusions. Did you take first runnings before any sparge went in?



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