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Old 05-29-2009, 02:07 AM   #1
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Default First AG...a few questions

I just did my first AG this past Monday of DD’s http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f70/orange-honey-hefeweizen-69499/ (thank you sir) and I have a few questions and concerns you guys can hopefully help me with. I hope I didn’t screw this up too bad.

My strike water temp in Beersmith was 168 and on the online calculator Mash and Sparge Water Calculator ::: Brew365 - Homebrewing Recipes and Articles was 164 so I averaged it at 166 degress added my strike water first and doughed in. When I took a temp reading using my Sunbeam thermometer like you get from Bed Bath and Beyond (the kind with the probe on a wire for meat) it read 161 degrees initially when I was shooting for 153. I preheated the tun (a 10 gallon round cooler with a braid looped around into a tee like the one in Palmer’s book) with boiling water so at first I thought I used too hot of water to pre heat the tun. I checked the middle of the tun with a true temp thermometer and it read 156. Now I had been stirring like crazy for several minutes trying to get the temp down so I wasn’t sure if that’s why it dropped or if my first reading with the probe was possibly resting on the braid which may have been hotter than the mash. I eventually got down to a steady 153 for at least the last 35 minutes or so of the mash.
Then when I added my strike water I used 5 ½ gallons of sparge water split in two batches at 185 degrees per Bobby M’s instructions in DD’s tutorial although that was for a Nut Brown Ale. On one reading of the mash it was at 172 degrees but dropped fairly quickly. In Palmers book it says you shouldn’t go over 170 to prevent tannin extraction if iirc.
So here are a few questions:

1. I’m a little concerned about the difference in strike water temps between the two calculators. Is the type of grain a factor as Beersmith knows that from the recipe where the online calculator doesn’t?
2. Is sparge water temp dependent on the batch size of grain? In other words does it vary with the amount of grain in the recipe.
3. Does the temp of the water to preheat your tun matter? Should it be close to your strike temp?
4. What’s better adding the strike water and the grain on top or the other way around? Palmer’s book says the grain first.


Both thermometers were calibrated to boiling water and my OG was 1.060 which according to Beersmith is 88% so if that’s correct at least I’ve got that going for me. Although I took the reading after I added the honey and cooled the wort so I’m not sure if that effects the efficiency calculation or not.



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Old 05-29-2009, 02:15 AM   #2
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1. Beersmith hasn't let me down yet, I typically hit my temps dead on (as long as mash tun is fully preheated.

2. I usually heat up my sparge water to 168 degrees no matter what size of grain bill. Remeber with sparging, your not worrying about the coversion of sugars, just rinsing them from the mash tun. If you want to stop the conversion of sugars, do a mash out.

3. Lets say my strike water temp is 165, I will heat my water up to 175, usually 10 degrees hotter than my strike temp. The more batchs you do, you will become more familiar with you equipment.

4. Depends on who you talk to, and what kind of system they have. I typically add my hot strike water to preheat the mash tun, once at correct temp, I will add half my grain, stir, then add the other half, stirring again. This way avoids dough balls, cold spots, etc.

Good to see your did your homework prior to jumping into the AG world. Also, I would trust beersmith over any other program. I have used both it and promash, and it seems to be more user friendly, or maybe thats because I have used it more.



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Old 05-29-2009, 02:45 AM   #3
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Thanks. I do have another question. When calculating efficiency should I have taken the reading preboil in the boil pot or the way I did it in the fermenter.What's more accurate for efficiency?

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Old 05-29-2009, 02:52 AM   #4
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I will usually take a sample prior to boil, and let it cool while boiling, then take the reading when its close to 70 degrees, same with the sample after boil. As long as both samples are near the same temp, you should be good. If not, beersmith has a function, that if you put in the hydro reading, and the temp you took it at, it will give you your "true" gravity. Cheers!

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Old 05-29-2009, 03:33 AM   #5
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1. I'm guessing you don't have something setup right in BeerSmith. I think there is an option of a preheated tun. Make sure you have that checked. 168* seems a little high, although I don't know how much grain you were using. The type of grain doesn't matter. The amount and grain temperature are what matter.

2. You don't have to be as precise with sparge water. Around 170* is were you want the grain bed to be. 172* won't hurt anything. Once you start getting familiar with your system, you'll figure out where you need/want to be. When batch sparging, you don't need to do a mash out to stop conversion. Just add ~185* water like you did.

3. I heat my strike water 12-15* hotter and let it come down to my strike temp. I just let that preheat my MLT. You can do it however you like. I will caution you on adding boiling water. Some people have reported warping their coolers because of the high temps.

4. Doesn't matter. I add grain to water because of the way I preheat my tun.

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Old 05-29-2009, 12:24 PM   #6
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I never really understood the need for taking a preboil hydro reading because it really doesn't mean anything because as soon as your wort starts to boil it changes and continues to change until after the boil and cooling. The hydro reading into the fermenter is far more important because it is the reading that you use to calculate actual efficiency and alcohol content.

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Old 05-29-2009, 12:33 PM   #7
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After doughing in the grain, I have found that it takes a few minutes for the mash to come to a nice steady temp. Add grain, stir well, rest a couple minutes, stir again and take a temp reading. Quite often, people will take a temp. immediately after stirring in the grain, and it will be high.

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Old 05-29-2009, 12:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wilserbrewer View Post
After doughing in the grain, I have found that it takes a few minutes for the mash to come to a nice steady temp. Add grain, stir well, rest a couple minutes, stir again and take a temp reading. Quite often, people will take a temp. immediately after stirring in the grain, and it will be high.
Thanks. Looking back this could have very well been my problem.


Quote:
Originally Posted by double_e5 View Post
1. I'm guessing you don't have something setup right in BeerSmith. I think there is an option of a preheated tun. Make sure you have that checked. 168* seems a little high, although I don't know how much grain you were using. The type of grain doesn't matter. The amount and grain temperature are what matter.
Recipe was for 9 lbs. total. I'll take a look for the preheated tun option when I get home.


Quote:
Originally Posted by double_e5 View Post
3. I heat my strike water 12-15* hotter and let it come down to my strike temp. I just let that preheat my MLT. You can do it however you like. I will caution you on adding boiling water. Some people have reported warping their coolers because of the high temps.
Thanks for the heads up. I like the idea of preheating with your strike water.Saves a step as I initially preheated my tun dumped it out and heated my strike water.Makes much more sense know that I think about it.


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