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Old 06-21-2011, 03:47 PM   #1
mchrispen
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Default First AG - Lessons learned

First, thanks to everyone posting their experiences and advice. I read a lot, and made some of the same mistakes, but in the end everything turned out. I have about 2 years of extract and partial mash brews under my belt, and it is time to bring my brewing up a notch.

Thought I would start easy with the AHS Summer Session Saison recipe (AG). Single infusion, no mash out.

Lesson 1: Easy to overshoot temps. I have a cooler mash tun, preheated it, and dough in missed low by about 5 degrees. (was looking for 153) When adding additional water, I forgot to stir vigorously and overshot, just under 160. More vigorous stirring and dropping my chiller coil (unconnected but at room temp) helped stabilize things. However, I didn't get good conversion at the 50 minute mark. So I stirred things up again, added a bit more hot water to hit temp and let the mash sit for another hour. I tested some runnings and hit above my OG mark - so it was time to sparge.

Lesson 2: It appears my local tap water has too high a PH. I expected the PH to stabilize (I used the 5.2 stabilizer chem in my water) but it never came down below 6. Time to hit the AHB store and get some consultation. Again - resorted to a very long mash time.

Lesson 3: Batch sparging can be easy to get the volumes confused, especially when re-adding the first cloudy runnings. I got lost somehow (yes I was drinking beer during this process ) I need a better system to measure and track my sparge volumes. Sorta old school here - no HERMS or RIMS, just a good heavy pot, 10g cooler mash tun, and lots of tubing, and a large measure vessel.

Lesson 4: I need a larger boil kettle. I had to split my batch between a 5g kettle and my original 2g pot. It worked ok as I topped off the larger vessel during the brew from the smaller. Somehow, I ended up hitting the target OG in the AHS recipe, but missed the targets given by BeerSmith.

Lesson 5: While it is traditional to drink your own beer during the brew process, especially with the little down times, go easy. I got a bit buzzed after a couple beers, and when it was time to sparge (more beer in the meantime)... I was pretty blasted. Fortunately I still managed to get through the boil without burning myself!

Lesson 6: I am incredibly OCD about sanitation and cleaning, but I blame the buzz, and the onset of a happy beer nap: After sparging, I set the mash tun to the side (remember a giant Orange Igloo cooler) and boiled. After boil, cool down, transfer to the fermenter, pitching my starter into the fermenter, I cleaned everything (but the tun) and sat down and took a nap. I totally ignored the mash tun despite the giant ugly thing sitting on my counter and forgot about it. The nap naturally turned into bedtime. By 5 am the next morning the house was filled with a horrible putrid smell.

Then I noted the cooler, and noticed that rice crispy sounds were coming from it. When I opened the top - it was bubbling away. Apparently spontaneous fermentation. It took several hours to get the stink out of the house, and a long soak in bleach water to unstink the tun. I dumped the spoiled mess onto my lawn - perhaps some squirrels will enjoy the brew.

All in all - a classic newb mistake. Funny I don't recall anyone warning us newbies to CLEAN OUT THE DARN MASH TUN ASAP!

Looking forward to tasting this. I hit most of the numbers, but am sure my efficiency was pretty low overall. Will tune up and do another AG in a week or so.

Cheers All!

- Matt

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Old 06-21-2011, 04:42 PM   #2
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#1, a long mash isn't that bad for a Saison...you want it really dry so this probably helped it more than hurt it.

#5, I try to not have beer till the boil starts, mashing in and getting all your temps/measurements correct is a critical part of brewing. Since I stopped drinking from the get go my brew days have been better. I think everyone learns this lesson at least once, maybe more lol.

As for the sparge issue, I don't understand why the vorlauf addition screwed with your sparge additions...it doesn't count toward your sparge or anything.

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Old 06-21-2011, 04:56 PM   #3
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For the batch sparge, I was doling out water dipped from my kettle, while a slow trickle ran into my smaller kettle from the tun. I think I got confused because I was counting and measuring sparge water, and finding that I needed to also vorlauf the first couple of gallons of running in between additions. I actually think I missed my sparge addition by a couple of quarts at the end because I lost count. I didn't pre-measure the sparge water going into the kettle, because I was measuring into the tun. However I did hit the proper strike temperature... and no stuck sparge.

The resulting wort was beautiful and rich, far better than any of my previous results with LME.

I should add something - I was incredibly surprised at the sweet wort. I grew up in the Plains, had family that farmed, attended Kansas State, yet - never actually realized how much sugar could be in 12lbs of malt. Very cool experience!

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Old 06-21-2011, 05:03 PM   #4
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All of my water is kept in 5 gallon water jugs, I have the jugs marked every 1/4 gallon with a sharpie, I calculate my grain absorption amount, as I use this amount for my mashout volume, I write it down, I calculate the volume needed to hit my mash ratio and write that down, I split my sparge volume into two seperate sparges. With my system I know I need to have 7.25 gallons in the kettle preboil to hit the mark for correct volume post boil. I make sure I have all my water needed in the jugs, so I just pour the measured amount from the jugs needed for each addition, and whatever is left is my sparge volume. if I have water left in a jug I know I have forgotten an addition somewhere.

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Old 06-21-2011, 05:11 PM   #5
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I do similar to azscoob, measure the water before and then you don't have to worry about measuring it later as much.

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Old 06-21-2011, 05:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mchrispen View Post
Lesson 1: Easy to overshoot temps. I have a cooler mash tun, preheated it, and dough in missed low by about 5 degrees. (was looking for 153) When adding additional water, I forgot to stir vigorously and overshot, just under 160. More vigorous stirring and dropping my chiller coil (unconnected but at room temp) helped stabilize things. However, I didn't get good conversion at the 50 minute mark. So I stirred things up again, added a bit more hot water to hit temp and let the mash sit for another hour. I tested some runnings and hit above my OG mark - so it was time to sparge.

Lesson 1: I've been adding my mash water to my MLT at a higher than wanted temp then allowing it to cool to desired temperature before adding grain.

Lesson 2: Throw the 5.2 in the trash. Get Gordon Strong's new book. He really simplifies water chemistry. Basically adding R/O water to your dechlorinated tap water to cut down on stuff like high pH and high sodium. Then adding back just gypsum and sodium bicarbonate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mchrispen View Post
Lesson 3: Batch sparging can be easy to get the volumes confused, especially when re-adding the first cloudy runnings. I got lost somehow (yes I was drinking beer during this process ) I need a better system to measure and track my sparge volumes. Sorta old school here - no HERMS or RIMS, just a good heavy pot, 10g cooler mash tun, and lots of tubing, and a large measure vessel.
Lesson 3: I have a 10 gallon pot. I heat all of my water at the same time. I run off the strike water at temperature into MLT. I then continue heating the water that's left(sparge water) to above sparge temp and I run that off into a 5 gallon cooler. After mash time I run off wort into 10 gallon pot then open valve to let sparge water run into MLT.
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Bobby_M>>I flood the keg with CO2 for one minute with the lid off, rack the beer in to the bottom gently, seal it, flood it, vent it. If there's still O2 in there after that, F it.

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