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.