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Old 02-24-2008, 08:20 PM   #1
uwjester
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Default First AG...uhhh...learning experience

Well it wasn't a total waste because beer of some sort will ensue, but I wouldn't call it a success either. Yesterday was my first AG brew session after about 10 or so extract with grains sessions. I did a bit of reading and planning and I thought I had everything worked out.

Recipe looks fairly simple.
8# english pale malt
2# carared
.5# 120L crystal

2oz fuggles @60
2oz fuggles @15
1oz fuggles @0

1.4L starter of cal-ale WLP001

I was shooting for a sort of hybrid ESB. I had the WLP001 in the fridge so I decided to use that rather than buy a different vial. In retrospect, I think that was a pretty good idea.

I used beersmith to help with the mash schedule. I started with 13 quarts of 166F water into the MLT to hit 155 strike temp. I came in a little low so I added another quart at about 170F and hit 155 dead on. I mashed for an hour and started draining/sparging. I got up to 6 gallons in the boil pot and took a SG reading. The target was 1.048 and I was at around 1.030. Arghh. Terrible efficiency, I thought. Must have had channeling through the grain bed, although I came up with a reasonably good system to avoid that. OK. First time, I can deal with that. I added 3# dme to the wort and did another reading. I was up to 1.044. Still not as high as I wanted, but in the ballpark.

I went through the boil as always. Nothing interesting to report there. The interesting data comes after I have cooled the wort. Surprise, surprise the specific gravity is around 1.08. The volume was a bit low (around 4 gallons) so I added water back up to 5 gallons and the SG went down to 1.063. I figured that I had enough boil-off to account for the discrepancy in SG, but, of course, a real brewer knows what I did wrong. I took the pre-boil specific gravity reading and didn't adjust for temperature. The extra 3# of dme are going to make the finished product "interesting", but at least it will still be beer.

I hope my mistakes might help the next guy.

Cheers,

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Old 02-24-2008, 10:20 PM   #2
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Live and learn, but I think your beer'll be great!

I made a beer a long time ago that everything possible went horribly but it came out great. First off, I bought the grain for two recipes and then forgot that they were for two different beers and mixed them. I went ahead with twice the grain I had intended, then missed mash temps and added too much water to compensate. I had a stuck sparge, and in my attempts to fix it pulled out the spigot from the mash tun and beer started gushing out. I just grabbed the brew kettle and let it dribble in (mash done early!). Because of the stuck sparge and broken mash tun I only ended up with three gallons. But like I said, the beer was some of the best I've ever tasted. Unfortunately, I'll never be able to reproduce it.

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Old 02-24-2008, 10:34 PM   #3
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Some people do partial mashes, in your case you have a partial extract.

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Old 02-24-2008, 11:46 PM   #4
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Yes you will by doing what you have learned you will make even better beer. Remember that you are in charge of the outcome and can design whatever you like and there will be disasters that you learn from and will make changes that produce great beers.

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Old 02-25-2008, 03:21 AM   #5
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Yeah, I sort of figured this one was going to be a learning experience from the beginning. What kills me is that the SG was nearly spot on (after temp adjustment) for the pre-boil before I added the DME. Oh well. It will still be beer. The fermentation is rocking along now. I'm hoping it will be ready in time for St. Patrick's day.

Cheers.

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Old 02-25-2008, 03:21 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moger777
Some people do partial mashes, in your case you have a partial extract.

I don't think anyone has written a book on this style yet. You want to collaborate?
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Old 02-25-2008, 01:28 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uwjester
Yeah, I sort of figured this one was going to be a learning experience from the beginning. What kills me is that the SG was nearly spot on (after temp adjustment) for the pre-boil before I added the DME. Oh well. It will still be beer. The fermentation is rocking along now. I'm hoping it will be ready in time for St. Patrick's day.

Cheers.
I don't even bother takeing a preboil gravity reading anymore. I just don't care really. I hit my OG numbers within 3-5% so that is close enough for me.

You will have beer, not the beer you were shootng for but beer and I'm sure it will be good beer.
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Old 02-25-2008, 01:38 PM   #8
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You never know what will come out of the fermenter on a crazy brew like that.

For my first ever all grain brew I planned an ordinary bitter to give away as my wedding gift to my groomsmen. (bold move I know) I had no experience with all-grain, no-one to mentor me and was only armed with my extract knowledge and How-to-Brew. Needless to say, everything went as horribly as it could have, and I was so pissed by the end of the brew day I could barely contain myself. But... after 4 weeks and another couple in the bottle, I cracked open a bitter that was good enough to be served anywhere in England. Don't loose faith, you beer could be the best you've made so far!

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