First All Grain Day - See also, "Train Wreck"
So, today was my first all grain, and about everything possible that could go wrong, did. I'm looking for some advise, and some feedback.
First, my background - I've been brewing extract brews for about 18 months, and so far, have had no major incidents other than one boil over (not bad, beer was still good) and one incident where I learned not to substitute table sugar for corn sugar, even reducing the amount.
That said, I've wanted to get into all grain, but my first attempt appears to have faltered - badly. I was using an all grain adaptation of "Rocky Raccoon's Crystal Honey Lager" (Papazian's 3rd ed., p. 210) This typically calls for:
3.5 lb extra light DME
2.5 lbs clover honey
3 oz. cascade hops (1.5 boiling, .5 finishing)
American Lager Yeast
Based on what I've read, I substituted 5.5 lbs of grain for the DME, splitting it among the following:
3lbs Pilsner Malt
2lbs Light Crystal Malt - 20 Lov.
0.5 lbs Dark Crystal Malt - 120 Lov.
and kept the honey and other ingredients constant.
For equipment I used the same (underpowered) propane burner and pot I always use, a fry thermometer, a 10 gal. water cooler with a false bottom and ball valve, (the two being connected by plastic tubing). Weather conditions were clear, and approx 38 deg., F. All of the ingredients began indoors, at approx. 68 f.
Based on the strike water calculators I found, I began with 8.25 quarts of strike water, which I intended to heat to 149 for an initial temperature of 140, which I intended to rest at for 20 minutes, then tweak it up to 158 and hold it for 40 minutes. I intended to mash in the brew pot, and then lauter it through the drinking cooler.
What happened was that I wound up heating it to 150, and then after adding the grain it wound up being about 145f. Assuming this to be close enough (or even recommended, depending on the sources), I held it there for 20 minutes, and then turned the burner back on; this is where things began to go massively wrong - within about 5 minutes, the fry thermometer appeared to read 160 - a little higher than I wanted - I shut down the heat and gave it a good stir, and re-took the temperature - 190. Assuming this was a bad thing, I kept the lid off and stirred like crazy for 10 minutes to get it to dump heat - 38 degree weather is helpful for this - I got it to 160 at the end of that period of about 10-12 minutes.
I decided I may as well push through, and then attempted to put it into the cooler - unfortunately, I could get hardly anything to flow - stuck sparge. I tried suction and blowing at the end of the tubing I had attached to the output of the ball valve, but got nowhere - Knowing that time was running rapidly out, I tried adding the sparge water on top of the initial mixture, which worked to force the first 2 gallons or so out, but then also stalled. I wound up having to pour the whole mess through a large collander; at this point, it was too late in the day to do the boil, due to my hose based immersion chiller and the impending sub-freezing temperatures tonight (frozen pipes are a bad thing...), I dropped it into the kettle, slapped the lid on, and presently have it in the garage. It is sitting at about 4.5 gallons and a SG of 1.10 -- note - the honey has not yet been added.
My questions are this:
A) How many different things should I change the next time I try this, and
B) Should I try to boil this, or call it a 5.5 lb learning experience, and hit the brew shop on Monday to replace the grains and try this again next weekend (assuming it doesn't rain)?
1). I'd suggest a single infusion mash. Go for a mash temp of 150-154, or slightly more or less depending on the body and fermentability you want. The step mash isn't required. This is one less step, and one less thing to do wrong.
2) get a better thermometer, the thermometers from turkey fryers aren't the best. Stir up your strike water and get a to reading from top and bottom since temp gradients will develop as you heat the water.
3). If you overshoot temp of mash or strike, add cold water since quicker than stirring away the extra heat. If under-shoot mash temp, add boiling h2o.
Congrats on going all grain. The 2nd attemp will go smoother. Also consider using software like brewsmith to formulate recipes. It's fun to build your own and dial in the gravity, color, and IBUs.
Sorry to hear you had such a rough go the first time out. In short, I'd say ditch what you have so far, 5.5 lb of grain isn't going to set you back much and you probably have a partially converted starchy grainy mess in your brewpot that might even have a chance to sour a bit before you would get to boiling it.
Here are some other pointers:
When replacing DME, (especially extra light) you had the ratio roughly correct byt it should be swapped out for base grain. Any crystal you want to add would be extra; 2.5 lbs is a huge amount for a 5 gal batch, about double of what you would want I think.
It sounds like you have a beverage cooler, but I'm not sure about the tubing connection between the false bottom and ball valve. I use a ss braid, but from what I know about false bottoms you shouldn't be using any tubing, unless it's a pickup tube. If the false bottom setup is good, why didn't you mash in there instead of the boil kettle? How did you crush your grain, maybe it was too fine?
The 140 rest is a bit high for a protein rest, so not sure what was going on there. But especially for your first AG, just go single infusion, no need to get fancy.
I'm sure others will have some input, but you should also check out some more info before trying next week. Maybe look at some of the stickys at the top of this forum or Bobby M's, or even How to Brew.
A) Lots! First, DME weight isn't equivalent to grain weight. Usually it's about 1.6-1.7 lbs of grain for 1 lb DME. So you'll want to take that into consideration next time you convert. Also, 2.5lbs of crystal malt is a lot of crystal - probably too much for most recipes.
Sounds like you were fine with strike temps the first time, but honestly, I wouldn't recommend a step mash for your first AG! As you learn how your system works you'll be able to tweak strike temps to more easily reach mash temps. In the future though, without a RIMS or HERMS or other such system in place, step mashes are probably most easily done by adding more water to the mash (there are lots of calculators around that can tell you how much to add).
Also, why mash in your boil kettle? If you have a cooler all set up, why not just mash in that? That's how most people do it.
I'd honestly recommend doing a simple single infusion mash. The first few AG sessions are usually about figuring out your system (how it works with temps, what sorts of efficiencies you get, etc.). Keep it easy!
B) I would definitely not boil that. It's probably already soured a bunch. Basically you've got a pot full of sugar water that yeasties love ... if it's not moldy yet, it will be soon. Dump, clean, rethink your system and try again next week! Save your honey and hops!
Also, you've lagered before, yes? I'm assuming you have temp control to do that?
Thanks for all the feedback!
Here's what I was thinking with the step mash; I was thinking that since I was getting a bunch of fermentable sugar out of the honey, I'd try to emphasize dextrins in the grain portion of the wort but having a long, high temperature mash. The 140/145 was supposed to be a low end saccrification rest.
As to the connection between the false bottom, that's what the brew shop recommended as simplest and least finikey, and yes, it's a pickup tube.
I figured something would probably set up shop in the wort if I left it, but I was out of options by then, and wanted to see what everyone thought. Also, I mashed in the kettle because that's what the tutorial had it doing, and given that it's COLD, the ability to tweak the heat on demand seemed useful.
As to lagering, I've done it the once, and I usually use my garage, which has a nice cold concrete floor and no heat - it's attached to the house, and usually stays about 45 degrees this time of year.
From what I'm hearing, I should toss the stuff in the garage, and change the grain loadout, to 5.5 base malt (pilsner?), and then 1.25 of Light Crystal(20) and .5 of the Dark Crystal (120)?
RE your false bottom, does it have a tube that connects from the false bottom to the valve on the cooler, where if the tube collapsed it would stop any flow? Is the false bottom like or similar to this one: http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewing/12-s-s-false-bottom.html
Either way, maybe your plastic tubing collapsed and that's why you couldn't drain your MLT. http://www.northernbrewer.com/brewing/1-2-id-thermoplastic-tubing.html That's the type of tubing I use with my false bottom in my 10 gal cooler MLT. I also use that type between my HLT and MLT when fly sparging. The link doesn't have a photo, but you can see a photo of it at a distance under my profile in the photos of my ghetto fly sparge (I can't post photos it seems). It's a beige color. I use translucent high temp thicker walled plastic tubing from my MLT to the kettle so I can see if the runnings are clear, but it's rated at a bit lower temp than the beige stuff. Can't remember if I actually ever used it in a brew, but I picked up a small chunk of high temp tubing from Home Depot when I first made my MLT - but I worried it wasn't food grade, so I got some of the stuff from northernbrewer.com.
I'd scrap that batch, chalk it up to a learning experience. Also you might take the opportunity to tweak the recipe. I also concur about the crystal malt. Looks like you probably subbed in too much of that, and not enough base malt (in your recipe the Pilsner malt). Generally, crystal malts seem to be used in quantities less than 1 to 1.5 lb for a 5 gal batch. Not saying there aren't exceptions, just saying generally thats the max.
With the amount of honey, the recipe is designed to finish really dry. In the book the FG is supposed to be 1.004 to 1.008, and Papazian notes that the recipe can be used to experiment with toasted malts, hops, other grains, and unusual ingredients. Is that what you were trying to do with the crystal malt, experiment with it? Nothing wrong with that if so. The name of the recipe definitely could lead one to think it should showcase crystal malt... but crystal malt will make the FG finish higher and if in more than just a small amount will change the dry nature brought out by the use of honey with just the extra light DME in the original recipe.
I plugged in a 70% efficiency in BeerSmith, and looks like you'd need 6 lbs of Pilsner Malt. If you wanted to use some crystal malt but still have it finish pretty low maybe stick to 0.25 to 0.5 lb. There are numerous other malts that you could try in a small amount in that recipe, as Papazian indicates, and I'm thinking their flavor would really shine.
Use your cooler to do an infusion mash. DO NOT use any crystal malt to replicate the Rocky Racoon lager. Use 2-row pale malt only. Mash at a slightly elevated temp or 156-158 F to have a bit more dextrin content. Download the demo version of BeerSmith to get your mash in amounts of strike water and sparge water.
Follow the KISS principles and you will have a GREAT beer.
Okay, so I'm tinkering with beersmith, and so I've adjusted some things - I was attempting to experiment with the crystal malts here, so here's a revised recipe; I still like the idea of a little caramel in this one, but I've toned it down rather dramatically, and added some carafoam for head retention:
2 Row German Pilsner - 6lb
Carafoam - 1 lb
Belgian Caravienne - 1lb
Honey - 2.5 lb
1.5 Cascade Hops - boil
.5 Cascade Hope - Finishing
Also, one small thing that puzzles me - the mash in temp (for a single step infusion) is listed as being 175 this seems slightly high....but it may not be - I've got the grains at room temperature, though, so it may be fine - opinions?
Looks a lot better. I'd still cut the carafoam down; 1/2lb should do fine and won't make things too sweet. Other than that looks good!
I don't use beersmith, but are you sure that 175 is the mash temp, not the strike temp? You definitely don't want to mash at 175. I like Wayne1's suggestion of mashing at 156 or so. That way when you add the honey the beer won't get too thin. Strike temp should be in the high 160's, I believe.
Sorry, yes, I did mean strike temp for mash temp of 158.
|All times are GMT. The time now is 12:30 PM.|
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.