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Old 10-25-2012, 05:06 AM   #1
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Default First Bad Batch - Critiques/Comments Please!

I've made a fair share of batches at this point and all have turned out more-or-less good. I was trying to make a Vanilla Brown Porter, but the beer after carbonation tastes pretty much like slightly malty water. We've been calling it "Nutty Light." A friend who is a fellow craft beer drinker hit it pretty much on the nose - there's nothing wrong with, it just doesn't taste like beer. No off flavors at all.

Anyway I have some ideas about what could have happened:
1. I get my grain crushed by NB online, this time I forgot to specify a fine crush for BIAB.
2. Also forgot to sparge in a second pot as I usually do.
3. This is the first time I've messed with water by "building up" from distilled water - could have been problems with alkalinity, mash pH (which would be odd considering the roasted grain), or flavor expression of the ions.

Here are my notes in full:

Quote:
6:00 PM 9/28:
Made yeast starter. Combined 3/4 cup + 3/8 cup DME in 6.3 cups of water (1.5 liters) in sanitized stainless steel pot.
Boiled for 15 minutes, covered pot with lid and placed in ice bath for 15 minutes. Slightly above room temperature or right on the mark.
Smacked pack of Wyeast 1318, poured into wort in gallon jug, added 1/4 tsp yeast nutrient, swirled and shook to aerate.
Covered with loose piece of aluminum foil and left on shelf in room.
1:00 AM 9/30
After swirling starter intermittently placed in fridge to crash.

3:30 PM 9/30
Put 3.1 gallons of distilled water in 5 gallon stainless steel pot and began to heat.
Added 2.75 tsp CaCO3 (Chalk), .75 tsp NaHCO3 (Baking Soda), .4 tsp CaSO4 (Gypsum) and .4 tsp NaCl (Sea Salt).
Water was cloudy, likely from chalk addition. Added a few dashes of Lactic Acid to help dissolve.
Strike water heated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mashed in:
6lb Warminster Floor Malted Marris Otter
1lb Briess Organic C60-L
1lb Briess Victory
1lb Flaked Oats
.5lb Belgian Special B
.5lb English Chocolate
Mash temperature read 152 degrees Fahrenheit at 0 min.
Mash temperature read 152 degrees Fahrenheit at 20 min.
Mash temperature read 151 degrees Fahrenheit at 40 min.
At 60 min lifted bag from wort and squeezed for 5-10 minutes. Could have been wort left in bag.
Did not sparge.

Began to heat to boil and stirred intermittenly.

At beginning of boil added 1oz East Kent Goldings and ~.5oz Fuggles. Stirred occasionally throughout boil.
Added 1 Whirlfloc tablet at 45 min.

Sanitized and rinsed vanilla bean. Let dry.

Removed from heat at 60 min. Put lid on. Placed in ice bath in sink, replacing water every time it got hot.
Sanitized frozen water bottles and placed in wort.

Poured wort into bucket, added ~2 gallons spring water to top. Hydro sample taken from top read 1.040.
Sample was watery and hopefully did not reflect actual OG.
Scraped some seeds into bucket and cut pod and dropped in bucket as well.
Shook bucket and placed in fridge with temperature control set to 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

11:30 AM 10/1
Removed lid from bucket inside fermentation chamber. Some krausen beginning to form, 15 hours after pitching.
Calculated efficiency at read (incorrect) OG - 55%

7:30 PM 10/1
Thick creamy brown krausen has formed in bucket. Fermenter temperature reads 67 degrees Fahrenheit.

11:00 AM 10/2
Krausen still in place. Fermenter temperature reads 67 degrees Fahrenheit.
Roused yeast a little with sanitized wooden spoon and took hydro sample.
Sample read ~1.025-1.020.

7:50 PM 10/2
Krausen appears to be gone? Some yeast or something floating on top.
Will try to rouse if condition persists.
Roused yeast shortly after.

11:00 PM 10/2
Krausen does not appear to be coming back.
Lowered temp to 66 degrees Fahrenheit in anticipation of clean-up phase.

1:00 PM 10/3
Krausen still gone. Temperature hovering around 64-65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Roused yeast and took hydro sample. Sample read 1.022 SG.
Sample is starting to taste more like beer, some maltiness with a husky tannic note. Richer mouthfeel starting to develop.
Set temperature control setpoint to 65 degrees Fahrenheit and covered bucket loosely with lid.

11:00 AM 10/4
Temperature reads 62 degrees Fahrenheit, optimal range 64-74F.
Set controller SP to 66 degrees Fahrenheit in hopes of hitting 64-65.

11:00 PM 10/4
Santized vanilla bean, split, scraped out seeds, and chopped pod. Put all into bucket.
Smell in bucket seems to be improving.

2:00 PM 10/6
Gently stirred bucket and took sample. Hydrometer read 1.020, not much change from a couple days ago.
Twangy, hopefully "green" taste in beer, otherwise honestly not very good.
Hopefully flavor will improve with time as it has so far.
Also a lot of condensation and what looks like mold in the fridge. Should clean it.

11:30 PM 10/7
Took a small sample off the top of the bucket. Amazingly, off flavors seem to have pretty much cleaned up.
Keg and carb soon? Will clean fridge tomorrow and see how soon CO2 can be gotten.

6:50 PM 10/10
Pretty much cleaned inside of fridge with StarSan and wiped dry.
Set temperature control to 40 degrees Fahrenheit for cold crashing.
Thanks for the help!
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Old 10-25-2012, 03:11 PM   #2
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No one's interested in the puzzle?

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Old 10-25-2012, 04:02 PM   #3
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Note, I don't have much experience in all-grain w/o a full boil.

1.020 is your last gravity reading. This is very high for a 1.040 start. They way you talk about your gravity readings, though... I would work on your measurements:

1. Take a reading before your boil. You can add DME to increase gravity if you're not at your expected gravity.

2. Take a reading before you add water to the final wort. You can calculate how much water to add based on this gravity reading and the gravity reading you expect.

3. Mix the water well before taking a reading! Fluids at different gravities aren't going to mix well without help.

4. Take a final gravity reading!

Because the OG is uncertain and the FG seems high, I suspect you didn't get the OG you were looking for. Not sparging could have been the problem -- if you normally add a 2nd pot of boiled wort instead of water, that could explain a big drop in OG.

Personally, I think you touch it too much. You shouldn't need to rouse yeast just because krausen dropped. I've noticed a lot (less than day 1, sure) of activity for days after the krausen is gone.

I also don't like the idea of a "sanitized wooden spoon" unless you put (damp) in the oven for an hour. You'll probably be fine 99% of the time, but wood is not chemically sanitizable. I don't think your problem is an infection, though --I think you'd notice more of a drop in gravity.

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Old 10-25-2012, 05:15 PM   #4
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I find it a bit odd that you'd be trouble shooting such vague-sounding issues with your beer when it's so young. It's not even carbed yet, correct? In Gordon Strong's words, "even a full-bodied beer will taste thin when not carbonated." It takes carbonation and proper condition time to understand your product.

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Old 10-25-2012, 05:45 PM   #5
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I'm going to guess that your just made a <4% ABV Porter. Your notes are not detailed enough to give you good advice. You mentioned that you heated 3.1 gallons for the mash, but you didn't mention the post-mash volume or gravity, the amount that you boiled off, or the final fermentation volume. I get around 73% mash efficiency with full volume BiaB (7.5 gallons in this case for a 5 gallon batch) and used to only get 65% efficiency with a near full-volume BiaB mash. You've listed enough grains for a 5 gallon batch and but only mashed with 3.1 gallons which should have resulted in 2.6 gallons of pre-boil wort. Without a sparge (or two in this case), I wouldn't expect much above 50% mash efficiency based on my experience. BeerSmith 2 estimates 60% mash efficiency for this case.

Additionally, your high terminal gravity suggests that you mashed quite a bit higher than 152 degrees. My Northern Brewer floating thermometer reads accurate at boiling temperatures but is up to 10 degrees off in the mash range (go figure that out out) according to my lab-grade mercury thermometer. I need to calibrate a thermal couple to put them both to the test in my work lab.

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Old 10-26-2012, 01:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malweth View Post
Note, I don't have much experience in all-grain w/o a full boil.

1.020 is your last gravity reading. This is very high for a 1.040 start. They way you talk about your gravity readings, though... I would work on your measurements:

1. Take a reading before your boil. You can add DME to increase gravity if you're not at your expected gravity.

2. Take a reading before you add water to the final wort. You can calculate how much water to add based on this gravity reading and the gravity reading you expect.

3. Mix the water well before taking a reading! Fluids at different gravities aren't going to mix well without help.

4. Take a final gravity reading!

Because the OG is uncertain and the FG seems high, I suspect you didn't get the OG you were looking for. Not sparging could have been the problem -- if you normally add a 2nd pot of boiled wort instead of water, that could explain a big drop in OG.

Personally, I think you touch it too much. You shouldn't need to rouse yeast just because krausen dropped. I've noticed a lot (less than day 1, sure) of activity for days after the krausen is gone.

I also don't like the idea of a "sanitized wooden spoon" unless you put (damp) in the oven for an hour. You'll probably be fine 99% of the time, but wood is not chemically sanitizable. I don't think your problem is an infection, though --I think you'd notice more of a drop in gravity.
I definitely agree with the measurement issues. I've since picked up a refractometer for my initial readings.

Thanks for the tip on rousing, in retrospect the rousing was unnecessary but probably didn't do too much harm to the beer. I absolutely agree on the sparging.

Also wasn't aware of the spoon issue - I'll probably look into picking up a metal spoon of some kind.

Quote:
Originally Posted by grimstuff View Post
I find it a bit odd that you'd be trouble shooting such vague-sounding issues with your beer when it's so young. It's not even carbed yet, correct? In Gordon Strong's words, "even a full-bodied beer will taste thin when not carbonated." It takes carbonation and proper condition time to understand your product.
The notes leave off a bit early, the beer has been force carbonated fully and comes out the kegerator looking good. I would normally agree with you on the conditioning but as a low gravity beer I can't really see how leaving it to age for months on end would actually add flavor. Conditioning as far as I'm aware for low-gravity beers is usually done to remove off-flavors produced by the yeast, none of which are really detectable.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pvtschultz View Post
I'm going to guess that your just made a <4% ABV Porter. Your notes are not detailed enough to give you good advice. You mentioned that you heated 3.1 gallons for the mash, but you didn't mention the post-mash volume or gravity, the amount that you boiled off, or the final fermentation volume. I get around 73% mash efficiency with full volume BiaB (7.5 gallons in this case for a 5 gallon batch) and used to only get 65% efficiency with a near full-volume BiaB mash. You've listed enough grains for a 5 gallon batch and but only mashed with 3.1 gallons which should have resulted in 2.6 gallons of pre-boil wort. Without a sparge (or two in this case), I wouldn't expect much above 50% mash efficiency based on my experience. BeerSmith 2 estimates 60% mash efficiency for this case.

Additionally, your high terminal gravity suggests that you mashed quite a bit higher than 152 degrees. My Northern Brewer floating thermometer reads accurate at boiling temperatures but is up to 10 degrees off in the mash range (go figure that out out) according to my lab-grade mercury thermometer. I need to calibrate a thermal couple to put them both to the test in my work lab.
I measured my temperature using the calibrated probe on my temperature controller. Although, since you mention it, I'm not sure why it would have finished at 1.020, although it was fermenting for a week after that measurement.

Also with regard to the full boil I've only had access to a 5 gallon pot on my stovetop for last few months (I know, heinous). I'm brewing a Pale Ale this weekend and am wondering if you have any tips for getting my efficiency up despite the limitation.
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Old 10-26-2012, 02:00 PM   #7
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I would find a second vessel of some sort. I went as far as mashing in a 5 gallon bucket (in a bag) and used my boil kettle to heat up water for a dunk sparge. For shooting from the hip purposes, I would assume 0.5 gallons of absorption from BIAB mashing. Since you only have a 5 gallon BK, I would look at making 3 gallon batches, or compromise with doing partial mashes so you can get your boil gravity higher to allow for dilution. Otherwise, you maximum boil volume will be around 4 gallons and you should end up with with a post boil volume of 3 gallons. Dilluting to 5 gallons, you'll need a post boil gravity of around 1.083 (3 gallons) to get 5 gallons at 1.050. You'll need 12.5 lbs of base malt to get 3 gallons of 1.083 wort at 55% efficiency which can then be diluted down to 5 gallons with water. The only other thing is that you'll need to adjust your hop schedule to take into consideration the lower hop utilization from a partial boil.

I would save up a few $$$ and order the pot below. It is nearly big enough to do full-volume mashes, or you can mash in your 5 gallon and dunk sparge in this 8 gallon pot. There is plenty of room to start with a 6.5 gallon boil volume and leave you 5.5 gallons post boil and 5 gallons into the fermenter. You'll see a noticeable increase in efficiency and it will be quite repeatable. My only word of advice would be to not lift up the pot with a full 5-6 gallons in it since the aluminum isn't very thick. This pot has served me well and I still use it to drain my grain bag while my eKeggle is coming up to a boil.

http://www.target.com/p/imusa-32-qt-...i_sku=10910892

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Old 10-26-2012, 02:38 PM   #8
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The water additions are flawed. Adding chalk doesn't do anything- as it doesn't dissolve properly. That could be the cause of some of the "bland" flavor- using bland water. It's not the entire cause but it could be a part of it. Adding acid and chalk is pretty silly- the chalk doesn't dissolve anyway, but they "cancel" each other out. Without a mash pH to go by, you have no idea of your mash pH or conversion. I would suggest NEVER doing that. If you want help formulating the water for the next batch, post a question up in the Brew Science thread and the water geeks will help.

6 pounds of base grain isn't much for a 5 gallon batch. That's going to be a light, low alcohol beer. Which is what it sounds like you got. A 1.040 beer is more of a mild than a porter.

So, call this a British mild and for your next batch use more grain, or use some DME to bring up the gravity.

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Old 10-26-2012, 03:27 PM   #9
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My guess is not sparging and a relatively high percentage of non fermentable malt resulted in the high fg. That's just my .02

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Old 10-26-2012, 09:02 PM   #10
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I'm now thinking I'll order a 7.5 gallon pot for my next batch which I planned to do on Sunday so I could do a full volume mash/boil. I'm also thinking I might order some more Rahr 2-row, wondering if the 6 lbs of Rahr and 1.5 lbs of Crystal 60 I have is going to be too light given my efficiency for an American Amber ale with Cascade/Citra.

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