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Old 06-10-2009, 12:19 PM   #1
Homercidal
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Default First Frustrating AG brew!

So, yesterday afternoon I decide to brew up an APA recipe for one of the competitions coming up. I quickly formulate a recipe using the ingredients that I have on hand, and start gathering my equipment. My friend shows up as I'm heating up some water. I get on Beersmith and start adding stuff to the recipe for a 2.5 gallon version.

I am not sure what went wrong. I suspect I need to spend more time in Beersmith, but my mash temp was quite a bit lower than it should have been. I think part of that is the fact that I'm not putting as much water and grain in the same size cooler. Or it could be that my friend, who was doughing in while I was busy with something else, stirred it too long.

I'm not sure, but I ended up adding a couple of quarts of hot water to raise the temp, but it was barely enough to raise 1 degree. Then I poured out a panful or two at a time and quickly got them boiling and added back in.

Finally hit my temp, but after the hour (I was afraid to lift the lid again) I took reading and it was 8 degrees off. I did a rinse and the gravity was spot on. After the hour boil, the gravity was high and the volume low, so I added a bit of water to balance.

All in all, a disappointing brewing. I think the beer will be "ok", but after two very successful first AG brews, I'm not thrilled. Do you think it was the smaller batch in a larger MLT that could have affected the temp? Or did I do something wrong in BS when setting up the recipe?

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Old 06-10-2009, 12:55 PM   #2
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I think you will be ok... a lot of people add water to top off... As long as you didnt come in with a lower gravity and lower volume... Its happened to me before...

I'm sure your brew will turn out just fine.

FWIW I don't use BS... I started out with it but began to like the older antiquated Pro Mash instead... I set my Thermal Mass of my tun to .30 every time and have never had a problem hitting mash temps.

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Old 06-10-2009, 01:00 PM   #3
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Do you think it was the smaller batch in a larger MLT that could have affected the temp? Or did I do something wrong in BS when setting up the recipe?
What size cooler do you use? If your trying to mash grains for a 2.5 gallon batch in a 10 gallon or larger cooler, your probably going to have a ton of head space, which will cause the mash to drop temp a lot faster.
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Old 06-10-2009, 01:14 PM   #4
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What size cooler do you use? If your trying to mash grains for a 2.5 gallon batch in a 10 gallon or larger cooler, your probably going to have a ton of head space, which will cause the mash to drop temp a lot faster.
I believe it's a 48 Qt. cooler, which seemed great for 5 G batches, but I think you are right, and I said last night that if I plan to do many smaller batches, a smaller cooler would be a wise investment. Less thermal mass and more headspace to absorb the heat.
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Old 06-10-2009, 01:19 PM   #5
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That's exactly correct. The more headspace you have, the quicker the heat will dissapate. Sounds like everything turned out perfectly for you though. Hitting pre-boil and post-boil gravities is always one of the biggest factors in AG brewing.

You can find smaller coolers at any of the home improvement stores this time of year as well. Probably another $30 or so to get it all rigged up, but totally worth the investment as it saves you frustration in the long term if you are planning on doing more half-batches.

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Old 06-10-2009, 01:25 PM   #6
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I'm not sure what size brew pot your using, but for smaller AG batches Brew In A Bag is always an option too if you don't feel like buying a new cooler.

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Old 06-10-2009, 01:28 PM   #7
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Or, I could rig up a styrofoam cover for the grains, which would eliminate headspace and 1 less piece of equipment. I've been thinking about doing this anyway, or something like it.

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Old 06-10-2009, 06:12 PM   #8
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Another thing that should help a bit with hitting your mash temp is pre-heating your mash tun. You can do this by pouring in your mash liquor (minus 1L) hotter than you want for your strike temp, and wait until it comes down to where you want. The left-over litre is for temperature adjustments. Like you've discovered, it's really tough to increase temp but easy to decrease, so take it easy if you need to cool your bed a bit. The other way you can do it is to pour in some hot water, and once the MT has warmed a bit, drain it and use your proper mashing liquor.

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