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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > First go at AG... FAIL.
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Old 11-03-2008, 03:29 AM   #1
PvtSkippy
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Default First go at AG... FAIL.

(This could probably go into Drunken Ramblings...)

Well, perhaps not total fail, but the end result wasn't what I had hoped for.

My wife (I got a good one. Yes she has a sister, but I wouldn't wish her on my worst enemy) bought me one of Midwest Supplies MLT conversions, probably so I'd stop whining about being restricted to extract brewing. Today was it's inaugural voyage, figured I'd start simple and try my hand at BierMuncher's Centennial Blonde. A beautiful day to brew, to be sure... 65 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.

I read, re-read and printed Bobby_M's AG primer, had my BeerSmtih brewsheet on a clipboard, had hops premeasured and bagged, Irish Moss laid out, the carboy was sanitized, backup tank of propane at the ready. I even decided to try out Jamil's secret weapon of tying the little goat statue from a Ayinger's Celebrator bottle onto my MLT. Fat lot of good that did me.

Dumped the required amount of water into the MLT, let it heat up and dumped the grain at 166F. The mash went well, only lost a couple degrees. Vorlaufed and drained the runnings into my kettle. Started the batch sparge and was just having a good ole time. Ended up with right at seven gallons in the kettle (I have a wide, fat kettle and tend to boil off more than normal). I was really digging the whole AG thing. Drew off a sample to measure my pre-boil gravity and started the boil.

Well, that's where the sinking feeling started. Dropped the hydrometer into the sample. BeerSmith said I should be around 1.034... "Hmm, that's odd, I'm at 1.022. WTF?" Checked the temp, nope, that's spot on 60F. Double checked the hydrometer, spun it, set it on a level table... 1.022.

Rather than start a "Where did I screw up?" thread, I'll tell you exactly where I screwed up... I was following my brewsheet which told me to sparge at 168F. Well, rather than taking into account that my grain was colder and that my water needed to be hotter to raise the entire mass to 168F, my stupid ass sparged with 168F water. Needless to say, my efficiency sucked...sucked to the point where I don't even want to calculate it as I'd probably just hang my head in shame. I suppose the bright spot in all of this is that I know what I did wrong and can correct it next time.

BierMuncher, sir, I apologize for butchering your recipe. Hopefully it will still be tasty, even at 2.9% ABV. And Bobby_M, thanks for the guidance, even if I was too thick to follow your directions more closely. I'll try harder next time.

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Old 11-03-2008, 03:43 AM   #2
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Your starch-sugar conversion happens during the mash. The higher sparge temp is to stop the mash. A low sparge temp should allow a longer mash than scheduled and an increased OG.

I'd look at your grain bill, water volume, and the possibly of a poorly mixed sample for answers.

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Old 11-03-2008, 03:43 AM   #3
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That sucks!

I think bobby_M says to use 185dF for sparge water in his all-grain primer!

What I do is heat my sparge water to 185df (I do the double sparge method) and by the time the first sparge is done, my sparge water is cooled off a bit (around 180df) and then I use that for my second sparge. I find that turning off the heat to the HLT when you are on your first sparge is perfect because I find that if I keep it at 185df and sparge the grain bed temperature will go past the magic 170df.

good luck on your next brew!

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Old 11-03-2008, 04:45 AM   #4
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Quote:
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Your starch-sugar conversion happens during the mash. The higher sparge temp is to stop the mash. A low sparge temp should allow a longer mash than scheduled and an increased OG.

I'd look at your grain bill, water volume, and the possibly of a poorly mixed sample for answers.
the higher temp of the sparge is also required to more easily rinse the sugars out of the mash(hotter=thinner wort)

and don't worry about the bad first showing, everybody does poorly the first goround(mine was ed's hpa and i got about 45%)
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Old 11-03-2008, 05:29 AM   #5
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ive been brewing for a while now and i just brewed this same recipe last week- its fermenting as we speak. My efficiency has been hovering right around the high 70's and this recipe (wheat is a bitch) has me around low 60's. I ended up adding DME tyo get my sample up to the desired SG. My advice for you is to always mash longer with wheat and check for starch conversion using iodine. Either way my efficnecy always sucks (we have the same setup) with wheat. Oh and keep DME on hand so you can adjust if you come in low grav. Better luck next time

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Old 11-03-2008, 05:31 AM   #6
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I brewer BM centinneal blonde also for my first AG and it went great for me. Sorry it didn't work out for you...it is a really great beer

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so barley is a leaves of hops? or barley is a different plant? and blend with hops? I need that to be cleared thanks..
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Old 11-03-2008, 05:39 AM   #7
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Once your grains were doughed in, did you check the temp of the grain bed?

Did you check at all during the mash and give the bed a stir to prevent cold spots?

Could be mash temp problems. Doing partial mashes and now doing my all grain this last weekend has made me not trust any of my thermometers

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Old 11-03-2008, 05:42 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by scinerd3000 View Post
ive been brewing for a while now and i just brewed this same recipe last week- its fermenting as we speak. My efficiency has been hovering right around the high 70's and this recipe (wheat is a bitch) has me around low 60's. I ended up adding DME tyo get my sample up to the desired SG. My advice for you is to always mash longer with wheat and check for starch conversion using iodine. Either way my efficnecy always sucks (we have the same setup) with wheat. Oh and keep DME on hand so you can adjust if you come in low grav. Better luck next time
when i do wheat i run it thru the crusher twice, once by itself then again with base grains. it keeps my efficiency up and doesn't cause a stuck sparge as often as crushing it finer does(use rice hulls or 6row also)
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extraction calculator
grains in pounds(G) X 36(average points per gallon of grains) / batch size in gallons(g) = maximum efficiency(ME)
OG / ME = brewhouse efficiency

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Old 11-03-2008, 07:24 AM   #9
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Pvtskippy - bloke, HTFU.

Not everything goes to plan. A few too many beers while brewing, premature ejectulation .. whatever.

many brewers have stuffed up (and as in your case, when rarely under pressure - though self pressure is almost certainly the worst kind).

Few brewers can say they have never done what you have done (a good old fashioned stuff up). Solutions though are real easy and you should not be embarassed to do them.

1. Keep going. As you said, a low alcohol beer aint all bad. Americans have been drinking them for years now.

2. The first AG should be a learning curve. Low OG - add sugar or malt extract to get to your required / perceived recommended OG. Struth, I do the same now after mobs of AG - gravity too low ?? .. add sugar / malt. I work on the principle that I'm the only bugger who will know.

3. Next time you stuff up and you know it - it aint no badge of honour to tell the world you are a goose. Man, we feel your pain at missing out on a fantastic first AG experience, but frankly, we don't need to know.

So now you are here with the big boys, no more whinging at your own stupidity. You stuffed up, put it down to experience and get back on that horse again. When you start brewing award winning beers, remember this advice and send me a few brews through the mail.

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Old 11-03-2008, 09:04 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eriktlupus View Post
when i do wheat i run it thru the crusher twice, once by itself then again with base grains. it keeps my efficiency up and doesn't cause a stuck sparge as often as crushing it finer does(use rice hulls or 6row also)
unfortunatly some of us dont have the money or space for a crusher. personally im running out of room as it is however feel free to make a donation to bank of me.
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