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Old 07-19-2009, 11:23 PM   #1
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Default Frustrating brew day - impromptu BIAB

Went for a recipe based on BM's Belgian Wit:

Prepare Ingredients for Mash
4.50 lb Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain
4.50 lb Wheat, Flaked (1.6 SRM) Grain

Mash In: Add 13.50 qt of water at 164.0 F
60 min - Hold mash at 154.0 F for 60 min
-- Drain Mash Tun
-- Batch Sparge Round 1: Sparge with 4.63 gal of 168.0 F water.
-- Add water to achieve boil volume of 6.67 gal
-- Estimated Pre-boil Gravity is: 1.039 SG with all grains/extracts added

60 min 1.00 oz Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] (60 min) Hops
5 min 0.75 oz Coriander Seed (Boil 5.0 min) Misc
5 min 0.75 oz Orange Peel, Bitter (Boil 5.0 min) Misc

-- Cool wort to fermentation temperature
-- Add water (as needed) to achieve volume of 5.20 gal


Heat up my strike water, work all of the bubbles out of the feed line to my March pump and start it up. Rrr-rrr-rrr nothing. Cue 10 minutes of working out bubbles and the water is finally pumped to my MLT.

Dough in, move the MLT a little and knock over my FermcapS bottle, which promptly shatters, and my hydrometer test tube, which also breaks.

Heat up my sparge water, start pumping to my HLT. Rrr-rrr-rrr nothing. 10 more minutes of cursing and frustration, but finally got that going.

Time for first runnings! Open the valve, vorlauf a quart, then the stream flows to a stop. I guess two big handfuls of rice hulls weren't enough. Even stirring couldn't get things flowing for more than a second, so I had to get my wife to help me scoop everything into a grain bag.

Finally, time to sparge. Of course I left the grains in the bag, pumped in my sparge water (first try, woohoo!). When I opened the valve, things were good at first, then they slowed and stopped. I finally had to get another grain bag, pull off my manifold and just let the sparge water run out the spigot and through the grain bag.

I finally remembered to take first running and pre-boil samples. Once they were cool I carefully noted their temperature and took hydrometer readings.

Which I just realized I failed to write down. NEWMAN! I got 1.044 into the fermenter for 69% efficiency.

*sigh* I guess these days happen, but man is it frustrating. I'm ready to sell the whole lot, especially the $@#$ pump.

My guess on the stuck sparge is the braid I use for a manifold is too fine. I don't think more rice hulls would fix the problem because even after I pulled all the grain out of the MLT and into a grain bag, I *still* had a stuck sparge. Although my last brew was 60% wheat malt and I had no problem at all. I guess the flaked wheat is a different animal.

-Joe

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Old 07-20-2009, 12:00 AM   #2
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LOL I'll give you $20 for the lot . On the positive side you should have no problems for the next 10 batches

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Old 07-20-2009, 01:33 PM   #3
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Well, at least I got the starter right for the WLP410. I pitched yesterday around 6PM and had activity before going to bed. This morning it looks like the wort is simmering! I've never seen anything quite like it. There's no kraeusen, but it's bubbling like mad.

-Joe

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Old 07-27-2009, 02:03 AM   #4
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After a week we've gone from 1.044 to 1.024. I was hoping for a little more attenuation than that

I gave it a little swirl and upped the temp from 64 to 70. I'll check it again in another week.

Good news is it's yummy Coriander is definitely heavy and right up front, but I expect that'll mellow in a few weeks.

-Joe

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Old 07-27-2009, 06:34 PM   #5
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I pretty much had the same problem yesterday on my rye beer and I also ended up turning it into a BIAB.

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Old 07-27-2009, 11:57 PM   #6
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I had a stuck sparge on a Dale's Pale Ale clone this weekend. The solution: grab hose from MLT and blow really hard! Then swear profusely and wipe hot grains from face. Vorlauf and sparge as normal...

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Old 07-28-2009, 03:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
The solution: grab hose from MLT and blow really hard!
That's all I've ever had to do. Note: stand up when you do this, and face away from the open top of the MLT. No need to napalm yourself with hot wort!
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Old 07-28-2009, 04:28 PM   #8
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Ugh, I've had a few of those days myself. Step back, relax, count to 10, and drink a few good homebrews to remind yourself why you love doing this.

Priming the pump can be a real PITA sometimes. I've got it figured out where it usually only takes 30 secs or so. The key I found was to mount the input down. That way, when the pump is full of air, it will purge out the top when you turn it off. I've got a switch mounted for the pump which makes that process painless. I usually only have to turn the pump on/off 2-3 times to get things fully primed.

Others have installed a bleeder valve on the pump outlet to help purge the air, too.

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