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Old 07-11-2005, 08:44 PM   #21
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Well heck, I'll add one in. Don't do an AG day when it's 100+ in the garage with a raging hangover. This past saturday I thought I was going to gack more than once. Then thought I'd have to lay down (or pass out) and say to heck with this batch; let er die. I did an oral IV of about 1g gatorade and finally started coming back to life. Man, did that SUCK!!!!! but I made beer.

I got an evil buddy that whenever we get together <burp>. That and the wife was out of town. . Come to think of it, I've been hung over ever since she's left. I wouldn't last a year as a bachelor. I think, I'm happy she comes back tonight so the leash can be re-installed.



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Old 07-11-2005, 10:18 PM   #22
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Default The epistle of Andre...

Here is the best bit of advise I can give you. If someone gives you a used immersion wort chiller, check it out for corrosion. The corrosion can turn a fine pilsner into a metallicy mess. If you do have any corrosion on the chiller, soak it in a solution of vinegar and water to clean it up.

If at all possible, watch or help someone else do an all grain batch. Everyone has differing opinions on certain processes and how to do them. Use common sense and pick the ones that make sense to you. Then stick with them religiously.

I've heard people say that you can heat the mash tun directly if the temperature drops too low, others say NEVER heat the mash tun because it can scorch the mash and also stir up some of the dust and tanins in the grain, draw some of the mash off the bottom, heat it, and add it back in to raise temps. (that's is what I do)

I've heard some people who stir the mash vigorously, others have told me to NEVER stir the mash so that the grain bed can filter out all the dust and astringent protiens. (that's is what I do)

I've know people who dump the water in and add grain to the water then stir the whole mess. Others say that you should ALTERNATE a thin layer of water, then thin layer of grain until you have a nice mash or grain bed. This way you avoid "dough balls" in the mash and you don't compress the grains. This allows you to have a smoother sparging process. (that's is what I do)

I didn't know what people meant when they discussed recirculating to set the grain bed and reduce the astringency and bitteness of the grain dust. Now I use the spigot to draw a quart or so of liquid off the bottom and sprinkle it over the grain bed, recirculating like this for at least 20-30 minutes before I start to sparge.

Oh and don't get me started on sparging. I saw notes in recipies that said,
"do not oversparge" but it didn't say why, and I was too lazy to search around to find the reason. I thought, heck, the Oatmeal Stout runnings were still coming out kinda tan, why stop sparging now? I'm wasting precious neophyte beer here... Now I know. The longer you sparge the more bitter tannins you extract from the grains and husks. A little bit won't ruin a batch, but it will be noticeable. Luckily, with most people, (the unwashed Miller Lite masses), you can just say, "yeah, that's the black patent malt you're tasting. It adds a nice roasty flavor doesn't it?" Then move on to some other topic. (they will just nod in agreement in an effort to look like they understand what you're saying. But your brewing friends will have a clue.)

On one early batch, the OG seemed low, (It was a pale ale in the 1.038 range, which isn't that low, I shoulda left it alone.) so I boiled some DME and added it directly to the fermenter a day or two later. What was I thinking? Talk about an unbalanced beer. Good thing the wort chiller corrosion ruined that beer so I didn't have to admit that my own mistake did.

I'm still figuring stuff out. One of the last batches I made, I had a moment of stupidity and added the bittering hops right when I reached boil. it didn't boil over or anything, but bittering hops should be in for upwards of 60 minutes not 90 minutes. Longer than 60 minutes and the beer starts getting an astringent bitter taste that I don't care too much for. The beer is fine, but I notice it, and know why it tastes that way, and know how to fix it next time. And I know it's my fault.

Then there was the triple brew day. Three AG batches in 13 hours. There was so much measuring, testing, heating, carrying, chilling, stirring, recirculating, lighting, adjusting and planning, that basic functions like urinating, eating and relaxing were put on the back burner. Its easy to forget a step at that point. Don't try this unless you have a brewing buddy, a strong back, or you're certifiably insane. (I'm the latter....)

Luckily, with the exception of two batches tainted by the wort chiller fiasco, the other 10 batches have turned out to be exceptional. Maybe not award winners, (I don't know, I've never entered) But great nonetheless. All grain is very forgiving.



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Last edited by andre the giant; 07-11-2005 at 10:35 PM. Reason: edited several times because the post isn't long enough...
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Old 07-11-2005, 10:55 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by andre the giant
Oh and don't get me started on sparging. I saw notes in recipies that said, "do not oversparge" but it didn't say why, and I was too lazy to search around to find the reason. I thought, heck, the Oatmeal Stout runnings were still coming out kinda tan, why stop sparging now? I'm wasting precious neophyte beer here... Now I know. The longer you sparge the more bitter tannins you extract from the grains and husks. A little bit won't ruin a batch, but it will be noticeable. Luckily, with most people, (the unwashed Miller Lite masses), you can just say, "yeah, that's the black patent malt you're tasting. It adds a nice roasty flavor doesn't it?" Then move on to some other topic. (they will just nod in agreement in an effort to look like they understand what you're saying. But your brewing friends will have a clue.)
Expand on the sparging for me. I've read to stop after the gravity is at 1.008 and then I also saw somewhere here that you stop once you get to 5.8ph. I've seen more on the gravity so figure that's the better approach. More measurable too. So what do you do, pause every once and a while and get a sample and test it and adjust per the 150 degree or so wort coming out? If you don't get your full desired before boil volume then top it off with water?

PS - Yea, that was me too. I'm not stopping the sparge until I get to that 6.25 I'm shooting for...
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Old 07-12-2005, 02:48 AM   #24
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OK, I guess I'll have to jump in on this one too. A month before making my an all grain in my new 3 tier setup I had made a belgian triple and forgot to take an OG reading. Well, I didn't think that was going to end the world and bottled it when it was ready.

During the beginning of the brew session in my cool new setup ,I decided Hey, I got that Belgian in there I might as well toast one to the brew gods for good luck. What the He!!, my wife is gone this weekend I'm gonna do-er right. So, one lead to two and then to three and by that time I had tunes jammin, propane flamin, grains mashin and decided to have another. I still had my brew wits with me though. Then I decided to have number five.

Well, before I went and got number five I decided it was time to sparge so I opened the valve of the HLT and letter go. I then turned and tried to find my way to the chest freezer. Cracked open number five, sang a few notes of a Van Morrison tune and returned to find about a gallon and a half of the first running all over my garage floor. I had forgot to shut off the valve to my boil kettle. So, I sat their waiting for the sparge to finish and my world would not stop spinning. I thought, damn, I'm not gonna make it through this. So, I went into the house and to the bathroom and on my way back I sat down on the bed thinking damn, I'm not going to make it through this. Well, I didn't. I woke up the next morning with a brewpot full of wort and a garage full of propane fumes. I had forgot , in my pain, to shut my burner off. I had the garage door open and the wind blew out my flame and didn't have the decency to shut off the valve . I damn near blew my house up and destroyed some really nice..but thin Wort.

Lesson learned=> Don't play Van Morrison while your brewing

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Old 07-12-2005, 01:31 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by desertBrew
Expand on the sparging for me. I've read to stop after the gravity is at 1.008 and then I also saw somewhere here that you stop once you get to 5.8ph. I've seen more on the gravity so figure that's the better approach. More measurable too. So what do you do, pause every once and a while and get a sample and test it and adjust per the 150 degree or so wort coming out? If you don't get your full desired before boil volume then top it off with water?
well,as ya'll know, the sparge rinses what fermentable sugars are left on the grains from the mash in. if you over sparge (or sparge w/ water that's too hot) you start to extract the tannins from the grains, therefore getting the bitter, huskiness taste in the finished beer. the ph indicator will tell you when you have extrated all sugars, and now getting more acidic run-off. you can get little ph testers for $35-$40 dollars, or take SG readings during run-off, make temp adjustments, and go from there. i do neither. i just go by my water calculations and have never had a problem w/ bitterness or husky flavors in my brews. i wouldn't adjust the temp of the sparge, just keep sparging w/ 170 degree water, test the run-off, and stop when you get the volume you need for the boil, or when the ph hits 5.8, or the SG your looking for. your right. if you have to stop the sparge before the kettle voume is achieved, then add water to the desired level, then start the boil.
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Old 07-12-2005, 02:01 PM   #26
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Damn Sudster. That Belgian must have been potent. Thank God for your guardian angel, (as intoxicated as he/she might have been.) Good story.

Sorry if it seems like we've hijacked the thread, but someone asked for people to share their mistakes so that others could avoid them.

As far as sparging goes, I've read recipies that say "sparge with 3 gallons @180 degrees. Do not oversparge" or whatever. Here's what I do.

Drink a homebrew

While the mash is "mashing", I bring 5 gallons of water to around 190-200 degrees. (by the time the mash is over, it will drop down to 170-180 degrees, which is perfect for sparging.) 20-30 minutes before the end of the mash I start to recirculate the mash by drawing a quart or so off the bottom of the mash tun and sprinkling it over the top through a slotted spoon, strainer, or foil with holes in it (This way you don't disturb the grain bed too much and stir up all those astringent tannins and dust.)

When the full 90 minutes of mashing is done, I transfer all 5 gal of hot sparge water to the sparge tank, I open the spigot on the mash tun a little bit and open the sparge tank spigot all the way. The Listerman sparge arm works pretty well. I monitor closely for the first 5-10 minutes to make sure that the water level in the mash tun doesn't drop too low. I like to keep about an inch of water on top of the grain bed so it can "float" and avoid compressing/clogging the false bottom. I will usually sparge with at least 4 gallons. Then I take a hydrometer reading.

I usually fill the vial with the runnings, then set the vial in a glass of ice water, taking temp readings occasionallly until the temp reads 70-80 degrees. Then I take a hydrometer reading and adjust for temp. If the runoff reads somewhere around 1.008-1.012, I stop sparging and top up the brew kettle with water from the sparge tank. If the runoff reads higher, I'll make a guess as to how much longer it will take to reach my target. (There's always room for guessing.)

Pop open another homebrew to drink during the "I must watch the brewpot every second so it doesn't boil over" step.

Granted, that's just my way of doing it, that doesn't mean it's the best way, and I learn something new each time I brew. Others on this board will have different techniques and equipment. My technique is an adaptation of the brewmaster's at a local brewpub. It works well for me. I also found that if I drink enough during the brewing process, I either don't forget the steps, or I forget that I forgot a step. Either way, it makes the process more enjoyable.

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Old 07-12-2005, 09:44 PM   #27
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found some more good info on the brewing process broken down into steps on another on-line handbook. http://www.beer-brewing.com/mashing.htm

pretty good reference site too.

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Old 07-12-2005, 11:29 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by DeRoux's Broux
found some more good info on the brewing process broken down into steps on another on-line handbook. http://www.beer-brewing.com/mashing.htm

pretty good reference site too.
Agreed, nice reference. I was intrigued with the sparge PH. Didn't think that mattered much but guess it does. At least that's something measurable and easily adjusted with some gypsum (with my water). I tested the PH a couple times of my mash and with strike water of 8+ it still settled out at 5-6 range so I figured I was good here. Now I'll adjust sparge as well. But then if you're sparge water is in range then testing PH to see when your sparge is complete doesn't seem to work any longer. Guess I'll be checking gravity...
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Old 07-13-2005, 02:10 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by andre the giant
Damn Sudster. That Belgian must have been potent. Thank God for your guardian angel, (as intoxicated as he/she might have been.) Good story.
To say the least. Last time I touch the stuff too.


Quote:
Originally Posted by andre the giant
Sorry if it seems like we've hijacked the thread, but someone asked for people to share their mistakes so that others could avoid them.
Your absolutely right. Couldn't help but add my idiocy in there too.

I have noticed through this thread that Mash Out temperature is not talked about. Before sparging with 168-170 sparge water you must bring your mash up to the temperature that you are going to sparge , right? If you don't your sparge won't be at the 170F that is coming from your sparge source. As that 170F water hits your strike temp mash, assuming you have been able to keep it at lets say 152F, the volume of your mash is going to suck the temp right out of that sparge water. So, I have learned to recirculate a calculated volume of first runnings that has been heated to boiling temp of 212f. Sometimes this takes two or three tries for me. This will help bring your mash temp up to the temp of sparging(Mash Out Temp). Your sparge should be kept at 168-170F , right? for ~60 minutes.

I remember my first sparge, I kept measuring the mash tun temp and was thinking ..this can't be right. Why would you be required to sparge at 168F
and your mash never maskes it above 160F. So, I started recirculating ,boiling it and bringing my mash up to the mash out temperature
of 168-170F.

This works for me, but, it has always been an assumption on my part that the mash must be at sparge temperature to stop Beta Amalyse .

If I am wrong , please, somebody stop me!
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Old 07-15-2005, 02:51 PM   #30
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do you have a pic of your tier system? i'm having one built now buy my HBC blacksmith. just wondering others have set up......



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