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Old 05-04-2007, 05:17 PM   #1
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Default My beers are too dry!

It seems like I've got a problem with over-attenuation. My first one, the DFH 60 clone, used pacman yeast and I mashed at 154. It finished at 1.010, which I attributed to the pacman yeast. Since it started at 1.070, I was expected 1.018 or so.

The second too-dry beer was my Lil Bastard. Mashed at 155, used nottingham yeast. Finished at 1.010, not too far off the 1.012 I was expecting.

The third- BP's 777. Followed the instructions he gave and mashed at 147. Started at 1.068, finished at 1.006. Nottingham yeast again, due to some unfortunate issues with the liquid yeasts I had.

The fourth- Fat Tire clone from AHS. Mashed at 154-155, og 1.053, fg 1.005. Nottingham yeast again.

My thought is I need to mash at a higher temp- but how high? I generally like a medium bodied beer and thought I'd get that by mashing in the 154-155 range. Is it ok to mash my next couple in the 158 range, just to see what's going on? I'm not brewing until next week, when my order from AHS comes. I'm making the three in my signature next.

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Old 05-04-2007, 05:21 PM   #2
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Nottingham yeast really likes to eat, those numbers don't look at all out of line. PacMan is pretty darn voracious as well.

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Old 05-04-2007, 05:22 PM   #3
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The only one that is really shocking of the four is the Fat Tire; all the others, for one reason or another, should have attenuated pretty highly (the Pacman, the low temp on the 777). Why not give another yeast a shot - maybe Windsor?

I don't understand how the Fat Tire would have finished so low, though; 1.005 is REALLY low even with a low mash temp (and you mashed pretty high). No chance a wild yeast got involved, is there?

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Old 05-04-2007, 05:27 PM   #4
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What is your water to grain ratio? A high water to grain ratio will produce more fermentables and lead to a lower finishing gravity. I typically use a ratio of 1.1qts/lb and end up with slightly high finishing gravities. I wouldn't change your mash temps if you are sure your thermometer is correct.

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Old 05-04-2007, 05:27 PM   #5
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First thing I'd do is check your thermometer.

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Old 05-04-2007, 05:40 PM   #6
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After the first two low f.g's, I bought a new thermometer. I use two in the mash, and double check them. Water boils at 212, ice water is 32. My candy thermometer only goes down to 100, but I use that as my backup in the mash.

I mash with about 1.2 quarts/lb. The last one, the Fat Tire, was pretty darn thick. I wanted that one to finish higher, particularly.

I've use nottingham many times in the past, and had no issues. The pacman I used once before, and that batch (mini mash) finished at like 1.018. No wild yeast issues- everything tastes fine and no gushers or anything weird. The temperature has been on the cool side in my fermentation area- the thermometer on the carboy shows the beer in the 63-64 degree range. That will change as summer comes, but that was the temp of the last 4 beers.

I guess I could try yet one more thermometer in the mash- a new one. That would be the quick and easy fix. I was thinking that I'd make the hobgoblin clone next- I could mash that one at say, 158, and see what's going on.

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Old 05-04-2007, 06:02 PM   #7
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I second trying the Windsor for tests. It will finish high and produces a pleasant fruityness...although you might not want it in some styles.

You can, as you have speculated, mash at 158 °F. It does indeed work and I have at least one recipe where I do so.

Thinking some more on this though you are really hitting a low FG. That is really dry and many people have a hard time hitting it if they try. Make certain you are mixing well and rechecking your temp 5 minutes into the mash after it has equalized. I have had reading as much as 10 °F off from mash in and stir to 5 minutes in fwiw.

How long into the mash are you getting conversion?

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Old 05-04-2007, 06:43 PM   #8
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-Mash slightly higher
-Use something other than Nottingham
-Add maltodextrin to the boil
-Double-check your post-boil volume. I've been surprised by low SG before, only to realize that I didn't allow for enough time to boil down and it was merely diluted.

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Old 05-04-2007, 07:29 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the input so far.

Let's see- I have some Windsor anyway, and I was planning on using that for the Hobgoblin anyway.

I stir the mash often (maybe every 10 minutes) and only lose maybe a degree in an hour. I'm using the 10 gallon Gott with a false bottom.

The ironic thing is in my extract batches- I NEVER got as low as I wanted! I always had a bit of residual sweetness. Not bad in the Dead Guy or Fat Tire, but not really wanted in the pale ale! All the extracts finished around 1.018 or so.

I've only checked for conversion at the end- so 60 minutes mash, except for the rye IPA, that was 75 minutes I believe. I could check earlier next time, and see when it's actually converted.

As far as ingredients, the rye had 15% flaked rye and 8 ounces crystal; the DFH was all 2-row (except for 8 ounces maris otter added), the FT clone had 48% munich malt, 43% 2-row, 8 ounces crystal, 4 ounces victory, 3 ounces biscuit, and the Lil Bastard had 28% each munich, wheat, maris otter. and 3-4% each of special B, crystal, aromatic, caravienne. Totally dissimilar recipes!

Everything tastes ok, except a bit dry. But it's pretty well covered by the flavors- dryhopping the DFH and rye IPA, the late 1 ounce centennial addition in the Lil Bastard, etc. The FT clone is a bit dry but it has such little flavor to me that it's just a lawnmower beer anyway and my husband likes it. Still, I'd like to correct this!

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Old 05-04-2007, 08:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper Chick
I've only checked for conversion at the end- so 60 minutes mash, except for the rye IPA, that was 75 minutes I believe. I could check earlier next time, and see when it's actually converted.

Checking your conversion time seems like the next step to me. I have heard that conversion can take place in as little as 15-20 minutes. If you're getting conversion right away, by continuing the mash all you would be doing is drying it out.

Edit: Also, when I am faced with dryness, I have found that a little back massage can help get things going in the right places...
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