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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > My first AG homebrew -- English Bitter
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Old 10-03-2007, 01:45 AM   #1
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Default My first AG homebrew -- English Bitter

Okay, I did my first all-grain homebrew this past weekend. It's an English Bitter. The recipe called for 6.75 lb of Maris Otter 2-Row and 0.5 lb of Crystal 60L. So, that's a total of 7.25 lb of grains. I figured my efficiency would be low on my first AG, so I added another lb of Maris Otter. I was correct. My efficiency was low about 62%. But, my main problem was keeping a constant temperature in my mash/lauter tun. I used a 48 qt Igloo cooler with a Bazooka braid for batch sparging.

I added 2.6 gal of 178F water to the cooler. Waited until the water cooled to 162F and added the grains. Temperature stabilized at 150F. It was right on according the recipe. I waited 1/2 hour to stir and take another temperature reading and it dropped to 144F. I lost 6F in 1/2 hour. I know the cooler is pretty empty with this lighter style of beer, but I expected the temp to hold better than that. I had to keep adding hot water to keep the temp up above 150F.

So, what can I do get the temp constant in the cooler? Next time, I'm tempted to do the mashing in my 10 gal pot on the burner to keep the temp under control.

Also, why is my efficiency so low? Is it because of my temp issues? Or, is it my sparging technique? Maybe the grains weren't ground fine enough (I got them from Austin Homebrew preground)?

TIA.

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Old 10-03-2007, 02:12 AM   #2
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Seems like 150 is a bit low to begin with. Most mashes want 154 for a single infusion. That is a lot of heat to be losing in an hour. Did you pre-heat your MLT? That makes a big difference. Pour 1-2 gallons of hot water and let it sit while you get the mash-in water to the right temp. Then whatever temp you lose to ambient, will not happen. The cooler should work fine for you, most people lose less than a degree in an hour. Once it is figured out, I am sure you will be fine.

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Old 10-03-2007, 02:15 AM   #3
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I second Kayos. Put a couple gallons of very hot water (near boiling) in there to preheat the cooler. Toss it, then add your strike water, stir and let set for 40-45 minutes. I bet it will only loose a couple of degrees in that time.

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Old 10-03-2007, 02:36 AM   #4
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I agree with the others that you need to pre-heat the tun, but you should use enough hot water to fill it up to the level that your mash will reach.
As for efficiency, it could be the crush, or the pH, or the mash temperature, or the equipment, or the way you sparged, or it could even be an inaccurate hydrometer, not applying temperature correction, or reading the hydrometer wrongly.
To find out where the problem is, you need to take the gravity of the first runnings, and the last runnings, as well as the pre-boil gravity and volume.
Also, when taking the pre-boil gravity, make sure the wort is stirred really well before taking the sample.

With some more information, we can probably figure out where the cause of the problem is.

-a.

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Old 10-03-2007, 02:40 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kayos
Seems like 150 is a bit low to begin with. Most mashes want 154 for a single infusion. That is a lot of heat to be losing in an hour. Did you pre-heat your MLT? That makes a big difference. Pour 1-2 gallons of hot water and let it sit while you get the mash-in water to the right temp. Then whatever temp you lose to ambient, will not happen. The cooler should work fine for you, most people lose less than a degree in an hour. Once it is figured out, I am sure you will be fine.
The recipe called for 150F. I originally planned on 153F but the temp dropped too fast.

I didn't pre-heat the MLT? I figured I wouldn't need to if I just went higher than I needed. But, I guess that didn't work out.
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Old 10-03-2007, 02:47 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajf
I agree with the others that you need to pre-heat the tun, but you should use enough hot water to fill it up to the level that your mash will reach.
As for efficiency, it could be the crush, or the pH, or the mash temperature, or the equipment, or the way you sparged, or it could even be an inaccurate hydrometer, not applying temperature correction, or reading the hydrometer wrongly.
To find out where the problem is, you need to take the gravity of the first runnings, and the last runnings, as well as the pre-boil gravity and volume.
Also, when taking the pre-boil gravity, make sure the wort is stirred really well before taking the sample.

With some more information, we can probably figure out where the cause of the problem is.

-a.
For the first runoff, I got 2.9 gal at 1.040 and for the second runoff I got 3.4 gal at ? gravity.

Final pre-boil gravity was 1.028 with 6.3 gal total. Post-boil was a 5 gal at 1.035. The recipe called for 1.036, so I missed it by a point but I used an extra lb of grains, remember?
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Old 10-03-2007, 02:52 AM   #7
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I'm not familiar with the igloo, by my rubbermaid will hold at 155 for easily, 45 minutes before loosing a single degree.

Preheating is not the issue. Preheating simlpy reduces the initial temp-reduction shock that occurs when you add the strike water.

Once added, the cooler walls immediately come to temp. Temp reduction shock can be compensated by increasing the strike temp. Now the critical question is how long can the cooler hold the temp.

For $39.00 a rubbermaid may be the ticket.

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Old 10-03-2007, 03:03 AM   #8
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I agree with BierMuncher. I have a 10 gal Rubbermaid M/L tun that only loses at most, 2f in a 90min. mash.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BierMuncher
I'm not familiar with the igloo, by my rubbermaid will hold at 155 for easily, 45 minutes before loosing a single degree.

Preheating is not the issue. Preheating simlpy reduces the initial temp-reduction shock that occurs when you add the strike water.

Once added, the cooler walls immediately come to temp. Temp reduction shock can be compensated by increasing the strike temp. Now the critical question is how long can the cooler hold the temp.

For $39.00 a rubbermaid may be the ticket.
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Old 10-03-2007, 03:18 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OldFarmer
I agree with BierMuncher. I have a 10 gal Rubbermaid M/L tun that only loses at most, 2f in a 90min. mash.
Yep, mine too.
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Old 10-03-2007, 03:29 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BierMuncher
I'm not familiar with the igloo, by my rubbermaid will hold at 155 for easily, 45 minutes before loosing a single degree.

Preheating is not the issue. Preheating simlpy reduces the initial temp-reduction shock that occurs when you add the strike water.

Once added, the cooler walls immediately come to temp. Temp reduction shock can be compensated by increasing the strike temp. Now the critical question is how long can the cooler hold the temp.

For $39.00 a rubbermaid may be the ticket.
I was wrong. It actually is a Rubbermaid. I bought it at Walmart for less than $15. Maybe the walls and lids are too thin????
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