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Old 04-06-2009, 05:18 PM   #11
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I was using one of those big orange cylindrical rubbermaid coolers, fitted with a false bottom and a thermometer (yay borrowed equipment!). I poured about 3 gallons of 165F strike water in, covered and let it sit for a few minutes to warm up the plastic, then dumped all 12 pounds in. Stirred it a bit with a plastic spoon (a little tricky cause of the thermometer probe sticking into the middle of it, and the shortness of my spoon), added more hot water to bring the temp up, then covered it and didn't touch it again.

So the stirring should be pretty intense, then? I'd heard I shouldn't disturb the grainbed, so I didn't want to touch it. And yeah, I'm definitely writing this down... my 6 foot five heavy-lifting assistant and I had a great time brewing yesterday, the borrowed equipment meant the whole process was only 4 hours, including cleanup, and other than the super low OG it all went very smoothly. Smell's amazing, too, and the bubbling sounds coming from the bathroom are driving the dog nuts. I'm thinking I might try a do-over batch of the same beer tomorrow, try to correct the OG problems, and then compare the two batches when they're ready.

Thanks for the troubleshooting, this is very helpful.
Yes, definitely stir the crap out of it as you add grain to the water. You don't need to stir again, but absolutely give it a big stir up front to break up dough balls, equalize temperature throughout the mash, etc.

Not disturbing the grain bed is during the vorlof. You want clear beer draining into your kettle, so don't disturb the grain bed at this stage or you'll start getting grain bits in your kettle.
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Old 04-06-2009, 05:19 PM   #12
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So the stirring should be pretty intense, then? I'd heard I shouldn't disturb the grainbed, so I didn't want to touch it.
The only time you don't want to disturb the grain bed is during sparging/vorlaufing. When your first dough in you want to stir the sh*t out of it to make sure its all mixed in.

Also, every time i have my LHBS crush my grain my efficiency drops ~25%. Luckily i always have some DME on hand to make up the difference.
Their crush = teh suck.
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Old 04-06-2009, 05:21 PM   #13
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Ok , I think you need to post your process. I don't know any AG'r that can do it in 4 hours tops. Did you mash for 60 minutes. Did you boil for 60 minutes. And you really only lost 1 gallon to grain absorbtion?

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Old 04-06-2009, 05:21 PM   #14
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I have DME on hand... could I have added it to the boil to improve efficiency?

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Old 04-06-2009, 05:25 PM   #15
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I have DME on hand... could I have added it to the boil to improve efficiency?
It won't technically improve your efficiency, it will just bump up your gravity to where its supposed to be.
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Old 04-06-2009, 05:31 PM   #16
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Ok , I think you need to post your process. I don't know any AG'r that can do it in 4 hours tops. Did you mash for 60 minutes. Did you boil for 60 minutes. And you really only lost 1 gallon to grain absorbtion?
I was pretty surprised, too. I was using this setup, borrowed from the Oregon Brew Crew (for free! nice!). 60 minute mash, 60 minute boil. The burners are 55K BTU, I had the yeast starter on a stir plate from the day before, and the immersion chiller was built for a 10g batch, and we were only doing 5g. I also swirled the chiller around inside the brew kettle as it chilled, by grabbing the ends of the copper with potholders (not easy to do and keep the cookie sheet lid on at the same time, need to find a better lid for next time, but the chilling didn't take more than 10 minutes). Being outside helped out a lot, didn't have to worry at all about keeping things clean or where to drain stuff. It just all went very smoothly.
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Old 04-06-2009, 05:32 PM   #17
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Well efficiency is how much sugar you got out of the grain so adding the DME wouldn't help that. It would get your OG back to the recipe's intent though.

I know some people like mashing thinner but frankly I think it was a large contributor to your low efficiency because 2 gallons of sparge in 12lbs of grain is not all that great.

You can compromise next time and use 1.5qt/lb so that would be 18qts for 12lbs or 4.5 gallons. You'll drain out about 3.25 gallons. If you're shooting for 6.5g preboil, that leaves a whole 3.25 gallons to sparge with.

Another big mistake was NOT stirring after you added the sparge water. This is conceivably the most crucial aspect of the batch sparge process.

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Old 04-06-2009, 05:35 PM   #18
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I lost between 1 gallon and 1.5 to the mash tun, but it looks like that's because I was doing it wrong.

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Old 04-07-2009, 11:54 PM   #19
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Okay, I brewed a do-over batch of this today, trying to fix the mashing mistakes I made. I used the right grain crusher, used less water in the first mash, stirred like crazy, and drained more slowly. My OG is now 1.054! Woo! Still not the 1.062 from the recipe, but I'll take it. It's sitting next to its sister batch right now, I look forward to comparing them.

Thanks everyone!

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Old 04-07-2009, 11:56 PM   #20
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Oh, and I timed everything... exactly 4 hours from starting the burner for the strike water to finishing cleanup. It took 13 minutes to take the 5.5 gallons from boiling to 80 degrees, and I forgot to time how long it took for the wort to start boiling, but it was fast, maybe 5 minutes. I'd probably have to drop $500+ to buy equipment like this for myself, the OBC is really doing a great thing letting folks borrow this.

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