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Old 08-02-2008, 07:03 PM   #1
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Default Reality Check - 1st AG Brew

The specifics: Pale Ale Recipe
11.5 lbs grain (10.5 2 row barley, .5 Carapils, .5 Crystal 40L)
1 oz Willamette 60min
1oz Fuggles 2min
Dry ale yeast

Mash in: 170* & held at 154 for 60min
Sparge: 2 batches @ 170* each

Ok, so maybe I'm not the beer genius I thought I was in my imagination. I picked up this hobby two months ago and before today only had two brews under my belt (1st - all extract, 2nd - partial mash). I found myself wanting more involvement int the brewing process at each level, so the next step seemed to naturally be All Grain. I took the plunge, perhaps too quickly, gathered my equipment and had grand visions of hitting every temp and gravity. Alas, I forgot about my the inevitable appearance of Murphy and his damnable law.

The brew day went as planned. Clean everything and setup my equipment, heat the strike water and mash in, then wait. One hour later I collected 2 gallons worth of first runnings and then I batch sparged twice, each 2 gal at 170. All that was a breeze. The boil went well too. I added the hops and moved past the hot break without a boil over. Everything was looking up and I busied myself with sanitizing everything that may come into contact with the post-boil wort. 2 minutes left in the boil I added the Fuggles and then moved to collect the wort in the fermenter. The counterflow chiller worked great and I was able to get the wort down to about 80 (I figured an ice bath could drop it the rest of the way).

Then Murphy slapped me like a redheaded stepchild. Somehow, I'd boiled off 2 gallons in 1 hour. Now I only had 4 gallons of wort instead of 5, apparently I have a higher evaporation rate than what beersmith was telling me. My heat was not all that high, just high enough to maintain a rolling boil. I did get an OG of 1.052, which is a tad over my aim of 1.044-1.050, but is acceptable for a pale ale. I'm really just bummed that I only have 4 gallons of this (positive side: I'll get to brew sooner between batches. Hooray!?!)

Did I completely screw this up? How do I calculate for a higher evaporation rate? Is my efficiency complete ****e?

At this point, I stand humbled before the beer gods. I am but a mere man and not the legend I once thought I was. Teach me, O wise ones.

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Old 08-02-2008, 07:11 PM   #2
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According to beer smith it looks like you got around 50% efficiency which is a little low. Probably your crush. Did you mash in with 4 gallons of water?

I'm sure your beer will turn out fine just only 4 gallons.

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Old 08-02-2008, 07:24 PM   #3
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Well now you know your boil-off rate. I'd rebrew the same recipe again soon and factor that in. The extra volume of sparge water will help improve your efficiency some but your crush is likely the biggest factor. Did you check for starch conversion with an iodine test? If not I'd do that as well next time to be sure you are getting complete conversion.

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Old 08-02-2008, 07:24 PM   #4
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No, beersmith calculated a strike volume of 3.5gal.

I had it crushed by Midwest when I ordered it. I don't have a barley crusher yet. I did not do the iodine test, that I will add to my list. It is a bit overwhelming the first time, and I just forgot.

So, really I'm just looking to improve mash efficiency and account for a much higher evaporation rate?

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Old 08-02-2008, 10:14 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beards Brews View Post
No, beersmith calculated a strike volume of 3.5gal.

I had it crushed by Midwest when I ordered it. I don't have a barley crusher yet. I did not do the iodine test, that I will add to my list. It is a bit overwhelming the first time, and I just forgot.

So, really I'm just looking to improve mash efficiency and account for a much higher evaporation rate?
Yes, as Trub said, now you know you will boil off app 2 gal, thats just 1 part of the equation you have solved, before you know it you will be brewing like an expert, just remember, you are just starting this, it will take a few runs to get everything dialed in, relax bro, and keep on brewing
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Old 08-02-2008, 10:32 PM   #6
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Good work! For your 1st all grain, I think you're going to end up with a really good beer. Better than my 1st ag I'm sure (the only batch I've ever had to dump... well, half...).

So you planned for 5 gallons, and ended up with 4. So about 20% less than expected. I plugged your recipe into Brewsmith, and it looks like you got about 50% efficiency (20% less than the widely used 70%). So 20% less volume canceled out the 20% efficiency loss, which equals good beer!

Looks like you're using a total of about 7.5 gallons of water (3.5 stk + 4 sprg). On my system it's more like 8.5 (3.5+5) for 6.6 into the boiler, I had to add .5 lauter tun loss, and .5 trub loss at an evaporation loss of 11%. Of course your system could be totally different, I'm just listing my numbers for comparison. But more water will definitely help your efficiency.

So with a bumped efficiency and compensating for your newly learned boil off, I'm sure you will have an even better 2nd batch! You've already mastered some of the common problems that 1st timers run into, i.e., mashing and cooling. IMO, tuning your system for the perfect brew is half of the fun.

Some other useful info to gather next time are the exact volume into the boiler (I guessed 6 because you said 4 + 2, but not sure if that's totally accurate), and also mash temperature, and if it held throughout the mash. OG into the boiler is also useful info.

Cheers

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Old 08-03-2008, 01:39 AM   #7
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Congrats on your first AG.

You could always top off with some boiled/cooled water to get closer to 5 gallons. Since your OG was a little over target, dilution would bring it down toward your target, as long as you don't over-dilute it.

Beersmith has a dilution tool that can help you determine how much.

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Old 08-03-2008, 02:49 AM   #8
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I have been brewing for two months and did my first AG today and naled my OG for my first AG. its oretty easy dude...go watch chris nights videos on youtube...HELPS A LOT

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so barley is a leaves of hops? or barley is a different plant? and blend with hops? I need that to be cleared thanks..
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Old 08-04-2008, 12:49 AM   #9
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Ha. Me too. I brewed my very first all-grain yesterday as well...and my first of anything in 12 years. I missed the 5 gallon mark as well, and ended up with 4.5 in the fermenter. I got about 69% efficiency according to ProMash. Ended at 1.060.

I'm not sweating the short volume. Neither should you.

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Old 08-04-2008, 10:24 PM   #10
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I'm not so worried about it now. I was pretty bummed at the time because I had not accounted for such a high evaporation rate and such a low efficiency.

I've chalked this batch up as a somewhat steep learning curve and an investment in my brewing education. If it turns out good, then that is just icing on the cake. Next batch will be golden.

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