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Old 06-11-2010, 03:56 AM   #1
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Default Was this the right thing to do

Yesterday I did my 1st AG/Full Boil. I followed the brew sheet from Beer Smith as close as possible. I pre heated the mash tun with 155deg. water for a good 15 mins, then mashed 10lbs of grains in a little over 3 gals of H2O @154 for 60 mins. After that I sparged with 1.5gals at 170 then again with about 3.3gals at 170.

Beer smith said my pre-boil gravity should have been at about 1.047 and there was between about 6.25-6.5 gals of wort. I had about 1.014 . I told myself its probably because the wort isn't mixed up enough. I boiled down to a little over 5 gals over the next hour and broke out my new wort chiller. Got the wort down to about 70 and took another reading. 1.025 ish.

Okay, now I'm worried. I fired the burner back up and added about 1/2 -1/4 cup of DME that I had left over from my starter. I know, it probably did almost nothing other than make me feel a little better. During the second boil, I cooked it down to about 4.5gals, then cooled it again. After this second cooling, I now somehow had a gravity of about 1.052 and my target was 1.054

I know something went wrong, or at least, that I did something wrong. Was that the right thing to do, boil it down to the target gravity (quality over quantity)? Also, generally speaking, how much lower is your pre gravity boil compared to your post gravity? Should I let my sparge water soak for a couple minutes? I did stir it a little. Is that good/bad?

The only thing I could figure that may have screwed me was that my grains were too cool (fridge stored but I did let them sit out for about an hour before mashing) during the mash. Checking the mash temp was the only thing I can think of that I didn't do. I understand why the pre boil gravity was probably low (mixing), but the 1st post boil measurement was WAY off, then boiling down .75gals made a seemingly disproportionate difference in the gravity between the two boils.

Like I said, this was my 1st AG AND 1st Full Boil attempt. PLENTY of room for user error in there, and I didn't disappoint on that end. Hopefully the next time works out better.

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Old 06-11-2010, 04:40 AM   #2
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I'm guessing the starches didn't get the chance to convert. Are you sure the mash temp was 154? Adding the grain to your 155 degree tun would probably have decreased its temp by about 10 degrees, dropping it out of starch conversion range.

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Old 06-11-2010, 06:47 AM   #3
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What was your mash time?

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Old 06-11-2010, 01:09 PM   #4
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Sreidy12, I'm almost certain I had my strike water in the 170 range. I wouldn't bet the farm on it though. As best I can figure, my grains were still cold and that was enough to drop the temperature enough to give me crap conversion. It very well could have been a combo of my tun not quite being warm enough, the strike water being a little cool and the grains being cold.

Arturo7, I mashed for 60 minutes. I'm thinking I should have let my sparge water sit on the grains for a little while longer. I only let it sit for a minute or two.

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Old 06-11-2010, 02:21 PM   #5
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In the future, take multiple temp readings from different areas after dough-in. You want to make sure that all of your grain is at the mash temp and if not, make adjustments accordingly (there are several calculators out there to help you add the correct amount of x-degree water to reach x-degree mash temp).

I misread my thermometer and was only at 135 after dough-in 2 weeks ago. Took me a half hour to get the water in my HLT (had already filled it with cold, filtered water to heat for the sparge) to a boil. 1 gallon of boiling water brought my mash up to 153.

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Old 06-11-2010, 02:25 PM   #6
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I don't have a brewing program in front of me but it doesn't seem right that adding a half cup of DME and boiling off a half gallon should up your gravity from 1.025 to 1.052.

Next time definitely measure your mash temperatures after you mix together the strike water and grains, just so you know you're at least in the ballpark.

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Old 06-11-2010, 02:26 PM   #7
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Did you correct your hydrometer readings for temperature? That would explain why you had crappy readings during your brewing, but everything looked better after you let the wort cool.

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Old 06-11-2010, 03:27 PM   #8
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Maybe you had some hot spots and cold spots in the mash?

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Old 06-12-2010, 12:17 AM   #9
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Thanks for the input everyone.

drat, That sounds like something I'll probably start doing from here on out.

ksbrain, " it doesn't seem right that adding a half cup of DME and boiling off a half gallon should up your gravity from 1.025 to 1.052.
"


I agree. something was messed up and I'm assuming it was something I did, but, just want to compare numbers with more experienced people to help figure out exactly where I messed up.

broadbill, How do I make those corrections?

arturo7, That's entirely possible. I'll definately make temperature measurements from different areas in the future.

In the event I have cold spots or my temp. ends up being too low, should I just add some hotter water? I seems pretty obvious, but I just want to be 100% sure.

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Old 06-12-2010, 12:34 AM   #10
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Do you have a thermometer in your mash tun? If so is it digital, accurate? I dont like the dial style analog thermometers, so I bought one like this: http://www.amazon.com/Oneida-31161-Digital-Thermometer-Timer/dp/B001L2MTO6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=hi&qid=1276302714&sr=8-1-spell

and drilled a little hole in the lid of my MLT to insert the probe. Now I always know exactly what the temp is, and it has a timer built in. You can use it to monitor bringing your strike water up to temp etc. One of the handiest things i've added to the brewery come to think of it...

Also, are you sure your hydrometer readings were accurate the first time? What temp were they at? If the wort was hot during the reading it will skew the results.

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Last edited by strat_thru_marshall; 06-12-2010 at 12:35 AM. Reason: spelling. enjoying several pale ales after a long brew day...
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