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Old 10-14-2009, 12:05 AM   #1
Croy9000
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Default Two issues with my first AG brew process

Maybe someone can help me understand how to fix this for the next brew.

Problem 1

Beersmith said to achieve a 5.5 gal batch size I needed a 8.11 boil volume. But after following the recommended 3.08 gal mash in and two sparges of 3.26 gal each I ended up with 8.5 gal. What setting in Beersmith could I change to compensate for that? I already have the Lauter Tun Deadspace set to "exactly" how much is left in the bottom after draining (.31 gal). It seems to be overestimating by almost a half gallon.

Problem 2

Beersmith estimated my OG at 1.050 (post-boil). But I ended up with only 1.042. I measured the OG after running through the CFC and compensated for temp (80 degrees). My pre-boil OG was 1.034, and Beersmith estimated 1.039. Sounds like maybe I didnt get as much evaporation in the BK as Beersmith thought? Could this also be related to problem 1?

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Old 10-14-2009, 02:45 AM   #2
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# 1 - Are you sure it said 8.11 gal pre-boil and not total water needed. With 12 lbs. of grain, it would absorb approx 1 - 1.25 gal of water, leaving you with 7.11 - 6.86 gal pre-boil that would seem to get you closer to your 5,5

#2 - It sounds like you were just low on your mash eff. You were low in both pre-boil AND final...

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Old 10-14-2009, 02:58 AM   #3
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No, it is definitely 8.11 gal boil volume (total water needed was 9.61). After looking at how Beersmith works the only other thing that would cause it to over estimate mash/sparge volume, besides deadspace, is absorption. It looks like it used 1.19 gal for my 9.9 lb grain bill. It seems for my case it was only .8 gal absorption. (of coarse all this assumes 0 error in me reading my stick with marks for measuring water from my HLT, which im sure there is some).

I have been studying the number all night and found another issue. I forgot to change the evaporation rate after scaling my recipe so Beersmith thought I would get 1.63 gal of boil off, when the real value is only 1.5 gal for my kettle, so it added .13 gallons to my volume. I think that additional amount plus the overage of .4 gal from the sparging, and the fact that I stopped boiling at 60 min instead of boiling off the additional amount, is what screwed me up.

Kinda crappy, but some great lessons for next time.

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Old 10-14-2009, 03:36 AM   #4
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It is a good lesson - the best thing to do is exactly what it sounds like you're doing... Take good readings and adjust your software to reflect the particulars of your personal system. Awesome you're not sitting there doing the same thing 20 times, wondering what went wrong each time. Kudos!

Now that I think about it, why didn't you just boil longer? You would reduce volume and bump up gravity...

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Old 10-14-2009, 03:43 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Grizzlybrew View Post
Now that I think about it, why didn't you just boil longer? You would reduce volume and bump up gravity...
/cry I know, I keep beating myself up over that. I guess not having a clue what all the measurements really meant at the time I was taking them, I just stuck with the plan, it said boil 60min, and thats what I did. Now that I understand the process and numbers much better I can react to problems better next time. And thanks for the kind words!
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Old 10-14-2009, 03:44 AM   #6
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What was your boil rate setting? Sounds like maybe it was set too high.

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Old 10-14-2009, 03:55 AM   #7
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What was your boil rate setting? Sounds like maybe it was set too high.
Yea, it was too high. It was set to 20.10% resulting in a 1.63 gal boil off. My measured boil off (in tests and in this batch) is only 1.5 gal. The problem cropped up when I upped the Final Volume to 5.5 for this batch. Not sure why Beersmith uses a percentage. You should be able to just enter the fixed volume (instead of it being calculated).
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Old 10-14-2009, 01:27 PM   #8
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Being a complete AG noob myself, and wanting to try this this weekend...how the hell do you figure out all this stuff?

Is there a website that explains all this?

I mean...calculating how much water evaporates from your brew pot??? How the hell do you figure that out! LOL

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Old 10-14-2009, 03:00 PM   #9
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I worried a bit in my first few batches because I overshot my preboil volume, and had to boil longer than stated in the recipe. but I decided I would rather get all the fermentables out of the grain than worry about preboil volume, as a result I no longer worry about preboil and simply adjust my flame and/or boil time to get down to my target volume. I think your low grav. reading is simply a result of low eff. and this number will come around as your process and knowledge increase. keep on it and you WILL see improvements.

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Old 10-14-2009, 03:15 PM   #10
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Being a complete AG noob myself, and wanting to try this this weekend...how the hell do you figure out all this stuff?...
I highly recommend trying out one of the beer software apps. Most have a free trial. Beersmith (and the others im sure) have an equipment profile that you can input all your equipment (volumes, waste, evaporation, etc). To get those numbers you can do what I did, do a mach beer session with just water. Its a great way to practice and confirm at least some aspects of your process. In my case I uncovered issues with siphoning and leaks from the boiling water I was able to adjust for before I did the real thing.

Here is beersmith's equipment setup howto http://www.beersmith.com/equipment_setup.htm
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