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Old 02-19-2013, 11:19 PM   #1
vincent9192
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Default 1st grain brew attempt

So earlier today I started off my 1st grain brew attempt, a clone of left hand milk stout. Everything was going good but my O.G. was very low, 1.02 compared to the 1.06 the recipe suggested it should be. After some reading I realized my mistake was that after steeping the grains I sparged them way too quickly, i.e. just poured more water over my strainer and called it a day.

So my next move was to put some of my culinary skills to use and decided to re-boil 1/2 the batch to reduce it and hopefully bring the O.G. up again. It worked and right now the O.G. I got is 1.09, which is a bit high for the recipe. Just wondering if this was a good workaround or if i'm going to run into some problems here.

Good news is that I know what I did wrong with the sparging and it's a live and learn world

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Old 02-19-2013, 11:27 PM   #2
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1.020 would be a very weak beer; almost like water
1.060 would be a nice moderate strength beer; like a quaffable beer
1.090 would be a very strong beer; like a barleywine or imperial stout

Are those the gravities you're really getting? Please describe your gravity reading process. The numbers are so different that the difference between 1.020 and 1.090 would be like 5 gallons vs 1.5 gallons, respectively.

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Old 02-19-2013, 11:36 PM   #3
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I might have it totally wrong on reading the hydrometer but I just filled the test tube up with liquid and put the hydrometer in? The temp when it read 1.02-1.03 was around 90 and the temp when it read 1.09 was 110 or so. I did reduce 2.5 gallons to about 1.5 gallons so not sure if that's enough to change the gravity that much on it.

After the 1st reading I tasted a little and it was very watery/thin and then when I tried it after the boiling/rereading it tasted much more concentrated and had more body to it.

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Old 02-19-2013, 11:44 PM   #4
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Thinking about changing to all grain soon. How many extracts did you do before making the switch?

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Old 02-19-2013, 11:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vincent9192 View Post
I might have it totally wrong on reading the hydrometer but I just filled the test tube up with liquid and put the hydrometer in? The temp when it read 1.02-1.03 was around 90 and the temp when it read 1.09 was 110 or so. I did reduce 2.5 gallons to about 1.5 gallons so not sure if that's enough to change the gravity that much on it.

After the 1st reading I tasted a little and it was very watery/thin and then when I tried it after the boiling/rereading it tasted much more concentrated and had more body to it.
1.020 to 1.030 is a huge range. If it's 1.030 at 90 degrees, that's really 1.034 which is still going to turn out fairly weak, but still a beer. 1.090 at 110 is 1.097. That would be a fairly strong beer if it completely fermented.

Changing a 2.5 gal batch by a gallon would most certainly increase the concentration by quite a bit. As far as what you're describing, I'm not sure.

When you say you steeped, do you mean mashed? I'm sure that's what you meant, but steeping is more for flavor than fermentable sugars so that could be your problem.
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Old 02-19-2013, 11:56 PM   #6
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Hmm... Well I'm not sure if this was an all-grain because it had malt extracts in it but there were whole grains as well. I'm actually very new to this as this was only my 3rd brew attempt. I had gone to the local home brew store and they suggested a kit for the stout so that's what I was working with

The ingredient/process was:

14oz american crystal malt
8oz german dark munich malt
7oz roasted barley
6oz british choc malt
4oz each flaked oats, barley and rice hulls

Steeped those in 150f water for 30 minutes and then strained and very very very quickly sparged them.

After that put more water in, put it to a boil, added rest of the ingredients:

3.5lb munton's extra light dme
3.3 lb briess light malt extract syrup
1 lb lactose
6.5 HBU magnum bittering hops

boiled 45 minutes and then added 1tsp irish moss, 1/4oz american goldings hops. boiled 15 more minutes, let cool while steeping for 15 minutes.

After that it called to strain it into primary and that's when I discovered the OG was reading 1.02-1.03. So hence the reboiling of 1/2 the batch and rereading of 1.08og after the 2nd boil. I'm a newb

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Old 02-20-2013, 12:01 AM   #7
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Yeah I literally took 1/2 of a 5 gallon batch that was reading 1.02-1.03 and boiled it until it had reduced by around a gallon or so. Added that back into the 2.5g I still had sitting in the primary bucket. Took another reading and it was 1.09. Didn't realize 1.02-1.03 would affect things that much but I have quite a bit to learn haha

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Old 02-20-2013, 01:26 AM   #8
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Based on the looks of your recipe, I would call this a partial mash recipe.

The grainbill (crystal, munich, roasted barley, chocolate malt, oats, barley, hulls) looks very much like it should have been mashed, which just means steeped for a period of time at a correct temperature. If you actually "steeped" all of the grainbill at 150F - as in, this was the temperature of the water and grains when mixed up - then you mashed them correctly. A little longer than 30 minutes at 150F would have been better but not a huge deal. On the other hand, if you added all of your grains to 150F water, mixed it up, and let it steep at whatever temperature it rested at then you might not have got all you could of out of those grains. If you did the latter, then you probably landed in the realm of 145-130F which could mean minimal to almost no conversion of extra sugars. The good part is that you likely would have got some sugar extraction from the crystal and flavor extraction from the rest - just not the full potential of the grainbill. Again, not a big deal.

The malt extracts alone (muntons extra light dme, briess light malt extract syrup) would get you in the 1.055 range for a 5gallon batch. Add to that the lactose and you'll be in the 1.062 range. Add to that some sugars from the grain and you're at least at 1.065 for a 5gallon batch, and most likely a bit higher. If you then took half of your wort (2.5 gallons) and reduced it to 1.5gallons, added it back to your first half batch, you would be left with a 4 gallon batch with a gravity of about 1.080+ (probably closer to 1.085). That's a big beer around 8.3+% ABV.

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Old 02-20-2013, 01:48 AM   #9
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Thanks for the replies,

I'm thinking my 1st reading of 1.02-.03 was off somehow. The gravity now is right around 1.085 which is right on with what you're saying. I guess this means fermentation will take longer than a lower alch% beer? Hopefully it doesn't need more yeast since the wyeast liquid pack that came with the kit is all i have. Anyway thanks for the help!

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Old 02-20-2013, 02:09 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vincent9192 View Post
Thanks for the replies,

I'm thinking my 1st reading of 1.02-.03 was off somehow. The gravity now is right around 1.085 which is right on with what you're saying. I guess this means fermentation will take longer than a lower alch% beer? Hopefully it doesn't need more yeast since the wyeast liquid pack that came with the kit is all i have. Anyway thanks for the help!
Going on the assumption that you have a 4 gallon 1.085 gravity batch with a relatively recent wyeast packet, and using yeastcalc to determine correct pitching amount, you could have used about ~230 billion yeast cells. A new and healthy wyeast packets that was smacked and allowed to swell could yield about 100 billion yeast cells. Therefore, you could have used about twice that amount for a "proper" pitching amount. However, real world testing has shown me that the universe is forgiving and you'll be perfectly fine

The best thing you can do at this point is to give the yeast the best possible chance of performing a full, clean ferment. By underpitching (not providing enough yeast), the thought is that this can lead to off flavors/esters due to yeast stress. You can minimize this by fermenting toward the bottom end of the manufacturers suggested fermentation temperature range for the bulk of fermentation (4-5 days). However, it's possible that the yeast will begin to peter-out when fermentation begins to slow and not want to finish fermenting those last bits of sugars. You can encourage them to continue by raising the temperature of your fermenter to the upper end of the manufacturers suggested fermentation temperature range. Slow, gradual changes are best for yeast - in general. I usually do this by simply moving my fermenter from my basement to the my upstairs. I can usually get a good 8 degree difference by doing that and it takes a couple days for the fermenter to catch up to room temperature so it's relatively gradual. The last, and possibly most important step you can do to minimize off flavors/esters, is to allow your beer to remain in the primary fermenter for 3-4 weeks (i.e. remain on the yeastcake for 3-4 weeks) before bottling. Yeast are said to clean up after themselves when fermentation is over, therefore if you allow them the time to do so they'll actually remove some/all/most of their off flavors/esters they created during fermentation and it will give time for everything to settle out to the bottom of the fermenter for clearer beer. Best of all, it requires no work from you and you get to transfer directly into a bottling bucket for bottling when it's all done.
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