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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > All Grain has tasted weird 2 batches in a row
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Old 11-28-2009, 04:20 AM   #1
chandlervdw
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Default All Grain has tasted weird 2 batches in a row

Ok, I've brewed a couple of really decent extract kits but I've been trying to make the switch to all grain. My friend who has a lot of experience doing all grain did a Belgian Dubbel with me and it has also turned out decent.

The problems started with MY first all grain - I got a recipe for a Highland Gaelic Clone from Beertools.com and it had this really strange taste to it. Some of my friends described it as watery, others described it as yeasty. It was a terrible batch and I ended up tossing it, after force carbonation and all. I recently got a kegerator and I was too eager to get a beer on tap that I never did secondary fermentation. That could've added to the yeastiness, if that's what I'd call it.

I was worried that my recipes were bad, so I used a Jamil recipe (legit) for an American Pale Ale. Fermentation went great - never above 67°F. The only thing that I am worried about is my mashing process. To make a long story short, over the course of the 1 hour saccharaction rest, my grain bed temp dropped from 154°F to 140°F - I'm worried that the starches didn't get converted. Also, the recipe called for a fly sparging over the course of 1 hour. I just did a batch sparge. It seemed to work great and I hit my target gravity almost right on. I moved it from primary to secondary today (10 days of fermentation) and I took a sample to taste it. Same nasty, watery, yeasty taste as the Gaelic clone. I'm really bummed but I'm gonna let it sit in the secondary.

I realize it could be a million factors but does anyone have an idea? Is it the mashing process or what?

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Old 11-28-2009, 04:24 AM   #2
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I never judge a beer by what it tastes like while its in the fermenter. I don't keg, but I never judge a beer of my own until it has been in the bottle for quite a while. If it's 'good' when it's been in the bottle for 6 weeks, it's usually better when it's been in there for 12

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Old 11-28-2009, 04:28 AM   #3
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ok just to play devils advocate and nitpick everything-

if it tastes watery you probably got very poor conversion leading to a low gravity starting wort. Did you take a starting gravity before pitching the yeast and if so what was it?

Next, what are you mashing in? An almost 15 degree drop over an hour is very very poor. In order to combat this you should have used a much longer rest period to allow conversion. Also i would suggest getting a better cooler for the next time you mash as you should be able to hold to within a few degrees. Although its not the defacto standard, an iodine test will help see if all available starches were converted.

What was your water to grain ratio? Most of the time i use about 1.3 quarts per pound of grain however if you didint use enough water, you may have had poor conversion.

Third, how long did you allow this to sit in primary? Bubbles are not an indication of when the beer is done, and it should be left in primary for a minimum of 10 days. Personally i leave mine for a minimum of 3 weeks and usually a 4 weeks without secondary to very good results.

Batch sparge vs fly sparge shouldn't make a huge difference in taste like your describing only with efficiency. Most of the people only see a maximum of 5% efficiency hike from switching although im sure someone has done more and will disagree.

Click on the #4 in my sig for an allgrain primer i find excellent from Bobby_M. It helped me hone my skills and make sure i wasn't missing anything when i learned all grain. Its quite helpful in figuring out what you skipped or missed that may be messing with your beers. Good luck

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Old 11-28-2009, 04:48 AM   #4
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ok, what you're describing sounds like my problem. I'm afraid I missed out on a lot of the conversion. I never took an original gravity reading but my preboil gravity was right on with the calculations at 1.037. I was boiling from about 5.6 gallons down to 3 for 1.5 hours. I know, I should've done a gravity reading...

Concering my mashtun - I just converted a 60 quart cooler, which I'm realizing has way too much airspace inside when I do a 3 gallon batch - that's why it's cooling off so much. My buddy gave me some high-density Styrofoam that I might be able to set up inside to displace some air/hold in heat at the top - that's about my only option other than building a new mashtun.

My 3 gallon batch was in the primary for 10 days. The airlock hadn't moved since day 4 so I just assumed it was done. I won't be doing that anymore.

man, so many mistakes....I think the main problem was the starch conversion. Thanks so much for your help - I'm really discouraged cause this is batch 3 that hasn't turned out well with the all grain process. I do have an espresso stout that's been sitting and is tasting decent.....

I can upload pics of what I've got if that helps. I really want to nail this mashing process down... this is obviously the most difficult/crucial part and I'm lacking...

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Old 11-28-2009, 12:45 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chandlervdw View Post
ok, what you're describing sounds like my problem. I'm afraid I missed out on a lot of the conversion. I never took an original gravity reading but my preboil gravity was right on with the calculations at 1.037. I was boiling from about 5.6 gallons down to 3 for 1.5 hours. I know, I should've done a gravity reading...

Concering my mashtun - I just converted a 60 quart cooler, which I'm realizing has way too much airspace inside when I do a 3 gallon batch - that's why it's cooling off so much. My buddy gave me some high-density Styrofoam that I might be able to set up inside to displace some air/hold in heat at the top - that's about my only option other than building a new mashtun.

My 3 gallon batch was in the primary for 10 days. The airlock hadn't moved since day 4 so I just assumed it was done. I won't be doing that anymore.

man, so many mistakes....I think the main problem was the starch conversion. Thanks so much for your help - I'm really discouraged cause this is batch 3 that hasn't turned out well with the all grain process. I do have an espresso stout that's been sitting and is tasting decent.....

I can upload pics of what I've got if that helps. I really want to nail this mashing process down... this is obviously the most difficult/crucial part and I'm lacking...
Early in your brewing career you discovered some difficulty. You then asked for and received some very good and detailed responses. Then, you yourself used that information, added some more from other sources, rethought your processes. Don't be disappointed. You just learned and now you are planning to adapt that learning.

You are going to make some very good beer is my prediction. Beer takes time. So does the learning how to make it. Good luck.
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Old 11-28-2009, 02:26 PM   #6
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Try to be patient, I've had a batch I thought would be undrinkable that turned out great after a month of bottle conditioning. Also, as mentioned, airlock activity is not really a good indicator as to what is happening with your beer. Most of my beers have little to no airlock activity after the first 4-7 days, but I still let the yeast do their thing for at least 3 weeks before bottling. I plan on starting kegging soon, and when I do I plan on letting the beer condition in the keg for 3-4 weeks before chilling and carbonating.

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Old 11-28-2009, 06:10 PM   #7
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Go to cvs for next time and pick up some iodine. As long as you don't pull any husks or little white peices from the grain, iodine will keep you from sparging early plus its cheap. I use iodophore sanitizer which works well.

As for keeping the beer in primary for 10 days, its definitely longer than some people have left it however beers always benefit from more time. The longer they sit (to a point), the more time the yeast have to reabsorb off flavors such as diacetyl (think artificial butter) as well as others. Next time try and leave it for 3 weeks and see where that lands you.

As for the mash tun- i dont think your problem is that you have too much headspace. A 15 degree drop leads me to believe that you didn't preheat the mashtun or that when you took the temperature reading, it wasn't consistent throughout. What i would suggest is to add your water to the mashtun about 20-25 degrees hotter than your mashing, close the lid and leave it for 15 minutes. That will allow the cooler to absorb whatever heat it is going to initially and minimize the amount of heat loss. Then wait until the temperare is down to where you want it and add your grain to reach your mash temp. I doubt you will see the same type of drop.

Try some of this stuff and you should end up with some very good beer. PLus we've all been there. It just takes time as Gammon said. Happy brewing

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Old 11-28-2009, 09:43 PM   #8
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I've got a little iodophor left - how do I use that to check the mashing process?

Also, last time I put my strike water in there for about 5 minutes beforehand. I guess it didn't help. So, I'm guessing since it's such a large vessel, I'll need the water to be hotter in order for it to absorb the max amount of heat. So, for a 60qt vessel and a 3 gallon batch with ≈ 7lbs of grain, what temp should my strike water be (when I add it, then let it sit for 15 minutes, then add the grist)?

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Old 11-28-2009, 11:14 PM   #9
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Use rackers.com ( I believe that is the website, if not someone will chime in).

Use the other persons advice of over shooting your strike temp. IE if rackers says make the water 170F with 7 ibs of grain, then do 180, let the cooler warm up, then when it hits 170F again add your grain.

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Old 11-29-2009, 12:34 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chandlervdw View Post
I've got a little iodophor left - how do I use that to check the mashing process?

Also, last time I put my strike water in there for about 5 minutes beforehand. I guess it didn't help. So, I'm guessing since it's such a large vessel, I'll need the water to be hotter in order for it to absorb the max amount of heat. So, for a 60qt vessel and a 3 gallon batch with ≈ 7lbs of grain, what temp should my strike water be (when I add it, then let it sit for 15 minutes, then add the grist)?
generally i use about 20 degrees over where im trying to hit, and after about 10-15 minutes of preheating, it cools down. The rackers site dave is talking about is my #3 in the signature and is a good general baseline. Personally i do the math in my head and overshoot. When i do calculate i either use Promash or Beersmith. Both have calculators for everything and are fairly cheap 20-25$. Its a good investment if your serious about the hobby. They take into account the temp of the grain as well as your strike temperature so without knowing both i cant caluclate it for you.

However assuming your trying to hit 154 and your using 1.3 quarts per pound (7lbs x 1.3 = 9.1 qts) , i would put in ~9 quarts of water at 175 and allow it stabilize for 10-15 minutes, then check the temperature and assuming it hasn't dropped below say 165ish, dough in your grains and stir for atleast a few minutes to get rid of dough balls. When it stabilizes at your mash temperature, shut the lid and start your timer. I always keep a spare 1/2 gallon of boiling water nearby to adjust temperature if it falls out of range and cold water can be added sparingly in the same manner to adjust.

As for the iodophore, drain a sample 60 minutes after you dough in making sure there are no parts of the endosperm (white grain peices). Husks don't matter because they dont contain any starch. On either a peice of sidewalk chalk (braukaiser) or in a glass, add a drop of iodophore to a small spoonfull of the runnings from your mash. If it turns black, there is still starch present and you will need to mash longer. To see what a starch positive result looks like, add a drop of iodophore to a slice of potato. Heres an example with beer. Notice that there are no particulates which is important.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/iodine-test-81728/
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