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Old 05-05-2013, 01:45 PM   #1
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Default Amateur Brewing Experiment and Questions

Hello all, I am new to the forums, and have only been brewing for about 6 months or so. So far I have 4 successful brews under my belt, all of which were brewers best kits.

A friend of mine is wanting to get into brewing and asked me to give him a hand with his first brew, but he wanted to try more of an experiment, due to the lack of hops and the fact that neither of us has ever done a mash before, and do not yet have a mash tun. Here is where things get odd. He has read somewhere online, I'm not sure where, that he could use sweet feed to brew with. The recipe he was basing his on was actually one he found for making moonshine, and apparently the poster of that recipe indicated the brew was almost good enough to bottle instead of distilling. This recipe consisted of adding a sweet feed mixture consisting of oat, cracked corn and molasses to a fermenter with some warm water and sugar, then pitching your yeast. He then got the idea to attempt to use malted barley with the sweet feed mixture in an attempt to convert the starches in the corn to fermentable sugars. Since he has no mash tun we attempted this by first adding the sweet feed to the brew pot and bringing it to a boil, then lowering the temp to 150, adding the malted grain in a grain bag, and simmering for 90 minutes. Once this was done we cooled the wort and added it to the fermenter, then sparged the sweet feed and grains with warm water. At this point he was adamant that we add some of the cooked sweet feed to the fermenter as well, since the original poster advised to ferment on the grain, which I advised against, to no avail. we pitched the yeast a little warmer than I normally do, at around 79 degrees F, put on the lid and airlock and set in in our spare room where all my other brews have gone. It should also be noted we only made a half batch, but we used a 6.5 gal bucket, so there was more headroom than I would have liked as well. As a side experiment, I had some yeast in the fridge from an old batch, so just for fun I used the portion set aside for the S.G reading, placed it in a small jar, added some of the yeast cake that has been in the fridge and popped an airlock on it. 24 hours later the bucket doesn't appear to have any airlock activity at all, but the small jar is bubbling away like normal. Now, I was skeptical as to whether his chosen method would even work or not, but what I am looking for here is feedback on the methods incorporated in this brew. The recipe and other specifics were as follows:

2 lbs sweet feed mixture (oats, cracked corn and molasses)
3 lbs 2-row crushed malted barley
20 oz. malted corn (which he had malted himself, so I'm not sure if it was done correctly as I have never malted anything myself)
Munton's ale yeast
2.5 Gallons of water

S.G. was 1.021


My main concerns were the use of sweet feed at all, the choice to ferment on the grains, and whether or not we even achieved any starch to sugar conversion.

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Old 05-05-2013, 01:56 PM   #2
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You likely didn't get conversion. you're not supposed to boil the grains at all!
You bring the water (1.25-1.5 quarts of water per pound of grain) up to betweensay,147-160F. the higher the temp,the less fermentables & more color & flavor basically. By boiling them 1st,you kill the enzymes needed for conversion. You heat the water to within range,mash 1 hour,then boil one hour. & the grains work way better when dried & crushed.
As for the corn,Native Americans making Tizwin malted & dried the corn sometimes. Sometimes not. But the malted barley def should be crushed coursely,not ground. Sparge the grains to get more sugars out of them.
But the liquid is ALWAYS filtered through the grain bed,or some way that seperates the liquid from the solids. you don't want the grains in the boil at all. this is not sour mash whiskey making! We don't want the grains in the wort for beer. Gets funky.

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Old 05-05-2013, 02:02 PM   #3
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I am not sure what that is but I would not call it beer. I also wonder about bringing any grains to a boil. You generally do not want to do that, with malted barley anyway.
Where does sweet feed come from. If it is for livestock I would not use it as it might not be as clean as I would like.

I would taste that close to a hospital.

Just kidding I am sure you have not made poison.
Keep us up to date when you taste it. I don't have much hope for it, but who knows???

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Old 05-05-2013, 02:07 PM   #4
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We only boiled the sweet feed portion, the 2-row was only in the pot when we were at the 150F simmer. We are aware that boiling the grains is bad. As far as the grains in the wort go, I advised against it, but he was determined. I personally feel this may have something to do with the stalled ferment. Like I said, he got the base recipe from a distilling forum, but for some reason wanted to brew it as a beer. Is simmering the grains bad also? I know in mashing you typically add warmer than mash temp water to a mash tun, then add grains, and once you are around 150-160F you close the tun and let it work for a hour or so. What we ended up with was sweet, but I'm not sure if it was starch sweetness or not.

The sweet feed is indeed livestock food, I too wasn't keen on the idea, but he insisted that's the route he wanted to take.

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Old 05-05-2013, 02:22 PM   #5
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Like I said,no boiling,no simmering of any part of the grain ever. Mash temps are what they are to keep the enzymes alive that do the job of converting starch to sugar. So you're iffy on a couple points for this one.

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Old 05-05-2013, 02:28 PM   #6
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Hmmm. Ok, just so even simmering within what I thought were correct mash temps is not advisable? As I mentioned before, I have never mashed, the info I thought to be correct on this was cobbled together from what I have read online here and there. I presumed as long as we didn't get too hot in the pot and sparged we would get at least some conversion, though admittedly not the most efficient method. Also, it should be noted that we never expected the sweet feed to add any enzymes to the mix, only some starches and flavor. I tried to get him to use an extract of some sort for his first batch but he seemed to want to do this the hard way for whatever reason, and being a friend, I went along with it.

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Old 05-05-2013, 02:37 PM   #7
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That's about the size of it,yeah. Read the stickies at the top of the forums for info on mashing,etc. That'll clear things up for next time. With a lil study & refining,you could wind up with a brew that's not unlike something ancient in this part of the world.

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Old 05-05-2013, 02:52 PM   #8
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Ok, well, at least it was just an experiment. He doesn't have too much money tied up in it, and you learn from your mistakes if you pay attention. We will let it go for a while in the fermenter to see if anything happens, and I'll post an update when we actually taste it. I do have a couple questions though. First, I have read and understand that no activity in the fermenter does not necessarily mean fermentation is going on, but can there be an actively bubbling airlock when there ISN'T fermentation going on? Like if it is infected? I have since noticed a little bubbling in its airlock. Also, when I post a tasting update should I post it to this thread or just start a new one? Also, thank you for the replies, they have been very insightful.

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Old 05-05-2013, 04:05 PM   #9
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If it was infected,you'd see a white slimy bubbly spider web like mas on top of the liquid. It's likely just starting kinda slow. You can repost to this thread if you like at tasting time. It helps to keep it all in the same place.

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Old 05-05-2013, 05:45 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unionrdr
Like I said,no boiling,no simmering of any part of the grain ever. Mash temps are what they are to keep the enzymes alive that do the job of converting starch to sugar. So you're iffy on a couple points for this one.
I think there is a disconnect here. 150 is not simmering. In fact, it's mashing temp. Did I read right that you boiled the feed, then added 2-row at 150 degrees? That seems odd but not crazy. If the boiling pulled the starch into the water, then the 2-row will at least convert some to sugar.

I think Muntons will have a hard time doing the work on this one, but your leftover yeast and sample experiment kicked in. That means you have sugar!

The yeast might be reproducing. Muntons usually starts fast for me but is not the best for getting all the sugars eaten.
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