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Old 07-05-2013, 04:04 PM   #1
pdm1982
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Default First all grain attempt

Yesterday I attempted to make this recipe: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f69/bells-two-hearted-ale-clone-close-they-come-91488/

I've had success with the extract brewing so I thought this would be a simple enough recipe to try as my first all grain batch. It was also the first time I actually used a recipe off of my Beersmith. I might have some equipment profile settings off because the batch size was listed at 5.5 gallons and I ended up with less than 5 in the fermenter. I think I put 6.25 gallons of wort in pre-boil so I'm not sure where it all went (unless I miscounted). Also, according to my Beersmith recipe the OG should have been 1.060 but it ended up being 1.052. My guess is I sparged too quickly. Afterwards, I took some of the spent grain and tasted it. It was still sweet so I must have left some of the sugars. After plugging in my numbers I come up with an efficiency of about 61%. I know that's not so great.

I guess I'm just frustrated with how my brew day turned out. I'm not sure what I expected being a first timer on my own. Maybe the beer will still turn out drinkable. Any thoughts or suggestions?



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Old 07-05-2013, 04:52 PM   #2
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What helped me most when I started was keeping detailed notes of the whole brew day, such as volumes, gravity readings, efficiency calculations, even the weather and temperature that day and any areas I knew needed improvement I would research here and apply to the next batch. It may seem nerdy and tedious, but after a few brews you'll see a pattern emerge that will help you pinpoint problem areas such as in your equipment or process.

For a first shot with little in the way of guidance I'd say your numbers are fairly decent. In the future, if you need to add gravity points after your boil, you can always spike your batch with a bit of added light extract when topping off or boil it a bit longer to reduce the amount of water in the batch. I wouldn't do it now if you've already pitched, however.

I fly-sparge and it usually takes about 45 minutes to fully drain and rinse my mash. Unfortunately the hardest part of all-grain brewing is learning patience since it is so much slower than extract brewing.



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Old 07-05-2013, 05:04 PM   #3
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The two culprits to look at on volume are: evaporation and mash tun dead space. You should be able to adjust those settings in Beersmith.

Efficiency comes with practice and patience. Also make sure you don't have any short circuiting on your sparging or manifold/false bottom.

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Old 07-05-2013, 05:07 PM   #4
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Batch or fly sparge? If batch sparge, did you stir real well prior to draning the mash tun?

If fly, try batch!

Regards

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Old 07-05-2013, 05:35 PM   #5
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Thanks for the quick answers and encouragement. I fly sparged but after the fact I'd say I did a number of things wrong during the sparge so I've been researching on here and making notes (very good advice).

As far as the Beersmith settings I'd have to go home to look at what all I had things set to but I know for a fact that my "loss to trub and chiller" was set to 0. Once I siphoned from my boil pot to my fermenter I could see that I made a mistake there. With 4 oz of hops in the recipe there was quite a bit of trub at the bottom.

As far as the "mash tun deadspace" setting...I wasn't sure what to put there. I don't have a false bottom; just a metal braid connected to a spigot. Not sure if that's what it's regarding.

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Old 07-05-2013, 06:59 PM   #6
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That's it.

Some programs have loss to kettle and loss to mash tun separate. Some have them together.

With a partially submerged orifice, you can't really drain out the bottom half of the orifice diameter. So if your cooler doesn't slope or have a channel, you could be leaving some wort behind there.

It's a simple check. Set up your cooler, fill it with water, and let it drain slow. When it stops draining, close the valve and measure what's left behind.

My manifold used to leave about a quart behind. But it required almost no vorlof. My screen tube leaves almost nothing behind but requires a lot of vorlof.

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Old 07-05-2013, 07:25 PM   #7
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Ah yeah that makes sense. Seems like it would be a pretty easy thing to check. I'll have to get on that when I get home.

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Old 07-06-2013, 01:58 AM   #8
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Don't forget your boil off, grain absorption and shrinkage. With my setup, I start off with 8.91 gals of water, send 6.75 gals into my boil pot, after 60 mins, send 5.25 into the fermenter.


I use Beer Smith as well and have all of these numbers plugged in to the program and come pretty close now after 6-8 brews

Good luck and enjoy
Rick

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Old 07-06-2013, 02:24 AM   #9
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First of all, you are tough on yourself, especially for your first brew.
RDWHAHB.

Not bad at all for a first batch! Stick with the forum, ask questions, read how to brew by John Palmer.

Like the others said, it is about dialing your system in. Put 3 or 4 gallons in kettle and boil for an hour and calculate loss there.
It is not uncommon to boil off a gallon or more in an hour. I boil 7 and 5.25 into ferment.

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Old 07-06-2013, 02:59 AM   #10
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If you fly sparge with a braid, it is virtually impossible to avoid channeling which will result in low efficiency. As wilserbrewer suggested, try batch sparging and you should get much better efficiency with your set up, as well as saving some time.
Also getting beersmith set up properly will allow you to brew a specific volume consistently.

-a.



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