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Old 11-14-2012, 09:00 PM   #1
Ski
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Default First brew!

Hi

I have just completed my first brew and managed to run into more problems then I ever imagined ..... but then again, it was pretty fun!

My biggest problem however is that I ended up with a very low gravity, 1020, from my mash, and I was wondering if anyone could suggest why ? I 'thought' that it had gone well until the hydrometer reared its ugly face.

I used a rectangular 33l cooler with a false bottom that I created, I brewed a wheat beer so I had 3 rests, 15 min at 43, 15 min at 52, and an hour at 65. I used a stiff water ratio of 1.5l to each kg for my strike calculation. I sparged about 18 litres at 65-70 degrees using a continuous sparge, keeping the water about 1/2 an inch above the grain bed which was a good 6 inches deep. I used 3kg of piksner malt (crushed) and 2.5kg of torrified wheat and ended up with 30l pre boil of wort.

The false bottom had 2mm holes in a 10mm square grid and fit the cooler pretty tight althought there was some small gaps in some of the edges.

I was quite terrified of aeration so I didn't stir the mash much, only a little bit at the end. However I did endevour to make sure all the grains were wetted in the initial strike by adding all the water half litre at a time.

Sooooooooo any huge errors that anyone can see that would result in my low gravity ? think I will be doing a nice simple ale next time but I do enjoy a good and complicated bodge even if it does go wrong

I dumped a load of sugar and treacle into it to make up for the gravity and I cant wait to see how drinkable it ends up!

The other question I have is how important sanitation is, everything I have ever read says it is the ultimate, how ever I cant help but think back to the vikings ... I am pretty sure they had a terrible reputation for the old hand washing yet drank a fair bit of beer! Has anyone ever had a bad batch from getting infected or is it more a case of off flavours?

Thanks! cant wait for the next brew!
Ed

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Old 11-14-2012, 09:11 PM   #2
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Your process seems pretty good so the first thing I always consider is the quality of the grain crush. A poor crush is a primary reason for poor efficiency in the mash. Also, when you took the reading did you stir the wort prior to taking the sample, stratification of the wort can occur. Third, did you temperature correct your hydrometer reading and did you verify your hydrometer is calibrated?

Re: Sanitation, yes it is important and if you read these boards enough you will read countless threads about infections that occur because people did not clean AND sanitize. If you develop a good practice early on it becomes second nature and part of the routine of brewing.

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Old 11-14-2012, 09:14 PM   #3
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the Vikings fermented with wild yeast and what they drank didn't taste anything like what you are making.
Don't be afraid to stir your mash, that is why they make mash paddles, I stir the heck out of mine. I assume we have to add a 1 to your temperatures?

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Old 11-14-2012, 09:34 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replys, the temps are in centigrade so in old money it would be about 110, 125, 150.

the grain was bought from a home brew store crushed, so I think i can assume it wouldnt be 'that' bad a crush!

The hydro read 1000 for tap water - I assumed that meant its calibrated ? I got the wort sample to 20 degrees (centegrade) before testing it and I most certainly stirred it before taking the sample! As much as I would love it to be a simple measuring error I think it was more endemic.

Well I guess if the theory was ok I may have to chalk up the failure to inexperience! It will be interesting to try a single rest, batch sparge method (maybe even stirring my mash as well), my efficiency was probably about 35% so at things can only get better

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Old 11-14-2012, 09:55 PM   #5
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Don't assume not a bad crush, next time ask them to mill twice, I bet your efficiency improves

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Old 11-14-2012, 10:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duboman
Don't assume not a bad crush, next time ask them to mill twice, I bet your efficiency improves
+1

Unless your mash thermometer was waaaay off this is your most likely suspect. Don't give up on AG yet. Next time you do a mash, use a refractometer and iodine tests to help you diagnose where the problem is (conversion vs sparging). Once you know that you can go looking deeper (pH, thickness, runoff rate, crush, temp, etc). www.braukaiser.com has some excellent articles on what affects mashing and how to diagnose problems.

Edit: a few that are probably relevant to you:
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=CrushEval
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php...ing_Efficiency
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php...use_Efficiency
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