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Elshupacabra 11-21-2011 05:03 PM

First True All-Grain Tastes Like a Watery Disaster
 
Alright. So, after doing numerous extract batches, I made a rectangle Mash/Lauter tun with a CPVC manifold. Unfortunately, I don't have a pot with a large enough boil capacity to make a full 5gal batch, but after some reading I learned that you can do a partial boil all-grain or partial mash batch with top up water in the carboy as long as you adjust (boost) the target gravity for dilution.

So, I started off with an experimental Peach-Ginger Wheat beer from partial mash. Long story short, even though I calculated it out in Beer Smith (or so I thought) I ended up with too much sweet wort for my pot. So, basically at that stage of the game all I could do was take what I could and make the batch. The pre-boil gravity was low. But, after the addition of the malt extract and boil the O.G. was actually pretty close to target and that beer turned out light, but okay.

Now comes the all-grain. I was trying to make an English Brown Ale and basically the same thing happened, too much wort and gravity too low. Except there wasn't any extract to boost it. So I let it ferment out for 3 weeks and after tasting it last night, the best thing I can describe it as tasting like is sun tea. It is very, very pale and has no alcohol flavor at all.

I'll be sticking to extract until I can get a full sized kettle.

But, I have two questions:

1. Why the low gravity? Is it due to the fact that I didn't use all the wort or due to not enough conversion, or both?

2. What can I do with/to this beer to make it serviceable? As of right now, it is sitting in the carboy and in it's current state I don't really want to have it take up one of my kegs.

eastoak 11-21-2011 05:36 PM

the second time you collected too much wort you replaced a portion of it with water? or was your wort low gravity from the start? low gravity could be a grain crush problem which gave you poor conversion in the mash. i have a weak beer in a bucket that i'm going to dump, i'll fill a growler just to see what it's going to taste like but i have a pretty good idea i won't like it. the yeast on the bottom will go to ferment my next batch so it won't be a total loss.

lowtones84 11-21-2011 05:39 PM

I'm not an expert by any means, but here are a couple of questions to help narrow down the problem. What temperature did you mash at, and for how long? Did you top off the brown ale with water as well, while not adding any extract to the boil?

If you wanted to do all grain or partial mash and full boil, you could always do a smaller batch. I like doing 3 gallon batches here and there.

Homercidal 11-21-2011 05:41 PM

Hard to diagnose without your detailed procedure. If you get done mashing and sparging, and your pre-boil gravity is still too low, you can boil longer to drop it. You might get a small amount of caramelization, but it should be minimal during that phase of the boil. Just boil for say 1/2 to an hour or more before starting hop additions. (There are online tools for figuring out how much boil-off you need to reach your desired gravity.)

You may have had a poor crush or low efficiency. I'd check the crush against images you can find online for comparison, and maybe factor for a lower gravity to start with in beersmith.

You may have used too much sparge water. Measuring volumes accurately is the only way to determine efficiency, and is pretty important for hitting gravity. Not to mention that it's way easier to adjust for a higher OG than to try and raise it.

You may have mashed too low. Check calibration of your thermometer and mix well and check temp. Remember that it's easier to cool your mash down than to raise it (unless you have a recirculated heated mash system...)

At this point in the beer's life, I'm not sure what you could do to "fix" it. I'd consider cutting losses and notching it up as a learning experience. Maybe carb it up pretty high and call it a session beer.

BrewerinBR 11-21-2011 05:43 PM

The low gravity can be the result of several things, a poor crush on the grain, or too much water, or not enough grain, mash temp too low, mash to short. Basically need a lot more information. Such as:
Target boil volume and gravity, lbs of grain, volume of strike water and temp. Mash type and time.

bigbeergeek 11-21-2011 05:55 PM

Too much wort with undesirably low gravity means you put too much water through your grains. I'm not sure if you're fly sparging or batch sparging, but regardless your pre-boil volume is too much. Answer the following questions and we can figure out things for next time:

1. How many pounds of grain went into the brown?
2. How many quarts of hot water went into the mash tun at the beginning of the mash?
3. How much water did you use to rinse the grain at the end of the mash?
4. How many gallons of wort did you want at the beginning of the boil?
5. How many gallons of wort did you actually end up with, including the volume you dumped?
6. What was your expected/actual OG?

Before getting any info from you I can say this much: get a bigger pot. You can get big pots and outdoor burners as "turkey fryers" this time of year for cheap -- even cheaper if you can find one after Thanksgiving that didn't sell at your local Home Depot, Lowes etc.

As far as salvaging this batch, I'd make a small mash containing the same ratios of grains in the original batch, but scale everything down by 1/3 or so. Add 1 quart of hot water per pound of grain when you mash in (4 pounds of grain would be mashed with 4 quarts of water). After an hour, drain the liquid from the mash into a pot -- don't rinse/sparge the grains. The wort you just collected should be pretty high gravity, I'd guess anywhere between 1.080 and 1.100 -- think of it as a concentrated version of the rest of your batch of beer. Boil this liquid for 5 minutes on your stove to sanitize it, adding hops to the boil if you feel like it. Cool the pot in the sink and add the strong wort the the fermentor of weak beer, siphoning some of the weak beer down the drain if the fermentor doesn't have enough space for everything.

It's a complicated fix, but it will get you close to what the original recipe intended. You could always just make some strong wort with some amber or dark liquid malt extract, boil it and add it if you want to skip another mash... it will change the recipe significantly though.

Respond with answers to the above questions and we can get this problem diagnosed.

:rockin:

Depression 11-23-2011 10:28 PM

Had the same problem with a brown as well. My first all grain. I determined my errors were;

Mash too high. 163F
(too many unfermentables!)
recipe for 5gal batch
(ended up with 6.08gals)
This all equals.
1.039 OG when aimming for 1.05
1.019 Fg when aimming for 1.007.
Sad..

Elshupacabra 11-30-2011 06:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Homercidal (Post 3505158)
Hard to diagnose without your detailed procedure. If you get done mashing and sparging, and your pre-boil gravity is still too low, you can boil longer to drop it. You might get a small amount of caramelization, but it should be minimal during that phase of the boil. Just boil for say 1/2 to an hour or more before starting hop additions. (There are online tools for figuring out how much boil-off you need to reach your desired gravity.)

You may have had a poor crush or low efficiency. I'd check the crush against images you can find online for comparison, and maybe factor for a lower gravity to start with in beersmith.

You may have used too much sparge water. Measuring volumes accurately is the only way to determine efficiency, and is pretty important for hitting gravity. Not to mention that it's way easier to adjust for a higher OG than to try and raise it.

You may have mashed too low. Check calibration of your thermometer and mix well and check temp. Remember that it's easier to cool your mash down than to raise it (unless you have a recirculated heated mash system...)

At this point in the beer's life, I'm not sure what you could do to "fix" it. I'd consider cutting losses and notching it up as a learning experience. Maybe carb it up pretty high and call it a session beer.

The grain bill was as follows:

7lbs 10oz - 2 row
8oz Extra Special
2.1oz Caramel 60
2.1oz Choclate malt

Now, based off of Beer Smith's calculations, I used:

13.50QT of water @ 152F for 60min

and batch sparged with

2.18GAL @ 168F

I'm sure using a ridiculous equipment profile messed up Beersmith's calculations somewhat.

Quote:

Originally Posted by bigbeergeek (Post 3505212)
Too much wort with undesirably low gravity means you put too much water through your grains. I'm not sure if you're fly sparging or batch sparging, but regardless your pre-boil volume is too much. Answer the following questions and we can figure out things for next time:

1. How many pounds of grain went into the brown?
2. How many quarts of hot water went into the mash tun at the beginning of the mash?
3. How much water did you use to rinse the grain at the end of the mash?
4. How many gallons of wort did you want at the beginning of the boil?
5. How many gallons of wort did you actually end up with, including the volume you dumped?
6. What was your expected/actual OG?

Before getting any info from you I can say this much: get a bigger pot. You can get big pots and outdoor burners as "turkey fryers" this time of year for cheap -- even cheaper if you can find one after Thanksgiving that didn't sell at your local Home Depot, Lowes etc.

As far as salvaging this batch, I'd make a small mash containing the same ratios of grains in the original batch, but scale everything down by 1/3 or so. Add 1 quart of hot water per pound of grain when you mash in (4 pounds of grain would be mashed with 4 quarts of water). After an hour, drain the liquid from the mash into a pot -- don't rinse/sparge the grains. The wort you just collected should be pretty high gravity, I'd guess anywhere between 1.080 and 1.100 -- think of it as a concentrated version of the rest of your batch of beer. Boil this liquid for 5 minutes on your stove to sanitize it, adding hops to the boil if you feel like it. Cool the pot in the sink and add the strong wort the the fermentor of weak beer, siphoning some of the weak beer down the drain if the fermentor doesn't have enough space for everything.

It's a complicated fix, but it will get you close to what the original recipe intended. You could always just make some strong wort with some amber or dark liquid malt extract, boil it and add it if you want to skip another mash... it will change the recipe significantly though.

Respond with answers to the above questions and we can get this problem diagnosed.

:rockin:


1. How many pounds of grain went into the brown?
8.43 lbs

2. How many quarts of hot water went into the mash tun at the beginning of the mash?
13.50qts

3. How much water did you use to rinse the grain at the end of the mash?
2.18gal (batch sparge, 2 steps)

4. How many gallons of wort did you want at the beginning of the boil?
Around 2.50 gal

5. How many gallons of wort did you actually end up with, including the volume you dumped?
4.25gal (approx)

6. What was your expected/actual OG?
Well, I was planning on diluting it with 2.5Gal of water, so the OG should have been higher before I added the top up water.

Expected OG before water: 1.087
Expected OG after water: 1.045

Actual gravity before water: 1.041
Actual gravity after water: 1.021

beerman0001 11-30-2011 07:53 PM

Your trying do do a mash for a 5gal batch. You need to boil at least 6.5gal of wort give or take. If you cannot do this you need to convert your recipe to a partial mash. Best thing to do is suck it up and get a 10gal boil kettle and enjoy.:rockin:

bigbeergeek 11-30-2011 08:25 PM

OK, good news is we can easily fix the issues. :)

You ended up with too much wort of an undesirably low gravity -- in a word, diluted. We need to take some water out of the equation. You added 13.5 quarts of strike water to 8.43 lbs of grist; that's a ratio of 1.6 qt/lb. In batch sparging you want to maximize the volume of sparge water to rinse as much sugar out of the mash as possible. To do this you must minimize the volume of mash water. First off, let's bring that ratio down to 1.1 qt/lb for a total strike volume of 2.32 gallons.

Now we need to calculate how much strike water you'll need to run through your grains to get your desired pre-boil volume. Some wort is going to be lost due to the geometry of your mash tun and grains absorbing liquid -- you'll have to brew a few more batches to get an exact number for your rig. For the time being let's assume you lose .125 gallons of wort per pound of grist -- an accepted average. Thus your 8.43 lbs of grist is going to subtract 1.05 gallons of wort from the pre-boil volume. Here's the simple math:

Sparge water volume = desired pre-boil volume - mash strike water volume + absorbed wort

Sparge water volume = 2.5 gallons - 2.32 + 1.05 gallons = 1.23 gallons

So as you can see, with such a small desired pre-boil volume (2.5 gallons), you only need to rinse the grainbed with 1.23 gallons of water. That's not even enough water to properly mix into the mash! In a full-boil recipe you would have gallons and gallons of batch sparge water to add. To perform a double batch sparge you simply divide the sparge water volume calculated above by 2.

If you can't make the jump to full boils, I'd recommend either a fly sparge or no sparge. In a fly sparge, you'll simple pour the 1.23 gallons of sparge water over the grainbed as the mash tun slowly drains. For a no sparge you add all the water to the grains in the mash:

Mash water volume = desired pre-boil volume + absorbed wort
Mash water volume = 2.5 + 1.05 = 3.55 gallons

If you mashed in with 3.55 gallons of strike water, waited an hour and simply drained the mash tun, you'd be very close to your pre-boil volume (and the gravity of your unboiled wort would be an impressive 1.082!)

Hope this helps for next time. Good luck and happy brewing. :mug:


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