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Old 03-07-2009, 07:58 PM   #1
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Default NooB Barley Wine Action

Okay, in my infinite noobiness, I decided to make Jamil's Old Monster barley wine recipe. This is my fourth AG batch, and my first beer this big.

Here's my problem: Of course, the 25lbs of grain and almost 8 gallons of strike water filled my 10 gal MLT to the top. I heated my strike water to 185 and added the grain, and now I can't get the temp below 160. I initially drained off a gallon of the wort and replaced it with cold water. It's been in the MLT for 15 minutes with the top off, and it's hanging at 160. He suggests 149 with a 90 minute mash. Should I:

1. Drain off more wort and add cold water to get the temp down
2. Let it ride with the top off, monitor the temp, and shorten the mash rest
3. Something else altogether
4. Get druck

Looking forward to your assistance/abuse.

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Old 03-07-2009, 08:09 PM   #2
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I would:

Drain about half the wort (save it!) add water to mash to bring it to desired mash temp. Mash. then add the 1st wort to the sparge water heated to 185F.

Your strike temp should have been appx. 15F more than the desired mash temp. Why so hot?
Vern.

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Old 03-07-2009, 08:13 PM   #3
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I would:

Drain about half the wort (save it!) add water to mash to bring it to desired mash temp. Mash. then add the 1st wort to the sparge water heated to 185F.

Your strike temp should have been appx. 15F more than the desired mash temp. Why so hot?
Vern.
I concur on all counts.
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Old 03-07-2009, 08:24 PM   #4
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Thanks, guys. I have used 185 as my strike water temp with the other batches I've done, and it has cooled down to where I needed it after transferring it, letting it soak in the MLT for five minutes, and then adding the grain. Of course I haven't used this much water, and I should have accounted for that, but I thought the bulk of the grain would cool it more. I went ahead and drained some off and got the temp about where I need it. I'll let you know how it turns out in about a year.

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Old 03-07-2009, 09:04 PM   #5
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Yes, my experience has been that larger grain bills require cooler strike water. I don't know why. If the grain to water ratio is the same, it shouldn't matter... but yet it sure does seem to.

I chalk it up to a couple of things... first off, the large surface area of the MLT will cool the lesser amount of water more quickly. Secondly, every time you open the MLT or stir it, a greater proportion of the heat escapes since the surface area in contact with the air is the same.

I dunno... go figure.... but yeah.. just adding some cold water in to bring the temp down seems to work fine...

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Old 03-07-2009, 09:56 PM   #6
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I dunno... go figure.... but yeah.. just adding some cold water in to bring the temp down seems to work fine...
Yep, but my conundrum was that I didn't have the room to add the water because my MLT was plumb full. I wasn't sure if draining the wort initially would really screw it up. I figured it would affect my OG, and I'm sure it will. It's close to the end of the boil now.

Another something I learned is that for this big grain bill batch the sparge water will be somewhat less than a more normal size batch. Beersmith was telling me 2.71 gallons, and I at first thought it was wrong or that I had entered something wrong. I pulled off about five gallons of my first runnings, and then I didn't have to use much more sparge water to get to the pre-boil ammount.

I'm definitely learning the capacity/limitations of my equipment. Maybe I'll study enough to do a second batch of beer when I do another recipe like this.

Thanks again for your help.
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Old 03-07-2009, 10:22 PM   #7
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Another something I learned is that for this big grain bill batch the sparge water will be somewhat less than a more normal size batch. Beersmith was telling me 2.71 gallons, and I at first thought it was wrong or that I had entered something wrong. I pulled off about five gallons of my first runnings, and then I didn't have to use much more sparge water to get to the pre-boil ammount.

I'm definitely learning the capacity/limitations of my equipment. Maybe I'll study enough to do a second batch of beer when I do another recipe like this.

Thanks again for your help.
Wait.. you didn't throw away the grains yet, did you? Just throw 6 more gallons of sparge water in there (2 gallons, 3 times or 3 gallons twice) and see what OG you come up with. I bet it'll be more than enough for a small beer... Even if you have to throw a pound of DME in there, you'll get an extra 5 gallon batch for the cost of an ounce of hops, a packet of dried yeast, and a pound of DME. That's like a $8 batch of beer! You can heat the water on the stove if you don't have a second burner... Collect it in 5 gallon buckets while you wait for your kettle to be available. You don't have to worry much about sanitation either because you'll obviously be boiling it soon... I made one of my best beers this way (a 3%ABV porter). You can even throw a lid on the buckets and do the boil a day or two later to get a little souring action.
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Old 03-08-2009, 01:24 AM   #8
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Wait.. you didn't throw away the grains yet, did you?
Aw hell. Yeah, I got back here too late to see your post and tossed the grains. This brew has definitely been my most educational.

My OG turned out low (1.093), which I expected, but it looks like I'm still within the range for the style.
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