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Old 02-18-2012, 07:57 PM   #1
halfbrew70
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Default Please Critique Newb's First Brew: All Grain BIAB (photos)

Hello everyone,

I am a complete newb to brewing and just finished my first real brew. I welcome any and all criticisms and tips…

Method and Recipe

For my first all grain brew, I decided to try the BIAB method for a 2.5 gal batch and chose an American Brown Ale recipe kit.

The grains arrived pre-milled and pre-blended for a 5 gal batch, so I mixed it well and split it in half for a 2.5 gal batch. Here is the original recipe (for 5 gal):

2-Row Malt 7 lb 8 oz
Chocolate Malt 8 oz
Crystal 90L Malt 6 oz
Biscuit Malt 2 oz
+ 8 oz Malto Dextrin at start of boil
+ ¾ oz Centennial Hops for 60 minutes
+ ¼ oz Centennial Hops for the last 15 mintues (for flavor, none for aroma).



My brew pot is only 16 quarts and couldn’t handle the total amount of water needed for true BIAB, so I planned for a small sparge and began with 3 gal of water in my pot.



Mash

Recipe mash temp was 150F. I heated my water to 162F, set the burner on Low, and doughed in my grains.



During the mash, I had difficulty regulating the temperature. Guess I need to get my burner settings “dialed in”. It kept me busy. The initial temp drop after adding the grains was less than I expected and the decrease was slow. Most of the time, I was close to the ideal temp of 150F, but had some dips into the 140’s (145 the lowest), some time in the low 150’s, and one short spike to 165F. My short swings were brought back gradually. I brought the spike down as quickly as I could by removing the pot from the burner and adding ice cubes. Note to self – smaller changes and learn your burner settings!

I increased the temperature the last few minutes (reached 173F) for a “mash out”. My total mash time ended up being 1 hr 11 min.

Sparge

I removed the grain bag and let it drain into another pot. I sparged the bag with 2 quarts of 170F water, then squeezed and pressed the bag. Poured it back into my brew pot.





I took a pre-boil specific gravity reading. Uncorrected for temp, it read approx.. 1.026. The temperature of the wort was about 165F. I think the correction for my hydrometer (calibrated for 60F) takes it to 1.050.

Here is a photo of my pre-boil SG reading:



Boil and Chill

I boiled the wort for 1 hour.

I added the Malto Dextrin at the start of the boil and added the hops (in a bag) per the recipe.



I immersed my tubing Chiller during the last 10 minutes of boil to sanitize. Once I began to cool the wort, the temp dropped quickly. Went from a vigorous boil down to 79F in 10 minutes.



Fermenter and Original Specific Gravity

I drained the brew pot to my bucket fermenter. I used a 6 gal bucket, but read that the size was OK even for a small batch. I didn’t have to add any water. I ended up with 2.5 gal of wort after absorption and boiling.



I checked the specific gravity. I had trouble pulling a good sample without getting a head of foam. I was using a beer/wine thief, but wasn’t’ getting enough wort. Finally just dipped out some wort and poured it into the thief before inserting my hydrometer. I was getting rushed (almost time to leave for work), so after a few tries, I just went with it head and all. My best guess is that the SG reading at the wort/foam interface was 1.054. Corrected for 79F, it would be 1.056. The recipe called for 1.041.

Here is a photo of my post-boil SG guesstimate. I copied and pasted the hydrometer scale in the photo to give me a better idea.



I sprinkled the SafAle US-05 dry yeast on the surface and mixed it up (thrashed it). Lid and air lock on.

Next chance to take a look was about 13 hours later. BUBBLES! Had a gurgle every 5 – 6 seconds. So, I guess something worked out!

Help?

It felt like a debacle at times. Hopefully it will end up OK. I don’t really know if my SG’s are OK and have no idea how to figure efficiency and all that. Much to learn!

Any tips will be appreciated. Thanks!

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Old 02-18-2012, 08:03 PM   #2
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One thing I've noticed about using a wine thief is that you have to let it sit for a few seconds to fill up to the level it is immersed. If you just dunk it in and pull it out, it will only have filled up a little bit.

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Old 02-18-2012, 08:56 PM   #3
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If you let your cylinder rest for a bit, the bubbles usually subside, and it's easier to take a hydrometer reading. Additionally, I find that it is easier to take a wort sample from the valve barb (or tube if you attach one). You can also buy a cheap strainer that will attach to the top of the pot, making draining easier.

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Old 02-18-2012, 08:58 PM   #4
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The first time always does. No worries there.

Here are a few things I noticed.

Try not to take hydro readings when the wort is that hot, the temp correction isn't very accurate.

It's not a good idea to press or squeeze the bag of grains. You extract off flavors when you do that.

Don't worry to much, you will get beer and it will be good.

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Old 02-18-2012, 09:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teromous View Post
...Additionally, I find that it is easier to take a wort sample from the valve barb (or tube if you attach one)...
That's a GREAT idea!
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Old 02-18-2012, 09:15 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by two_one_seven View Post
Try not to take hydro readings when the wort is that hot, the temp correction isn't very accurate.
Do I even need to check the SG pre-boil?

Quote:
It's not a good idea to press or squeeze the bag of grains. You extract off flavors when you do that.
I've heard yes and no on that. Took a chance. Good to know. Thanks.
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Old 02-18-2012, 09:58 PM   #7
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If you want to figure brewhouse efficiency then you would need to. Just cool the pre boil wort down to under 80 degrees. Temp correction is much for accurate under 80.

Yah, that was the other thing, the bubbles can cling to the hydrometer and throw the reading off too.........

True, but we never squeeze the mash in a traditional mashtun. I don't think it will be that big of a deal though.

Once you have a couple more goes at BIAB you will feel more natural. Good work on the right up.

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Old 02-18-2012, 10:38 PM   #8
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Quote:
I've heard yes and no on that. Took a chance. Good to know. Thanks.
I always squeeze the living hell out of my bag, and haven't noticed any adverse effects. You're fine in that respect.

I'm a BIABer myself. I do have one suggestion for you.

To keep my temps stable when mashing/sparging, I put a folded towel on the floor and set my kettle on top of it. Then I wrap it with another large towel, and wrap the kettle with 3 thick blankets. I usually don't drop more than a degree or two.

Just my .02.
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Old 02-18-2012, 11:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beardedterror View Post
I always squeeze the living hell out of my bag...


Quote:
To keep my temps stable when mashing/sparging, I put a folded towel on the floor and set my kettle on top of it. Then I wrap it with another large towel, and wrap the kettle with 3 thick blankets. I usually don't drop more than a degree or two.
Thanks for the info. I'll try that next time instead of using the burner.
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Old 02-18-2012, 11:11 PM   #10
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I think you did pretty good. Squeezing the bag is good thing. Mash temp control is going to take some sort of insulation and practice.

You will have a brown ale when fermentation is complete so mission accomplished. If you were worried about overshooting the post-boil gravity you could have added water to bring it down to 1.041 but your beer will just have a higher ABV.

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