I have some questions I would like some feedback on if it is convenient.
I am a new brewer, I started around Christmas. Started with two PM's, one Extract, and now have done 2 AGs, and will be doing my 3rd AG this weekend.
- 73-76% efficiency on my AG Brews
- 5 Gal (will hold 6) Home Depot Round Water Cooler Mash/Lauter Tun
- Mash Tun has copper manifold I built in order to drain sweet wort
- I lose about 2 degrees on a 90 minute steep
- 1 degree on a 60 minute steep
- 10 gallon boil kettle
- I have been fly sparging
- When I sparge, I run off about 2 - 3 qts per 5 minutes
- I prep my water with a PH 5.2 stabilizer and Calcium Chloride
- I have been targeting 6.5-7 gall for a full boil, and 5 gall post boil batches
- I have temperature controlled area for 65-75 degrees, along with a lagering fridge that can easily go down to 35
This is what I have been experiencing so far, With higher gravity beers, the cooler isn't quite enough (Though I have managed a 7.2 and 9.6 AG so far), so it is barely enough for such higher gravity beers. Should I try to mill a bit finer in an attempt to increase efficiency and lower amount of grain bill?
(Obviously I know I could get a bigger MT, just conserving money and fabricating things from what I have right now)
When it comes to sparging, I have been fly sparging with water 168-170. A lot of people here reccomend using higher temperature water in order to get the entire grain bed up to 167 and halt enzymatic activity, thus giving more stability to the mash. So far my beers have turned out nice and tannin free (well at least in discernable taste), I am afraid if I were to increase the temperature that it would be too hot for any of the grains the water comes in direct contact with while sparging. Is this something I should just let be, and be happy with instead of over-analyzing. (The web is the best place to ask a bunch of over-analyzing people if you are over-analyzing).
I use a turkey fryer burner for my heat source during the boil (my electric range was incredibly inefficient for 7 gallons of wort). Is it better to use incredibly high heat to try to bring to a boil as fast as possible, or a more dispersed less concentrated flame? Of course I will be stirring lightly in order to prevent the wort scorching, or attempt to.
What is the easiest way you guys have found to label your bottles? Just printout labels?
When Dry hopping what do you find easiest to sink the whole hops with and be able to get out of a glass carboy?
Even when in controlled temperature yeast activity is raising the temperature of my fermenters past what I generally want it to be, what is the easiest way to cool it down (when it is hotter than air around it and gaining heat during fermentation)?
I have considered building a RIMS system, because I am quite handy with fabrication, pipes, and electronics, as well as I have some heating elements. I know a lot of you do this, but doesn't it just introduce more aeration possibilities?
In such a system, do you use a manifold or screen for it as well, so just the wort is recycling?
With the added back-pressure of a pump pulling through, isn't that more likely to stick your mash?
Do most of you strain the wort coming from the kettle (with a manifold, SS braid false bottom or the like), in order to keep the hops and other particulate matter from going into the fermenter? Is this preference?
I have noticed the ability to reuse yeast cakes, and looked at many of the posts on it. After rinsing the yeast, will this make significant difference rather than using lab cultures? For the purpose of monetary conservation is it something worth doing?