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Old 04-18-2010, 01:59 PM   #1
tamoore
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Default Trying to track down the problems I'm having hitting OG...

Background: I'm batch sparging in a 48qt cooler with a manifold setup.
I'm using the iPhone app "Brew Pal" to come up with my water calculations.
I've set it up so that my efficiency is a modest 65%.

I'm doing some tests this morning, to make sure I have my equipment dialed in correctly in the software.

I checked the container I was using to measure my water, and It seems like I might have been getting a bit too much water through the system. Not a crazy amount, but probably off by +1 quart.

I'm running a boil off test on 3 gallons of water to see what my boil loss percentage is.

I've tested my thermometers in ice water, and they're all within an acceptable tolerance - however yesterday, my remote probe thermometer was reading way higher in the mash than the stick thermometers were reading. I had 2 stick thermometers that I stuck in several places, each read right around my target of 152. The remote probe thermometer was reading 164. I'm thinking this is suspect.

I researched thermometers a bit, and I notice that some remote probe thermometers have probes that aren't water proof, and this can cause issues when they get wet. I know that on this batch, the probe was under the water.

I've also researched batch sparging technique, and realize that I might have been messing up a bit on my sparge. I have read never to hit the grains with more than 170 degree water, but Brew Pal was wanting 186 degree sparge water. I would hit it with 168.

I've also read that you want to stir the sparge/grist well, but not to let it foam. I got some pretty serious foam, not sure if that's a problem or not.

I've read some advice that leads me to believe I may want to split the sparge into two smaller runnings of equal size.

The recipe I brewed yesterday was 6.2 gallons into the brew pot, and it was supposed to have an O.G. after boil of 1.064. I ended up with an O.G. of 1.052 - even with a grain bill set up for only 65%, so it's a pretty serious problem.

Sorry if I'm rambling, but I'm really racking my brain trying to figure out what the failure is...

Any insights you might share, questions about my process you might ask, or pictures of my equipment you may need to help me figure out what's going on here?

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Old 04-18-2010, 02:50 PM   #2
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Sparging hot isn't a problem. Tannins do not go into solution instantly and once the water is mixed, the temperature will be correct. It's the bed you don't want over 170F.

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Old 04-18-2010, 03:08 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tamoore View Post
I'm running a boil off test on 3 gallons of water to see what my boil loss percentage is.
I have a problem with boil loss percentages. If you do a trial boil of 3 gallons, and you lose 1 gallon to evaporation, does this mean that you would lose 2 gallons to evaporation if you boiled 6 gallons? I think not. You would still lose ~1 gallon (assuming you boil at the same rate). If your software insists on a %age, then do the 3g boil and find out how much you evaporated, then express that as a %age of your normal boil volume.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tamoore View Post
I've tested my thermometers in ice water, and they're all within an acceptable tolerance - however yesterday, my remote probe thermometer was reading way higher in the mash than the stick thermometers were reading. I had 2 stick thermometers that I stuck in several places, each read right around my target of 152. The remote probe thermometer was reading 164. I'm thinking this is suspect.
I would think that stick on thermometers would read low as they would be exposed to the air which I assume will be less than 152F.

Quote:
Originally Posted by tamoore View Post
I've also researched batch sparging technique, and realize that I might have been messing up a bit on my sparge. I have read never to hit the grains with more than 170 degree water, but Brew Pal was wanting 186 degree sparge water. I would hit it with 168.
I'm guessing you've been reading How to Brew. If so, look at the description of the mash out, where you can add an infusion of hot water to bring the grain bed temperature up to 168F before starting the sparge.
That water would have to be much hotter than 170F. I use near boiling water to do this, and don't have a problem. For your first sparge, I would definitely use much hotter water to bring the grain bed temperature up to the magic 168. If you do two sparges, you may want to use cooler water for the second sparge as the pH of the grain bed will have increased, thus increasing the possibility of tannin extraction.

Good luck.

-a.
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Old 04-18-2010, 03:40 PM   #4
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Thanks for the info regarding sparge water temps. When I looked deeper into this, I basically learned what you're confirming here for me. I also read where using sparge water that isn't hot enoug can lead to a 10% reduction in efficiency.

Regarding boil off %: I figured out what you're talking about as soon as my 3 gallon boil was over, ajf. 27% boil off for 3 gallons in an hour... But when adjusted for a 6.1 gallon boil, it's more like 13%. I'm using 9%/hr in Brew Pal.

The thermometers I'm talking about aren't 'stick on' thermometers, but rather all in one probe thermometers with a dial on the end. Sorry for the confusion.

Thanks again.

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Old 04-18-2010, 05:04 PM   #5
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Just thinking:

How about grain crush? I ordered my last two grain batches crushed from Midwest Supplies. Anyone have any problems with their crush?

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Old 04-18-2010, 05:10 PM   #6
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I'm not an all grain brewer but grain crush was my first thought as well.

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Old 04-18-2010, 05:25 PM   #7
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Here is a the only photo I took of a crush from Midwest supplies. It has some flaked barely in there, but the husks of the Marris Otter look pretty much in tact. How does it look to you?

I have about a half pound of the Marris Otter grain left over that I could spread out and take a picture of.
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Old 04-18-2010, 05:55 PM   #8
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And here's the crush of the pale ale malt from the last batch I made...
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Old 04-18-2010, 06:32 PM   #9
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That crush looks fairly good, I don't see any whole kernels and the husks aren't shredded.

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Old 04-18-2010, 06:33 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by david_42 View Post
That crush looks fairly good, I don't see any whole kernels and the husks aren't shredded.
I was thinking the same thing upon inspection.... Man, this is confusing.
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