Ok, so yesterday was my first time soloing an AG brew, and was also the first time I have used my Sabco Brew Magic system, so it was a lot of firsts, but I have brewed with others and read John Palmer's book, so I was up to the task.
I am working on the Austin Brewers Honkers Ale clone, which is
9 lbs 2 row
1/2 lb Caramunich
1/2 lb Crystal 40
1oz Northern Brewer 60
.5oz Cascade 15
1oz Cascade 5
Dose of 5.2 and Irish moss, appropriately
I used the exact same recipe both times, with the exception of subbing 1.12oz cascade for the northern brewer as either I messed up my order or my lhbs left out those hops. Lesson learned: Check the order next time.
Anyway, the first batch the recipe called for a 150 degree mash, beer smith said to strike at 162, but it was way under temp (was coooold yesterday), but the BM quickly got it up to 150 and held it within 1 degree the entire time. After 60 minutes and awhile learning the sabco shuffle, I got the fly sparge going pretty close to 12min per gallon. An hour passes, and I have 5 gal of wort, but I am still getting a lot of brix off my runnings, in fact, I wound up still getting 4 brix runnings after 11 gallons of wort! In order to get near the OG I wanted, I boilded down to just north 6.5 gal and started the boil. Finished with 5 gal or so in tank, but after transfering and chilling (Chill wizard) and hops soaking up (A LOT) of wort, I have about 3.5 gal of 17 brix wort in my carboy. Topped up to 6 gal, and wound up with 12 brix wort.
2nd batch, I followed the exact same method other than mashing at 155, got a lot closer with strike water this time but still under shot it. Mashed for 60 min and started sparge. This time I did go a bit faster, mainly from fatigue, but the brix was dropping at a good rate. Was giving around 4 brix wort after around 8-9gal, I stopped it. Started boil, wound up with about 7 gal of 8 brix wort. Should have boiled off another gallon, but still getting used to the system.
Both cases I was fly sparging, letting about 2 inches of water whirlpool above the grain bed. Used rice hulls and a false bottom, had no issues with clogs at all. Grain was milled probably around 040 or so.
I am going to better mark my sight glasses with quarts so I can judge better what is being ran for consistancy, but other than that, what can I do to improve my process?
Do you normally just quit sparging when you hit your volume, or do you go till the wort stops giving up sugar?
How could I get more sugar out of the mash without running more water through it?
The first batch was MUCH darker than the second, would that be due to tannins as it had longer contact with the grain?
Thanks in advance for reading this short book