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Old 03-22-2009, 01:50 AM   #1
Mar 2009
Southeast WI
Posts: 8

Hi all,

Just put a recipe together last night for an IPA. Based on the grain bill, both Pro-mash and Qbrew gave me the same #'s for OG and FG. I'm new to all-grain, this was my second AG batch, and 6th batch overall. After mashing at 155F for 60 min and sparging at 170F, everything looked good, so I took a pre-boil gravity reading, compensated for the temp, and ended up with 1.040. Figured it was alright, since a couple gallons was going to get boiled off, leaving me with 5 gallons. After the boil (90 min), I cooled the wort and got a reading of 1.042. Didn't seem right, and was WAY under what both software packages predicted, which was 1.069. I am thinking that there is some difference in what their #s are for extraction from the malt and what my malt actually did. I know there are a lot of variables, and I'm going to try and get a handle on more of them for next time. PH testing, closer control of mash/sparge water volumes, etc. In any case, the color was a beautiful copper, and as long as it tastes good it is good enough for me!

Any input on mistakes I could have made would be appreciated. Thanks all!

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Old 03-22-2009, 01:53 AM   #2
Ale's What Cures You!
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Jun 2006
UP of Michigan, Winter Texan
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Well, the first thing I would think about is your efficiency. If your efficiency setting in the software was higher than you were going to get, that would explain it right there.

If you post the recipe, others can help you calculate your actual efficiency. Overall, it sounds like you did pretty darn good!
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Old 03-22-2009, 04:16 AM   #3
Feb 2009
Land of beer & cheese
Posts: 14

The initial recipe was this for a 5.5 gal batch:

13 lbs Maris Otter
1/2 lb Crystal 20
1/2 lb Crystal 60
1/2 lb Carapils

Hops were 2 oz Chinook, 1 oz Target, and 2 oz of EKG for some dry hopping

LHBS only had 3 pounds of MO left, so took that and 10 lbs of Munton's 2 row as a sub for the remaining MO.

5.25 gal of mash water, about 3 gallons in first runnings. Sparged with 4.5, got most of that back out for a total of 7.5 gallons, which was close to what I was aiming for.

I am pretty sure that the above water amounts are correct, since I wrote them down as I was working. The runnings *looked* good, with the first being a nice dark copper color, and the second runnings slowly cleared up til almost clear. Thinking on this as I'm writing, that is probably where I screwed up. Should have checked things as it started to clear up.

Maybe I ended up diluting the wort too much with the sparge runoff?
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Secondary fermenter... empty
Bottle..... ......New Castle knock off (All Grain)
Bottle .... ......Cream Ale
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Old 03-22-2009, 04:40 AM   #4
AFAJ Brew Guy
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Dec 2007
Fernley, NV
Posts: 707
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Well I am pretty sure that your problem lies in efficiency, I calculated it for you and the number I got was 56.5%. In a perfect world you would want to get that close to 75 - 80 or more.

I also calculated your mash thickness at 1.44 qts/lb. A little thin for my tastes, but since your equipment is different than mine, that may or may nto account for your efficiency loss. I know that if I were to go over 1.4 I would lose about 10%.
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Old 03-22-2009, 10:41 AM   #5
Jun 2008
Roswell, GA
Posts: 171
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Are you sure you ended up with 5.5 gallons? Boiling from 7.5 gallons to 5.5 gallons in 90 minswould be a high evaporation rate.

Did you batch sparge?

Have you tested your thermometer?

btw, figuring out low brewhouse efficiency can be tough over the internet, so we'll throw a lot of questions and ideas at you. The feedback you give us will really help.


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Old 03-22-2009, 11:50 AM   #6

When you said you sparged at 170, is that the temperature of the water you were using or the temp of the grainbed? If the former, that may account for your lower efficiency as well. You should be infusing with water around 180 to bring the grainbed to 168.

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Old 03-22-2009, 02:24 PM   #7
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Oct 2005
Long Island
Posts: 4,646
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I think you made a mistake with at least one of your gravity or volume readings.
There is no way you could start with 7.5g at 1.040, and end up with 5.5g at 1.042 (unless you have a serious leak).


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Old 03-23-2009, 03:45 AM   #8
Mar 2009
Southeast WI
Posts: 8

I was able to boil off about 2 gallons during my 90 min boil, from 7.5 down to 5.5. Was using an aluminun pot instead of my regular SS one, it came to a strong boil much sooner than the other one ever did.

My sparge water was heated to 170F, and I didn't measure my grainbed temp while sparging, I'll correct both in the future.

I'm sure I made more than a few mistakes and oversights, I'll have to double-check my equipment and be a little more vigilant on the next batch.

The batch in question is happily fermenting away, I'm probably going to need a blowoff in place of the airlock. Krausen is starting to work its way up the neck of the airlock, so at least I know the yeasties are happy!

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Old 03-23-2009, 10:43 AM   #9
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Dec 2006
Prairieville, Louisiana
Posts: 126
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Originally Posted by ajf View Post
I think you made a mistake with at least one of your gravity or volume readings.
There is no way you could start with 7.5g at 1.040, and end up with 5.5g at 1.042 (unless you have a serious leak).

X2, I have to agree on that one.

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Old 03-23-2009, 12:54 PM   #10
Aug 2008
Posts: 388
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What temps did you take your hydrometer readings at?

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