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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > First All Grain- the good, bad, and the ugly
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Old 08-05-2009, 07:38 PM   #1
bdaddy
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Default First All Grain- the good, bad, and the ugly

My 3rd overall batch, but 1st all-grain.

recipe:
BierMuncher's Centenial Blonde. His recipe called for 5.5 gallons, but using beersmith I targeted 5.0 gallons.

equipment:
all my do-it-myself equipment held up great. No leaks from my keggle, no stuck sparge from my MLT from flyguy's thread (adapted slightly for my rectangular cooler), and no leaks from my homemade 50ft 1/2 IC. I need a digital thermometer as the one I have is for **** and I couldn't trust it at all.

The mash/sparge:
Was targeting 6 gallons into boil...based on beersmith I used 10.9 quarts @ 162 for mash and 17.5 quarts @170 for sparge, but ended up with just under 6 gallons into boil (5.75 or so?). Next time I guess I need to increase my sparge water?

Hit my mash temp almost dead on (150). After 30 minutes 1 degree drop, but after 45 minutes I had about a 5 degree drop (added some hot water to bring temp up a little). Need to do something about this as it dropped too much. (maybe better if did this outside in the heat to better keep temp?). Gravity going into boil was 1.048 with just under 6 gallons. (higher than beersmith's projected 1.039 going into boiler)

The boil:
Boiled for 60 minutes and lost way more than I expected. Ended up with around 4 gallons instead of the projected 5 gallons. I did hit the beersmith expected OG exactly (1.044). Not sure what would have happened to that OG if I had actually hit my 5 gallon target? Not sure what I need to adjust next time to keep OG the same but bring up the volume?

The cooling:
Here's where things went south in a hurry. Hooked up IC to outdoor faucet and my temp was 95 deg after 15 minutes, then 87 after 30 minutes, and dropped very slowly after that. I filled a tub with icewater and about 20ft of the hose inside of it, and let it run for 30 minutes but only dropped a few degrees after that. The water coming out of the hose was actually COLD, but for some reason wasn't cooling the wort. I tried slowing down the water flow and speeding up the water flow, but could not get temp to drop under 80. Even drained into fermenter and put fermenter in cool bath, but didn't drop much. After about 90 minutes post flameout trying all sorts of things, i finally pitched yeast at about 81 Really sucks as it was only 4 gallons I was trying to cool, can't imagine if I'd had been trying 5gallon or more.

Main 2 things I need to fix prior to next batch:
1) Digital thermometer
2) I need to get a better cooling solution. May have to even go with a commercial solution on this.

Thoughts? Suggestions for improvements?


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Old 08-05-2009, 07:46 PM   #2
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A couple of things....

how were you taking your hydrometer samples (at what temp). It sounds odd to have a HIGHER gravity pre-boil than post-boil.

Pitching your yeast at 81*F isn't a bad thing, if you get your wort down to your fermentation temps within a day or so.

What kind of cooler are you using for an MLT? If it's a good cooler (like a Coleman X-treme) don't bother checking temps, other than ~10 minutes post-dough. You'll lose heat opening up the cooler to check.

Regarding cooling - were you stiring the wort? It'll help cool a lot faster with a IC if you stir while you're chilling, but also during the summer, you can't cool much above your tap temps; just a fact of life. If you want it cooler, you need to look into a pre-chiller.

Regardless, sounds like you made beer! Congrats!


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Old 08-05-2009, 07:48 PM   #3
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Once you are below 90, just siphon the wort into the fermentor, airlock it and set it into an ice bath in a picnic cooler or something like that. I'll be within pitching range within a couple of hours. Or you can do a slightly concentrated boil and add ice made from pre-boiled water to the cooling wort once you are at around 90 degrees. That'll take it down fairly quickly as well.
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Old 08-05-2009, 07:57 PM   #4
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I measured temp of the wort before taking the reading and adjusted the reading based on the temp. I'm not completely solid on my thermometer readings though, as it was completely flaking out so it's very possible the pre-boil reading was adjusted based on the wrong temp due to the flakey thermometer. (The post-boil reading is more accurate since my fermenter also has a LCD thermometer on it and it read 81).

As for the cooler, it's a coleman. I opened and stirred every 15 minutes, just because that's what Palmer said in the book If I'd be better off not stirring/checking, then that's definitely something I can incorporate in my next batch.

regarding the pre-chiller, I understand about the tap temps, but even when I soaked the hose in ice bath (which definitely brought the temp of the WATER down as the water coming out of the end was cold when I put my hand under it), it still didn't bring the temp down in my wort. So I think I would have had the same issue with a pre-chiller, as that is essentially what I was doing by soaking the 20ft of hose in the ice prior to it running into the IC.
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Old 08-05-2009, 08:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdaddy View Post
I measured temp of the wort before taking the reading and adjusted the reading based on the temp. I'm not completely solid on my thermometer readings though, as it was completely flaking out so it's very possible the pre-boil reading was adjusted based on the wrong temp due to the flakey thermometer. (The post-boil reading is more accurate since my fermenter also has a LCD thermometer on it and it read 81).
yes, an inaccurate thermometer makes way more sense than a higher pre-boil gravity. regardless, you hit your into-the-fermenter # which is good!

Quote:
Originally Posted by bdaddy View Post
As for the cooler, it's a coleman. I opened and stirred every 15 minutes, just because that's what Palmer said in the book If I'd be better off not stirring/checking, then that's definitely something I can incorporate in my next batch.
I must of missed that in Palmer's book! definitely stir for a few minutes when you dough in, but once you close the lid, let it sit IMO, and give it another good stir before you run-off

Quote:
Originally Posted by bdaddy View Post
regarding the pre-chiller, I understand about the tap temps, but even when I soaked the hose in ice bath (which definitely brought the temp of the WATER down as the water coming out of the end was cold when I put my hand under it), it still didn't bring the temp down in my wort. So I think I would have had the same issue with a pre-chiller, as that is essentially what I was doing by soaking the 20ft of hose in the ice prior to it running into the IC.
again, were you stirring the wort? Try this - feel the water coming out of your hose, and then stir a big whirlpool into your wort, and then feel the water. It will be a lot warmer.

Also, what I used to do before I got a CFC; get a 19-gallon rubbermaid tub and fill it half-full with ice-water bath, and put your kettle in there after flameout. Hook up your IC, and it should help cool faster.
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Old 08-05-2009, 08:38 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AZ_IPA View Post
again, were you stirring the wort? Try this - feel the water coming out of your hose, and then stir a big whirlpool into your wort, and then feel the water. It will be a lot warmer.
Actually, I was NOT stirring..I'm not sure why I didn't stir either as I always stirred when doing the sink bath with my 1st 2 batches. My mind must have been elsewhere.

Quote:
Also, what I used to do before I got a CFC; get a 19-gallon rubbermaid tub and fill it half-full with ice-water bath, and put your kettle in there after flameout. Hook up your IC, and it should help cool faster.
I actually tried this in the same ice tub I had the hose rolled up into, but it didn't fit because of my valve. I was also wondering, because I actually left it on the burner (with the flame off) that maybe the residual burner heat was still contributing to the wort.

My guess is the big reason it was struggling to cool is my IC is too big for 5 gallon batches (it's a 50ft and only half of it, if that, was actually submerged in the wort). But even still, I would have expected it to cool better than it did.
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Old 08-07-2009, 02:47 PM   #7
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I always thought it was bad to stir the wort while cooling as it meant more surface area->air contact and increased the risk of infection.

Is this not the case?
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Old 08-07-2009, 11:19 PM   #8
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Unless you are sneezing on your wort, increase air contact should not correlate to increased risk of infection.
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Old 08-08-2009, 03:45 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bdaddy View Post
Actually, I was NOT stirring..I'm not sure why I didn't stir either as I always stirred when doing the sink bath with my 1st 2 batches. My mind must have been elsewhere.



I actually tried this in the same ice tub I had the hose rolled up into, but it didn't fit because of my valve. I was also wondering, because I actually left it on the burner (with the flame off) that maybe the residual burner heat was still contributing to the wort.

My guess is the big reason it was struggling to cool is my IC is too big for 5 gallon batches (it's a 50ft and only half of it, if that, was actually submerged in the wort). But even still, I would have expected it to cool better than it did.

I made a 1/2" OD X 50ft chiller, but the first 6-7 coils were done around a corny ket, then I moved out a couple of inches and coiled the remaining tubing. I then wove 12 gauge copper wire between the coils to separate them and add stability. The result is a 50 footer that is no taller than a 25 footer.

And, yes, stir the heck out of it! Just a couple of hours ago I brought my 6 gallons of 1.068 Amber down from boiling to less than 70 in about 10 minutes. I was using cold irrigation water from the Rogue River. I set my irrigation pump to run for 20 minutes, but had the wort chilled, the kettle drained into the carboy through a 3/8" OD spout, and water was still pumping through the IC! And, 95% efficiency. Sorry for bragging!
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Old 08-08-2009, 04:47 AM   #10
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i don't know if anyone mentioned this, or if you do it already, but add your strike water before the grains. add it about 10 deg higher than your target, let it heat up the MLT and come down to the right temp. this should help minimize the heat absorbed by the cooler...


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