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Old 01-25-2011, 04:06 PM   #1
beerrepository
 
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I did my third all-grain batch this past weekend and it was about 20 degrees outside. I could not hold temps in my mash at all. I use a Coleman Xtreme cooler, which I know can hold temps, but I guess it was just too cold outside. Has anyone else run into this problem?

I am guessing that using either a RIMS or HERMS system would cure this problem, but I don't know if I am ready to move to that yet cost wise.

The beer I did is a Belgian Dark Strong Ale. The OG was a lot lower than I was going for, and I already added 2 lbs of clear candi sugar to the boil, so I am worried if I add more sugar after primary fermentation has finished, that I will overly dry and thin out the beer. If I added 2 lbs of sugar to the fermentor, that would push my adjunct fermentables to 19%. Would it be better to just accept a lower gravity and lower ABV instead of messing with it?

 
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Old 01-25-2011, 04:15 PM   #2
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Why not just do your mash/sparge indoors and boil outside?

 
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Old 01-25-2011, 04:25 PM   #3
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I just had the same issue. I heated my liquor and preheated my MLT. But by the time I was done stirring I was qt 148, and was supposed to hit 152. I was able to get the temp to 150, but after 80 minutes I was at 146. So, I'll be a bit drier than I was hoping for. Fortunately my efficiency didn't suffer, hit 89%.

I don't know what your recipe looks like, but 20% sugar seems high. That would probably make the brew pretty cidery. I used 2 lbs in a triple and that had a little bit of an apple taste that took some time to age out. I would just go with what you have and chalk it up to experience.

I think next brew I will move the MLT inside during the mash, or wrap to cooler in a blanket to help out.

 
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Old 01-25-2011, 04:37 PM   #4
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148 is fine, no worries. Have you tried heating your strike water just a little hotter to compensate for the cold outdoor temps? Instead of mashing-in at 170, try 175. Or as Earwig said, mash inside. But I'm guessing your MLT was cold and your grain was cold. Hotter strike water. Good luck and report back.
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Old 01-25-2011, 04:52 PM   #5
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I intentionally overshot my strike water temps during the last brew day (temp never got above 25 that day) and still came up 2 degrees short of my target (152 vs. 154). I use an old, very battered igloo water cooler and only lost 2 degrees over an hour. I don't open the lid after dough-in and still manage 82% efficiency consistently. I just wish I could figure out my initial temp loss factor based upon outside temp. Brewpal for the iPhone doesn't help me in that category...

 
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Old 01-25-2011, 06:28 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeRoBrew1 View Post
148 is fine, no worries. Have you tried heating your strike water just a little hotter to compensate for the cold outdoor temps? Instead of mashing-in at 170, try 175. Or as Earwig said, mash inside. But I'm guessing your MLT was cold and your grain was cold. Hotter strike water. Good luck and report back.
Tun was pre-heated inside and grain was at 72 degrees, sitting in the house until I put it into the Mash. Is there some way to calculate in ambient to compensate for it?

Mashing inside might be an option, but I use a keggle for my HLT and BK, so I would have to add the water then haul the mash tun inside, let it rest, then haul it back out to finish sparging.

 
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Old 01-25-2011, 06:33 PM   #7
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I'm sorry I assumed too much. I heat the strike water on my stove and pour it in. I do it all indoors except the boil... But I only use a cooler system.

 
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Old 01-25-2011, 06:48 PM   #8
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I think until I have some sort of recirculating/heating system, I might just go simple and do some extract brews during the cold months. I can get a boil going just fine. If I had a pot to heat mash and sparge water, I would do it indoors, but I don't. I started off with a keggle, never progressed to it.

 
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Old 01-25-2011, 06:51 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beerrepository View Post
so I would have to add the water then haul the mash tun inside, let it rest, then haul it back out to finish sparging.
Yep, Not that hard. Or you could try wrapping the mash tun. I've used a heavy duty sleeping bag before in the winter. Helps. That was with a 52Qt igloo cube though, not the giant xtremes.
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Old 01-25-2011, 07:03 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IrregularPulse View Post
Yep, Not that hard. Or you could try wrapping the mash tun. I've used a heavy duty sleeping bag before in the winter. Helps. That was with a 52Qt igloo cube though, not the giant xtremes.
I think my cooler is a 52qt, its not one of the 70 qt versions. Insulating is actually a good idea. Might have to look into some options for that. Or suck it up and hull that thing inside.

 
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