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Old 05-30-2011, 10:11 PM   #1
Joeneugs
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Default First all grain batch complete! Now... HELP!

OK, here it goes:

I ended up doing this recipe:

5.5 lbs Maris Otter
5.5 lbs Pilsner
1 lb Wheat

1 oz. Columbus @ 60 min.
1 oz. Centennial @ 5 min.
1 oz. Columbus @ 2 min.
1 oz. Centennial @ 2 min.
2 oz. Amarillo @ 2 min.
1 oz. Centennial @ 1 min.
1 oz. Columbus @ 1 min.
1 oz. Amarillo @ 0 min.
1 oz. Columbus @ 0 min.
1 oz. Centennial @ 0 min.

Hereís the problem. I have a converted keg for my mash tun. Beer Smith said to heat my strike water to 160 degrees F to hit my target of 149. When I added my grains, the temp didnít drop at all, so I added some cool water to bring it down. It barely made it down to 155. Then after about 30 minutes it dropped to 146. I added some hot water and it made no difference. After about 60 minutes, it was down to about 140.

I didnít have any insulation wrapped around the mash tun, but I did wrap it in two warm blankets, but I guess it didnít help.

I took a gravity reading after I collected all the wort into my boil kettle, and after adjusting for heat it read @ 1.030. I collected about 6.75 gallons and planned to boil down to about 5.25 in one hour.

After an hour of boiling, I tried to run off into my fermentor, and.... nothing. I took a swig of vodka and blew into the hose a little to try and clear any blockages, and still nothing. I even tried to siphon it out and that wouldnít work either. I ended up washing my left arm, dipping it in sanitizer and disconnected my false bottom and strained the hops by hand and it finally drained.

My false bottom is the round dome shaped thing with little holes and a small elbow that draws the liquid from underneath through a small piece of high temp tubing connected to the ball valve. I was told that this would work with pellet hops, but apparantly lots of hop material got under this thing. Is there anything I can do to prevent this?

As for my final gravity, It read about 1.054. Well below my target of 1.068. Also a lot of hop material made it into the fermentor. I mean A LOT!

Hereís my questions, obviously Iíll have a lot of issues with this brew:

1. With a hop bill this large, how can I prevent hops from clogging my drain?
2. Whats the best way to maintain a steady temperature in a converted keg mash tun?

Thanks in advance for the advice!


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Old 05-30-2011, 10:52 PM   #2
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Relax, it will be fine. I run the hops right into the fermenter all the time. You have plenty of OG for a good beer. if you want to add some malt extract to make up the difference


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Old 05-31-2011, 12:58 AM   #3
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5 gallon paint straining bags.
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Old 05-31-2011, 01:12 AM   #4
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That was a butt load of pellet hops for the FB to handle. Everytime I do a really hoppy beer, I use the muslin hop bags. A paint strainer will work as well too, but with 11oz of hops, you'd clog any FB.
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Old 05-31-2011, 01:30 AM   #5
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Yeah, after doing some research I've found that this is usually the case.

These were all pellet hops as well, so I guess that didn't help the situation.

I think I'm going to be on a quest to find something to contain the hop material, yet not affect the utilization. Some threads on here mentioned maybe using a fryer basket with some mesh? I love hop flavor and aroma, so I'm worried about using muslin bags.

Ideally, I'd like to use some kind of strainer basket that would fit inside the mash tun, yet not confine the hops to a small area thus reducing utilization of the hop oils. Anyone have any experience with this?
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Old 05-31-2011, 02:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joeneugs View Post

1. With a hop bill this large, how can I prevent hops from clogging my drain?
2. Whats the best way to maintain a steady temperature in a converted keg mash tun?

Thanks in advance for the advice!
1. I use a hop spider paint strainer bag and it works great. I know others here use false bottoms successfully so maybe they can help you figure out some way to make it work.

2. Without a pump to do a RIMS or HERMS system you need to insulate your keg MLT. A couple layers of reflectix insulation from lowes or home depot works well, but you could probably also do ok by wrapping some old blankets or sleeping bags around it. Some sort of lid to keep heat from escaping through the top is very important as well.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joeneugs View Post
Beer Smith said to heat my strike water to 160 degrees F to hit my target of 149. When I added my grains, the temp didn’t drop at all, so I added some cool water to bring it down. It barely made it down to 155. Then after about 30 minutes it dropped to 146. I added some hot water and it made no difference. After about 60 minutes, it was down to about 140.
There's just no way 12# of room temp grain isn't going to change the temp of your strike water. Your comments here lead me to think that you didn't sufficiently stir the grist at dough in or with the water infusions. This is very important for both temperature reading accuracy and for efficiency. You really need to stir very well to break up all dough balls, and then stir some more, and then stir some more, and then take your mash temp. And again when you add an infusion to adjust the temp it takes a lot of stirring to distribute the heat evenly through the entire grist and get an accurate temp reading. Your initial temp was probably closer to target than you think, and the mash tun may have actually held heat better than you think.

You made beer, and I'm sure it will turn out fine. All in all I'd say your first all grain brew went better than most, and it will get much easier and smoother each time you do it. Keep it up!
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Old 05-31-2011, 03:12 AM   #7
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Thanks to everyone for the reassurance!

I really did focus on stirring the grains in well. I doubt that was the problem. I'm thinking that my thermometer may have been out of whack. I may have to invest in an accurate one.

I will try the paint strainer bag on the next batch. Thanks for the advice!
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Old 05-31-2011, 03:23 AM   #8
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Use whole hops from Freshops.com in the future, they are inexpensive and of superior quality, and you wont have to deal with what just happened. Pellets suck


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