Yesterday was my most frustrating, yet most satisfying brew day to date.
Murphy was turnt loose at my house yesterday, the wily SOB. But, I learned a lot and managed to hit within .001 of all my numbers.
10g AG IPA. 1.065 expected OG. Fired up the burner @ 1pm. Finished about 8:15 - a 7+ hour brew day.
First problem: a stuck sparge.
Cause: I got some bad advice to flip my manifold over so that the holes were on the bottom, ostensibly to keep the grain from compacting on the holes and sticking the sparge. What I got were grains compacted UNDER the manifold sticking the sparge. And in this configuration, you can't get to the grains to clear the holes.
Solution: The tuba player in me stepped up and blew the manifold clear through the tubing. I hit it like the end of the 1812 Overture and wound up with grain and wort all over the place. Didn't quite make it to the ceiling, though. The only thing is, I think I wound up with channeling, because the run-off was barely a trickle after that. But it all ran off, I sparged twice, so I got all my sugars.
Second problem: Temperature. I was brewing in my garage with the door up about 6". Outside temp was 29*F when we started and dropped throughout the afternoon to about 20*F. Inside the garage it was in the mid-upper 30s, even with the burner going. It was really difficult to hit strike temp and then to hold mash temp - at first.
Cause: I didn't think about the fact that my tun had been sitting in the garage in the cold, and so when I pre-heated it, what would normally have been a great pre-heat only got me up to probably room temp or a bit above. My grains were 60*, so I mashed in with the correct amount and temp for the grain bill, and undershot my mash temp by almost 10*. Mind you, I was mashing 24 lbs of grain in a 10 gallon rubbermaid cooler so I had no room for temp correction.
Solution: I did a 2-gallon decoction and got the temp up into the conversion zone.
About this time, I was figuring out the amount of hell the low temperatures were playing, so I heated my sparge water up to 180 to get my grains from 153 to 169 for sparge. Well, I overshot and wound up sparging at 175. This is the only thing that concerns me about the day, because I don't want any astringency. BUT, as soon as I saw the temp was bollixed, I drained it and got the next batch started by pouring a gallon of cold water into the sparge pot. Third time being a charm, I hit temp on the last runnings at 169. So I think I'm fine.
After all of that, I took a PBG reading of 1.060, compared to the 1.059 expected. Not bad!
After cooling and pitching, I wound up with 10 gallons of IPA which is now bubbling away happily in the ferm cabinet at 65*. The expected OG was 1.065, and I hit 1.064. Very frustrating, but also very satisfying in the end.
It seemed like a good idea at the time...