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Old 07-23-2012, 03:14 PM   #1
wittmania
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Guys,

Tried making my first Russian Imperial Stout this weekend and screwed it up big time. I usually heat my strike water about 10-15* warmer than what Beersmith calls for to make up for any heat loss from the tun or transfer, and then I stir it until it cools down to the right temp before I dough in. However, Saturday morning I was very distracted and forgot to let it cool first. I wanted to mash around 150* and instead it came in at 160* once all of the grist was in. I quickly measured out a gallon of 70* water and added it, bringing the temp back down to 150*, but the mash was at 160* for at least 5 minutes while I was doughing in.

I was already worried about getting this beer to attenuate well enough that it wouldn't be a sweet mess when it's done, and now I'm even more concerned due to the initial high mash temps. My OG was only 1.073 into the fermenter (should have been 1.095), which I also attribute to the higher mash temp.

I'm already bummed about only getting 1.073 out of almost 20# of grain for a 5 gallon batch, but I will be even more so if this beer finishes out in the high 1.020s.

What do you guys think? Should I dump it? (Kidding... just kidding...) Does anyone have any experience with that high of a mash temp, but only for a few minutes?
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Old 07-23-2012, 03:43 PM   #2
Hammy71
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A few minutes shouldn't hurt it. Also, don't beat yourself up about the lower efficiency. Often your efficiency will drop when making higher gravity brews. I've been doing all grain for several years now, and I still sometimes make the same mistake you did.

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Old 07-23-2012, 03:59 PM   #3
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I agree that a few minutes shouldn't be anything to worry about. Just wait and see what happens.

I highly recommend making sure your equipment profile is configured in Beersmith so you can hit your temps right on. Then, come brew day, enter actual (or even approximate) values for your tun & grain temps and then just add the exact strike temp calculated in Beersmith - you will be amazed at how you consistently hit your temps.

 
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Old 07-23-2012, 04:03 PM   #4
wittmania
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jclucca View Post
I highly recommend making sure your equipment profile is configured in Beersmith so you can hit your temps right on. Then, come brew day, enter actual (or even approximate) values for your tun & grain temps and then just add the exact strike temp calculated in Beersmith - you will be amazed at how you consistently hit your temps.
I have an equipment profile that's pretty dead on for most things, but I have found that the time it takes for the strike liquor to drain from the HLT into the mash tun can drop the temp significantly, especially if it is colder outside that day. I don't have a pump yet, so it can take as long as 5-10 minutes, during which the temp in the cooler is dropping (some) and the liquor is losing heat while it makes its way through the 3/8" tubing into the tun. So, I've found that it's usually more reliable to just overheat a bit and then double check when it gets into the tun. Of course, that does leave room for human error, something I'm good at introducing into my brewing process.
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Old 07-23-2012, 04:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wittmania View Post
Guys,

Tried making my first Russian Imperial Stout this weekend and screwed it up big time. I usually heat my strike water about 10-15* warmer than what Beersmith calls for to make up for any heat loss from the tun or transfer, and then I stir it until it cools down to the right temp before I dough in. However, Saturday morning I was very distracted and forgot to let it cool first. I wanted to mash around 150* and instead it came in at 160* once all of the grist was in. I quickly measured out a gallon of 70* water and added it, bringing the temp back down to 150*, but the mash was at 160* for at least 5 minutes while I was doughing in.

I was already worried about getting this beer to attenuate well enough that it wouldn't be a sweet mess when it's done, and now I'm even more concerned due to the initial high mash temps. My OG was only 1.073 into the fermenter (should have been 1.095), which I also attribute to the higher mash temp.

I'm already bummed about only getting 1.073 out of almost 20# of grain for a 5 gallon batch, but I will be even more so if this beer finishes out in the high 1.020s.

What do you guys think? Should I dump it? (Kidding... just kidding...) Does anyone have any experience with that high of a mash temp, but only for a few minutes?
Things like this are going to happen, if you don't already have the means to test your mash for conversion, read up on that (a little iodine mixed with a sample will let you know), if the high temp partially denatured your mash, you can simply extend the length of your mash to compensate. Also, have a bottle of Amylase Enzyme Formula (get the stuff specifically for brewing\wine makeing...not Beano!) on hand, if you fear you've seriously denatured your mash, you can replace the enzymes from the malt. Just a couple of things you can add to your arsenal that might help you save the day, brew day that is.

Keyth

 
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Old 07-23-2012, 04:10 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wittmania View Post
Of course, that does leave room for human error, something I'm good at introducing into my brewing process.
You are no better than I am at that!

Yesterday, I forgot to configure temps in Beersmith and undershot my mash temp by ~6 degrees. Fixed it with a quart of near boiling water. Then LAST week I was using the timer feature in BS 2.1 and forgot the sequence of alarms, so I did a hop addition when it should have been the yeast nutrient, which then just caused me to end the boil 5 minutes early.

I've been doing this for years and I'm still waiting for a perfect brew day!

 
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Old 07-23-2012, 04:44 PM   #7
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I've had efficiency problems with high OG mashes as well. I've read about at least 2 causes. The first is that as you increase the amount of grain (while keeping your boil volume the same), your ratio of total water to grain drops. You have less water to wash sugar out of the grains. A second issue is that as the sparge water becomes a lower percentage of the total water into the BK, the efficiency starts to drop. This seems to get significant around 30-35%. I believe Kaiser has documented this extensively on here somewhere.

I've done a few things to help. First, I've increased the temperature of mash additions from what Beer Smith recommends. When you increase the temp, Beer Smith recalculates the volume to a lower number. This allows for more sparge volume. The second thing I've done is to increase the boil length (which may not be appropriate for all styles). Longer boil length equals higher initial volume equals higher sparge volume (equal more sugars washed out of the grains).
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Old 07-23-2012, 08:54 PM   #8
wittmania
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JakeFegely View Post
I've had efficiency problems with high OG mashes as well. I've read about at least 2 causes. The first is that as you increase the amount of grain (while keeping your boil volume the same), your ratio of total water to grain drops. You have less water to wash sugar out of the grains. A second issue is that as the sparge water becomes a lower percentage of the total water into the BK, the efficiency starts to drop. This seems to get significant around 30-35%. I believe Kaiser has documented this extensively on here somewhere.

I've done a few things to help. First, I've increased the temperature of mash additions from what Beer Smith recommends. When you increase the temp, Beer Smith recalculates the volume to a lower number. This allows for more sparge volume. The second thing I've done is to increase the boil length (which may not be appropriate for all styles). Longer boil length equals higher initial volume equals higher sparge volume (equal more sugars washed out of the grains).
Plenty of good suggestions. With this being my first "big" beer, I'm kind of flying blind. I may have to see how this guy turns out and then try some additional methods to improve my efficiency.

Of course, ABV isn't everything. I'm hoping/expecting that this beer will turn out to be a lot of fun to drink this fall/winter, even if it's not as big as the original recipe predicted.
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Old 08-19-2012, 04:18 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KeythL View Post
Also, have a bottle of Amylase Enzyme Formula (get the stuff specifically for brewing\wine makeing...not Beano!) on hand, if you fear you've seriously denatured your mash, you can replace the enzymes from the malt. Just a couple of things you can add to your arsenal that might help you save the day, brew day that is.

Keyth
How would you use the amylase enzyme to help with this problem of mashing too hot? I am facing this right now.
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Old 08-20-2012, 03:14 AM   #10
Crito
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I did that too on my first AG brew. Came out great. don't worry.You can see that happen on the Brew TV shows too. Even the home brew pros do it. They just add ice.

 
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