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Old 01-04-2013, 01:11 AM   #1
KarlHungus76
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Default What I hope was the worst brewday of 2013

I have missed numbers just like everyone and i usually just roll with it, but never ever like today. It was also, my first boil on my new 15 gallon kettle. Too many frustrating things to list, but the end result was 8 gallons of wort from a pre-boil volume of about 13.5. It was a 90 minute boil and my brew kettle is homebrewstuff's 15 gallon stainless kettle. It's fairly wide (unlike say, a Blichmann) but I cannot imagine that I boiled off that much, even though my SP-10 was waaay waaay up given the larger kettle and ambient temps around 28 here in Chicago. I am not certain where the mistake was made and I will figure it out eventually, but has anyone ever seen boil-off like that?
The reason I think it is boil-off is because I was shooting for about 1.06 or so, OG was off by a mile at 1.080.
Side question: I have tons of hops and was going to dry hop anyway. I was thinking of upping the dry hops to offset what is sure to be, for awhile at least, a bit of an alcohol bomb. Thoughts?


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Old 01-04-2013, 02:57 AM   #2
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I feel your pain; I'm not having much luck here in Chicago either. I started an all grain Surly Cynic clone from Northern Brewer last Friday, the 28th of December. I've brewed this clone several times (and it's a fantastic beer if you haven't brewed it before) and had no problems.

Last Friday, December 28th, I decided to try brewing with a 2000W electric burner in my basement. After several hours, temperature held at 211F and wouldn't budge. It simply wasn't enough heat to boil 7 gallons of wort. Screw it - I'll finish it outside tomorrow.

After it cools, I lug the wort up the stairs and outside. I measure the wort to see how much water I've lost to evaporation, and it's about a gallon. I add a gallon of water to the wort and go to fire up the burner. No luck; apparently my regulator has broken since the last time I used it. I run to the local big-box store and find a "turkey fryer" burner that is on sale for $60. Buy it, return to the house and fire it up - only to find that the new burners come with a timer for safety. I defeat the safety measures (duct tape) and let er' rip. It burns fine, but in 20F weather, it isn't enough to make it boil. It holds again at 211F. After a couple of hours and building a makeshift "wind fort" around the burner, I give up. I say screw it - not gonna happen, and leave it outside to freeze.

The next day, I head to my LHBS and buy a Banjo burner for approx $100. I know I can fix my existing burner, but I already have probably $100 invested in the wort and my time, so screw it. I adjust for evaporation, which again, turns about to be a gallon. I add the gallon of water and fire up the banjo burner and the thing burns away like a jet engine. Wort comes to a boil in about 30 mins (it was a wort "slushy" when I fired it up.)

Around half way through the boil, my fire dies down. No problem; tank is probably empty, so I switch tanks. Fire goes great for about 15 minutes then slowly starts to die down, and I can't figure out why. Then I recall a post on HBT about freezing propane tanks and realize that I am using a "summer mix" of propane as opposed to the "winter mix" propane providers use. My tank is frozen. I take the lid off of my outdoor fireplace and flip it upside down, placing the tank inside. I throw a couple of buckets of warm water in the lid, and the burner takes off - too quickly! As I turn around, the flame has picked up so much that the wort is boiling over. I quickly turn down the heat and lose maybe four cups or so. My kettle, burner, etc., are covered in sticky, overflowed wort.

Finally, after adding a couple of buckets of warm water to my propane tank "tank" the boil finishes and I'm able to put it in a fermenter. I pitched my yeast yesterday and have yet to see any activity, so I'm thinking I pitched bad yeast. Luckily, I just found a Wyeast 3522 pack in storage, so I will pitch that as well.

This is going to be either the best or worst beer ever; it's definitely the toughest beer I've ever brewed.



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Old 01-04-2013, 02:59 AM   #3
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and you call yourself a nihilist....
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Old 01-04-2013, 03:01 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xpertskir View Post
and you call yourself a nihilist....
They care about nothing!
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Old 01-04-2013, 03:20 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by overflow View Post
They care about nothing!
Must be exhausting work...


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Old 01-04-2013, 05:36 PM   #6
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Anyone like to comment on OP? Much appreciated.
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Old 01-04-2013, 05:44 PM   #7
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Quote:
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Anyone like to comment on OP? Much appreciated.
Were we being to jovial for the guy who's SN is insipred by a porn star from a comedy movie?

Boil off can vary dramtically and is affected by much more than the burner/pot. If the relative humidty is low and the ambient air temperature is low that can really increase boil off.

The long and short of it is that it is new equipment, it takes some time to figure it out, and you should expect some bumps on the way.

Do some mock boils with only water to see what kind of boil off rates you are dealing with.

As for extra dry hops to mellow alcohol...Its hard to say without the recipe but IME the only thing that mellows alcohol hotness is time.
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Old 01-04-2013, 05:55 PM   #8
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Why wouldn't you have just added some water and bring it to the intended volume? That should bring the OG in line with what you expected and get the flavors you were after.
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Old 01-04-2013, 06:35 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KarlHungus76 View Post
Anyone like to comment on OP? Much appreciated.
Sorry, didn't mean to hijack the thread. I find my boil off rates climb much higher the drier the air is (and it has been really dry here, as you know.) If it's windy, expect even more loss.

Also, I know when I first started brewing, I calculated that my kettle lost about a gallon per hour during a 60 minute boil. For a 90 minute boil, you might think you would lose 1.5 Gallons of water, right? Unfortunately it doesn't work like that; as you're losing to evaporation, the evaporation rate speeds up. After I realized this, I took the time to record evaporation rates for 60,75,90, and 120 minute boils in my kettle.

It doesn't always come out exact, though - largely depending on, as I mentioned above - the weather and humidity. If you've lost too much, however, you should be able to just top up to the desired amount by adding (sterile) water to your wort. The amount of sugar in the solution will remain the same.
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Old 01-04-2013, 07:01 PM   #10
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I've got a wide mouth kettle like what you're describing and I think the boil off rate is significantly higher than for narrower kettles. I usually do five or six gallon batches and it's not uncommon for me to boil off a gallon and a half or two gallons in an hour, particularly when it's cold/dry. If you did a 90 minute boil with a larger kettle, boiled vigorously and it was very cold/dry, I could see boiling off maybe three or four gallons. I'm not sure about going from 13.5 to 8, but maybe... I can tell you for sure that my wide-mouthed SS brew kettle does boil off much faster than the aluminum narrow turkey pot that originally came with my burner.


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