I’ve been reading threads here for a while and tried to gain as much info as I could without creating useless threads. That being said, I would appreciate any help/insight you guys could offer.
I use RO water and add small amounts of gypsum and sodium choloride, is this best practice? The only other water I have access to is a natural spring 3 miles away or softened water out of my faucet. All the water in my building is softened.
I have about nine 1-gallon BIAB batches under my belt. Mostly Pale ales, IPAs, and even a double IPA. It’s an awful lot of work for such a small amount of beer. I just recently purchased a 30 quart boil pot, (only 13 inches of clearance from stove top to bottom of microwave) and a nice BIAB bag from Wilserbrewer (thanks again!). I am looking to do some 2.5 and 3 gallon BIAB batches, but want some insight before I do my first batch. I am trying to dial in my process.
I currently struggle with MASH temps and end up babysitting my kettle the whole time. I will notice the temp lowering, and turn on the lowest heat setting for a couple seconds then turn it off to get the temp up. Then I stir around the grain. My last 2 batches I would lift the bag and the overall temp would rise and had a reading of 160ish from near the bottom where the grain was just sitting... The overall water temp around the middle was reading 152 before hand and dropping. Is this common? I assume a false bottom type thing would help prevent this as well as improve water circulation. Maybe one such as this:
Also I have 2 thermometers. A standard mercury thermometer and a metal probe with dial. The metal probe with dial regularly reads about 3-5 degrees higher than the mercury one… Did I get a bad thermometer? I wouldn’t want to think I am mashing at 154 and have it actually be 158, that would be bad news.
I have been doing a double crush of my grains and upping the grain bill by about 15%, but my last 3 batches I have over shot my O.G. by a couple points; .176 actual versus .170 in recipe, etc. Is this cause for concern? I typically do a 70 minute rest in the low 150s, and then a 10 minute 170 rest (mash out). Then I let the bag drain into a sieve that sits in a separate kettle and once I get my wort close to boiling I add those runnings back in. I don’t currently sparge and apply very little pressure to bag when its draining. Should I be worried about a slightly higher OG, anything I should adjust?
I have tried a couple different fermentation styles with my 1 gallon batches. Leaving in primary until bottling, dry hopping in primary vessel once fermentation “complete”, or racking to secondary and dry hopping in secondary. I didn’t notice much difference from either method in my beers. However moving to 3 gallon I am worried about headspace…
A 3 gallon glass carboy would be nice if I use secondary, but leaves little room for blow off in the case of a 3 gallon batch. A 5 gallon bucket leaves lots of room for primary, but I don’t think I can dry hop in it because if I open the lid and reintroduce oxygen, there may not be enough CO2 to push all that new oxygen back out… What do other people use for their trial/half batches? Is it best to use a 5 gallon bucket for primary, rack to a 3 gallon secondary to dry hop (usually 10-14 days later for me), dry hop per schedule, then rack to bottling bucket?
The only nice thing about the 1 gallon batches was I was able to have several different types of beer in the fridge at once. Moving to 3 gallon I wouldn’t be able to fit 2-3 different batches in the fridge all at once. My question is, being that I mostly do IPAs with hop forward flavors, can I just put half the bottles in the fridge after 3 weeks of bottle conditioning. And leave half bottle condition for another week or so? I assume no ill effects will happen, but at one point will I start to lose the hop flavors? I have tried to save an IPA for 6 months, and it was very malty at that point so I know 6 months is too long haha.
I apologize for the super long post, but would appreciate any feedback/insight/suggestions/comments etc.