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Old 04-07-2013, 12:21 AM   #1
Feb 2013
Posts: 71

Hi all,

I am a novice brewer, and the first two batches of beer I did (both 1-1.5 gal) came out great, though I did not use a hydrometer. However, the past two batches I've made (havent tasted either) I have used a hydrometer and have been getting readings WAY below where I want them (the first by .015 the second by .04). I think I need advice on how to do my mashing. I am a college student and have very limited access to supplies and space, so I will stick with doing stovetop mashes and small batches. But something's got to give. I don't think I'm doing it right. I put all my grains (i do my recipe calculations on multiple online programs so nothing wrong with the recipes) in a smallish nylon bag (forms a big clump) and submerge it in a specified amount of water given to me by my programs once the water is around 160 degrees. Then I start to have issues because I can never figure out a way to keep the temperature level where I want it nor do I know in which part of the mash to take the temperature. I do that for an hour and then quickly sparge with 175 degree water and move on to the boil. How do other people mash small batches because I am way WAY off on my OG's...

Any help MUCH appreciated

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Old 04-07-2013, 12:41 AM   #2
Mar 2013
Posts: 384
Liked 82 Times on 53 Posts

a couple things, also from a new brewer, but a life long hobbiest:
-first off, it sounds like you are not maintaining your mash temp, which can have an effect on your OG (I think), but will definitely have an effect on your FG.
-You might want to consider going to extract brewing until you have a better method of controlling temps.
-Start listening to some brewing podcasts. Brew Strong is a great wealth of knowledge....especially for mash temps and fermentation controls. Jamil has a great way of making it all accessible.

Best of luck.

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Old 04-07-2013, 01:21 AM   #3
Jul 2011
Glenview, IL
Posts: 6,368
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Having consistent issues with the OG is a process issue

Quality of crush
Calibrated thermometer
Calibrated hydrometer
Duration and stirring of mash
Ability to sparge
Being accurate with volumes and boil off
Top off water if being used and how well the mix is

These combined or independently can cause efficiency and consistency issues

Do you take a pre-boil gravity- this can help calculate your mash efficiency.
Nothing Left to do but smile and drink beer.....

The Commune Brewing Company-Perfecting the "art" of beer since 2010

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Old 04-07-2013, 01:30 AM   #4
kh54s10's Avatar
Aug 2011
Tiverton, Rhode Island
Posts: 11,084
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I agree that you need to find a way to control/stabilize your mash temperature. It should only lose a few degrees over an hour mash. However I think the .015 is normal variance, the .04 is of concern though. I have been brewing for almost 2 years progressing from extract through partial mash to all grain. I get a fair amount of variance (I am still refining my all grain processes), but I get good beer none the less.

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Old 04-07-2013, 01:49 AM   #5
Mar 2013
, Tennessee
Posts: 640
Liked 147 Times on 98 Posts

I am no expert, but for pre-fermentation gravity readings use a refractometer they are worth the 25 dollar investment. Much easier to read and it only takes a couple drops of wort.

You might be trying to cram too much grain in your pot and not getting good circulation around your grain. Maybe try a partial mash...or heck just go all extract.

If you have an oven big enough use it to help maintain your mash temp...set in on 150 or so.

You said you sparge quickly? Am I reading that wrong? Sparging should be done very slowly from what I understand.

...that's all this novice has for advise. And for the record I have not yet done an all grain yet. to take all that for what its worth.
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