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Old 12-09-2005, 05:48 AM   #1
brewmaster27
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Oct 2005
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Hey guys,

Fairly amateur brewer here with a BIG (?) problem. This is my 4th batch of beer, and I am far from perfecting it to a science. Two of the the three beers I have made were more-or-less "all-extract" brews, and one was a Vienna lager kit which came with grain to steep in. One beer was a real disaster (it tasted terrible) and the lager, though it seemed to come out ok, had an astringent "wet cardboard" kind of taste which I assume was from over-oxidation.

The last batch I just made I purchased grains to steep into the wort. But I'm afraid I used the grains all wrong. The two grains I used in my 'Christmas Ale' were Flaked Barley and 60L Crystal Malt (for amber color). Before I start explaining my problem I would just like to say I know very little about partial mashing, lauter-tuns, etc. I didn't realize that mashing grains was as complicated a process as it actually is.

This is where my problem comes into play. I just basically crushed the flaked barley and crystal malt together (to make grist) and steeped it into the wort(keeping a steady temperature of 152 F which I know is important) using a sanitized grain bag in the brewpot. After doing this, I sparged the grain bag with 170 F water until the runoff was clean). I did not realize I had to do anything with lauter-tuns, false bottoms, tubing, pressure, and god-knows-what-else! I'm so confused with this process and now I'm afraid that my beer which I spent 3 hours on will be a tremendous failure because I did not mash the grains properly. AGHHHHHHHH!

Some brewmaster I am... I'm so untalented
I feel like giving up on homebrewing and just calling it quits.

 
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Old 12-09-2005, 06:20 AM   #2
ScottT
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brewmaster27
Hey guys,
This is where my problem comes into play. I just basically crushed the flaked barley and crystal malt together (to make grist) and steeped it into the wort(keeping a steady temperature of 152 F which I know is important) using a sanitized grain bag in the brewpot. After doing this, I sparged the grain bag with 170 F water until the runoff was clean).
How much wort were you steeping it in and what grains did you have in your bag. This is important, you may be OK.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brewmaster27
I did not realize I had to do anything with lauter-tuns, false bottoms, tubing, pressure, and god-knows-what-else! I'm so confused with this process and now I'm afraid that my beer which I spent 3 hours on will be a tremendous failure because I did not mash the grains properly. AGHHHHHHHH!.
First, take a deep breath, now drink a homebrew. O.K. Now, don't worry about all those gadgets yet. Only after you understand the process is it important to think about how to get it done.

The worst thing that may have happened with this brew is that you will have unconverted starches in the mix and this will result in a cloudy/lower ABV brew but it will probably still taste pretty darn good. Don't sweat it yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by brewmaster27
Some brewmaster I am... I'm so untalented
No, just un-educated and we can fix that.


Quote:
Originally Posted by brewmaster27
I feel like giving up on homebrewing and just calling it quits.
Relax, you can do this! It just takes a little research before you jump in.

Start by reading this: http://www.howtobrew.com/intro.html

This is the best online source of brewing information there is. After you read this, feel free to ask all the questions you want to clairify anything you don't understand.
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Old 12-09-2005, 07:34 AM   #3
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I can't see a problem. What you have done is a mini mash.

With extract kits all the sugar comes from the extract the grain is just for colour ,flavour and to had feel (body to the brew). This is steeping.

What you have done is taken it a step further by sparging the grain. (This washes the sugar from the grain). That is normally only done on part extract part grain recipes where you are relying on the sugar from the grains to make up part of the OG.

So well done, you are on the way to advanced brewing techniques.

I bet you'll be pleased with the beer and find it better than store bought.
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Old 12-09-2005, 10:28 AM   #4
BlightyBrewer
 
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I think you did okay.

Don't be so hard on yourself. You're right, this is a complicated hobby, and it does take a little while to get your head round all the finer points of brewing. But that's part of the fun, no? Don't forget that you will be constantly learning, and yes you will have a lot of brews that don't turn out how you would have liked, but you will also have a lot more brews that are better than anything you could buy in the store...because you crafted them. It's okay to be critical of your own creations (that's how we strive to improve), but don't give up cos of a few off tastes or mistakes...you'll get better with every brew. Sounds to me like you are advancing very nicely.

I'm only on my 6th brew, and I've had weird tastes, flat beer etc. But I'm learning, and this forum is one of the best ways of picking up little gems of information, plus it's great to just get online and chew the fat with these guys n gals.

Persevere my friend, you're doin' fine!
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Old 12-09-2005, 11:15 AM   #5
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Hang in there! We are our own worst critics.

I would also bet a LOT of people on this forum produced less than perfect brews in the beginning. I've only made two batches so far, and I know I would do things differently if I could make them over again. That doesn't mean what I have now, won't be drinkable and better than store bought. Yours probably will be too.

I don't think it's advisable to crush flaked barely before steeping, or to sparge steeped grains, but your Christmas ale may be just fine. Time will tell.

Mistakes are no big thing. They are only problematic if we don't learn from them. You have certainly come to the right place for guidance. No more helpful bunch of people will you find anywhere...

 
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Old 12-09-2005, 11:27 AM   #6
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Sounds to me like you did just fine!

Hang with it bro, the rewards are very much worth it.
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Old 12-09-2005, 02:19 PM   #7
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Sounds like you have a pretty good handle on things to me. The whole grain mashing issue tends to get overblown when folks worry about equipment and advanced techniques - heck, this is a hobby, so of course we're going to obsess about these things But when you get down to it, the basics are pretty simple, and it sounds like you understand the basics. Relax, read, and brew.
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Old 12-09-2005, 03:06 PM   #8
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hang in there and don't give up. we've all had a batch or two that wasn't up to par.

try this for a reference the next time you brew http://www.defalcos.com/recipesbeer2.htm
this is my local HBS directions for doing a extract/grain basic brew recipe. easy to follow and they way we did them until we went AG.
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Old 12-09-2005, 04:23 PM   #9
SteveM
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If the whole thing seems too complicated by half, remember that it is not necessary to be an "extreme" home brewer. I use use about 95% liquid extracts and I rely heavily on the guidance from my retailer - I describe what kind of outcome I want, he points me in a direction and off I go. I have made maybe ten batches like this and the results have been satisfactory to say the least.

Maybe it is like riding a bicycle with training wheels. I am now confident enough to experiment (i.e., make mistakes of my own creation) and have things still come out OK. My basic process is to use only a primary, one of those six gallon plastic tub ones, an hour boil with hops and steeping grains, and two weeks of brew time. I worry very little about temperatures beyond keeping my brew tank in a cool spot, I don't bother with the hydrometer, and I use an auto-siphon (which I heartily recommend) to transfer to a tapped bottling tank. No secondary, all real low tech, and the beer is still better than anything I have ever bought.

Two rules only - sanitize carefully and use spring water. Well, one more - relax, have a cold one, and remember - it is just beer.

 
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Old 12-09-2005, 05:03 PM   #10
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If your recipe was mostly extract with a pound or two of grain, you did it exactly right. There is absolutely nothing wrong with using a big grain bag for mashing and it's a lot less expensive than other methods.

I have a grain bag that is big enough to hold 10 pounds of grain, that I've used for mini-mashes, ciders and steeping.
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