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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Very bad first all-grain experience...
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Old 07-09-2008, 08:36 PM   #1
Ryan
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Default Very bad first all-grain experience...

So I had some free time last night, so I decided to do my first AG batch (it was also my first full boil). I followed Ed's Haus Pale Ale from the recipe database. Things were going good (atleast they seemed good) until I had to sparge.

First off, I forgot to add in water to account for the water absorption of the grain. I didn't realize I did this until I had already collected my first runnings. So I decide to just add another gallon to my sparge water. Well I take the temp of my sparge water and it was around 197. Instead of being calm and collected and just waiting for it to cool down, what do I do? I spaz out like a turd and I pour the water into the MLT. So I keep going on with the sparging process (I did two batch sparges), and I go to collect my BG so I can figure out what my efficiancy was. I hit a nice 53%

Now I am even more pissed off. I am trying to figure out what to do to so I can get my numbers right. I had about half a cup of LDME, so I toss that into my kettle and get the boil going. Add my bittering hops, then I get the great idea to just boil a little longer to get my OG where it should be. I also get the idea to boil for about 10 more minutes thinking that would help. So my bittering hop actually boiled for 70 minutes instead of 60. What sucks for me is that when I move things into my primary, I only have 3.5 gallons when I should have had 5.5. I also went from having a BG of 1.032 to a OG of 1.07. My OG should have been 1.51

Three questions I have for you guys:
1. I think I may have messed up my efficiency calculations. I followed what Palmer laid out in How to Brew. Is this what you guys do?
2. What temp do you guys batch sparge at?
3. Should I dry hop this and call it an IPA?



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Old 07-09-2008, 09:24 PM   #2
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1. I don't really know what you mean
2. Sparge at around 175F
3. Taste it when it comes out of primary and see what you think. You might think about a hop tea too. I read a post about that and was thinking of trying it.


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Old 07-09-2008, 09:53 PM   #3
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Well, if you have 3.5 gallons, and your OG is 1.070, why don't you add water to get you to 4.5 gallons and an OG of 1.054? That would get you closer to your intended recipe.

As far as calculations for efficiency, etc, I use brewing software. That helps me out alot.

I sparge with hot enough water to get my grainbed at 165-168 degrees, and that varies abit, depending on the mash temperature and the temperature of the grainbed before the sparge. Usually it's in the 175-180 degree range. I batch sparge and use Beersmith to help me with those calculations.
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Old 07-09-2008, 10:03 PM   #4
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I can tell that your efficiency was bad because of the water issue. I suspect that, due to a lack of water, the enzymes weren't able to get to much of the potential sugars in the grains. Sparging with extra water won't help that since it's purpose is to remove already converted sugars from the grain. If that happens again, just do a second mash with more water of the correct mash temp and let it sit another 30/60 minutes.

The problem with sparging with extra water (and higher temp water) is that you run the risk of extracting tannins from the grains.

All that said, I still think your beer will be fine. Most of your problems could be solved with brewing software that does all of your water and efficiency calculations for you. It's much easier.

Just as a rule, I like 1.25 qts/lb of grain as a starting point for a mash and I've read 2 qts/lb for sparge water, but I usually use a little less than that.

1.) I calculate my efficiency using brewing software. I like BeerTools Pro and ProMash. They help a lot, so I would recommend picking one of them up.

2.) I actually prefer 170F, but as long as your pH is ok, then it won't matter too much.

3.) I would just go with what you have and chalk it up to a learning experience. Maybe when it's done, you can look for off flavors associated with oversparging or sparging at too high a temperature.
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Old 07-09-2008, 10:06 PM   #5
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If you want to make the best beer possible, you are going to either need to buy or write some brewing software. It isn't to hard to creat an excel spreadsheet with the equations in there, but I use BeerSmith. It and a few other brewing software programs (ProMash, BeerTools Pro) have free trials so you can see which one you like, but the author of BeerSmith is a memver here, so you can get fast IT support if you have any questions, and many of us here use the programs so we will be able to help you out.
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Old 07-09-2008, 10:48 PM   #6
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Step away from the ledge buddy.

First, your volumes are all out of whack. First, start with your desired finished batch in the fermenter. 5 gallons? ok. Now figure out how long you intend to boil for. 60minutes? Ok. How much will you lose to evaporation? Probably about 1.25 gallons so right there you know you need to collect at least 6.25 gallons but let's add another quartfor trub/hop sludge. Collect 6.5 gallons total.

Mash in at 1.25qts per pound. After the mash, drain into a vessel that can measure volume. How about an ale pale or some other bucket with .25 gallon increments on the side? So, how much did you collect on your first runnings? Let's say 3 gallons. Now do math... 6.5 desired - 3 collected = 3.5 gallons of sparge needed. Break that into 2 equal infusions of 1.75g each (180F is a safe temp there).

Having a way to accurately measure preboil volume (and getting a good OG sample by stirring all your runnings together) is the only way to accuratelly measure for calculating mash/lauter efficiency. You can use math and malt reference information or use one of the software packages already mentioned. Read my all grain primer.
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Old 07-10-2008, 08:00 AM   #7
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As a follow up to the gurus here, efficiency comes after control of your grains, (done) and your water volumes. Measurements are great because they tell you what you need to improve.
Add enough water to get your batch to the level that will produce a beer you like.
Review your volume levels and get a process to control it. I put marks on my stir stick for different volume levels, works for me so far.
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Old 07-10-2008, 11:18 AM   #8
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1. What difference does your efficiency make? Really, worry about the things that matter, not the ones that don't. If your beer comes out tasting good, or great, does it really matter? Relax.

2. Try this calculator next time. Sparge calculator

3. I like Yooper's idea of adding water to bring your gravity in line, it's simple and straight forward.

Take a deep breath and relax.
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Old 07-10-2008, 11:33 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ilikestuff View Post
If you want to make the best beer possible, you are going to either need to buy or write some brewing software. It isn't to hard to creat an excel spreadsheet with the equations in there, but I use BeerSmith. It and a few other brewing software programs (ProMash, BeerTools Pro) have free trials so you can see which one you like, but the author of BeerSmith is a memver here, so you can get fast IT support if you have any questions, and many of us here use the programs so we will be able to help you out.
+1000 - Get Beersmith! It'll be the best $20 you'll spend in your life if you want to take this hobby seriously.
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Old 07-10-2008, 02:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sigmund View Post
1. What difference does your efficiency make? Really, worry about the things that matter, not the ones that don't. If your beer comes out tasting good, or great, does it really matter? Relax.

2. Try this calculator next time. Sparge calculator

3. I like Yooper's idea of adding water to bring your gravity in line, it's simple and straight forward.

Take a deep breath and relax.
I can dig the fact that you're being a counterpoint to all the talk of efficiency here. I would agree that many people look at efficiency as an inappropriate measure of success or failure especially when they first start out. I'm probably partly to blame for it because I post about it a LOT. However, if all my batches were falling around 50-60%, I wouldn't just live with it because it's a waste of money. It's not like getting 70%+ is hard to do once you understand the principals.


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