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Old 08-01-2008, 02:56 AM   #1
Matt Up North
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Default Missed volume goal and OG

Long story short, I read the little "Information for New AG Brewers" at the top of the page and it somewhat helped, but not enough. I made a dark ale today and missed my OG of 1.050 and my 5gal volume. Instead I ended with 1.040 and 4 gal!

I used 10lbs Maris Otter and then some darker malts for color and flavor. I did a 60 min mash at 152*F and Lautered off using 170*F. Boiled for 105 min and ended with the above mentioned 1.040 @ 4 gal.

I asked the LHBS what my problem was and they said that after the mash reheat to 170*F and then sparge and lauter so that the sparge water isn't losing heat but rather adding similar temperature liquid. Also they said that since I don't spray sparge, but rather pitcher and scoop (get my hot pot and use a pitcher to put it into the lauter tun) that I might not be getting all of the sugars out. I am going to use a hose to a cap with holes next time, seeing as this like losing a case of beer for the same amount of time spent.

So I guess that my questions are these. How did I miss by that much? I figured that 10 lbs made 1.056 @ 5 gal. Meanwhile here I am at 6 gal at 1.027. That is worse than half! I know that my conversion is allright, is it possible that I didn't lauter hot enough or what? I am pretty sure that the crush of the grain was good as I don't want to make flour and get a stuck sparge.

I feel like I was used and thrown away by my beer...Any help is appreciated.
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Old 08-01-2008, 03:25 AM   #2
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I'd guess it is either your conversion or your crush or both - these are the two parameters with the most effect on your efficiency. Sparging at 170 will help only a little bit and mostly with bigger beers. Did you check starch conversion with an iodine test? If not you need to do so next time to be sure you are getting complete conversion of the starch to sugar. Did you crush your own grain or did the LHBS do it for you? Many find they get a substantial increase in efficiency once they crush their own grain.

In terms of volume you only need to boil ales for 60 minutes so you would have been closer to 5 gals if you had done so - but your SG would have been correspondingly lower. Figuring out how much wort to start with and how long and vigorously to boil is part of the "art" of brewing and comes with experience with your equipement.

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Old 08-01-2008, 04:03 AM   #3
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What kind of separation medium do you have in the bottom of your mash tun?

You definitely didn't sparge enough, collect about 6.75 gallons total.
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Old 08-01-2008, 07:55 AM   #4
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I agree with Bobby ( Like I ever don't ).
Your volume control was off, which means you did not sparge enough to drain all the sugars off. I do not fly sparge and am still dialing in on batch sparging.
I did not see a mash out infusion, that may have accounted of the low volume. I would also recommend stirring well before collecting your runnings and vorlof till clear.
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Old 08-01-2008, 05:37 PM   #5
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I used a Corona mill that did a good job of grinding up the 10lbs, getting the husks about half and corn meal sized pieces along with powder.

I am using a keg with a copper lauter ring in the bottom. Maybe I should start lautering into a 5 gallon bucket so that I know the amount that I am getting out.

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Your volume control was off, which means you did not sparge enough to drain all the sugars off. I do not fly sparge and am still dialing in on batch sparging.
I did not see a mash out infusion, that may have accounted of the low volume. I would also recommend stirring well before collecting your runnings and vorlof till clear.
What do you mean by a mash out infusion?
Should I just stir it every 15 minutes or so during the mash? I don't want to lose temperature.
When doing a dark beer should I still run it till clear? I tasted the light looking stuff and it had very little sugar so I didn't keep running it till clear.

I did a starch test and it showed conversion. No purple (dark beer though).

All in all I am going to change a couple of things and do another brew on Monday or Tuesday to see if I can accomplish my goal of 5gal @ 1.050 with 10lbs of Maris Otter.
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Old 08-01-2008, 10:44 PM   #6
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There are a number of possibilities.

You didn't say, but I guess you are batch sparging. If you are fly sparging, then the "lauter ring" at the bottom is not suitable, and you will almost certainly get lousy efficiency; but it should be fine for a batch sparge.

If you were batch sparging with water heated to 170 and ladling it into the lauter tun, then it would be much cooler than 170 by the time it arrived in the tun. This would give you a cool sparge which is not good for dissolving the sugars. To get good sparge efficiency, you want the grain temperature to be raised up to 165 - 170.
You could do this with a mash out (which is simply adding about 1g near boiling water and stirring well at the end of the mash), or you could do it by heating your sparge water to about 180.
After adding the sparge water, you need to stir the cr@p out it. This stirring is what dissolves the sugar, and allows it to drain into the kettle. After stirring, wait a couple minutes to let everything settle down, and take the temperature. If it is below 165, you need to heat your sparge water more next time. You can then vorlauf a few quarts to make sure your runnings don't have any grain husks in them, and drain into the kettle.
If you are doing 2 batch sparges, you should make the volumes for each of the sparges approximately equal.
Finally, you should sparge enough to get at least 6.5 g wort prior to the boil.

Hope this helps

-a.
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Old 08-02-2008, 07:33 PM   #7
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Just to make sure I understand, sorry about this for the more experienced.

I should stop fly sparging until I get the batch method down? To do the batch method, I will do my mash, then heat the total liquid to do 5gal and pour it all into the mash tun and then lauter that out into the boil pot?

So new method to try on tuesday will be:

Heat 4 gal water to 165*
Mash in 10 lbs for 60 min
Add 1 gal 180* in last 15 min, stir well and let settle
Add additional 6 gal 175* water on top and drain all liquid into boil pot

Now, if I end up over sparging then I can boil it down. I don't mind and it will help me get the idea down. Does that process look to work out for my 6gal primary ferment?

I will keep reading and finding out more info. Thanks again.

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Old 08-02-2008, 09:59 PM   #8
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Hello Matt, may I suggest that you read the ag primer in Bobby M's sig, I read a lot of material but his was the easiest to understand, Im getting consistent high 70's effeciency in the fermentor, good luck, keep us posted.
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Old 08-03-2008, 12:20 AM   #9
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Matt, You don't have to try batch sparging, it just seems your equipment is more suited for it.
Simple two batch sparge, do your usual mash, vorlof and drain. Then see how much more you need.
IE: You collect 2 gallons from your first draw, say you need 5 more gallons. Divide that into two.
So you would first heat 2.5 gallons to around 185 (smaller amount of water needs to be hotter to get the grain bed up to 160F+)
Vorlof, collect your 2.5 gallons.
Repeat one more time, I use a little hotter water for the second batch, around 189F.
Hope this helps.
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Old 08-05-2008, 07:48 PM   #10
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I feel like an a$$. I figured out my problem. I weighed the grain incorrectly and have since gotten a more accurate scale. Essentially I got good conversion, sparged well and got the wrong volume...BUT, only used half the grain (about 5-6lbs total instead of 10 )

So Thank You all for really helping out and not freaking out like I did. I am brewing another 5 gal batch today with 10lbs Maris Otter, Willamette hops, Coopers dry ale yeast and nothing more. Just a light easy drinking ale.

Points to attempt today are: Volume of 5.5 gal, Good conversion of minimum 1.050 (still low, but it's the goal, more is better) and that's it. Fingers crossed!
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