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Old 08-26-2008, 07:43 PM   #1
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Default Frustrated with all grain...going back to extract

My first brew was an extract. All went to plan and I cranked out a terrific beer. Couldn't believe that my first try yielded such a tonic. So, off to try all grain. But, dammit, my last three all grains have driven me to almost drink coors lite. I'm having a real problem hitting my OG. I mean, they came out tasting darn good, but I wonder...."what if".

The latest cluster called for OG of 1.062 and I wind up with a 1.045. What makes this so freaking maddening is that I was rocket scientist meticulous in my planning and I thought I did everything perfectly. Milled the grain nicely - check; measured the water correctly - check; hit my temps dead nuts on - check; 1 hour in the tun - check; nice clean wort - check; sparge - check; boil and hops - check; perfect cool down - check; hydrometer reading - screeeeechackkkk!!

Well, it's time to take a step back and re-trace my steps. First, buy a good six-pack. Then, try another extract brew. Maybe in a year or ten I'll try all grain again....*$%#&@$

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Old 08-26-2008, 07:50 PM   #2
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but you've come this far! you can do it! I'm struggling with my efficiency also, but for me there's no turning back...

don't let AG beat you!

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Old 08-26-2008, 07:50 PM   #3
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I'm at a loss to understand. You say they taste "darn good", yet you're not happy with them? Exactly what is it you're trying to do, make a good beer, or beer that meets the specs? You can hit all your numbers and not have a good beer, so what's the problem? Why not keep making good tasting AG beers and just work to refine your process?
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Old 08-26-2008, 07:50 PM   #4
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I'm also struggling with low og's during my in my foray into the All Grain business. My effeciency is not where it needs to be right now, so I made some adjustments.
Right now i'm currently running at 64%eff so I make sure my beer smith is set appropriately and add extra base malt to get up to my target OG. As I get better and make the tweaks needed to refine my process and system I'm hoping my efficiency eeks up.
Have you calculated your efficiency? Up the grain to hit your OG's. If you just follow a recipe here most are set-up for 75%+ eff, so you'll definately be off.
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Old 08-26-2008, 07:51 PM   #5
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It sounds like you need to take us through your equipment and method step by step so we can see where you are going wrong.

If the worst comes to the worst there is no rule saying you can't use LME to bust the gravity if it's way to low.

You can always dial down your efficiency to up the ingredients.
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Old 08-26-2008, 07:51 PM   #6
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If you are hitting your mash temps and your grains are crushed well, I don't see how you are missing your OG by that much.
Some more information including specifics about your steps, temps, and recipe would help us give more help.
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Old 08-26-2008, 07:51 PM   #7
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A lot of people think AG=Perfect Beer, and jump too soon, without getting their process down. AG is not a magic actually requires some fundamental understanding of basic brewing principles, to master.

Read this...

Work on your process. Even do some partial mashes for awhile...but realize this is all about learning and experience...

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Old 08-26-2008, 07:52 PM   #8
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Perhaps nobody told you - your equipment is like a fine woman.

No two brewers can take the same recipe and crank out the same beer. Different people's equipment acts differently. Mashing 10 pounds of 2-row might produce heavier sugars due to temp loss that is different than the guy who posted the recipe with computer controlled temps.

What's important is that you understand what your equipment does. Perhaps you should adjust your crush to get higher efficiency, or insulate your mash tun to more strictly control your temps.

You MUST get an understanding of what your equipment will do or you'll always mis your target. If you don't keep this in mind, you return to AG later will end with the same results.

In the end, do what you enjoy more. I'd simply stop brewing if I had to go back to extract. Everyone is different..
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Old 08-26-2008, 07:56 PM   #9
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I hit 69% this past weekend. My best yet. I'm sure I can get it up with additional equipment and process control, but when I'm brewing 63% beer it's pretty damn good. Beersmith takes care of the scaling for me.

My problem is that I don't mill my own grain. (At least I hope that's the problem). Yours might be something different, but as Orfy says, let the boys take you through it. Maybe if you put your location in your profile there will be someone near you who could help you out. It might be fun to quaff a few and have a more experienced brewer take you through it.
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Old 08-26-2008, 07:58 PM   #10
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I too have contemplated including some extract brewing after 5 AG batches. Mostly because its a lot of work, and sometimes its tough to find 6 contiguous hours to get a batch knocked out.

I share a lot of my beer, (over half anyway) so I am always running low on beer I like. Extract batches will help me keep some good stuff in stock because I can brew more often.

Two things to look into, who is crushing your grain, and do you have an accurate thermometer? I bought the low end crankandstein, and a $15 digital thermometer. I have never gotten below 77% efficiency.

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