Advice: First All-Grain Batch did not go well.

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

schaef81

Member
Joined
May 19, 2020
Messages
7
Reaction score
4
Hello,
I brewed my first all-grain batch, a bavarian hefeweizen and it turned out VERY pale and flavorless. It had none of the flavor that a hefeweizen should have nor any of the color.

I did notice that it was already quite clear during Vorlauf so I am not sure if something when wrong during conversion or what. I also did not do a mash out? Could that be it?

Any advice for the all-grain newbie would be appreciated.

Prost!
 

brownni5

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2017
Messages
728
Reaction score
313
I think you'll need to provide LOTS more information - all we know is that you did not do a mash-out, which in my opinion, should have nothing to do with flavor or color (a mash-out simply stops enzymatic activity, locking in the amount of fermentables in the beer).

We don't know your recipe, your process, mash regime, fermentation profile, yeast choice, etc.
 
Last edited:

myndflyte

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2014
Messages
1,247
Reaction score
528
Location
Lake Mills
And details help, for example, how was it milled and the gap, if known, mash temps, your equipment, etc. All this will help to pinpoint where something might have gone wrong.
 
OP
schaef81

schaef81

Member
Joined
May 19, 2020
Messages
7
Reaction score
4
I believe the grains were crushed unless my local brewing supply store didn't follow my directions.
Mash temp 152 as per directions (recipe attached). The mash temp stayed between 154-149. Single infusion mash
Used Ss brewtech mash tun, big mouth bubbler plastic fermenter
White Labs Hefeweizen yeast.
One thing that did happen was after pitching the yeast, I lifted the fermenter up and it slid through the harness and splashed up against the lid with a little (less that a half a cup or so) coming out. Don't know if that would make a difference.
I hope this helps and thanks for helping me to ask a better question 😊
 

Attachments

Velnerj

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 27, 2017
Messages
221
Reaction score
316
Still need more info...
Did you boil the wort?
How did you chill?
What temperature did you pitch the yeast?
Did you take any gravity measurements? What were they?
How long was your fermentation? At what temperature?
When you tasted it, are you tasting from the fermenter? Bottle? Keg?
 
OP
schaef81

schaef81

Member
Joined
May 19, 2020
Messages
7
Reaction score
4
Did boil the wort.
Used a wort chiller to cool
Refractometer readings 8.0 pre-boil, 8.4 post and final was 3.9.
Pitched yeast at 70
Fermentation was 2 weeks at approximately room temperature.
I tasted from fermenter and then from the bottle after 2 week conditioning.
 

Lefou

Danged rascally furt
Joined
May 1, 2016
Messages
2,227
Reaction score
1,116
Location
East of Filthadelphia, south of Nyack
When making this sort of beer water can be an issue. It can affect your pH levels which in turn influences your conversion and sugar extraction levels. The water should be distilled, RO, or soft, low carbonate spring water. The brewing salts need to be weighted toward calcium and chlorides, or balanced, no more than 1tsp. CaCl2 to .5tsp CaSO4 per 5 gallons.
Add the salts directly to your strike water and proceed with the mash. Your wort at lauter should be golden yellow or even orange-ish with a sweet flavor ... yes, TASTING is a great idea as is getting an acceptable pre-boil gravity with a hydrometer.
Your grains need to be properly crushed and the sooner they're used after milling, the better.
 

Lefou

Danged rascally furt
Joined
May 1, 2016
Messages
2,227
Reaction score
1,116
Location
East of Filthadelphia, south of Nyack
Furthermore, I rarely ever trusted my brewshop when it came to grinding my grain. It was usually too coarse and caused problems.
I changed up a bit and ground the grains myself - especially the wheat malt. I literally turned the wheat malt to flour and increased the mash water levels to compensate a bit. I also increased my mash time to between 60min-90min.
Doing an iodine test is a good visual indicator to check for starch-sugar conversion, and if you don't have that hydrometer handy, too, you need to get one to double-check your gravity levels before you ever consider boiling.
 
OP
schaef81

schaef81

Member
Joined
May 19, 2020
Messages
7
Reaction score
4
Furthermore, I rarely ever trusted my brewshop when it came to grinding my grain. It was usually too coarse and caused problems.
I changed up a bit and ground the grains myself - especially the wheat malt. I literally turned the wheat malt to flour and increased the mash water levels to compensate a bit. I also increased my mash time to between 60min-90min.
Doing an iodine test is a good visual indicator to check for starch-sugar conversion, and if you don't have that hydrometer handy, too, you need to get one to double-check your gravity levels before you ever consider boiling.
Awesome. Hydrometer better than a refractometer in your opinion?
 

Redpappy

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 5, 2017
Messages
605
Reaction score
193
Location
Mt orab
with your readings, it sounds like not a very good crush (yours came up to 1.034 - receipt calls for 1.049)

I know you said you used a mash tun. are you a 2 vessel, 3 vessel?
Did you used BIAB style with your mash tun, or did you do (sorry for terminology on this one, not familurare with the process) a regular AG, where you used say 3 gal of water to mash, then Heated up 5 gal for your lautering. If you did the lautering, do you know what your end runs readings were?

For the flavors, When I first started doing AG (BIAB) I was getting some grainy flavor, and really not very tasty. From the help of these guys, I got my water checked out. Now I do a 50/50 mix of my water and RO water, and then i add my salts per BruNwater. And my brews are coming out so much better.
 

RM-MN

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 26, 2010
Messages
14,111
Reaction score
4,806
Location
Solway
I believe the grains were crushed unless my local brewing supply store didn't follow my directions.
Furthermore, I rarely ever trusted my brewshop when it came to grinding my grain. It was usually too coarse and caused problems.
A hefeweizen should have a fairly large portion of its grainbill as wheat. Wheat is smaller and harder than barley so it often does not get crushed well. Without the good crush the conversion of starch to sugar is lacking and you will get a low OG and will be missing the flavor that wheat brings to the beer.


Awesome. Hydrometer better than a refractometer in your opinion?
For the preboil and OG you can't beat a refractometer. For FG a hydrometer is a direct reading instrument whereas the refractometer does not give the accuracy of a direct reading as it needs a correction for the alcohol in the sample that does not refract light the same as wort.
 
Joined
Jan 5, 2012
Messages
4,623
Reaction score
739
Location
Atlanta
I believe the grains were crushed unless my local brewing supply store didn't follow my directions.
Mash temp 152 as per directions (recipe attached). The mash temp stayed between 154-149. Single infusion mash
Used Ss brewtech mash tun, big mouth bubbler plastic fermenter
White Labs Hefeweizen yeast.
One thing that did happen was after pitching the yeast, I lifted the fermenter up and it slid through the harness and splashed up against the lid with a little (less that a half a cup or so) coming out. Don't know if that would make a difference.
I hope this helps and thanks for helping me to ask a better question 😊
Did you look at the grains?
 
OP
schaef81

schaef81

Member
Joined
May 19, 2020
Messages
7
Reaction score
4
Thanks for all the help (including how to ask a question). :)
Seems the consensus is that it may have been the grains. I guess I did not look at them closely and as it was curbside pickup they ground them for me. I'll try this one again with your tips!
Thanks again!
 

brownni5

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 17, 2017
Messages
728
Reaction score
313
I bet it was a poor crush, but being your first AG brew, sometimes you have to dial in your process to figure out your efficiency. Most of those recipes are written for 70% (?) efficiency - if you clock in at 60 or lower, that could be part of the problem. Nothing wrong with 60% efficiency, unless you're trying to hit numbers based on 70%.
 

Lefou

Danged rascally furt
Joined
May 1, 2016
Messages
2,227
Reaction score
1,116
Location
East of Filthadelphia, south of Nyack
Awesome. Hydrometer better than a refractometer in your opinion?
Better than a refractometer?
Well, a triple scale hyrdrometer can be cheaper and give you a bit more flexibility. Best for use after fermentation when the alcohol content will change your refractometer reading. Refractometer is more efficient before fermentation, but I like both tools.
 
Joined
Sep 2, 2012
Messages
1,333
Reaction score
460
Location
Woodiville
You picked a very very tough style, too. I’ve made more hef than any other style, and I still can’t get it right. They are drinkable... but nothing like a nice orange Paulaner. Not even with a decoction.
 

w8av

Goose
Joined
Feb 28, 2020
Messages
28
Reaction score
15
Location
Wooster, Ohio
Better than a refractometer?
Well, a triple scale hyrdrometer can be cheaper and give you a bit more flexibility. Best for use after fermentation when the alcohol content will change your refractometer reading. Refractometer is more efficient before fermentation, but I like both tools.
I too use both. I use the refractometer to measure pre-boil gravity so I do not have to cool the sample to get a hydrometer reading. I also measure several times with it during the boil to get a good estimate on how close I am going to be to my desired OG and make any adjustments necessary. After chilling and during fermentation, I only use a hydrometer to check gravities.

That said, make sure to zero you refractometer with water (I use RO water because I have one) before using it so as to get a correct reading.
 

Gruel

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2020
Messages
189
Reaction score
62
Location
Chicago
My wheat worts (I alternate between Pilsner and Weissbier) start out very cloudy, so if yours came out unusually clear, and more importantly at only 1.033 original gravity (assuming your numbers are Brix, and using the converter at Homebrew Refractometer Calculator), I would guess that that indeed points to something being wrong with the wheat crushing. Alternatively, you used too little grain.

Last time I bought pre-milled grain I inquired about changing the setting on the mill, and the brew shop employee offered to change it, or run it twice, but said his own wheat beer brews turn out fine with the standard setting, and that he hadn't heard any complaints. I had them use the standard setting, and the Weissbier turned out fine, actually may I say, delicious! I always use 10 lbs of grain to obtain 5 gallons of wort at 1.05 gram/cm^3 specific gravity in the fermenter (except if I go for a higher alcohol Maerzen or May or Spring or October Bock - it seems there are a lot of months calling for strong beer!).
For wheat this is 5 lbs each of wheat and Pilsner malt.
 

Saffersa

Active Member
Joined
May 28, 2020
Messages
27
Reaction score
4
Hello,
I brewed my first all-grain batch, a bavarian hefeweizen and it turned out VERY pale and flavorless. It had none of the flavor that a hefeweizen should have nor any of the color.

I did notice that it was already quite clear during Vorlauf so I am not sure if something when wrong during conversion or what. I also did not do a mash out? Could that be it?

Any advice for the all-grain newbie would be appreciated.

Prost!
Hi Schaef81
Ive also recently started all grain batches, and you'll get much more detailed answers than what I could pobably answer, but for my 2cworth, i reckon your grain probably needed a better mill and from ive read and remembered (uh-oh) hefeweizen is best with "corrected" water. I must say you're a braver man than I, as I opted to start with a pale ale as it seemed rather forgiving to any mistakes i'll make along the way. Best of luck
 
OP
schaef81

schaef81

Member
Joined
May 19, 2020
Messages
7
Reaction score
4
Thanks again everyone! I obviously didn't realize that I was diving into a challenging brew for my first one. Any suggestions on more forgiving brews for my next go?
Thanks @Saffersa for the pale ale idea.
 

seatazzz

Well-Known Bloviator & Pontificator
HBT Supporter
Joined
Feb 4, 2016
Messages
2,202
Reaction score
2,223
Location
Seattle
I would suggest a nice simple Blonde (if you like the style) or as @Saffersa suggests a Pale that doesn't require any dry hopping. Keep the grain bill simple, just two row and maybe some crystal 40 (no more than 10% of your total grain bill) and you'll be fine. And as noted above, make sure the grain is crushed right. You can find many pictures here and elsewhere of what a "good" crush should look like.
 

Lefou

Danged rascally furt
Joined
May 1, 2016
Messages
2,227
Reaction score
1,116
Location
East of Filthadelphia, south of Nyack
Second the "blonde ale" suggestion.
It's a pretty large and forgiving BJCP category style where malt and hop levels are concerned. If you're going to be doing the lighter colored beers under 10 SRM or so I suggest using upt to 100ppm calcium salts with "soft" water with no permanent hardness (great Pils water, BTW). I will use store-bought spring water and adjust it because my local city water is drinkable, but not suitable for good beer.
For an ale of better clarity use all malted barley with high diastatic values and a yeast that flocculates well (Chico or lager yeast, even). If you bottle and like yeasty beers the less flocculent yeasts like Belgian/German wheat beer yeasts are always a good choice.
 
Top