Crappy Brew Day Rant

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Well-Known Member
Jun 10, 2007
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Uggg its been a lonng day. Started brewing at 10 this morning and just finshed 15 minutes ago...still have to clean up!

So what happened. Well it all started friday when instead of receiving the grains I ordered online, I received someone elses. Ok so I'll put the Robust Porter off for next weekend. So I run out to my LHBS yesterday and get grains from them for the first time. The crush definitely looked suspect. So I was expecting a crappy efficiency.

What I was not expecting was a slow/stuck sparge. It took me over 2 and a half hours to get through the whole sparge process, as stated in another thread. I have blisters all over my hands now from just stirring the hell out of the grains trying to get as much out as I could. And after all that I still had to add three quarters of a gallon of water to the damn boiler.

So I get the boil started and look clean out the grains. Take a look at my stainless steel braid in my MLT and yep, the damn thing is pulled so tight no wort was getting through. (Please let me know if anyone else needs to replace their SS braid every 5 brews or so).

So I get through a boil, used 3oz of EKG in what should be a very good tasty Extra Special Bitter. Very exciting. Cool it off, put it in the carboy, shake it up. Take my Hydrometer reading, and i'm .01 off! Was shooting for 1.056 and I got 1.046 (maybe, temp adjusted). Heartbreak. I put my blood sweat and tears in this one and I dont know where I went wrong.

Yeeeesh. Well, Tonight I'm just gonna sit down with a 22 of my belgian blond start getting ready for a more successful brew day next weekend.

Thanks for reading :eek:
I can't believe I'm reading this... was there a full moon during the day or something?

I just had the worst brewday of my life today.... problem after problem, most self inflicted unfortunately, but everything that could go wrong did.

Most of my problems were caused by my grain crush... got too eager and really went too far. There was alot of power in the grain (a 24lb grain bill), so today's grain bed was virtually cement. Nothing but a tiny trickle would come through. I stirred, poked and prodded the grain bed but could not get any flow.

After two hours I had only collected 4 gallons.... I was shooting for 12 (ten gallon batch). Captured a little more wort, topped off with some water and went to plan "B".... I boiled for a 5 gallon batch. What a bummer.

I thoroughly trashed the kitchen, broke my hydrometer, ... well, it wasn't a good day.

I'm with ya J.... I'm going to pretend this day never happened.... oh well, there is always tomorrow!!!
Things weren't very smooth for me today either.

I just drill-modded my corona mill last night, but found that neither of my drills seemed robust enough to maintain a steady crush. An hour of 'bursts' later I put the handle back on and manually crushed the rest. Oh yeah - I built a small support for the mill out of 2x4s and one of the legs broke.

I also had a 24lb grain bill, but was shooting for 5 gallons of extremely potent Rye IIPA (inspired by He'Brew Bittersweet Lenny's). Missed my target OG by 30 points! I thought I had the crush dialed-in, but obviously I'll need to revisit that.

Also shredded the heck out of my thumb on the fencing which surrounds our compost heap when I dumped the spent grains.

Worst part of it all? I've been battling a cold for almost two weeks now and need to abstain from beer. It was a beautiful day (almost 60°) to stand outside and brew and I just really wanted a tasty beer to go along with it.

Oh well, better days to come...
Mine wasn't so complete a disaster.

Again, a suspect crush, because the LHBS's grain mill was in the process of dying, and finally kicked the bucket on the last half-pound of grain in my bill. Luckily, it was wheat with no husks to shred, so my buddy crushed it by hand with a mortar and pestle. No biggy.

Used 5.2 for the first time. Found my thermometers disagreed by 5˚, but I think I was somewhere in the temperature range. 13lbs of grain for an IPA, but instead of the 70% I was gunning for I hit somewhere in the low-mid-sixties. By the time I'd boiled it down to my gravity, and accounted for what seem like a gallon of wort drunk up by my whole leaf hops, I got a scant four gallons (instead of 5.5) in the fermenter. And then I look at my starter - a little funky looking, smells of garbage water and rotten eggs, instead of 1098 british ale, so I figure it got contaminated when I was aerating it, and I pitch S-04 instead. For my first brew since I got back, not a smashing success, but smooth enough.

It was great fun, though. First time brewing with someone I don't live with, and we cooked a great meal at the same time. Just feeling worn out now after clean-up because I've developed a sinus-throat cold since I woke up. I am Kai, hear me whine.

It's nice to have something in the fermenter, though. I get to wake up to bubbling.
Cool-while we're on the subject-here's how yesterday went:

The plan was for me to do the 888-and my buddy was going to come over and do a Bock (his 1st AG-my 2nd) once he got off work in the middle of the afternoon. Got the mash going nice and early-no apparent problems. Then it came time to sparge and it was only a slight trickle. I think I may have done something wrong, but whatever the case-it took 3 hours to get my 6.5 gallons. By this time, my buddy was over, and we got his mash going while mine sat on the burner. It took FOREVER to warm up-much less boil. I finally figured that it could use a different tank-so I ran down to the gas station and got a fresh one. This helped, but it still took forever.

Meanwhile-the sparge on the 2nd batch went lightening quick for some reason (1 hour tops). He had to keep his wort in a bottling bucket as mine finally came to a boil. In order to ease the transition-he put his wort in 2 pots on my stove to warm it up so that it would boil quciker once the kettle was freed up. This resulted in 2 inadvertant boilovers. Once my main boil was finished (it was about 4 hours from when I 1st set it on the burner until it was finished) -the hose clamp on the wort chiller was loose and sprayed water all over the basement and into my pot until I tightened it. Upon dumping/pitching, there was a big 'volcano' of foam from the carboy...made a nice mess on the basement floor.

My buddy's boil was slow as well, but rather uneventful. At least it gave us time to clean the kitchen up. By this time, I started to feel a cold coming on-I'm sure it didn't help that I'd been on my feet in and out of the house all day. When we dumped and pitched his-we had the same volcano action. In the end-he missed his OG by 30 points and I missed mine by 8 (I'm guessing that quick sparge). We had fun, but were exhausted-It was a good 14-15 hour brew day-and today I'm really feeling that cold.
Well I'm glad I wasnt totally alone. I guess being that this is probably more 12th brew and my first awful brewday, I can't complain too much.
I'd like to chime in too. My third AG brew. First two were 68% and 74% effeciency......this one was 56%!!!!!! Indian brown clone, supposed to be 1.078 as per beersmith, i hit 1.060!!!! I'm guessing my crush was to blame. Motorized Corona Mill, and I noticed a decent bit of whole grains at the end. It musta loosened up. I'm buying a Barley Crusher this week!!!
freyguy said:
I'm buying a Barley Crusher this week!!!

That's the spirit!

I had a good brew night on Friday, myself. Did a double-session. Started with Orfy's HobGoblin. While it was boiling, I crushed the grain and got the mash started for the second batch, my Smoked Porter. From start to finish I think the two staggered batches took 6 hours, which isn't too shabby.

I did find something out, though. Instead of going with my standard stepped mash (133f 30min, 149-156f 60min, 158f 20 min), I tried a single infusion plus the final conversion step, meaning I skipped 133f. All other things being equal, I believe this dropped my efficiency on both batches by about 3-5 points. It saved me some time, to be sure, but I'm not sure it was worth those few extra points. Oh well. So instead of 82 or 83, I end up with 78% on both batches. Life could be worse. I guess the moral of the story is, if I'm in a hurry, I'll assume 78% and just go with the single step.

Anyway---come to think of it, I almost had a disaster. Normally, I hook up my bigass immersion chiller, which simply has two garden hose connectors. Unfortunately, my hoses were out of commission due to the freezing temps. So I got out my smaller IC, which instead of the direct hose connections being welded onto the copper, it has vinyl tubing clamped onto the inlet and outlet. This way, I could attach the inlet end to my utility sink faucet, and let the outlet drain right into the sink. Fine, except I hadn't used it in awhile, and when I turned on the water, one of the clamps wasn't holding its seal and the tap water started spraying into my wort. I fixed it pretty quickly, but not before a couple ounces of tap water went into my kettle. My only saving grace was the it was fresh off the burner and thus still hot enough to kill anything that might've been living in that water. Whew.
I, too, had a little bad mojo last night. I started the strike water at 4p and doughed in by about 4:30p.... This was the first time I ever tried a step mash, I was targeting 148 for 45 minutes and 156 for 30 minutes. Well, my strike water put me at 154, so I added a little cool water, and got down to the 148-150 range. After 45", I put in my 1 gal infusion for my step, and got no results. The temp stayed exactly the same. I just said "hell with it" and let it ride.

Then, my Lil-Sparky-Hop-Thingy worked great, except my support legs are goofy as hell. I had to keep tightening one of the nuts, OVER a boiling kettle..... and I had to use an inch of 1/2" vinyl tubing as a "hand" to hold onto the handle of the kettle, to compensate for the Thingy's gimpy leg. Time to buy new legs tonight for it.

But I did a good job at cleaning in between brew tasks, and was packed up and in the fermenter by 9:30pm. Good thing, since I'm at work this morning.