First AG batch complete

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captaineriv

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It's over and I'm waiting for fermentation to begin. Things didn't go 100% as planned but hopefully it will turn out decent. For my mash/lauter tun, I use a modified orange Rubbermaid 5-gallon round water cooler. The starch conversion went well according to the iodine test. The only problem was mashing out. I poured at least a gallon of near-boiling water to the mash tun (until it was full) and still could not get the water above 162 degrees (from 153). Maybe next time, I'll use a 5-gallon stockpot as my mash tun and the Rubbermaid as my lauter tun, and add direct heat to the pot to mash out. The only tricky part would be transferring the mash, grains and all, to the Rubbermaid lauter tun. If anyone has advice on this, let me know. Additionally the SG of my unboiled sweet wort (about 6.5 gallons) was 1.030. I used 7.5 lbs Klages, 1 lb. crystal malt, .75 lbs chocolate malt, .25 lbs. black malt, and .5 lbs cara-pils. The SG seemed a little high. Is 1.030 acceptable? I did however end up with the expected post-boil SG of 1.052. Just thought I'd share the experience and ask a couple of questions.

captaineriv
 

Mikey

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Congratulations!

Don't worry about the mashout temps, most all grain brewers don't do them anyway. I certainly don't bother, and go straight to my sparging.

Regarding your ingredients, by 'Klages' I assume you mean either 2 row base malt, or pale malt. Klages hasn't been available in years according to most sources.

Your OG of 1.052 means that you achieved about 74% efficiency which is excellent.:D
 
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captaineriv

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That certainly makes me feel much better. I knew the mash-out wasn't a total necessity so if this process makes good beer, I'll stick to it. And, I used Klages to refer to 2-row domestic Harrington malt. Sorry for the confusion. Two more questions while I'm thinking about them. First, where is the best place to take temperature readings during the mash? Should I stick the thermometer down into the middle of the grainbed or take the temp of the liquid above the grainbed? Secondly, how do you figure efficiency, Mikey? I have Promash if that makes explaining it easier. Thanks for the feedback.

captaineriv
 
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captaineriv

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Nevermind about the efficiency question. I figured it out in ProMash. I think mine is actually closer to 70% because I forgot to mention the 12 ounces of lactose sugar I used in the boil. I'll take it for a first time. I was looking for a thicker, less fermentable wort for my sweet stout anyways. I did hit my target of exactly 5 gallons in the primary fermenter (after straining out hop debris) =) My temperature reading question still stands though. My temperature in the middle of the grainbed stayed close to 160 but closer to 155 in the liquid above the grains. I realize later that I should probably shoot for 155 or so in the grainbed itself being that it's where most of the conversion is probably happening.

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ajf

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As the purpose of the mash is to extract the sugars from the grain, I always check the temperature in the middle of the grain bed, but I use a thicker mash than you as I have virtually no liquid floating on top of the grain while mashing. (According to most sources, I am using too little water during the mash, and I make it up in the sparge; but it works well for me so I'm not going to change.)

Congratulations on the first A.G.

-a,
 
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captaineriv

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Thanks, ajf. I suppose in the grains is a safe bet regardless of the amount of water. Oh, I forgot to mention that after I started the boil, I had apparently lost my straining bag that I use to strain the wort into the primary. I had to have my family members man the boil while I ran to the nearest Lowe's and bought cheesecloth. Everything was still in one piece when I came back and the cheesecloth was effective, so all's well that ends well, I guess.

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Dude

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Sounds like you certainly did better than most first AG batches! I missed my mash temp, my gravity, and the beer wasn't all that great either!!!

I wouldn't worry too much about a mash-out, it really isn't needed unless you have an overly thick mash or you are worried about certain adjuncts gumming up the sparge process.

Welcome to the dark side. :D
 
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captaineriv

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Muahahaha! Maybe next time, I can get a few more efficiency points by not filling my mash tun to the rim in a hopeless effort to raise to 168. Because of that, I got my six gallons of runoff a lot faster than I would have if I had gone straight to the sparging, because I had to drain it all out before the wort level was low enough to start. I also used the 5.2 pH stabilizer in both the mash and sparge water, although my pH test strips are too worthless to check whether or not it actually worked. I'll trust that it did. Finally, I wanted to thank everyone on this forum who's helped me from my first extract batch to the first AG. I definitely plan to stay on the dark side.

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Dude

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captaineriv said:
I definitely plan to stay on the dark side.
I definitely think it makes better beer. That isn't meant as a stab at extract brewers either--because any extract beer is still WAY better than 99% of the other crap you buy.

I always laugh when I think about something that happened at the NHB conference last summer. I was a steward at the judging competition and a guy at another table was slamming extract brewers every chance he got, then ended up giving an extract brew in his category the top beer award. When he was told it was extract he shut his trap real quick. :rolleyes:

Sorry for the hijack.:mad:
 

akira7799

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captaineriv,

Congrats on your first AG! Hopefully mine will turn out as well as yours did. I'm still reading, reading, reading...trying to absorb as much information as possible before I attempt anything.

That's the great thing about this forum (and forums in general). The help, growth, and "potential of help" everyone has to offer.

Dave
 
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captaineriv

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Thanks akira7799. I had prepared for the absolute worst and had gone over the process over and over again in my head. Aside from the part I mentioned earlier about the mashout (which is apparently next to impossible in a 5-gallon plastic cooler), I was actually surprised at how straightfoward everything was. Basically, it was just soaking grains and rinsing them off. I used a sparge arm for that, by the way. Pretty neat gadget. Good luck on your's.

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I did my first a few weeks ago. Had a stuck mash due to high gravity mash that I was dilutung to 10 gal, lots of rye flake and a mash tun that should have been bigger. Any everything turned out 'cept I had about 2 gallons of trub the next day in the 10 gal primary!

I sipohend all the good stuff off then added water. To bring to back to 10 gallons. Which is Ok, it will be good, just diff. than planned. I figured the first AG would be mostly a learning experience any way. Learned a lot.

Managed to get a third running (batch sparge) that gave me a low gravity wort for a 5 gal batch. Think, English bitter.

I guess if I had done things properly and hadn't gotten the stuck mash, then I would have had just the orig 109 g's without the 2 gallons of protein trub. A lot of protein got through trying to unstuck the mash. :eek: :drunk: :cross: :D
 
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captaineriv

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Well, at least you got two batches out of it and know where things went wrong. The thing that really gets ya is when something doesn't turn out right and you can't figure out why. I've had that one happen before on an extract batch. Bothered me forever, so I finally just let it go and hoped it wouldn't happen again.

captaineriv
 
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