first AG batch was a disaster!!

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lpdb185

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basically, Murphy's Law was in full swing.

1) added 3.25g of 175F water to MLT, preheated for 5 min, added grain, and it settled at 140F!! added another quart at 175F and got 143. added another quart at 185F and got 148F (was looking for 150F). i said **** it and let it ride.

2) prepared water for first sparge and checked temp (looking for 180 figuring the MLT and grain would not absorb too much heat now). dropped the ******* digital thermometer in the ******* water. just brought it to a boil and let it cool about 15 minutes figuring it would be close. added to grain and it settled at 150F. added another quart of near boiling water and got 154F. again, i said **** it and let it ride.

3) sent my wife to my dad's to get a meat thermometer. she came back with a dial thermo that read from 50F to 550F (WTF??). it was pretty much worthless. used it anyway, prepared another 2.2g at what i believed to be 190F. grain settled at 152F. added another quart and got 155F.

4) at this point, i had damn nead 8 gallons of runnings for a 5gallon batch. once again, i said **** it. took my pre-boil gravity and got 1.037 when it was supposed to be 1.054.

5) brought my wort to a boil, added hops, and let it go for 1hr. only had .5lbs of DME, so i added all of it. added brewvint 1% boost and finished boil. flamed out and started the water to my CFC. opened ball valve on keggle.......and NOTHING. at this point, i'm seriously considering dumping it and trying another day. finally got the damn SS scrubby out of the pick up tube, but it still wouldn't drain worth a ****. after about 30min, i had about 5.15 gallons in the fermenter.


so, there are 2 things that amazed me. 1) 185F water + 10lb grain = 140F. 2) 7.75g boils down to 5.15g after only 60min of boiling and cooling through CFC.

plus, my hop strainer is apparently half worthless as my wort looked like a brown lava lamp with all the hops and hot break (best guess) floating around in it. so, i put the lid on and stuck air lock on and figure i'll let it sit overnight and let all the **** settle out, transfer off of said **** and pitch yeast.
 

effinpansy

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Hey that's the same thing that happened to me. I had a thermometer with a 4' wire probe, Don't get it wet. This I came to find out later. I ended up with an OG @ 1.035. Tastes good though. Get a good thermometer, like cheap and failsafe. On my next try I intentionally overshot temps, Tried to over pre-heat MLT and had much better luck. I have since had similar problems, and instead of spiking the mash with hot water (the more water you've got, the more boiling water you need to add to get temp up, Damn you Newton!), you can always do a decoction to boost temp. Otherwise you end up with a no sparge.
 

flananuts

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What was your OG into the fermentor? It's most likley cold break in the fermentor, it will all settle out and the yeast will use it. Just do a primary only skip the secondary. When your FG hits, put it outside or somewhere you can get the temp down as cold as you can for a week or until it clarifies. You'll end up with a pretty good looking beer I imagine, maybe just not at your target ABV%.

What type of MLT are you using? Remember that your SWMBO is your SWMBO!
 

ArcaneXor

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As you get used to the heat loss in your system, you'll be able to get very close to your desired temps without adjustments. If you miss high, adding some ice is the easiest way to go. If you miss low, you can just scoop some of the mash out, bring it to a boil in a separate pan, and then add it back to the mash to raise your temperature. That's also known as doing a decoction.

If you miss your pre-boil gravity, you can also just boil the hell out of it until you get closer to where you are supposed to be, and then start your timer and hop additions.
 

Gfei

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What was your target OG? Boiling ~8 gal down to just over 5 starting at 1.037 gives me a OG of about 1.058 into the fermenter... just playing with numbers in Beer Smith. That doesn't seem too bad to me.
 
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Some things I have learned along the way that might help:

  • Skip the preheat and just mash-in with hotter water. I used to preheat but now I have no idea why I did that. Use (learn) Beersmith, which allows you to put in the temp of your grains & mashtun and then recommends a water temp. It is pretty good once you've mastered it.
  • Measuring your grain temp is inaccurate until it rests in the mashtun for at least 5 minutes. The whole thing, including the walls of the mashtun, takes time to stabilize.
  • Your mash will convert at 140. No worries. Just leave in there an extra 30 minutes to be sure.
  • Hydros are extremely inaccurate at high temps. Let it cool to near room temp. Since they are calibrated for 60F, correct for this if your temp is higher or lower (see Beersmith). Also, while sparging, the boil pot can be seriously stratified. Strong wort (first runnings) can sit at the bottom below the later runnings. If you dip in that pot to measure gravity, stir first.
  • Cold break in your fermenter is no big deal. I wish it settled in my brew pot, but I only get a mediocre whirlpool. I use a suspended hop bag and an unobstructed dip tube. I have never had any sort of blockage.
  • If you are batch sparging, get a nice fine grind and never worry about that being a source of your efficiency problems. Stir well at mash-in to avoid dough balls.
  • RDWHAHB.
 

Conodor

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Your experience doesn't sound that far off from a normal beginner AG session.

It all works out in the end.
 

petep1980

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Your first all grain sounds like my 5th all grain.

My last was a disaster at 52% efficiency. I used a cookie sheet as a "false side" since I had too much grain for my 5-gallon MT.

It also turned out the best beer I have ever had.
 

Bobby_M

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Certainly more than half of your problem was not having a good thermometer. Get your self something like this http://www.cutleryandmore.com/details.asp?SKU=11512
Actually, get that one exactly because it's waterproof and recalibratable. Two things a brewer need.

The other half of your problem is not being accurate on how much of what temp water will equalize to what temp. SOFTWARE! When you add hot water to a cold cooler, just don't assume it didn't take much heat. After the preheat period, measure the water temp. Depending on the grain/water ratio and grain temp, your strike may need to be 165 or 170F outside of what the cooler wanted to steal. Software will fix you up.

You don't mention much about when you perform the MLT drains.. You only talk about infusions. Did you take first runnings before any sparge went in?
 

Yambor44

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Maybe your original thermometer was off? I mash 5 gallon batches in a 15.5 metal keggle and have never lost that much heat. I do live in Florida though. :)

Either way, I guarantee you will have made good beer so don't fret!

Just saw Bobby's post about software and thats a good point. I use the "strike water temperature calculator" on this page and it usually hits it dead on.

http://www.brewheads.com/calc.php





.
 

GilaMinumBeer

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basically, Murphy's Law was in full swing.

1) added 3.25g of 175F water to MLT, preheated for 5 min, added grain, and it settled at 140F!! added another quart at 175F and got 143. added another quart at 185F and got 148F (was looking for 150F). i said f*** it and let it ride.

2) prepared water for first sparge and checked temp (looking for 180 figuring the MLT and grain would not absorb too much heat now). dropped the G** D**N digital thermometer in the f*cking water. just brought it to a boil and let it cool about 15 minutes figuring it would be close. added to grain and it settled at 150F. added another quart of near boiling water and got 154F. again, i said F*** it and let it ride.

3) sent my wife to my dad's to get a meat thermometer. she came back with a dial thermo that read from 50F to 550F (WTF??). it was pretty much worthless. used it anyway, prepared another 2.2g at what i believed to be 190F. grain settled at 152F. added another quart and got 155F.

4) at this point, i had damn nead 8 gallons of runnings for a 5gallon batch. once again, i said F*** it. took my pre-boil gravity and got 1.037 when it was supposed to be 1.054.

5) brought my wort to a boil, added hops, and let it go for 1hr. only had .5lbs of DME, so i added all of it. added brewvint 1% boost and finished boil. flamed out and started the water to my CFC. opened ball valve on keggle.......and NOTHING. at this point, i'm seriously considering dumping it and trying another day. finally got the damn SS scrubby out of the pick up tube, but it still wouldn't drain worth a ****. after about 30min, i had about 5.15 gallons in the fermenter.


so, there are 2 things that amazed me. 1) 185F water + 10lb grain = 140F. 2) 7.75g boils down to 5.15g after only 60min of boiling and cooling through CFC.

plus, my hop strainer is apparently half worthless as my wort looked like a brown lava lamp with all the hops and hot break (best guess) floating around in it. so, i put the lid on and stuck air lock on and figure i'll let it sit overnight and let all the **** settle out, transfer off of said **** and pitch yeast.
Congratulations. Sounds like it went typical of many firsts.
 

Jud

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lpdb Don't worry about it, just enjoy the beer. It takes a few brews to get all of the [email protected] worked out. Start learning beersmith, it will tell you what temp to get your water at.

As for preheating mash tun. Don't worry about it, not worth the extra time. Just check the temp of grain, pounds of grain and brew size. Beersmith does the rest.If your temp is off beersmith also has a tool for that. (Damn I am sounding like a Beersmith Rep here!:confused:)

Your efficiency will get better with time. I don't think anyone of us had great efficiency when we started. There are great post on here dealing with efficiency.

After a few brews under your belt. You will have it down to 4 to 4.5 hours.
Your beer might just come out better then you think!!
 

mithion

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It definitely takes a few batches to learn how your gear works. Here for example in Reno, we're at a higher altitude. Water boils around 203 to 204 instead of 212. I usually boil my sparge water since I transfer it to a sparging bucket. Starting at 203, I loose a couple of degrees in the transfer. I don't have a fancy gizmo to sparge, I just let it drip over the grain and it probably looses another few degrees there. By the time it percolates through the grain bed, it's really not that hot anymore. Also, the altitude causes major boil off. Just the other day, I forgot to turn my burner down and ended up with 3.8g starting from 7.5g in one hour. You'll learn what your gear does and you'll be able to adjust. Just brew another batch. :mug:
 

njnear76

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A good digital waterproof thermometer is worth it. My first AG was a disaster and the beer turned out great.
 

flananuts

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I would also suggest that you think about using iodine to test your mash liquor and leave it up to the iodine test before you start your sparge. I've found that even with my recirculating mash setup I still mash longer than 60 minutes on every session so far. I bet you'll enjoy the hell out of this beer when it's done.

Of course the beauty of home brewing is it's ever changing. Good luck on the next one.
 
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lpdb185

lpdb185

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thanks for the input and encouragement. i'm gonna sit back, go over my notes from last night, and see what all i need to change. of course, i'm going to get a new thermometer too. i just thought someone might get a kick out of hearing about this [email protected] of a brew day(night).
 

Jud

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Happens to all of us!!! As for the thermometer I use the glass one they sale at the homebrew shops.
 

Gremlyn

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When you say you put 3.25g in to preheat the MLT, did you then dump that water out and add new water with the grain? If not, that was your biggest problem. Preheat water is throw away water (or keep it for cleaning or reheat to sparge), as it will cool down while it heats the MLT up. Not sure if this is what you did or not...
 

david_42

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It is important to pre-heat properly. You started with 175F water, very near the strike temperature, but didn't check the temperature before adding the grain. I adjust the water temperature after pre-heating (and I give it 15 minutes). Some times that means heating more water and dumping the pre-heat. Since my brewery is unheated and the cooler can be any where between 40 and 100F, it's impossible to get the strike temperature right otherwise.
 

kanzimonson

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In the future you might want to not open the cooler so much during mashing - it's just going to increase the heat loss. But I understand that with your first AG, you're still trying to get a sense of how your system even works, so it's inevitable that you try to gather as much data as possible.
 

marc06

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One thing that no one here has mentioned, or just missed it, (especially since you didnt have your thermometer) but did you take into account temperature when you measured your gravities? Either way, welcome to the allgrain world and don't worry about rude people.
 

Catt22

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Well, you learned a lot from this experience, so it was not a wasted effort, right? Now then, FYI, this is likely to be the best beer you've ever brewed. Trust me on this. I don't know why, but often the troublesome sessions produce some of the best beer. I think the brew goddesses smile on us sometimes when we have a rough time of it.
 

dunleav1

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Some things I have learned along the way that might help:

  • Skip the preheat and just mash-in with hotter water. I used to preheat but now I have no idea why I did that. Use (learn) Beersmith, which allows you to put in the temp of your grains & mashtun and then recommends a water temp. It is pretty good once you've mastered it.
  • Measuring your grain temp is inaccurate until it rests in the mashtun for at least 5 minutes. The whole thing, including the walls of the mashtun, takes time to stabilize.
  • Your mash will convert at 140. No worries. Just leave in there an extra 30 minutes to be sure.
  • Hydros are extremely inaccurate at high temps. Let it cool to near room temp. Since they are calibrated for 60F, correct for this if your temp is higher or lower (see Beersmith). Also, while sparging, the boil pot can be seriously stratified. Strong wort (first runnings) can sit at the bottom below the later runnings. If you dip in that pot to measure gravity, stir first.
  • Cold break in your fermenter is no big deal. I wish it settled in my brew pot, but I only get a mediocre whirlpool. I use a suspended hop bag and an unobstructed dip tube. I have never had any sort of blockage.
  • If you are batch sparging, get a nice fine grind and never worry about that being a source of your efficiency problems. Stir well at mash-in to avoid dough balls.
  • RDWHAHB.


This was a good recommendation.
As for the clogged ball valve, you can always siphon off instead of draining.

I take a hydrometer reading at first runnings, then preboil, then post boil.
You can make an adjustment at either of those times once you learn your system.
 

northernlad

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i guess it turned out better than i was expecting. first runnings were 1.060 and total pre-boil was 1.038. i ended up with about 5g in the fermenter at 1.061 (5.25g w/ starter), but that was after adding about .5lb DME to the boil and the 1% abv boost. Beersmith, which i apparently don't have set up correctly, said OG would be 1.063. so, i guess i got pretty lucky. anyway, i am going to sit down tonight sometime and try to figure my efficiencies (even though i think it's pointless since i didn't get near my numbers or volumes).
A sack of DME laying around is your best friend.
 

ILOVEBEER

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One thing that no one here has mentioned, or just missed it, (especially since you didnt have your thermometer) but did you take into account temperature when you measured your gravities? Either way, welcome to the allgrain world and don't worry about rude people.

Funny you should say that....my 3rd AG was supposed to be a newcastle clone....boy did I F**K that one up....the day went wron when I woke up. The beer tasted like a guinness but drank smooth like a newcastle....People loved it...too bad I probably wont be a ble to replicate my mess up.
 
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lpdb185

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thanks again. i think a few people nailed my heat loss problem. i didn't drain the MLT after pre-heating it. i guess i was confused about that, but i used that water for the mash too and never got it the right temp. i will drain and then mash in next time. i didn't open the MLT throughout the mash, and only lost 1F over the 60 minutes, so i think i was good there.

i also realized that there wasn't anything clogged in the pickup or ball valve, but that a gravity fed CFC just has REALLY slow flow apparently. so, i'll be looking into a pump fairly soon.

marc06 - my thermo got ruined during the mash so i just pulled of the last two samples and let them sit in my kitchen for a few hours and get to room temp (68F). then i just got the readings and adjusted for the temp. but hopefully, i'll be getting a refractometer before too many more batches.

thanks again for all the input and advice. i'm ready to do another batch now.
 
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lpdb185

lpdb185

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i guess it turned out better than i was expecting. first runnings were 1.060 and total pre-boil was 1.038. i ended up with about 5g in the fermenter at 1.061 (5.25g w/ starter), but that was after adding about .5lb DME to the boil and the 1% abv boost. Beersmith, which i apparently don't have set up correctly, said OG would be 1.063. so, i guess i got pretty lucky. anyway, i am going to sit down tonight sometime and try to figure my efficiencies (even though i think it's pointless since i didn't get near my numbers or volumes).
 
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lpdb185, watch your language. We're all adults here, but that doesn't mean we need R-rated posts in the technical forums. Keep things work safe. The forum has a word filter for a reason. All of those stars aren't there just to make your post pretty.

If you have a problem with a post, use the report post button rather than escalating things into personal attacks and namecalling.
 

Bobby_M

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When you say you put 3.25g in to preheat the MLT, did you then dump that water out and add new water with the grain? If not, that was your biggest problem. Preheat water is throw away water (or keep it for cleaning or reheat to sparge), as it will cool down while it heats the MLT up. Not sure if this is what you did or not...
I don't buy this at all. You just have to know to go in hot enough so that the cooler stops pulling heat prior to dropping the water below the strike temp. It's wasteful to heat up a completely separate volume of water.
 

Gremlyn

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I don't preheat my tun, so I've never really thought about it much. But you're right, and some testing would be good to figure out how much temp is lost to the cooler.
 

PatientZero

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Yeah, pretty typical. There's a reason why lots of people never move up to all-grain! Just keep working the kinks out. I do have a couple suggestions though...

1. Try doing all grain in smaller batches. I do some in 2 gallon batches all the time and they work out way better than the 5.

2. Use whole hops if you don't already. If you don't, you'll thank me.
 
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