First AG brew, stupid question time

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ericw

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This past weekend was my first time to brew with an AG setup. First mistake was not taking the temps of my grain and mash tun. I left both in the sun for an hour or so why I got everything ready and I guessed at those temps. The result was a slightly higher mash temp (164 vs 155). My mash tun did a great job, only losing 3deg over an hour with stirring 3 times during that.

I didn't use enough sparge water the first time and had to heat up more to get my target of 6 gallons. Next time I'll heat up more than I need and only drain off what I need for the boil, is this correct? After I had my 6 gallons boiling, everything went great, except for a boil over when we weren't watching closely. Brewing and bottling is not the best combo. :( After the boil, I was left with a little over 5 gallons of wort.

We chilled it and let it sit covered, so all the hops and other stuff would settle. This recipe called for 4 oz of hops, so there was a bunch there. I use a siphon to move the beer to my fermenter and it was having a hard time toward the end. It kept getting stuck on pieces of orange peel. In the end, I had a little over 4 gallons in my bucket. I had an extra gallon of spring water, so I used that to bring the level up to 5. I got my hydrometer out and proceeded to drop it on the floor before taking a reading, so I have no idea what the OG was. :( Good news was the yeast got a quick start and were going at it by the next morning. I didn't read the instructions fully, and only did a starter with 1 packet instead of 2, so I added the 2nd packet dry.

Was I wrong to add the extra gallon of water to bring the level up to 5 gallons?
 

Gwitz

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164 degrees is a bit more than slightly ;). You may end up with a higher than planned FG, and astringency is possible with a mash that hot tannins are more likely to be extracted. Id suggest adding cold or hot water next time if you need to adjust temps.

You say packets of yeast? If you are using dry yeast you don't need a starter, unless you mean re-hydrating the yeast, in which case the merits of doing so are debatable. In any case a single 7-10 gram packet of yeast is normally enough for a 5 gallon batch of beer.

As far as topping up your fermenter with water to reach 5 gallons, that very much depends on your OG. However i don't think u have hurt your beer by doing so. I didn't on my first batch of AG, i only had 4 gallons, but my OG was 1.040 so i didn't want to water it down and further, turned out to be a good beer, despite being quite week for the style.
 

BendBrewer

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Was I wrong to add the extra gallon of water to bring the level up to 5 gallons?
Since you used it to replace what you left in the kettle, I would say yes, that is wrong.

You didn't 'hurt' the beer, you just watered it down. Whatever your expected gravity was, you can reduce that by 20% and you'll be close to your actual OG.
 

pkeeler

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Did you take a hydrometer reading before your boil? You can figure your OG from that within a margin of error.

I hope you added cold water to bring your mash temp. down. Being at 164 for a few minutes will do nothing, but mashing the whole time up at those temps. would make a very unfermentable wort.

I don't think you need to stir the mash at all. You might not have any temp. drop if you didn't stir. I never stir, for instance.
 

Ichthy

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Why didn't you just dump all the trub and hops in the fermenter? It would have been okay and you would not have had to waste a gallon of beer.
 

maida7

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I hope you added cold water to bring your mash temp. down. Being at 164 for a few minutes will do nothing, but mashing the whole time up at those temps. would make a very unfermentable wort.
Stir in a few ice cubes to drop the mash temp down to where you want it. :rockin:
 

Homercidal

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164 is really high. I think you'll end up with beer, but I doubt it will taste close to what you really wanted. Probably going to be heavier and sweeter and have less alcohol.

During the mash a couple of degrees can change things a lot. You'll want to be within 2-4 degrees of the target temp for most of the rest.

One thing you might try is adding a different type of yeast to the fermenter after the initial fermentation. Yeast that works on a less fermentable wort. You may risk changing the flavor a bit by doing so, but it might help bring the FG down a bit more and balance the beer out in that way some.
 
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ericw

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Sounds like I did everything wrong. :( Oh well, I'll mark that up as a learning experience. Next time, I'll add the heated water, mix the mash and see what the temps look it, and add cold water if needed. Taking the temp of the mash tun and grain would also be a good thing. Would an infrared thermometer work for the mash tun temp?

I was tempted to just dump the whole pot into the bucket and let it all settle out during fermentation, but we were trying to get a clearer beer to start with. No I know we were wrong. I didn't take a gravity reading of the pre boil, and didn't think about it either. The wort sure did smell good, so I hope this batch comes out good even with my short comings. If it doesn't then I'll know what not to do next time.

Thanks for the help guys.
 

Homercidal

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Well, at any rate you probably made beer, so RDWHAHB.

Infrared will not work from what I understand. A refractometer is nearly as friendly though.

If you have not done so, check out Beersmith Brewing Software. With the proper settings, it can predict your temps and volumes for you. And in any case, I'd start high and then either stir with the lid open, or add a bit of ice water to bring it down. It's easier to start high than it is to heat up again.

I'd recommend the whirlpool method of siphoning the wort into the fermenter. When done right it can leave a lot of the stuff in the kettle while getting almost all of the wort in the fermenter. But if you get a bit too much in there, no big deal, it will settle quickly and you can rack off the top later.
 
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Yeah you definitely did not need to add the additional gallon at the end. Typically your boil volume is greater than your batch size (and typically by about a gallon per hour) to account for what will boil off (i.e. leaves the kettle as steam).

So, if you were supposed to be making a 5 gallon batch, you started boiling 6 and ended up with 5.

It happens...it's not the end of the world.
 

GoldMiner

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I meant using an infrared thermometer to get the temp of the mash tun. I used this site to get the temp of the strike water: http://www.rackers.org/calcs.shtml
Everything I've read says that an infrared thermometer won't work for getting the temp of the mash as it'll only give you a reading on the surface.

+1 on recommending BrewSmith software for strike temps, it's been accurate for all my mashes thus far.
 

HodgsonsBrewer

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Sounds like you learned alot, I learned way too much on my first go. What's done is done. Just make sure the rest of it goes smooth. Remember take your time each time you handle your beer during racking and bottling.
 
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ericw

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I moved the beer to the secondary tonight, and I took a gravity reading. It was .001 off what the FG should be, so all is not lost. It did smell good though.
 
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ericw

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Update to this. After being in bottles for 3 weeks, I put one in the fridge for a day and tried it. Other than needing a few more days to carbonate, the beer tasted great. I can't wait to make it again, but do it correct this time. :)
 

jturie

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One thing I learned is: heat up a lot more water than you think you'll need. I do 5 gallons for the mash so that I have extra hot water in case I need to adjust my temp up. Left over water goes toward my sparge liquor. I then heat up 5 gallons for sparging and keep dumping it into the tun until I've obtained my 6.5 gallons of wort. It doesn't take that long to heat water up to 170, and any left over gets dumped into my cleaning bucket.

I think you'll be fine....
 

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