First AG, my OG came out 20 points low!!

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So I decided to take Edworts Kolsch recipe and incorporate it for my first AG. Knowing that my efficiency would not be as good as his, I upped my grain bill from a total his 9.5# to 12#. I have not yet built a hot liquor tank with a draining valve so I decided to batch sparge. I dumped 170F water into my MT, I calculated that I should be using 3.7 gallons of mash water, I kinda eyeballed that amount which could be my main problem, I think I was short. Anyway, I got the mash to 151/150F and put the lid on it for 60 minutes. I came back, stirred the mash (maybe I should not have done that?) and ran a gallon or so until it cleared up then drained it all into a bucket. I only ended up with about 1.5 gallons of wort from the initial mashing. Then I refilled the MT with more 170F water (I did not check the temp once teh water was mixed with the grain) and drained that into the bucket until I had 7.25 gallons of wort. Then I boiled as usual. I ended up with about 6 gallons of wort at the end of the boil, next time I will probably use 7 gallons preboil wort or maybe even less.

So the target OG was 1.052, and I ended up at 1.030. So I'm looking at a beer that will finish in the 2% abv range....ugh. Is there anything I can do to up the abv% to this beer even though it is already fermenting?

I'm sure I made quite a few mistakes but just want you all to take a look at it and tell me where I can improve my technique. I may switch to fly sparging soon but I'd like to get batch sparging figured out first. Thanks for any advice.
 

TipsyDragon

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add corn sugar. it will up your ABV and not change the taste. which will probably be weaker than you intended.

i would look into your mash tun design. it sounds like you have a big dead space somewhere (pictures would be nice). if thats the case some of the grain isn't getting enough water flow to wash the sugars out. also if you drain your grain to fast the grain will compact and affect water flow.
 
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my mash tun is a 5 gallon Home Depot cooler with a ball valve and a false bottom I bought from Midwest brew supply. I'll post a pic when I get home from work.

How much corn sugar would I add to up the abv% say 2 percentage points?
 

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Then I refilled the MT with more 170F water (I did not check the temp once teh water was mixed with the grain) and drained that into the bucket until I had 7.25 gallons of wort.
Hold on. How much water did you put in? When you say "filled" are you suggesting that you put a bunch of water in but didn't drain all of it out? That would be one problem.
 
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I actually filled the MT completely to the 5 gallon mark, drained it to reach a total of about 6.5 gallons of wort then filled it with about 2 more gallons of water and drained that til I had 7.25 gallons of wort. I probably had about half a gallon of water left over after the 3rd draining. I'll definitely need to work on my water volumes next time.
 

MikeP

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The extra water in the tun is where the rest of your OG was sitting. It's tricky to get the sparge volume right so you get ALL the sugars out of the grains.
 
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I guess I thought that after running a full 5 gallons through the grains that most of the sugars would have been cleaned out and that the last 1.5-2 gallons of water was just a bit of extra rinsing.
 

MikeP

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Think of it like this - your making kool aid and add a quart of water to get the mix right, then you come along and add more water - you still have kool aid, it's just all watered down now. A similar thing is happening in the MLT. It's a game of ratios.
 
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for batch sparging, I know you initially wait up to 60 minutes with the mash. Once that is drained and you begin adding sparge water, how long do you let the sparge water sit with the grains before you drain it?
 

Bobby_M

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I don't let it sit at all. I stir the hell out of it for about 2 minutes and start draining it. You did stir right?

It's important with batch sparging to measure your infusions so that you don't leave any wort behind. If you want 7gallons preboil and your first runnings are 1.5 gallons, you know you need to sparge with 5.5 gallons which can be done in one batch or broken into two of 2.25 each. Either way, you want nothing left in the tun.
 
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I did stir the initial run but it came out so darn cloudy I thought, that maybe I shouldn't be stirring after the initial introduction of water and grain. So once I started sparging I did not stir. That right there is probably my biggest problem.

I'm sure this is all personal preference but should I go ahead and build a HLT so I can start fly sparging or should I stick with batch sparging til I get it down? I'd prefer to keep my equiptment at a minimum. Swmbo is already whining about how much space my "brewery" is taking up.
 

MikeP

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when you first start draining the mash be sure to drain a quart or so and then stop and recircultate it a couple of times, that will cure the cloudy wort problem - do that when you batch sparge as well. It sets the grain bed and gets the little particles 'settled'.
 

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I would read up on the entire process before attempting again. I'll plug Bobby_M here on his All-grain primer. I printed that out and had it by my side on my 1st one and it was a big help. Also, I'd invest in a software program so you can get your volumes and temps right. it will tell you exactly the amounts you need to sparge with along with tons of other things. I have Beersmith and love it. Otherwise, it'll take a few times to figure it out and determine your own system results.
 
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