First AG - Test Run

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TXjayhawk

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I just upgraded all my equipment to start doing AG batches. So to get the AG process down, I bought 10 pounds of 2-row and mashed it just so I can get used to the steps involved before I brew a "real" beer.

So I'm confused, I input this information into BeerSmith and it told me to mash with 15.7 quarts of water. I have read elsewhere on the forums that 1-1.25 quarts per pound is about right for mashing. Does the amount I used seem high?

And then I sparged with 1.36 gallons and 4.09 gallons of water at 168 degrees after I drained the original mash water. Do I collect enough water to hit my boil volume? Even if there is still water in the MT?

So then I took the gravity reading of the wort in my boil kettle (I had too much water as it was 7.9 gal). It read 1.008 at 145 degrees. Adjusting this for temp it was 1.025 for an efficiency of 52%. So now I'm confused. I boiled the wort for 60 minutes and took a hydrometer reading this morning, which was 1.034 in 6.75 gal of water. If I boiled this wort for another hour, I would get close to 5.5 gallons and the calculator on Brewer's Friend says my gravity would be 1.042...close to the OG that BeerSmith said I should have had. So I am guessing my reading before boiling was off? Or because of having almost 1 gallon too much water is throwing everything off?

Oh, another question. I have a 10 gallon mash tun and with 15.7 quarts of strike water and the 10 pounds of grain, it only filled my MT about 1/2 full. Is that normal? I ask as when I mashed in, I hit my temperature of 148, but when I checked it 75 minutes later, it was 140. I left the MT outside where it was 101 degrees.

Thanks.
 

Frisk181

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My first thought would be to check mash tun dead space and other volume settings in beersmith.
 

ShaineT

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That heat loss sounds normal after 75 minutes, lid it and wrap in bubble-insulation or use direct heat, RIMS, HERMS, or something to maintain your temp. you can use 1.5 quarts/gal or even 1.75 its ok especially if there is wheat involved or many adjuncts. Are you 'fly sparging'? If so, you don't want to completely drain your mash tun, keep around and inch or two of water level above the grain. Sparge slowly over 90 minutes or until you reach your pre-boil volume. Take a SG reading now, did you hit target pre-boil? IT will become your desired OG after boiling off 10-15% if your calculations were right and efficiency matched. Sometimes you're too efficient, keep sparging, you'll have more beer. Sometimes your efficiency is too low, boil off some before adding hops, you have less beer. Either way, with fly sparging, there will always be that 2 inches of water sitting above your grain because its a grain rinse from the top down. Best of luck to you! :)
 

snowveil

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Ok, lots to cover on this one :)

Firstly, Beersmith has equipment profiles that account for losses in your system, so that could be contributing to your confusion about volumes of water to use. Beersmith will start with common values for grain absorption, mash tun dead space, boiloff rate, kettle loss, etc. You can adjust your equipment in Beersmith to more precisely hone in on the values that your system has as you become more familiar with your equipment. This page details it a bit more:
http://beersmith.com/equipment-setup/

Secondly, your efficiency will vary greatly on many variables. Your mash efficiency is greatly influenced by the quality of the crush of your grain. It can also be attributed to the mash temperature (and time), and mash pH. You also have a brewhouse efficiency, which takes other considerations int account, such as losses of wort in your system (mash tun and kettle dead space, trub, hop debris, etc).

Is there a reason you sparged twice instead of once? For example, if your second kettle for sparge water can't hold more than 4 gallons? Keep in mind, again, the equipment settings in Beersmith may be set to think that you have to do it this way (I.E. you may have it set that you are using a 5 gallon igloo mash tun instead of a 10 gallon).


I'd suggest taking measurements at every step of wort collection...both volume and gravity. This will help you get a better understanding of where your gravity and volume might fall. For example, when I batch sparge I'll typically collect 1.5-1.75 gallons of water with the first runnings. If I sparge with 4 gallons I can expect to pull out slightly more than 4 gallons of additional wort (the sparge water carries some sugars with it through the grain, so the volume you collect is slightly more than the volume you put in). Add them up, 1.75 gallons + 4 gallons + whatever sugar gets carried with the sparge = approximately 6 gallons.

You likely collected about 2 gallons, then added 5.5 gallons of sparge water. This would definitely put your preboil volume as high as it was.

Also, try to get the temperature of your sample wort down a bit lower before trusting your hydrometer that much, or invest in a refractometer, which requires only a few drops to take a gravity reading.

Hopefully this is helpful. Remember, note taking will help you tremendously in the long run.
 

BackAlley

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TXjayhawk said:
I just upgraded all my equipment to start doing AG batches. So to get the AG process down, I bought 10 pounds of 2-row and mashed it just so I can get used to the steps involved before I brew a "real" beer.

So I'm confused, I input this information into BeerSmith and it told me to mash with 15.7 quarts of water. I have read elsewhere on the forums that 1-1.25 quarts per pound is about right for mashing. Does the amount I used seem high?

And then I sparged with 1.36 gallons and 4.09 gallons of water at 168 degrees after I drained the original mash water. Do I collect enough water to hit my boil volume? Even if there is still water in the MT?

So then I took the gravity reading of the wort in my boil kettle (I had too much water as it was 7.9 gal). It read 1.008 at 145 degrees. Adjusting this for temp it was 1.025 for an efficiency of 52%. So now I'm confused. I boiled the wort for 60 minutes and took a hydrometer reading this morning, which was 1.034 in 6.75 gal of water. If I boiled this wort for another hour, I would get close to 5.5 gallons and the calculator on Brewer's Friend says my gravity would be 1.042...close to the OG that BeerSmith said I should have had. So I am guessing my reading before boiling was off? Or because of having almost 1 gallon too much water is throwing everything off?

Oh, another question. I have a 10 gallon mash tun and with 15.7 quarts of strike water and the 10 pounds of grain, it only filled my MT about 1/2 full. Is that normal? I ask as when I mashed in, I hit my temperature of 148, but when I checked it 75 minutes later, it was 140. I left the MT outside where it was 101 degrees.

Thanks.
Lots of questions which is great.

1) beer smith has .8g dead space for the 10g cooler setup which seems like a lot. That's probably why the mash water volume is high

2) sounds like you're batch sparging. After you drain the first runnings take the pre boil volume subtract the first runnings volume and divide that by two. So lets say you want 6.5 gallon pre boil and you pull 2 gallons of first runnings you'd need to sparge with a total of 4.5 gallons which is 2.25 g per sparge. There shouldn't be any water left in the MLT

3) I wouldn't trust a hydrometer reading at 145. In my experience the corrections don't work out right

4) I doubt you lost 8 degrees in 75 min. My guess is you weren't really at 148 to begin with. I don't preheat my MLT but I do stir like crazy for 5 min to make sure the temp has settled and is even throughout. I try to overshoot by a couple of degrees because I find it easier to adjust down than up.
 
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TXjayhawk

TXjayhawk

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Thanks for the feedback. Very helpful.

What I was thinking is whatever BeerSmith told me to add in terms of the batch sparge I should drain all that as well. Now I realize that boil volume is important and my system I boil off approx 1.25 gallons in a 60 minute boil. So depending on what I am aiming for in terms of final fermentation volume I need to determine pre-boil volume and go from there.

As to the temp of the mash...I think I will probably overshoot the initial strike temp a little knowing it is easier to adjust temp down than upward. I will also take a temperature check mid-way through the next mash to ensure my temps are staying where they need to be.

I wanted to take a test run through mashing as I have a Double Chocolate Stout that will be my first AG brew. I don't want to mess this one up as I figure I will brew it the weekend of Aug 17 and thinking it will be ready to drink around Thanksgiving.
 

dantodd

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BeerSmith can make pretty accurate volume estimates if you set your equipment info and boil-off rate etc. properly.

I also print out everything in the worksheets before I start brewing. If you are batch sparging it will also give you volumes and temperatures. Follow those and measure your gravity and volumes of each running. You know you have X gallons at Y gravity and you can then easily determine how many points of gravity you have. I keep sparging until I have the total number of points i am shooting for. (Unless I start getting very weak wort first which requires boiling forever and risks tannin extraction)

If you simply stop taking wort when you have enough points for your OG you'll never miss your numbers by much. If you get all your gravity points early you can add water to make your pre-boil volume. If you need a little more and overshoot your pre-boil volume you can extend your boil (knowing how much you typically boil off each hour) or you can increase the level of boil to increase your boil off and still hit your post-boil volume.

To do this you need 2 things. You need accurate and fast gravity measurements, which really requires a refractometer, and you need to know run off volume so I just drain my MLT into an ale pail. With this information you can hit your exact numbers almost every time.
 

dantodd

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Here's an example of what I mean.

Let's say that you are planning on 5.5 gallons or wort at 1.050 into your fermenter. To get this you need 5.5*50 or 275 "points" into your kettle.

I'm not in front of my pc right now and I don't have my own notes handy but let's just pretend that you got 2.5 gallons of first running at 1.070. The number of gravity points you have now is 2.5*70 or 175

You still need 100 points. If your second running are at 1.033 you would only need a little over 3 gallons to achieve your total gravity points for the beer.

So, in this case you have all the wort you need at just 5.5 gallon volume. You will want to top off the kettle to your "pre-boil volume" and fire her up.

Since I just made those numbers up it was easy to manipulate them to make the math easy. In my own experiences I am just as likely to have slightly more wort than I want rather than less when I reach my "gravity points" target.

Let's say that instead of having to top off your wort you have an extra half gallon when you reach you "gravity point" target. You just let the wort boil down by half a gallon and then start your timer on the rest of the boil.

If you find yourself at a little more than your pre-boil volume and you don't want to go any further because you aren't going to do a 2.5 hour boil. You can take the number of points you have collected and divide by 5.5 (your batch size into the fermenter) and calculate what your OG in the fermenter will be.

If you've only collected 200 gravity points and your wort is running real thin or you have more volume than you want to deal with you can just divide 200/5.5 and you know that you'll have a 1.036 beer. Now you have a little time while the wort comes to a boil to recalculate your hops so the beer will still have the level of balance you want.

Having an idea of where you are in extraction along the way makes it much easier to deal with problems or changes as they come.
 

helibrewer

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When Beersmith calculates two sparge volumes the first assumes you don't drain your MLT prior to adding the first volume, that's why that first sparge volume number is small. Once you stir, vorlauf, then drain, you add the second sparge volume and repeat the stir vorlauf, drain cycle.

Many guys that batch sparge have gone to a single sparge..your 10 gallon Igloo should be able to handle that unless you start doing Barley Wines. I fly sparge which generates the smae sparge volume number as a single batch sparge.
 

dantodd

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Oh, yeah, heli reminds me that the first sparse volume is usually the quantity of water at the boiling point that will bring your temp up to mash out temp to stop enzyme activity.
 
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TXjayhawk

TXjayhawk

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Thanks for the feedback. Some things in BeerSmith just don't seem intuitive.

This has all been helpful. In just over a week I will brew my first real beer doing AG...my triple chocolate milk stout.
 

BackAlley

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Thanks for the feedback. Some things in BeerSmith just don't seem intuitive.

This has all been helpful. In just over a week I will brew my first real beer doing AG...my triple chocolate milk stout.
There are a bunch of options in BeerSmith, including for the sparge:
1) is the mash tun drained prior to sparging
2) what % of the MLT is filled when batch sparging
3) whether all of the spargings are equal volume.

I think if you play with those, you'll find it will calculate the sparge volumes and temps pretty well as you'd expect.
 
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