First all-grain...problems, problems, problems.

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Q2XL

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2009
Messages
505
Reaction score
3
Location
Eastpointe, Michigan
That was a mess!!! My first all-grain did not go well at all. I posted a thread earlier on a stuck sparge, so a few of you may have read that thread already.

Everything started off alright. Pre-heated cooler, added grain, then 170F water. Hit my desired mash temp of 150F dead on. The cooler held that 150F for the entire hour...never lost a degree.:)

Vorlaufed(sp), then slowly drained off the wort. About a gallon went really well, then a STUCK SPARGE!!! :(:(Tried my air compressor to blow back thru the line, that didn't work. Ended up just straining the grains in a 5-gallon paint strainer.

Pre-boil gravity was 1.028, was supposed to be 1.036. I then boiled the wort, no problems there.:) I used my new copper wort chiller. It took about 20-25minutes to cool it down. I was not happy with the performance of the chiller.

I am having a very difficult time figuring out my efficiency. I think it is VERY low. Here are my numbers. Maybe someone can help me out.

9lbs Pale malt- 2 row
.75 Dextrine
.50 Crystal malt-10l
.50 vienna malt

Pre-boil gravity= 1.028
Post boild gravity=1.051
Total of 5 gallons into fermenter.

I am not sure if you need anymore numbers. If so let me know and I will post them.

Can someone calculate my efficiency for me?? Thanks!

I do have Beersmith. Under the heading Brewhouse efficiency it says "Actual OG" If I put my pre-boil number in there, my eff. comes out to 36.17%

If I put in my post boil gravity I come up with 65.88%

Any information would be appreciated.
 
Joined
Aug 7, 2007
Messages
1,110
Reaction score
14
Location
San Jose, CA
With the copper chiller, I'm getting a 5 gallon batch down to low 70's in about 10-15 minutes tops by swirling the wort with a spoon. You need to keep it moving over the coils or it takes forever.
 

buckeyebrewer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 4, 2007
Messages
468
Reaction score
3
Location
OH-IO
You should get some rice hulls for your next mash. I had problems with stuck sparges when I went AG. I add 1-1.5 lbs of rice hulls to every mash now.....haven't had a stuck sparge since. 1.051 is about right for that much grain at 5 gallons.....besides the stuck sparge it doesn't seem that bad......take a deep breath, pound 2 beers and start planning the next brew....
 

G-E-R-M-A-N

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2006
Messages
253
Reaction score
1
Location
Houston
What was the post boil target to begin with? Dont worry I have failed several times at this.
 

mikfire

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 11, 2008
Messages
236
Reaction score
5
Location
Richmond, VA
Sorry about the stuck sparge. I suspect that is something everybody has to do for their first AG.

Putting your grain bill into beersmith and assuming you got about 5 gallons at 1.051, beersmith is claiming a 72% efficiency. Those are really good numbers for your first AG. Oddly enough, I am showing an expected pre-boil SG of 1.043. If you posted your batch size and mash profile, it could help us more.

So I would guess you may not have stirred well enough before taking your pre-boil sample. That happens fairly frequently and can really mess your numbers up.

Can't help with the IC. It takes me about 20 minutes to cool 5g down to pitching temperature. I have an aquarium pump that will be used to recirculate ice water next time.
 
OP
Q

Q2XL

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2009
Messages
505
Reaction score
3
Location
Eastpointe, Michigan
Sorry about the stuck sparge. I suspect that is something everybody has to do for their first AG.

Putting your grain bill into beersmith and assuming you got about 5 gallons at 1.051, beersmith is claiming a 72% efficiency. Those are really good numbers for your first AG. Oddly enough, I am showing an expected pre-boil SG of 1.043. If you posted your batch size and mash profile, it could help us more.

So I would guess you may not have stirred well enough before taking your pre-boil sample. That happens fairly frequently and can really mess your numbers up.

Here it is. I went with 1.25qt/lb.Edit: I added 170f water for mash in. I used 185F water for both sparges.

 
OP
Q

Q2XL

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2009
Messages
505
Reaction score
3
Location
Eastpointe, Michigan
You should get some rice hulls for your next mash. I had problems with stuck sparges when I went AG. I add 1-1.5 lbs of rice hulls to every mash now.....haven't had a stuck sparge since. 1.051 is about right for that much grain at 5 gallons.....besides the stuck sparge it doesn't seem that bad......take a deep breath, pound 2 beers and start planning the next brew....
I take it that the rice hulls hinder stuck sparges, but how does this happen?
 

pompeiisneaks

Why that human mask?
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 7, 2009
Messages
885
Reaction score
53
Location
Redmond
BTW if that 72% for your first is right, you did great for a first AG. The pre boil can really be hard to use, because if you don't stir it really well, after you add second runnings to first, you get clumped areas of thin or thicker consistency and you'll get wildly erratic readings. You need to stir for almost 5 mins I'll bet to get consistent readings. The 1.051 post boil OG is looking very good. Relax, don't worry, you just made beer ;)
 
OP
Q

Q2XL

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2009
Messages
505
Reaction score
3
Location
Eastpointe, Michigan
BTW if that 72% for your first is right, you did great for a first AG. The pre boil can really be hard to use, because if you don't stir it really well, after you add second runnings to first, you get clumped areas of thin or thicker consistency and you'll get wildly erratic readings. You need to stir for almost 5 mins I'll bet to get consistent readings. The 1.051 post boil OG is looking very good. Relax, don't worry, you just made beer ;)
That might be part of the problem. I don't recall really stirring it after I so-called sparged. I had to sparge in a 5-gallon paint strainer.

My calculations by hand come up with 66.2%. I am happy with that for my first batch.

My numbers in Beersmith come out to 65.88%.
 

the_Roqk

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
941
Reaction score
3
Location
Central Florida
Wow! Sorry you didn't hit that OG! After reading your first post and the rest of the thread the only thing I can see is that "maybe" your grain wasn't properly milled. I've had countless problems in the past with low OG's before I got my mill "dialed in". And even when I over crushed my grain I got stuck sparges too.

Seems you may have some variables to contend with at this time. IE; bad crush, too fine a crush with stuck sparge, or some other thing unheard of.

Anyway don't let this little setback stop you from enjoying this GREAT Hobby/Science/Craft. WE ALL LEARN from mistakes. Just keep plugging along and you'll find out what the problem was. Try the same recipe again (albeit different crushes) and see if the problem has shown it's ugly head.

Cheers and Prost to you!
 

WBC

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2007
Messages
2,164
Reaction score
10
Location
La Puente, CA
If he got 1.051 SG then he did great and the milling must have not been too bad. Now you have to keep the temperature of the ferment in the lower end of the yeast's recommended range to get the best from it. Nottingham ferments low so I would keep it between 60F and 62F if you can. It will be very good beer if you do this!
 

the_Roqk

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
941
Reaction score
3
Location
Central Florida
If he got 1.051 SG then he did great and the milling must have not been too bad. Now you have to keep the temperature of the ferment in the lower end of the yeast's recommended range to get the best from it. Nottingham ferments low so I would keep it between 60F and 62F if you can. It will be very good beer if you do this!
Hey, I understand that 1.051 SG is not that bad for "starting out". But....according to my BeerSmith calcs. he should have gotten 1.056 for SG. But that has a variable also of what type of equipment he was using. Even at 1.051 and plugging a "GENERIC" Ale recipe in BeerSmith he would only have 68.82% efficiency for the 5 gal batch, especially for a 1.028 Preboil Gravity.

BTW, I think the reason why he posted to begin with is because he wasn't happy with his OG. My answer is probably because he did not have a proper crush and has nothing to do with Yeasts or even fermenatation temps.

As I wrote earlier, due to your lower efficiency it might be the grain crush. Which means it was not properly milled. Either too coarse or too fine (which can lead to stuck sparges and "lower efficiencies") of a crush. That in itself would lower efficiency. But that's my opinion! I only know this from trial and error, and usually the latter!
 
OP
Q

Q2XL

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 10, 2009
Messages
505
Reaction score
3
Location
Eastpointe, Michigan
BTW, I think the reason why he posted to begin with is because he wasn't happy with his OG. My answer is probably because he did not have a proper crush and has nothing to do with Yeasts or even fermenatation temps.
Well, I posted because I was unhappy with my gravity readings, but the biggest problem that I had was the stuck sparge. I ended up having to sparge the grain thru a paint strainer mesh bag. I am sure that hurt my efficiency quite a lot.

I think I am going to dump the braid for a false bottom.
 

Malticulous

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 27, 2008
Messages
4,136
Reaction score
86
Location
St. George Utah
Don't do that again. Close the valve, stir the mash and vorlauf again. It works and when I end up needing to do it I get my higher efficiencies.
 

JMO

Active Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2007
Messages
40
Reaction score
0
Location
Las Vegas
Was your grain pre-milled or did you mill it? If it was pre milled you could probably ask your homebrew store what their mill gap was set at. I've been getting really good results(80%) with .50 to .55 on my barley crusher. I just tried going to .40 this past weekend and it was a bit too fine. I had to manually sift out a good amount of the "flour" to avoid a stuck mash/sparge since I wasn't using rice hulls. It sounds like you did a great job for the first one. Let us know how it turns out.
 

the_Roqk

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 12, 2007
Messages
941
Reaction score
3
Location
Central Florida
I agree that if your grain has been milled too fine it will produce a stuck sparge. Also it depends on how you drain the wort after mashing. If you open the valve all the way it will cause a stuck sparge when draining. I usually open mine about 1/4 of the way to maybe halfway so the grainbed doesn't get compacted. Works for me even without using rice hulls.

BTW when mashing you really need to stir the crap outa the grain when you first add the water so as not have any of those little dough balls form. THAT WILL reduce your efficiency as well. Just keep trying till you get your system dialed in. You'll eventually get there. We all do!
 

noblesquirrel

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 7, 2009
Messages
240
Reaction score
21
Location
Chicago, IL
Also, another thing to take into account is the rate of runoff. I tend to do a slow runoff (~45min-1.5hrs) and have never had a stuck sparge, not even with 20% oatmeal or 50% wheat...
 

rwinzing

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jun 23, 2009
Messages
545
Reaction score
93
Location
Bordentown
They are basicly husks of rice so they act as a filter and alow water to drain through. They add nothing to absord liquid which keeps the water flowing.
 

bones1973

Member
Joined
Mar 21, 2008
Messages
7
Reaction score
0
Location
Northern Illinois
I did my first all-grain yesterday. I wish I would have been able to vorlauf and drain the first runnings. My false bottom in my 10 gallon cooler lifted up a bit and some grain got stuck in the 90 degree elbow and nothing would come out. Ended up using a hand held fine mesh strainer to strain out the grain. Then put the remaining first runnings in the kettle and put the grain back in and added sparge water. Then it sparged just fine. My pre boil according to beersmith was supposed to be 1.052 and I had 1.044 so I added some light DME, overshot that addition and ended up w/ pre boil of 1.055 and finished with og of 1.062 for a Centennial Pale Ale. Fermentation began in about 4 hours and it's going crazy in the conical. So it ended up ok.
 

electric_beer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 30, 2009
Messages
453
Reaction score
5
Location
Los Angeles, CA
Well, I posted because I was unhappy with my gravity readings, but the biggest problem that I had was the stuck sparge. I ended up having to sparge the grain thru a paint strainer mesh bag. I am sure that hurt my efficiency quite a lot.

I think I am going to dump the braid for a false bottom.
Or build a sick manifold. :D

Is it a round or rectangular MLT?
 

Oceantendency

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 1, 2013
Messages
441
Reaction score
31
Location
Vista
I have a braid and no problems, but all the advice on stirring the Shiznitz out it when mashing in and right at the very end, then open your valve where it is barely trickling, then slowly open her up over a min or 2 to @ the 1/4 mark to collect first runnings, vorlaff, then pour back in until things start running clear, make sure you also tilt your Tun at the very end to make sure you get out all the water possible from that grain bed ( that trick has helped me pick up a couple points right there!) and don't forget to sparge and stir like crazy again for 15-20 min if you do a batch sparge
 

TippHillBC

Active Member
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
30
Reaction score
0
Whats a "stuck sparge"? i am also new to AG but sparging seemed to go smoothly
 

oneandahalfshepherds

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 26, 2013
Messages
147
Reaction score
34
TippHillBC said:
Whats a "stuck sparge"? i am also new to AG but sparging seemed to go smoothly
Stuck sparge is when the false bottom or grain separation device becomes hopelessly clogged either by grain, adjunct (wheat or oats for example) or additive (pumpkin!) which then drives the homebrewer up the proverbial wall because he/she cannot drain the mashtun of precious wort preventing the boil preventing beer from being made thus forcing the homebrewer to become enraged and smash a hydrometer or other smashable object
 
Top