First batch newbie mistakes

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Zerocool5878

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I was really excited to brew my first batch and I was sure i had done everything right. It turns out after more reading. Im afraid I missed a few steps which has affected my gravities.

My first mistake was only milling the grain once for brew in a bag. My OG was supposed to be 1.050 and I had 1.044
second mistake was not oxygenating my wort before i pitched the yeast. I simply drained it from the kettle after cooling to the carboy and pitched the yeast.

FG was supposed to be 1.012 actually FG was 1.023. I check last weekend and today and they were the same.

Is there any good methods of oxygenation the wort other then shaking it up? which i didn't do last time. I saw a post about using a stainless airstone and an oxygen bottle but maybe thats overkill. Im going to still drink the beer I made after it clears. it tastes and smells good to me but will only have an abv of 2.75%

For my next batch which i plan to do this coming week. Blonde ale im hoping it turns out better.

Any advise would be appreciated
 

DBhomebrew

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First of all, how are you measuring gravity? A refractometer?

FWIW, I'd call your OG pretty on target for a first brew. The missed points could be a variety of things. Coarse crush, a bit extra finished volume, mismeasured gravity, mismeasured volume, uncalibrated refractometer, wort was too cool/warm for hydrometer's calibration, lauter losses different from recipe's assumed figures, etc, etc.

A lot of brewers don't do much more for oxygenation other than splashing a bit during transfer. Especially dry yeasts. I used a stone with an aquarium pump for a while. Now I'm onto shaken, not stirred starters and splashing at transfer.

But first, refractometer or hydrometer? If refractometer, did you use a calculator?
 

Immocles

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I wouldn't really call the lower OG a mistake. The recipe's efficiency is going to be different from your system. Once you're dialed in, you might find yourself needed slightly more/less grain than expected.
As for your oxygenation, I personally just shake the hell out of the fermenter for a bit. I probably remember to do it less than half of the time. I think the splashing from kettle to fermenter can do the trick, especially if you're pitching just after.

Did you measure FG with hydrometer or refractometer?
 
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Zerocool5878

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I wouldn't really call the lower OG a mistake. The recipe's efficiency is going to be different from your system. Once you're dialed in, you might find yourself needed slightly more/less grain than expected.
As for your oxygenation, I personally just shake the hell out of the fermenter for a bit. I probably remember to do it less than half of the time. I think the splashing from kettle to fermenter can do the trick, especially if you're pitching just after.

Did you measure FG with hydrometer or refractometer?
I measured both the OG and FG with a hydrometer that i first tested in distilled water and it read 1.000. I also didn't know that i should have measured preboil gravity so on my next batch I will. I have a refractometer now that i will also test on my next batch and compare it with the reading on the hydrometer just to see how close it is preboil and post. Im sure it wont be useful after fermentation but being able to use a small sample will be helpful while brewing i think.

Edit: also I took took readings at exactly 68 degrees which is what my midwest hydrometer says its calibrated to
 

DBhomebrew

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Hm, ok.

The refractometer's totally fine as long as you use a calculator for any readings post-pitch.

Calibrated mash temp thermometer? Mixed the mash up thoroughly before taking temp? Mash length, temp? Recipe? Type/age/storage of yeast? Pitch and fermentation temp?
 

Immocles

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Hmm, thats only about 50% attenuation then. What's the grain bill and what yeast did you use? Could also be fermenting on the cool side. Some yeasts are really finicky and it seems to have stalled out on you a little early. Might wanna consider warming the fermenter up a bit, and giving it a gentle swirl to see if you can wake things back up.
 
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Zerocool5878

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Here is what i used.

2.50 lb German - Munich Light
7 lb German - Pilsner
4.80 oz German - Acidulated Malt

1.70 oz Hersbrucker Pellet Boil 60 min
0.30 oz Hersbrucker Pellet Boil 15 min

1 each whirlflock Fining Boil 15 min.
1 each yeast fuel Boil 15 min.


Fermentis - Saflager - German Lager Yeast W-34/70


Attenuation (avg):
83%
Flocculation:
High
Optimum Temp:
48 - 72 °F
Starter:
No
Fermentation Temp:
52 °F
Pitch Rate:
1.75 (M cells / ml / ° P) 451 B cells required


I have a chest freezer i bought that I plan to make into a kegerator. I figured i would use it this time as a fermentation chamber because i dont really have another way to cool wort yet. I had it hooked up to a stc1000 and also put a 12" round heat pad i got from amazon under it incase the temp dropped too much. I have it set to 11.1C and goes from like 10.5 to 11.7 anytime i looked at it. The one thing i do wish is that I had one of those caps with the stainlesss tube that goes into the wort that you drop the probe down. I didnt have that so i just taped the probe to the outside of the plastic carboy.

Another bit I found interesting is that for the first week it was bubbling like crazy the whole top was covered in thick foam it thought i was golden. after 7 days it still looked about the same just no bubbles but the top foam was still there. so i took a sample to test. the day after it was dead. everything on top was gone it all fell to the bottom i guess. I decided to leave it another week to see if anything changed. everything exactly the same a week later
 
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Zerocool5878

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Hm, ok.

The refractometer's totally fine as long as you use a calculator for any readings post-pitch.

Calibrated mash temp thermometer? Mixed the mash up thoroughly before taking temp? Mash length, temp? Recipe? Type/age/storage of yeast? Pitch and fermentation temp?
I have no idea how accurate my thermometers are I have one that clips on the kettle and a digital one i used indoors before i put the hydrometer in the test tube. I did not mix mash up before taking some for testing. I drained it for the kettle slowly into the carboy and then took my sanitaized turkey baster and took sample. I cant remember exactly what temp i brought it to before adding the grain. I think it was in the 170s i used a calculator somewhere for that. after i added the grain and mixed it was 152. I wrapped in the shiny bubble wrap i got from lowes. At the end i checked the temp and it was around 148 i assume most of the hour it was very close to 152
 

AlexKay

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Sounds like everything went pretty well, actually, especially for diving in with all grain! As others have said, don’t worry about little variations in OG. As far as the FG goes, let your taste decide, not your hydrometer. If body and residual sweetness are good to you, then it fermented enough.

It looks like an excellent recipe. A little challenging for a first brew (being a light lager) — a darker ale will be more forgiving of problems with process. But brew what you want to drink!
 

davidabcd

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It's safe to say that it wasn't yeast oxygenation as the issue.
Mashing temperature is very important. Usually someone will have posted a graph by now of how temp effects efficiency.
Do not disregard gravity readings.
And then what everyone else said pretty much.
 

Immocles

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Here is what i used.

2.50 lb German - Munich Light
7 lb German - Pilsner
4.80 oz German - Acidulated Malt

1.70 oz Hersbrucker Pellet Boil 60 min
0.30 oz Hersbrucker Pellet Boil 15 min

1 each whirlflock Fining Boil 15 min.
1 each yeast fuel Boil 15 min.


Fermentis - Saflager - German Lager Yeast W-34/70


Attenuation (avg):
83%
Flocculation:
High
Optimum Temp:
48 - 72 °F
Starter:
No
Fermentation Temp:
52 °F
Pitch Rate:
1.75 (M cells / ml / ° P) 451 B cells required


I have a chest freezer i bought that I plan to make into a kegerator. I figured i would use it this time as a fermentation chamber because i dont really have another way to cool wort yet. I had it hooked up to a stc1000 and also put a 12" round heat pad i got from amazon under it incase the temp dropped too much. I have it set to 11.1C and goes from like 10.5 to 11.7 anytime i looked at it. The one thing i do wish is that I had one of those caps with the stainlesss tube that goes into the wort that you drop the probe down. I didnt have that so i just taped the probe to the outside of the plastic carboy.

Another bit I found interesting is that for the first week it was bubbling like crazy the whole top was covered in thick foam it thought i was golden. after 7 days it still looked about the same just no bubbles but the top foam was still there. so i took a sample to test. the day after it was dead. everything on top was gone it all fell to the bottom i guess. I decided to leave it another week to see if anything changed. everything exactly the same a week later
I like the recipe. I dont have a ton of experience with acid malt, but nice and simple recipe. Lagers can be a different beast, so I applaud ya for starting out with one!
Did you pitch at least 2 packs of yeast?
I'm still a bit leery of that FG. If you havent packaged yet, I would suggest warming the fermenter up to the mid 60s for two reasons. One to see if you can squeak out some more gravity, and two for a diacetyl rest. I use 34/70 around those temps pretty often and while the D-rest isn't always needed, I generally do one for insurance to keep the off-flavor at bay.

Your mash may have started out a bit high, but if it truly was in that 148-152 range, you should have a pretty fermentable wort.

Also, im not sure how well the pads that go underneath perform. I use seedling mats that I wrap around the fermenter and tape my probe to the side as well. I would assume that it heats more evenly being wrapped around, rather than just sitting on the bottom.
 

hotbeer

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Most dry yeasts need no aeration of the wort. Just cool to your pitch temp and sprinkle it in and let it be.

Your ideal fermentation time for that yeast is 12°C to 18°C. But you aren't outside of them that much.

Beers do usually show most of their activity in the first 3 to 4 days. Then they look dead many times. However if you get the light shining just right into the beer and get your eyes focused correctly you'll see some bubbles. Sometimes very fine bubbles and sometimes an occasional large bubble carrying yeast and trub upwards leaving a trail of the same behind it.

Don't go by airlock activity or bubbles from a blow off tube. They don't tell anything useful IMO. Just consider them amusement for you and others if you let friends look.

Low FG might be mash temps not being held closely and how long you mashed and how you went about things. Did you check for starch conversion with some iodine? With you low temps I'm wondering if your yeast is really finished. But I'm not a lager brewer, so I can only wonder.

Sounds like everything went pretty normal. As noobs we aren't expected to get it all right the first time. But your beer will be beer.
 
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Zerocool5878

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I like the recipe. I dont have a ton of experience with acid malt, but nice and simple recipe. Lagers can be a different beast, so I applaud ya for starting out with one!
Did you pitch at least 2 packs of yeast?
I'm still a bit leery of that FG. If you havent packaged yet, I would suggest warming the fermenter up to the mid 60s for two reasons. One to see if you can squeak out some more gravity, and two for a diacetyl rest. I use 34/70 around those temps pretty often and while the D-rest isn't always needed, I generally do one for insurance to keep the off-flavor at bay.

Your mash may have started out a bit high, but if it truly was in that 148-152 range, you should have a pretty fermentable wort.

Also, im not sure how well the pads that go underneath perform. I use seedling mats that I wrap around the fermenter and tape my probe to the side as well. I would assume that it heats more evenly being wrapped around, rather than just sitting on the bottom.
No i pitched one pack of yeast. should i have pitched 2? Can i still add another and wait another 2 weeks?
 

Immocles

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Pitch Rate:
1.75 (M cells / ml / ° P) 451 B cells required
There's about 200B cells in a packet of yeast, but the recipe would call for 451B. So its quite the under pitch. Lagers, especially ones fermented cold, need a massive amount of yeast pitched. I generally brew 2.5-3G batches and use an entire packet, so 5G batch I would definitely used a second one at a minimum. I've never had to pitch an additional pack during/after fermentation, so hopefully someone else can chime in if that would be beneficial in this case.
 
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Zerocool5878

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There's about 200B cells in a packet of yeast, but the recipe would call for 451B. So its quite the under pitch. Lagers, especially ones fermented cold, need a massive amount of yeast pitched. I generally brew 2.5-3G batches and use an entire packet, so 5G batch I would definitely used a second one at a minimum. I've never had to pitch an additional pack during/after fermentation, so hopefully someone else can chime in if that would be beneficial in this case.
yep didn't catch that at all haha well you live you learn. Ill wait and see if people think i should pick up another pack of yeast. it wont be until probably Wednesday because my brew shop is closed until then. looks like i can get it tuesday if i order on amazon. Thanks for your help
 
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@Zerocool5878 : for dry yeast, Fermentis and Lallemand have information on each of their yeast strains at their web sites. Pitch rate is not the same for all strains of dry yeast.

Lallemand has a pitch rate calculator (link).

Fermentis mentions pitch rate in the form of :
80 to 120 g/hl at ideally 12°C – 18°C (53.6-64.4°F)
In this example, it's 80 to 100 grams per 100 liters of wort. 100 liters is roughly 25 gallons. So for five gallons of wort, that's roughly 16 to 20 grams. Or two 11.5 g packages.
 
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Zerocool5878

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Thanks for all the help. Im going to cold crash it and drink it as is. After i make the blonde ale I'm going to try and make this again with the right amount of yeast.

Thanks again
 

thefigure5

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for the first week it was bubbling like crazy

I cant remember exactly what temp i brought it to before adding the grain. I think it was in the 170s

Could a too-high strike water temperature denature the beta-amylase enzyme significantly enough to result in a higher than normal percentage of non-fermentable sugars (and the higher than expected final gravity)?
 
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