How do i improve my system?

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

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Munichdark

Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2021
Messages
14
Reaction score
4
Hello all. I've been coming here for awhile whenever ive had a brewing question and have gotten good results everytime. Many thanks! So my question today is how do I improve? I have a 7.5 gallon electric boil kettle and 10 gallon igloo cooler with bazooka screen.. No hop filtering so far.. Is hop filtering serious? What efficiency can I expect with basics like that? What can i buy or make to improve? Thnks agan
 

Wables

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 22, 2006
Messages
297
Reaction score
105
Location
Duluth, MN
That depends. What is the biggest PITA during your brew day? What takes the most time? What is most difficult to clean? How is your current system limiting what you are trying to brew? For me, the best two early things I did were kegging and building a 3 keggle brew system.
 

Sammy86

Still thirsty
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 28, 2013
Messages
2,792
Reaction score
1,700
No hop filtering so far.. Is hop filtering serious? What efficiency can I expect with basics like that?
Hops can go in the fermentor...i did it for years with no ill results. Efficiency doesn't have anything to do with the hops...efficiency comes from your mash and extracting the sugar from the grains...bazooka screen, false bottom, cpvc filter they all do the same thing its just a matter of finding your numbers and being consistent.

My advice, invest in fermentation temperature control...cheaply with an insulated brew bag to all out chest freezer with temp controller....yeasts make beer and happy yeasts=better beer.
 

RM-MN

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 26, 2010
Messages
14,637
Reaction score
5,445
Location
Solway
Sometimes I have to filter out the hops as I siphon from the fermenter to the bottling bucket. I wrap a piece of paint strainer around the end of the siphon. Normally this is only a problem when I dry hop a beer.
 

Spundit

Insert Witty Comment Here
Joined
Jun 15, 2021
Messages
72
Reaction score
83
Location
Western NY
I agree with the above. Fermentation temp control is important. Spending a few dollars here is worthwhile if you don't have this ability now.

Its fun to try and maximize your brew house efficiency but its never been a high priority to me. If I have to add a pound more grain to hit my numbers so be it. Being consistent so I can accurately predict how a recipe will come out has been what I concentrate on.

So with that in mind, are you milling your own grain? I found that to be a big help in being more consistent. I also picked up a few% in mash efficiency when I began crushing my own. When you buy your grains precrushed it varies from vendor to vendor so it's hard to predict efficiency. Another advantage to crushing your own is that the uncrushed gain you buy stores longer so you can buy in bulk and always have ingredients on hand for your next brew. Decent 2 roller mills start at about $100 and I think you get a decent return on the investment considering brewhouse improvement and grain $ savings.

Now if you have significant money to spend, moving to kegging opens all kinds of new opertunities and obviously simplifies packaging.
 

Beernik

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2009
Messages
4,101
Reaction score
872
Location
Camano Island, WA
This is what a hop spider can do for you. It’s not necessary, but it is nice. That’s 2oz. of hops in the spider.

Fermentation control & yeast starters are a good next step. If you don’t have one, an immersion chiller is an easy build. A grain mill is also nice.
B5A2DC57-5F3F-40B5-B83C-4C3043E1CC30.jpeg
F4BF9517-ED98-4A9C-89EC-E27553CD4073.jpeg
 

Beernik

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2009
Messages
4,101
Reaction score
872
Location
Camano Island, WA
In my hiatus I forgot how nice a mill is. Then my first brew back, I only got 66% efficiency because of the LHBS mill (mine is still in storage).
 

Velnerj

Simul justus et potator
Joined
Jul 27, 2017
Messages
440
Reaction score
695
Location
Czech Republic
Really the question should be about improving the processes of your brewing. Telling us your equipment profile gives us little to work with.

But here goes a few assumptions. I got a hop spider because I wanted to ferment in my kettle and then use an autosiphon to package. Prior to this I used a plastic bucket to ferment with a spigot and the hop material had no ill effect on the flow out of the spigot, not so with the siphon.

People here are suggesting kegging as a way to improve your beer. I'm not sure that's true but it changes your experience with your homebrew which may give the feeling of improved beer.

Controlled fermentation, healthy yeast pitch and patience. Those are the basic keys to good beer no matter the equipment.
 
OP
M

Munichdark

Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2021
Messages
14
Reaction score
4
I have no fermentation temperature control at all.. never crossed my mind that it could be that serious.. what are the ill results to be expected from a beer fermenting at around 70 degrees? I'll really have to consider in a fermentation chamber.. is a 10 gallon batch with 10 gallon cooler mash tun possible?
 
OP
M

Munichdark

Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2021
Messages
14
Reaction score
4
I do have a mill although it might crush a bit to fine..
 
OP
M

Munichdark

Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2021
Messages
14
Reaction score
4
Rookie question but whats a decoction mash ? And is it possible with batch sparging in a cooler mash?
 
Joined
Jul 16, 2006
Messages
7,506
Reaction score
1,446
Location
Redding Ca
Depends really on what you are trying to improve. The process? Or the beer? If it's the process then improve can come in a couple different forms. Ease of use, clean up, time etc. If it's improve the beer hands down fermentation control is going to be likely the best option in beer improvement.

Good luck! Have fun and enjoy the ride.

Cheers
Jay
 

3 Dawg Night

Life is too short to drink crappy beer.
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Apr 14, 2020
Messages
1,544
Reaction score
1,931
Location
Huntsville, AL
I have no fermentation temperature control at all.. never crossed my mind that it could be that serious.. what are the ill results to be expected from a beer fermenting at around 70 degrees? I'll really have to consider in a fermentation chamber.. is a 10 gallon batch with 10 gallon cooler mash tun possible?
Fermenting warmer tends to result in more yeast byproducts that wont' get cleaned up during the conditioning phase. You'll end up with some fruity esters. Will the bear be drinkable? Most likely. Will it be true to style? No.

If you don't have it, I'd recommend getting yourself a copy of John Palmer's How to Brew. It's a fantastic resource on the brewing process from beginning to end, and it will help you identify improvements that are worth your time and investment.

By the way, you can read the first version of How to Brew for free on Palmer's website, but I'd still recommend buying a copy of the most recent version. Here's the section regarding fermentation temperature.
 

Velnerj

Simul justus et potator
Joined
Jul 27, 2017
Messages
440
Reaction score
695
Location
Czech Republic
I'll just add that fermentation creates its own heat as well and your beer will actually be a few degrees warmer than ambient temperature. Fir most yeasts this will bring it out of the preferred temp range. The worst that could happen? Fusel alcohol that just ruins a beer and never ages out.

Supposedly kveik yeast however goes against all notions of conventional wisdom. Pitch warm 80F (or warmer), pitch low amounts (I've heard a tablespoon of some kveik strain slurry is enough), and it'll finish in 3-4 days. Try for yourself if you can replicate those results....
 

Beernik

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 26, 2009
Messages
4,101
Reaction score
872
Location
Camano Island, WA
Ideally, you’d want a freezer, a fan, and a temp controller to run your fermentation chamber unless you want to step all the way up to glycol chillers. The fan circulates the air & heat away from the fermentation vessel. The thermostat kicks the freezer and/or heating element on & off.

But there are lower tech options available.

As said above, temp control reduces the likelihood of off flavors. It also lets you better control what yeast flavors you want if you’re doing something that should have esters or phenols, like a Hefe of Belgian. It also lets you cold crash yeast out of suspension, do diacetyl rests, and lager.
 
OP
M

Munichdark

Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2021
Messages
14
Reaction score
4
about the same as what i've been using for 20 or so years...i used to get 83% Beersmith2 BH numbers...with a decoction step at 162f, i pull 90%
Sorry but what's a decoction step? And is it possible with batch sparge in a cooler mash tun? Also what do you mean with "same as I've been doing for 20 years" ?
 

bracconiere

Jolly Alcoholic
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 19, 2018
Messages
16,150
Reaction score
8,023
Location
S.AZ
Sorry but what's a decoction step? And is it possible with batch sparge in a cooler mash tun? Also what do you mean with "same as I've been doing for 20 years" ?

"using" not doing, i still use a simple cooler, big pot to brew with....decoction is taking some of the mash, and bringing it to a boil, then adding back to the mash to raise the temp.....(with homemalt i have to do it to get decent effec)
 
OP
M

Munichdark

Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2021
Messages
14
Reaction score
4
Kay thnks.. Do you do 10 gallon batches with a 10 gallon cooler ? Or is a bigger cooler required for 10 gal batches?
 
Joined
Jan 5, 2012
Messages
4,751
Reaction score
861
Location
Atlanta
Fermenting warmer tends to result in more yeast byproducts that wont' get cleaned up during the conditioning phase. You'll end up with some fruity esters. Will the bear be drinkable? Most likely. Will it be true to style? No.

If you don't have it, I'd recommend getting yourself a copy of John Palmer's How to Brew. It's a fantastic resource on the brewing process from beginning to end, and it will help you identify improvements that are worth your time and investment.

By the way, you can read the first version of How to Brew for free on Palmer's website, but I'd still recommend buying a copy of the most recent version. Here's the section regarding fermentation temperature.
^^^^^^THIS!
 

bwible

I drink, and I know things
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Oct 31, 2017
Messages
956
Reaction score
1,093
Location
Oxford
I have no fermentation temperature control at all.. never crossed my mind that it could be that serious.. what are the ill results to be expected from a beer fermenting at around 70 degrees? I'll really have to consider in a fermentation chamber.. is a 10 gallon batch with 10 gallon cooler mash tun possible?
70 degrees is fine for ales. But remember that yeast produces a little heat of its own during fermentation. So 70 degrees room temp could be as much as 10 degrees more inside the fermenter and 80 degrees is getting up there.

You can do a simple thing they call a swamp cooler. Put your fermenter in a tub of water with a towel or t-shirt over it and a small fan if possible.
 

bwible

I drink, and I know things
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Oct 31, 2017
Messages
956
Reaction score
1,093
Location
Oxford
Rookie question but whats a decoction mash ? And is it possible with batch sparging in a cooler mash?
Its a technique done mostly by the Germans. They do a step mash with rests at increasing temps but they add the heat by pulling part of the mash out of the mash tun and boiling it, then returning it to the mash.
 

bwible

I drink, and I know things
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Oct 31, 2017
Messages
956
Reaction score
1,093
Location
Oxford
I have no fermentation temperature control at all.. never crossed my mind that it could be that serious.. what are the ill results to be expected from a beer fermenting at around 70 degrees? I'll really have to consider in a fermentation chamber.. is a 10 gallon batch with 10 gallon cooler mash tun possible?
You said your boiler was 7.5 gallons. Regardless of what your mash tun holds you need a bigger boiler or brew pot to make 10 gallon batches. Probably at least a 12 gallon pot. Just like you don’t boil 5 gallons in a 5 gallon pot, you don’t boil 10 gallons in a 10 gallon pot. You definitely can’t boil 10 gallons in a 7.5 gallon pot. You have a perfect setup for a 5 gallon batch of just about anything.
 

bwible

I drink, and I know things
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Oct 31, 2017
Messages
956
Reaction score
1,093
Location
Oxford
Water chemistry is another rabbit hole you could explore. Get your water tested by a place like Ward labs. Once you know whats in your water you can start tailoring it to your beers.
 
OP
M

Munichdark

Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2021
Messages
14
Reaction score
4
You said your boiler was 7.5 gallons. Regardless of what your mash tun holds you need a bigger boiler or brew pot to make 10 gallon batches. Probably at least a 12 gallon pot. Just like you don’t boil 5 gallons in a 5 gallon pot, you don’t boil 10 gallons in a 10 gallon pot. You definitely can’t boil 10 gallons in a 7.5 gallon pot. You have a perfect setup for a 5 gallon batch of just about anything.
Well I was wondering that if I ever upgrade my bk to 15 gallons if I would be capable to do 10 gallon batches with 10 gal Mash tun..
But @csantoni kind of answered my question when saying that a 5 gal Mash tun is good for 5 gallon batches.. That is with beers under 1060..
 
OP
M

Munichdark

Member
Joined
Sep 24, 2021
Messages
14
Reaction score
4
70 degrees is fine for ales. But remember that yeast produces a little heat of its own during fermentation. So 70 degrees room temp could be as much as 10 degrees more inside the fermenter and 80 degrees is getting up there.

You can do a simple thing they call a swamp cooler. Put your fermenter in a tub of water with a towel or t-shirt over it and a small fan if possible.
Is that with both the t shirt and fermenter submerged?
 

bracconiere

Jolly Alcoholic
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 19, 2018
Messages
16,150
Reaction score
8,023
Location
S.AZ
Kay thnks.. Do you do 10 gallon batches with a 10 gallon cooler ? Or is a bigger cooler required for 10 gal batches?
Well I was wondering that if I ever upgrade my bk to 15 gallons if I would be capable to do 10 gallon batches with 10 gal Mash tun..
But @csantoni kind of answered my question when saying that a 5 gal Mash tun is good for 5 gallon batches.. That is with beers under 1060..

i brew 10 gallon batches, 15 gallon pot, and 10 gallon cooler....i can actually get OG of ~1.070 with the cooler. 20 to 23lbs of malt.
 

csantoni

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jun 11, 2021
Messages
265
Reaction score
522
Location
Sunnyvale, CA
i brew 10 gallon batches, 15 gallon pot, and 10 gallon cooler....i can actually get OG of ~1.070 with the cooler. 20 to 23lbs of malt.
So this is, IMO, the one area where chasing higher efficiency matters. You basically have two choices: 1. Oversize your MLT (10g for 5g batch, 15g for 10g, ...) and don't worry about your efficiency because you can always buy more grain. or 2. Understand you are size constrained and make sure your process is as efficient as possible.

I know @bracconiere goes for as high efficiency as possible so he can get a higher max OG from his system. I'm not quite there yet, but I'll be doing sort of the same thing. Since I don't brew much of anything above 1.055 it's not a big deal for me. What's more important than any of this though is having a repeatable process. If your efficiency is different for every batch then it's going to be hard to know exactly how much grain you need to hit your targets. High efficiency is a good thing, but repeatable, consistent process is better.
 

bracconiere

Jolly Alcoholic
HBT Supporter
Joined
Jan 19, 2018
Messages
16,150
Reaction score
8,023
Location
S.AZ
i would point out, that's with store bought malt. with my homemalt i usually get ~1.057 or so with 20lbs...for the record.....80% still isn't bad....but it's not 90! ;) :mug:
 
Top