My first dud...and a question (somewhat long)

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Wind River

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Yesterday I spent 6 1/2 hours on my second all grain beer, an APA with an expected OG of 1.051. When I took my reading before pitching, I got a 1.034...not at all the result I expected. My last beer (the 1st all grain attempt) was an IPA with an expected OG of 1.066 that I hit right on the button (my efficiency was excellent on my Igloo MT and turkey fryer set up).

Needless to say, I was pretty bummed out. Although I think it will taste pretty good, I don't relish the thought of drinking a whole 5 gallon batch of "near-beer" (but I will :drunk:)

The only thing I did wrong in my opinion was put my faith in BeerSmith. I downloaded the trial copy and entered this beer in as a recipe and added my mash profile. As it turned out the mash profile had me putting not enough water in the mash and too much water in the sparge. I was taking the extremely clear and watery 2nd runnings out when it hit me that I had made a huge mistake. I ran the boil, hoping that it would even things out but with no luck.

Later that evening, I plugged the numbers into Ken Schwartz's sparge calculator and got completely different water amounts. I used his calculator for my 1st all grain and everything worked out perfectly.

Chalk this one up to the old adage: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"!! Why I thought I could improve on an already good thing is beyond me (except that I am a huge geek and love any kind of software that I can play around with).
I know a lot of people here use and love BeerSmith but, for the love of the beer gods, I can't imagine why. However, just because I may not have had the rosetta stone for making the thing work, I don't really want to knock a program that others have had so much success with.

I was so bummed that I thought (briefly) about giving up homebrewing altogether but I see things better now in the light of day...:tank:

Now, my question is this:

When I plugged the numbers into Schwartz's spreadsheet, it told me that I needed to increase my grain bill by another 1.72 lbs of grain to compensate for the amount of water the grain would absorb. I don't know the right way to get all the grain percentages correct for the recipe. Has anyone run across any calculators for this or have a formula that would at least get me in the ballpark? I don't want to increase my % of 2-row, for example, at the expense of flavor or body.

Thanks for helping me out, guys. I have learned so much from everyone on this board in the few short months I've been homebrewing.

Mike
 

Jonnio

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I can't help you as to why adding more grain would help the situation of grain soaking up water, but I can tell you that next time if you keep some light DME on hand you can fix low efficiency :)/
 

Bobby_M

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Just out of curiosity, what water to grain ratio did beersmith suggest you use? The reason I'm curious is that a stiffer mash (which reserves more water for sparge) almost always RAISES efficiency. The more water you have to sparge with, the more rinsing occurs. There are at least 5 other factors that could have dropped your efficiency and I'm guessing crush and/or sparge temp.
 

cushdan

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P.S. This is the Extract Brewing section
 

Yooper

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If you post your recipe, I can put it in my Beersmith program with my settings, and see what it says for my efficiency. What efficiency % were you planning on for both brews?
 

Kauai_Kahuna

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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing -- My first dud...
Showing up in AG for me, maybe it got moved.
I have tried Beersmith and it was OK, but I was having horrible efficiency until I started using Bobby_M method of batch sparging. That got me into the high 70's and that's OK for me, though I will always try to get better.
Basically 1.25 quart per lb of grain, no mash out with two batch sparges at around 180F+ to get the grain bed up to the mid 160F.
 
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Wind River

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Sorry bout that...I meant to post it in the All Grain section.

Bobby M...I got 3.28 gal of water for the mash. That = 1.25qts/lb. The last brew I used 1.33qts/lb. per Schwartz's calculations with excellent results.

BS calculated 2 rounds of batch sparging...1 with 1.31 gal and the other with 3.33 gal.

In a way your crush theory would make sense as well.

Yooper....
My grain bill was:
8 lbs 2-Row
2 lbs Vienna
.50 lbs Crystal 20L

I used Pearle for bittering and Williamette for flavor and aroma (the lhbs had these and I always wanted to try them...).
I also used WLP001 Cal Ale

I used the default setting for efficiency (75%) based on my equipment profile.

Adding another 1.72 or so lbs of grain would indeed compensate for the grain absorption rate but I'm unsure of how to break up the percentages to retain a balance...or would it really matter if I got another 1.72 lbs of 2-Row???
 

Yooper

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Yooper....
My grain bill was:
8 lbs 2-Row
2 lbs Vienna
.50 lbs Crystal 20L
I used the default setting for efficiency (75%) based on my equipment profile.

Adding another 1.72 or so lbs of grain would indeed compensate for the grain absorption rate but I'm unsure of how to break up the percentages to retain a balance...or would it really matter if I got another 1.72 lbs of 2-Row???

In Beersmith, with my settings, 75% would get you an OG of 1.057. Mine calls for 1.25 quarts of mash water per pound (13.13 quarts- I just rounded to 13 quarts when I made the same recipe) and two sparges of 2.24 gallons each. Maybe your settings are not quite right?

In addition, your efficiency suffered greatly- you are at 45% effficiency if 1.034 was your OG with this recipe. How was your crush?
 

Bobby_M

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In beersmith, hit the check box that says something like "make batch infusions equal volume. 1.3 gallons in 10lbs of grain is a little tough to stir. You did stir really really well after each sparge infusion right? What temp was your sparge water? This makes a big difference. You want to go with 180F minimum, and up to 185F is safe.
 
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Wind River

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Bobby M...My sparge water was 168, just like BeesSmith suggested and I did stir rather well. I didn't know I could go as high as 180-185. I simply assumed that 170 was the highest I should go for sparging. (btw...I have printed out your sparging pdf and am looking forward to studying it in great detail.)

beerthirty...I suppose I should take the time to supply all those variables in the equipment profile before I go knocking Beersmith. One of the stupid mistakes I have made in my short homebrew career so far is trying to go too fast before I have the proper info (or having the proper info properly assimilated in my brain...).

Yooper...I believe I may have gotten a rather inexperienced person at the LHBS. The crush really didn't look as good as my last all grain. I don't know how else to say it. It seemed to have a different texture.
 

plumber

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I do my first sparge with 185 and the grain bed will go into the mid to high 160's. By the time I do the second sparge the sparge water has droped to 175-180 and it still keeps my grain bed in the same 165-170 range for the second sparge.
 

uglygoat

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did you taste the spent grains in the tun? i bet there was a few more gravity points of sugar in there.


i wouldn't sweat your second ag. like you said, get the process down a few batches, just learning your system, then start tweaking it and worrying about numbers.
 

CBBaron

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Sorry bout that...I meant to post it in the All Grain section.

Bobby M...I got 3.28 gal of water for the mash. That = 1.25qts/lb. The last brew I used 1.33qts/lb. per Schwartz's calculations with excellent results.

BS calculated 2 rounds of batch sparging...1 with 1.31 gal and the other with 3.33 gal.
If you don't check the box to drain the mashtun before starting the sparge BS will have you add sparge water to your mash before doing the first drain. Then you sparge one additional time.
You should have added the 1.31 gal to mash mash before draining then added and the additional 3.3gal.
If you checked the drain mashtun first box then BS would give you 2 sparges of approx 2.3 gal. Either way should give you decent results though 2 sparges should increase your efficiency some. 1.25qt/# is a good mash thickness and is not going to be a problem with your efficiency. Anything between 1 and 2 qt/# should work though I usually keep it between 1.15 and 1.5.

It does really pay to look at the details BS uses for equipment profiles and mash schedule. You still need to understand the process with BS in order to get the best results out of the tool. You can't just blindly follow the instructions with the defaults.


Craig
 
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