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My second brew - Belgian Blonde

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Alexbrew

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Good day fellow Brewsters.

After I didn't reach my post boil gravity using the biab method, I modified my 13gal coolerbox to a mash tun and last week I brewed a Belgian Blonde. .. and again didn't reach expected gravity. Recipe shows 1.065 .. I got 1.034 - and I was precise with temperature management. Again I cocked up a bit my adding too much sparge water hence leaving me with a diluted wort. This lesson I learned after realising the same mistake with my first brew. But hey, more beer right? lol.

Recipe:

So !! yesterday I brewed a new batch - an IPA
Recipe:

Into the mash tun and now being fully aware of where I need to take control - I think. I heated the water to 75degC cool till 74degC, though when I added the grains, and stirred it all in, the water temp dropped to 69 - suppose to 67 - so added some ice cold water (as per recipe's recommendation) - 2 litres additional in total to get themomemeter to stay idle at 67degC. Striring a lot to average the temperature throughout the mash. The temp stayed constant 67 for an hour. Then drained the lot (after lautering), Then added the first batch water, stirring it all in, settle, lauter, drain and while draining this batch, I tilted the tun towards the exit and fly sparged the remaining water minus 2 litres untill I had 20.5 litres of wort and an almost depleted tun. I though I did well. Took a wort sample, cooled it down (not sure exactly till what temp) and got a SG of 1.036 - I was hoping to see something 1.060 plus as recipe claims 1.070 - hoping to reach 1.070 post boil. Anyway, I though fukkit and threw in 2kgs of sugar at 15min before end of boil and managed 1.076 after wort chill was done. I know, not what I wanted to do, but getting frustrated by not reaching my pre ferment SG.

I searched this site and youtube on the topic and reading this, seeing that but not seeing anything obvious where I'm going wrong and between the options of batch sparging and fly sparging just creates confusion. I looked at a pdf that VikeMan sent me regarding mash efficiency and attenuation factors - interesting .. so less is more - 151 F being the magic mash tun number.

Oh well. my options to considder.
1: Grain error at the mill (I order the grain premilled from the brewshop, so I get it delivered all mixed in one paper bag). Inferrior grain? or incorrect crush - I'll need to inspect that next time. Try a different brewshop.
2: Glass hydrometer wrong - though it reads 1.000 in cold water
3: Thermometer wrong - though reads 104 degC when water starts to boil.

Anyway. I'm a bit disponded, though not giving up. Best way to learn is by making mistakes.
Any suggestions where I need to pay attention ? Thanks.
Having the sugar in the mix - what will the taste result be like?

Regards
Alex
 
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bkboiler

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Biggest troubles for me in the past with all grain
1. The crush not fine enough
2. draining too quickly -when I used to batch sparge
3. Temp management (thermometer calibration and mash stratification, insulation)
4. Water prep (pH)
5. Dough balls

I've not struggled with holding the mash too short or too long altho that's also an issue for some...
 

rburrelli

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I think these issues were addressed in your prior posts but let me repeat. When calculating sparge water the easy method to determine amount is to drain your first runnings to the kettle and see how much you got. Then simply sparge with whatever amount of water you need to reach batch preboil volume. Sparging is simply rinsing the grain of sugars.
Beyond that I like your idea of trying another shop for maybe a better crush.
 

camonick

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I would put good money on the fact that your grain isn’t milled fine enough. With BIAB you can mill your grain to nearly a course flour. It’s not uncommon to achieve mash efficiencies in the 80% range. I would strongly suggest purchasing your own mill so you have complete control over your crush. They are back ordered now but, these Cereal Killer Grain Mill for Crushing Grains and Barley from AIH with free shipping are a great deal. Don’t give up on the BIAB... it’s a great process if your crush is adequate and you have a good bag.

Edit:
After re-reading your post and looking at your other post, I assume you’re not located in the US. I don’t know what you have available to you for ordering equipment/supplies, but would still consider purchasing your own mill somehow. I’m also a little confused about your process because you mention BIAB in your OP, but your other thread and the rest of this one talk about mash tuns, lautering and sparging. 🤷‍♂️
 
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PberBob

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I would guess you’re using too much sparge water, since the strike left you too hot rather than under the mark. Also it looks like your thermometer reads too high, it should approach 100 C at sea level and less at altitude.

I dropped my digital thermometer in the hot sparse water once. I fished it out quickly and it seemed to be working. I thought I was getting 67 C, but it was drifting to higher readings. I really spent an hour at 62 C and saw very little conversion. I heated it back up after I figured it out and it came out fine.
 
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Alexbrew

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I think these issues were addressed in your prior posts but let me repeat. When calculating sparge water the easy method to determine amount is to drain your first runnings to the kettle and see how much you got. Then simply sparge with whatever amount of water you need to reach batch preboil volume. Sparging is simply rinsing the grain of sugars.
Thanks - yes I'm running into the same problems again but coming to understand how it all works and your comments confirm what I need to do in order to master these processes.
 
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Alexbrew

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I would put good money on the fact that your grain isn’t milled fine enough. With BIAB you can mill your grain to nearly a course flour. It’s not uncommon to achieve mash efficiencies in the 80% range. I would strongly suggest purchasing your own mill so you have complete control over your crush. They are back ordered now but, these Cereal Killer Grain Mill for Crushing Grains and Barley from AIH with free shipping are a great deal. Don’t give up on the BIAB... it’s a great process if your crush is adequate and you have a good bag.

Edit:
After re-reading your post and looking at your other post, I assume you’re not located in the US. I don’t know what you have available to you for ordering equipment/supplies, but would still consider purchasing your own mill somehow. I’m also a little confused about your process because you mention BIAB in your OP, but your other thread and the rest of this one talk about mash tuns, lautering and sparging. 🤷‍♂️
I've just started this hobby, bought all basic equipment 3 weeks ago. I will probably end up getting my own grain mill - then I can buy grain in bulk and mill when I need to.
My first brew was a BIAB and didn't reach my SG - so consulted professor youtube and google for mash efficiency that got me modifing my coolerbox hoping to up the next brew, but not - hence this post. Trying different options - see what works best for me.
 
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Alexbrew

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I would guess you’re using too much sparge water, since the strike left you too hot rather than under the mark. Also it looks like your thermometer reads too high, it should approach 100 C at sea level and less at altitude.

I dropped my digital thermometer in the hot sparse water once. I fished it out quickly and it seemed to be working. I thought I was getting 67 C, but it was drifting to higher readings. I really spent an hour at 62 C and saw very little conversion. I heated it back up after I figured it out and it came out fine.
I'm realising now that I'm using too much sparge water and diluting my wort too much. I need to take greater care getting the volumes just right .. and not a drop more. Was thinking of getting a second thermometer to confirm each other. Also starting to realise that how crucial mash temps are - so this needs to be 100%
 

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