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OG 1.030 instead of 1.060, is this why?

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jajabee

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Ok, did my first AG batch yesterday, following a recipe as close as possible. Expected the OG to be 1.060, but two different readings said 1.030. I've read up on the mashing process, and I'm thinking I made a bunch of different mistakes that might have caused it. Would you expect these to have caused a .030 drop in OG?

- 12 pounds of grain
- 6 gallons 165F in mash tun -> ice -> 155F
- after 60 min -> 154F
- collect 5 gallons wort
- add 2 gallons to mash tun 185F
- 6.5 gallons in brew kettle

Mistakes:

- Too much water in the initial mash for 12 pounds of grain?
- Didn't stir it at all after adding the grains
- Drained the wort out as fast as the valve would let it, let it drain until it stopped, then added 2 more gallons at 185F and immediately drained that out just as fast, again until all the liquid was out.

Should I have stirred the mash occasionally during the hour of mashing? Was 185 too hot for the sparge water? Should the sparge water sit in the mash tun for a while before you collect the second runnings?

And would all of this have caused such a huge drop in the OG?

Thanks!
 

BierMuncher

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Did you have the LHBS crush your grains? :p

Seriously...a 1030 where a 1060 should be and a terrible crush is the first thing I look to. Your process...while maybe not exact....was good enough to get you to 1050 or above.
 
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Stir between mashes or you're not effectively rising grains. This could definitely kill your efficiency (OG)
Also, what was the temp of the sample when you took your reading? Hydrometers are generally calibrated at 60* and should be read with the sample @ 60* although it probably wouldn be 30* off. Crush would be a good place to start.
BM's much smarter than me btw. :)
 
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jajabee

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Ha, I crushed them myself, and actually I did do a terrible job. :D They had two DIY mills in the grain room, and I assumed they were the same... nope. Turns out the one I used ground it a lot finer than it was supposed to be. They told me all I had to worry about was a stuck sparge, though, and it drained fine. Would too-fine grain have caused this?
 
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jajabee

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The temp of both readings would have been around 65F, using the cheapo hydrometer that came with our old True Brew kit.
 

BierMuncher

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...Turns out the one I used ground it a lot finer than it was supposed to be....
If your crush was too fine, I'd suspect you had a whole lot of dough balls in your mash. Dough balls are dried lumps of grain that don't dissolve unless thoroughly mixed and can result in low efficiency. I've seen dough balls the size of a softball before.

I use a paint mixer in my power drill to mix my grains into my water.

How did you add your grains to your water?
 

SpanishCastleAle

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- Too much water in the initial mash for 12 pounds of grain?
- Didn't stir it at all after adding the grains
- Drained the wort out as fast as the valve would let it, let it drain until it stopped, then added 2 more gallons at 185F and immediately drained that out just as fast, again until all the liquid was out.
My guess is the second two things. Mashing too thin might cause a difference but nothing like the drastic difference you got.

You def need to stir after adding the grains. First, to get all the grain mixed with the water thoroughly. Then you should at least occasionally stir to keep the temperature uniformly distributed throughout the mash.

I don't batch sparge so maybe someone else can help you here but I would think draining too fast could def be a problem...it would certainly be a big efficiency hit in my fly-sparging rig/process. Especially if you didn't stir.

My suggestion would be to write out your steps before brewday. Brewing is similar to Baseball in that...there are extended time intervals where nothing happens then...BAM...it's show time and you have to perform several things consecutively...then back to 'hurry-up-and-wait' mode. When you get to those points where you have to 'work'...it's nice to have things written down so you know you're not forgetting anything. If nothing else it will make it more relaxing.:)
 
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The only real problem that would cause efficiency issues I can see is not stirring after adding the grain. Do you mean you added water to the tun, dumped in the grain and closed the lid? Or, did you stir the grain in.

If you did no stirring at all you likely had a giant dough ball, which will cause problems. I'm not sure how much for sure though.

edit: looks like I'm just piling on with the same answer...
 
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jajabee

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How did you add your grains to your water?
I was using one of those big orange cylindrical rubbermaid coolers, fitted with a false bottom and a thermometer (yay borrowed equipment!). I poured about 3 gallons of 165F strike water in, covered and let it sit for a few minutes to warm up the plastic, then dumped all 12 pounds in. Stirred it a bit with a plastic spoon (a little tricky cause of the thermometer probe sticking into the middle of it, and the shortness of my spoon), added more hot water to bring the temp up, then covered it and didn't touch it again.

So the stirring should be pretty intense, then? I'd heard I shouldn't disturb the grainbed, so I didn't want to touch it. And yeah, I'm definitely writing this down... my 6 foot five heavy-lifting assistant ;) and I had a great time brewing yesterday, the borrowed equipment meant the whole process was only 4 hours, including cleanup, and other than the super low OG it all went very smoothly. Smell's amazing, too, and the bubbling sounds coming from the bathroom are driving the dog nuts. :D I'm thinking I might try a do-over batch of the same beer tomorrow, try to correct the OG problems, and then compare the two batches when they're ready.

Thanks for the troubleshooting, this is very helpful.
 
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I was using one of those big orange cylindrical rubbermaid coolers, fitted with a false bottom and a thermometer (yay borrowed equipment!). I poured about 3 gallons of 165F strike water in, covered and let it sit for a few minutes to warm up the plastic, then dumped all 12 pounds in. Stirred it a bit with a plastic spoon (a little tricky cause of the thermometer probe sticking into the middle of it, and the shortness of my spoon), added more hot water to bring the temp up, then covered it and didn't touch it again.

So the stirring should be pretty intense, then? I'd heard I shouldn't disturb the grainbed, so I didn't want to touch it. And yeah, I'm definitely writing this down... my 6 foot five heavy-lifting assistant ;) and I had a great time brewing yesterday, the borrowed equipment meant the whole process was only 4 hours, including cleanup, and other than the super low OG it all went very smoothly. Smell's amazing, too, and the bubbling sounds coming from the bathroom are driving the dog nuts. :D I'm thinking I might try a do-over batch of the same beer tomorrow, try to correct the OG problems, and then compare the two batches when they're ready.

Thanks for the troubleshooting, this is very helpful.
Yes, definitely stir the crap out of it as you add grain to the water. You don't need to stir again, but absolutely give it a big stir up front to break up dough balls, equalize temperature throughout the mash, etc.

Not disturbing the grain bed is during the vorlof. You want clear beer draining into your kettle, so don't disturb the grain bed at this stage or you'll start getting grain bits in your kettle.
 

jjp36

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So the stirring should be pretty intense, then? I'd heard I shouldn't disturb the grainbed, so I didn't want to touch it.
The only time you don't want to disturb the grain bed is during sparging/vorlaufing. When your first dough in you want to stir the sh*t out of it to make sure its all mixed in.

Also, every time i have my LHBS crush my grain my efficiency drops ~25%. Luckily i always have some DME on hand to make up the difference.
Their crush = teh suck.
 

JesseRC

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Ok , I think you need to post your process. I don't know any AG'r that can do it in 4 hours tops. Did you mash for 60 minutes. Did you boil for 60 minutes. And you really only lost 1 gallon to grain absorbtion?
 
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jajabee

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I have DME on hand... could I have added it to the boil to improve efficiency?
 
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jajabee

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Ok , I think you need to post your process. I don't know any AG'r that can do it in 4 hours tops. Did you mash for 60 minutes. Did you boil for 60 minutes. And you really only lost 1 gallon to grain absorbtion?
I was pretty surprised, too. I was using this setup, borrowed from the Oregon Brew Crew (for free! nice!). 60 minute mash, 60 minute boil. The burners are 55K BTU, I had the yeast starter on a stir plate from the day before, and the immersion chiller was built for a 10g batch, and we were only doing 5g. I also swirled the chiller around inside the brew kettle as it chilled, by grabbing the ends of the copper with potholders (not easy to do and keep the cookie sheet lid on at the same time, need to find a better lid for next time, but the chilling didn't take more than 10 minutes). Being outside helped out a lot, didn't have to worry at all about keeping things clean or where to drain stuff. It just all went very smoothly.
 

Bobby_M

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Well efficiency is how much sugar you got out of the grain so adding the DME wouldn't help that. It would get your OG back to the recipe's intent though.

I know some people like mashing thinner but frankly I think it was a large contributor to your low efficiency because 2 gallons of sparge in 12lbs of grain is not all that great.

You can compromise next time and use 1.5qt/lb so that would be 18qts for 12lbs or 4.5 gallons. You'll drain out about 3.25 gallons. If you're shooting for 6.5g preboil, that leaves a whole 3.25 gallons to sparge with.

Another big mistake was NOT stirring after you added the sparge water. This is conceivably the most crucial aspect of the batch sparge process.
 
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jajabee

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I lost between 1 gallon and 1.5 to the mash tun, but it looks like that's because I was doing it wrong. :)
 
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jajabee

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Okay, I brewed a do-over batch of this today, trying to fix the mashing mistakes I made. I used the right grain crusher, used less water in the first mash, stirred like crazy, and drained more slowly. My OG is now 1.054! Woo! Still not the 1.062 from the recipe, but I'll take it. :) It's sitting next to its sister batch right now, I look forward to comparing them. :)

Thanks everyone!
 
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jajabee

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Oh, and I timed everything... exactly 4 hours from starting the burner for the strike water to finishing cleanup. It took 13 minutes to take the 5.5 gallons from boiling to 80 degrees, and I forgot to time how long it took for the wort to start boiling, but it was fast, maybe 5 minutes. I'd probably have to drop $500+ to buy equipment like this for myself, the OBC is really doing a great thing letting folks borrow this. :)
 

MgMt_Home_Brew

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This sounds like my first AG batch that I did on sunday. My OG was really low too and now I think I didn't stir it enough after I added my sparge water. I will probably brew this weekend and try to fix some of my mistakes.
 

BierMuncher

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Okay, I brewed a do-over batch of this today...My OG is now 1.054! Woo!...
If at first you don't succeed....:rockin:

If you can get your hands on a paint stirring bit for a drill, that makes stirring easier.

I always also reach in and give everything a good stir about 15 minutes into the rest. Just kind of redistributes heat and insures any latent dough balls are broken up.

Nice job with giving it another go.
 

BarnabyHooge

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I had about the same results on Saturday with the same mistakes. I was shooting for 1.058 and got 1.035. The LHBS crushed it for me while I waited, next time I'll ask them to run it twice....and give me the proper grains. (i got flaked oats, not wheat)

I won't get a chance give it another go for a couple weeks but I'll have to keep all of these things in mind next go around.

Thats great you get to try it out before you from a ton of $$$ on AG equipment.
 

MgMt_Home_Brew

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This sounds like my first AG batch that I did on sunday. My OG was really low too and now I think I didn't stir it enough after I added my sparge water. I will probably brew this weekend and try to fix some of my mistakes.
Well I did brew again this past sunday and this time I did a 2 batch sparge and stirred the crap out of it when i doughed in and when sparging. I was shooting for 1.046 and hit 1.042 and by my calculations that puts me around 65% which is great compared to my last batch :mug:

I have a couple questions on sparging. When I add my sparge water should I be letting it sit for a certain amount of time? I understand that I will need the grain to settle again but is there any harm in letting it sit too long? I was shooting for around 5 minutes or a little more. Should I go for 10 minutes?

As always thanks guys
 

BrewDey

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I'd suggest stirring during the mash a few times, and also taking your time while sparging. I like to have the sparge take at least an hour. I fly sparge and try to keep it to a trickle-not a stream-for at least the initial stages of the sparge. Once the wort is running fairly clear-I open it up a bit.
 

MgMt_Home_Brew

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Alright I did take my time more this past batch so next time I will wait a little longer. I also think I am going to invest in one of those attachments for a drill that will mix the snot out of it...
 

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Did you top up your primary with pre-boiled or distilled water? You may have lowered your gravity if you added too much water! In combination with what everyone else said…
 
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