OG problems when brewing with wheat

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augie21

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I just brewed a Wit (I've done a number of them now) and for the life of me, I can never hit my target OG when I brew with wheat. Had this same problem with Hefe's in the past.

Am I missing something important when brewing with wheat? I used flaked wheat at 45% of the grain bill with .5lb of unmalted wheat for mouthfeel and that cracker like flavor. This was my first time using unmalted wheat, but I'm fairly sure that's not the issue.

I talked to the LBS and was told that since I was using such a small percentage, that no extra step were necessary beyond the single infusion I went with.

Mashed at 154F for 60 min and sparged with 170F water. the rest of the grain bill was Belgian Pils, FYI. I ended up 9 points short of where I was shooting. When brewing with wheat I'm usually 5 to 9 points short.

Any input? I want to nail one of these beer just once. Thanks!
 

Clarke

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I forget the technical name but you should mash at around 122-133 for 30 minutes before raising the temp to your desired mash temp... yours is 154F, I try to hit as low as I can for wheats, about 148F, the lower the mash temp the more fermentable sugars which should give you more alcohol and a dryer beer, which I think is to style for a wheat.
but this first step should bring you your desired result.
 

AnOldUR

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With that much flaked wheat, I'd be using rice hulls. Even if you don't need them for your lauter, they may help with efficiency by thinning out the mash.

I don't think you need the unmalted wheat for mouthfeel. All that flaked wheat should be enough. If your looking for the "cracker like flavor", maybe try a little Victory or Biscuit malt.

FYI, a protien rest "is used to break up proteins which might otherwise cause chill haze and can improve the head retention", not improve efficiency. And since the stated problem is efficiency, not attenuation, mash temperature is not the problem.
 

Clarke

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FYI, a protien rest "is used to break up proteins which might otherwise cause chill haze and can improve the head retention", not improve efficiency. And since the stated problem is efficiency, not attenuation, mash temperature is not the problem.
I agree, but this is where I got my info from so maybe I interpret it wrong.

PRINCIPLES AND ADVICE
What makes a multiple-step infusion mash different from a singe-step infusion
mash is the inclusion of a protein rest of 20-30 minutes at or near 122°F.
The purpose of a protein rest is to use proteolytic enzymes within the grain
to break down large protein molecules in the mash, which achieves four
important things:

-- Reduces protein haze when the beer is chilled
-- Raids body and head retention by creating small molecular-weight proteins which remain in the beer
-- more thoroughly releases starch from grain’s endosperm, giving higher mash yields
-- Creates a nutrient-rich wort for yeast

http://www.northernbrewer.com/documentation/AdvancedMashing.pdf

-edit- am I wrong in saying, the lower the mash temp the higher the fermentables, which in turn would also increase the efficiency?
 

AnOldUR

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am I wrong in saying, the lower the mash temp the higher the fermentables, which in turn would also increase the efficiency?
Yes, you're confusing efficiency with attenuation.

And flaked wheat (and other flaked grains) are pre-gelatinized making a protein rest unnecessary.
 

billl

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Are you measuring along the way during the mash? If not, you should take some gravity readings and see where you are losing efficiency. Flaked wheat has no enzymes, so if you are using a large percentage, you might not be getting full conversion in 60 minutes. A 90 minute mash might be in order.
 

Black Island Brewer

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I agree, but this is where I got my info from so maybe I interpret it wrong.

PRINCIPLES AND ADVICE
What makes a multiple-step infusion mash different from a singe-step infusion
mash is the inclusion of a protein rest of 20-30 minutes at or near 122°F.
The purpose of a protein rest is to use proteolytic enzymes within the grain
to break down large protein molecules in the mash, which achieves four
important things:

-- Reduces protein haze when the beer is chilled
-- Raids body and head retention by creating small molecular-weight proteins which remain in the beer
-- more thoroughly releases starch from grain’s endosperm, giving higher mash yields
-- Creates a nutrient-rich wort for yeast

http://www.northernbrewer.com/documentation/AdvancedMashing.pdf

-edit- am I wrong in saying, the lower the mash temp the higher the fermentables, which in turn would also increase the efficiency?
You are not wrong, but primarily in undermodified malts. With undermodified malts, a protein rest helps break apart the protein packet that holds the starches, allowing them to be accessed by enzymes during the saccrification rest. This is what can help improve efficiency. (Attenuation will be affected by the temperature you perform your saccrification rest at.)
 

Clarke

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Yes, you're confusing efficiency with attenuation.

And flaked wheat (and other flaked grains) are pre-gelatinized making a protein rest unnecessary.
You are correct in saying I am confused. If I can skip a step, I am all ears.

This was my understanding, Flaked Wheat is un-malted which I believed to mean un-modified. I have found conflicting opinions, where some say yes to cereal mash and others that say no need. What I have just learned today, is the heat from the pressure of the steel roll, gelatinizes the grain, making the starches easier to get to, and raw grains that have not already been malted, flaked or torrified require a cereal mash.

So cereal mash is not required, which I find to be great, it is a pain the butt to step mash.

http://beersmith.com/blog/2013/09/06/cereal-mash-steps-for-all-grain-beer-brewing/

but now with all of this being said, the OP is mentioning European style beers, and again my understanding is that European grain is not fully modified and should go thru a cereal mash to help with there conversion. So OP may still benefit from a cereal mash? and if anything else a longer mash time 90 minute vs. 60 minutes may help with a fuller conversion?

Mash temperature vs attenuation, I know nothing about this but for me, it would stand to reason that the more fermentables and the right yeast the longer the attenuation, the less fermentables the quicker attenuation because once the food (sugar) is gone they just settle out so mash temp should effect both attenuation and efficiency.

I do see your point about the gelatinize maybe thinning the sweet wart, sort of like a fly trap maybe?

-edit- the more I am thinking about it, efficiency, attenuation and flocculation all revolve around the type of yeast and fermentation temperature, if the yeast flocculates to fast, your efficiency and attenuation will both be effected.
 
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augie21

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I had a pretty good conversation with the LBS about protein rest and their advice was basically, "it won't hurt but it also won't do much for you" (very shorthand version).

I've been thinking that adjusting my mashing time will likely be my best best, so next time I'm going to give it 90 minutes and see how it goes.

Thanks for all the input guys! You just prompted a bunch of reading that I needed to do anyway.


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AnOldUR

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No disrespect to billl, but in my opinion, if you're mashing at 154 and your grains are well mixed, there's no reason that conversion should take longer than 60 minutes. If the Belgian Pils is over 50% of your grain bill, there is plenty of diastatic power to convert the flaked wheat. Like I said earlier, rice hulls will give the enzymes better access to the wheat. A mash thickness in 1.5 qts/lb area will also help.

Another thing to look at is that you have an accurate mash temperature reading and that there’s not a lot of temperature stratification in the grain bed.

Good luck with what ever you do.
 

AnOldUR

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:off:

the more I am thinking about it, efficiency, attenuation and flocculation all revolve around the type of yeast and fermentation temperature, if the yeast flocculates to fast, your efficiency and attenuation will both be effected.
Grain has a potential for conversion. When speaking about efficiency it relates to how well you convert starches to sugars during the mashing process and if the volume of wort you produced meets that potential. Efficiency calculations end when the beer goes into the fermenter. They have nothing to do with the fermentability of the wort. Attenuation is a percentage of how much of those converted sugar are fermented. That is controlled by the yeast strain and the type of sugars you put in your fermenter.
 

Clarke

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-edit- the more I am thinking about it, efficiency, attenuation and flocculation all revolve around the type of yeast and fermentation temperature, if the yeast flocculates to fast, your efficiency and attenuation will both be effected.
at this point I am officially getting my efficiency and attenuation mudded together.... Yeast has nothing to do with efficiency of the mash, I am thinking too much...
 

Clarke

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:off:


Grain has a potential for conversion. When speaking about efficiency it relates to how well you convert starches to sugars during the mashing process and if the volume of wort you produced meets that potential. Efficiency calculations end when the beer goes into the fermenter. They have nothing to do with the fermentability of the wort. Attenuation is a percentage of how much of those converted sugar are fermented. That is controlled by the yeast strain and the type of sugars you put in your fermenter.
I just caught up to you, thanks for helping me understand.
 

billl

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"

No disrespect to billl, but in my opinion, if you're mashing at 154 and your grains are well mixed, there's no reason that conversion should take longer than 60 minutes. If the Belgian Pils is over 50% of your grain bill, there is plenty of diastatic power to convert the flaked wheat. Li"

There are actually lots of reason you might not get full conversion in 60 minutes. There are LOTs of threads on here about people not getting full conversion in a 60 minute mash. Anytime someone says " you should look at your crush", that is based on the idea that you aren't getting full conversion. In fact, Pretty much everyone getting less than 80% efficiency for a regular strength beer isn't getting full conversion.
 

AnOldUR

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There are actually lots of reason you might not get full conversion in 60 minutes.
Your are correct. There are reasons that conversion can take more than 60 minutes. My point is that for most beers, there's no reason to mash in a way that it takes 90 minutes to get conversion. If there's a problem with your technique, fix it. Don't compensate for it.
 

Clarke

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If there's a problem with your technique, fix it. Don't compensate for it.
+1

I am not commenting on the 60-90 minute mash debate each to their own, I just find this to be great advise all around.

Especially for BIABers who up their grain.
 

billl

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" If there's a problem with your technique, fix it. Don't compensate for it."

I would agree with that the vast majority of the time. However, it can sometimes lead to $100 solutions to $5 problems. The OP seems to be generally happy with their normal brew day but is coming up short with high percentages wheat. If this was an every day problem, then sure, time spent figuring out the true cause would be well spent. If it's a couple times a year? eh? I'd be inclined to just sip on a brew for an extra 30 minutes.

Realistically, all of us could spend time/money optimizing mash conditions and get full conversion in well under 60 minutes. That timeframe is just a guideline of what most people can get without spending a whole lot of effort on mash chemistry. 60 minutes compensates for a host of minor inefficiencies. 90 minutes compensates for slightly more inefficiencies. There are some people who think it's fun to chase 90% efficiency numbers. There are some people who are happy with a solid 70%. You can make good beer either way, so I don't think there is good reason to look down on someone for "compensating" for lower efficiency.
 

Clarke

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There are some people who think it's fun to chase 90% efficiency numbers. There are some people who are happy with a solid 70%. You can make good beer either way, so I don't think there is good reason to look down on someone for "compensating" for lower efficiency.

I agree with both you guys, I chase technique and the most inexpensive, minimalistic way to get there. I brew every second weekend and for me it is worth spending $100 to save $5 over time. I see your point and I hope no one thinks that I am looking down on anyone for their brewing style. Opinions and buttholes, sometimes I'm more of butthole. Sorry for any offence on my part.
 

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Are you using your LBS grain mill or your own?

If the LBS, you may have to ask them, and generally they don't mind.

For me, I had that same issue when I brewed a Hefe last year. My OG was just of target.

About a month ago, I brewed a Blonde, with 15% White Wheat. I notice the crush was really off with the wheat malt. I would say 60% was uncracked or barely cracked. Wheat is so hard that it can push the rollers back when milling. I adjusted the rollers, to get a good consistent crush. We our target OG on the nose.

So, i would recommend, next time you use wheat, keep that separate for the rest of the grain. Mill everything else, and then tighten the rollers and mill the wheat. See if that works for you and hopefully you get the results your expecting.
 

rmyurick

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Good advice from tschafer. It's probably either the quality of the crush, or maybe the base malt doesn't have the enzyme level necessary to convert. Did you do an iodine test? Was the beer clear? If you're using a pils malt or a "brewer's malt" it probably shouldn't be an issue. But you can add some alpha-amylase during the mash, if it's questionable.
 

AnOldUR

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billl, you're right. Sometimes RDWHAHB is the best approach.

And in all fairness my rice hull suggestion is sometimes a way to compensate for a less than perfect MLT design. :cross:

Cheers!
 

rmyurick

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Another thing that occurred to me is water chemistry--if you have alkaline water supply, it can be harder to convert a very light (color) mash. Might need to add a bit of acid.

You can always add extract to the kettle--that's a way to relax & don't worry, etc. Have some dry wheat or malt extract on hand for that purpose.
 

Beernik

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When I brew beers with wheat, I always mill the wheat seperatly and I mill it twice. The wheat kernel is smaller than a barley kernel

The first 50% wheat beer I miller the grain all mixed together and I got horrible efficiency.

Of course, I'm talking malted wheat, not flaked wheat.

I think you might want to do a diastic power calculation of your grain bill.

If your Total Litner is less than 30, it won't self convert. If it's less than 50, you are looking at a very long mash.
 

Beernik

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I got bored and roughed out the calculation. For 45% flaked wheat (0L) and 55% Belgian Pils (assumed ~100L like other Pils malts) , the degrees Litner of the mash should be about 55 (equal to the percent that isn't flaked wheat).

55 is enough to self convert, but it might not do it in 60 minutes. When I encroach on 50 for a mash, I don't test for conversion until 60 minutes. I assume 60 minutes is a minimum.
 
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augie21

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I've been exploring the milling question as well. I'm going to attempt a better crush next time out in addition to 15 extra minutes if mashing.

I generally hit my targets with non wheat beer just fine. In fact, my efficiency has been up in the most recent non wheat recipes. I'm intending on revisiting this entire thread leading up to my next wheat beer. I'll post the results and hopefully some of you will catch it.


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