Poor Conversion?

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PatsFan1985

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Hello everyone. I have been brewing for about a year, and this summer I decided to start doing all grain brews. My issue is that I haven't had one turn out correctly until now (it was a city water problem). However, my OG is only 1033 which is extremely low. I used 5 pounds each of Munich and Vienna malts, and a pound of 60L crystal. I'm making a bock, and I was hoping to get up into the 1050's at the least.

I use a picnic cooler for the mash. I usually use a step mashing method I found on a website. I use 120F-130F degree strike water, then add the grains. About an hour later I add boiling water to bring the temperature up to 150's. I then let it sit there for about 2 hours. Then I drain the contents into the brew kettle, and use fresh boiling sparge water. I let this sit for about 20 minutes then collect it and vourof (spelling?) that a few times to be certain I got as much sugar as possible.

Can anyone tell me where I'm going wrong? I've read Vienna and Munich are both acceptable base malts, is this not true? Am I heating the grains too much and deactivating the enzymes to break down the starches? Please someone let me know, I need to have a beer finished for a competition in December and I can't even get a decent gravity!

Thanks!
Brendan
 

Mainebrew

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Woops, My opinion only, I think your initial temps are to low. I do not think you need to let your mash sit for 2 hrs. Conversion can happen in as little as 30 min at the right temp. I would shoot for a temp of 152 f - 154 f for a hour . Try a 1 gallon batch as a experiment. Again MY opinion only.
 
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Yea, your mash schedule is just weird. You don't need a protein rest at ~120 with those grains. Mash in at ~152-4, hold that temp for an hour, and sparge. you need to simplify your process a lot.
 

The Pol

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Yeah, that is the strangest mash that I have ever seen. That is likely playing a role in the issue.
 
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PatsFan1985

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Yeah, that is the strangest mash that I have ever seen. That is likely playing a role in the issue.
In what way is it odd? I got it from a recipe online, which doesn't mean it's necessarily good. Should I be using some 2-row in place of the other malts?
 
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In what way is it odd? I got it from a recipe online, which doesn't mean it's necessarily good. Should I be using some 2-row in place of the other malts?
The mash is odd because there is NO reason you should be mashing for so long. the protein rest at ~122 should be approximately 20 minutes, and that is only if you need one (i.e. with a heavy wheat bill). The main mash should be done within an hour. mash out is 10 minutes (again, if you need/want to use one). Sparging varies (batch or fly) but should take no more than another hour with a long fly sparge.
 

The Pol

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The mash is odd because there is NO reason you should be mashing for so long. the protein rest at ~122 should be approximately 20 minutes, and that is only if you need one (i.e. with a heavy wheat bill). The main mash should be done within an hour. mash out is 10 minutes (again, if you need/want to use one). Sparging varies (batch or fly) but should take no more than another hour with a long fly sparge.
Exactly what HE said....

Not the ingredients, but the process is very odd.

Typically people dont step mash anymore with todays highly modified malts. Generally you are looking at mashing in at 154F to rest for 60 minutes, you CAN mash-out though it isnt necessary... that should take 10 minutes, sparge (batch sparging should take 15 minutes, fly sparge about 40 minutes) and boil for an hour.

That is the "typical" mash procedure.
 

WVbrewer

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While it won't affect efficiency, I wouldn't sparge with boiling water. Your likely to get some off flavors from your grains at such high temps. Try 170-180 ....Just a thought.....
 
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PatsFan1985

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Thanks for your help everyone. I'll stop messing around with stepping and just shoot for 152-154. And I'll be careful of the sparge temp too so I don't get those off flavors.
:mug:
 
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