Reflections on My Sixth Brew Day

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3 Dawg Night

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Dancing Rabbit Pale Ale (APA)
Target OG: 1.053
Target FG: 1.009
IBU: 42.7
SRM: 7.3

93% US 2-Row
7% Caramel 40L
Cascade FWH, flavor, aroma, & dry hop
US-05

This is the first in a series of brews to create and refine a house pale ale recipe. I plan to try different character malts (e.g., munich, victory, etc.) and hops (i.e., Centennial, Chinook) to dial in a pale ale tailored to my tastes.

I awoke at 5:30am, grabbed a cup of coffee, and began heating my strike water. The forecast said no rain until this afternoon. More on that later (**foreshadowing**).

This was my first brew using FWH, and I think that REALLY helped avoid a boilover. I also reduced the heat as the wort approached the boil, so that helped as well.

About 10 minutes into the boil, I started hearing thunder. No worries, I have plenty of time before the rain gets here. **more foreshadowing**

With 10 minutes left in the boil, I drop my IC into the kettle to sanitize. I had already been running the hose to fill my ice-water recirculation reservoir (cooler). The hose was off when I dropped my IC, but the water in the IC was enough to stop my boil, so I cranked up the heat. I turned my back on it (I know) for a couple of seconds to do something else, and it boiled over on me. Another boilover lesson learned (hopefully).

This was my first time using my ice-water recirculation setup. Rather than actual ice, I used six HUGE ice packs (these). I used ground-temperature water until I hit ~100 degF, then switched over to my submerged pump in the ice bath. Those ice packs just weren't able to keep up. Next time, I'll buy 20-40 lb of ice. I got it down to ~72 degF, racked to my fermenter, then put it in my fermentation chamber (mini fridge) to cool the rest of the way to pitching temp (64 degF). As I was racking, a couple of raindrops started to fall. This was at 10am: decidedly NOT the afternoon. I moved the operation under my patio umbrella to finish up.

I've stopped rehydrating my dry yeast, and I don't aerate either (both per Fermentis' recommendations). I haven't noticed any ill effects to my beer.

So, now it's happily fermenting. All my (waterproof) equipment is still outside in the rain. Maybe that will help with cleanup.

Now my reflections:

1) My mash water temperature targets are off. I've been targeting 15 degF above target, to allow for 3 degF into my MLT, and 12 degF into the grain. My initial mash temperature was high by ~5 degF, so I'm going to try 10 degF above target next time, and see where that gets me.

2) The iodine test showed full conversion at 45 minutes. I'll probably keep using the iodine test for the next few brews, but if I get similar results, I'll likely cut out the iodine test and just mash for 60 minutes. I'm constantly looking for ways to simplify the brew day, and I'll cut anything that doesn't appear to provide any benefit.

3) I used yeast nutrient, because I have it. Once I run out, I'll probably try a few brews without. I doubt I'll see a difference.

4) I'm a batch sparger. I collect first runnings, add sparge water, let it rest for ~10 minutes, collect second runnings, then fire the kettle. Does anyone out there fire the kettle as soon as the first runnings are collected. That might save at least 10 minutes on the brew day.

5) How do you collect your pre-boil gravity reading when using FWH? Will the hops affect the gravity reading?

6) If the bagged ice ends up working better than the ice packs, I think I'm going to regret not shelling out for the Jaded Hydra.

7) I have an 8-gallon kettle. I ALREADY wish I'd shelled out for at least 10 gallons.

8) I got a 76% brewhouse efficiency! I'm thrilled about that. I'd been averaging 64%. I'm not sure what would have made such a difference. I adjusted my sparge water pH to match my mash pH. That's the only thing that I can think that I did differently, but I don't think that would have made a huge difference (if any). I don't own a grain mill; I'm beholden to whatever Atlantic Brew Supply has their gap set to. Maybe it was a finer grind this time? A mill is definitely on my Christmas list.
 

day_trippr

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Congrats on your first brew day! :mug: It reads like it went quite well!
Comments:

1 - consider using a brew day tool like "BeerSmith" to help with things like strike water temperature. Using it, and taking an average IR temperature reading of my MLT/FB, and separately getting a grain temperature from the middle of one of the grain buckets, I rarely miss my initial mash temperature by more than 1F.

2 - Not to dissuade doing iodine tests - I think that can be a good thing for confidence and all - but if you nail your strike temperature and you have a good crush, there's a good chance full conversion will happen within a half hour.

3 - Be careful not to use "yeast nutrients" beyond the mfgr recommendations - and don't confuse use with must vs wort. Generally, there really isn't a need for yeast nutrients, and those that are essentially DAP can actually inhibit yeast activity when used to excess.

4 - Yes, batch or fly-sparge (I do the latter) once you have a couple of inches of wort in the boil kettle you can fire up its burner and save some brew day time. But remember not to rely on any BK gauges until their probes are actually immersed.

5 - Hops should not affect SG readings. You should be able to draw viable samples at any point in the brew process.

6 - Chilling can be challenging if one's water supply runs appreciably higher than pitching temperature. Having a 120' drilled well here with year 'round water temperatures in the 50s, that one challenge I don't face :)

7 - That happens :)

8 - That large a gain in efficiency indicates a tighter crush. Make sure they keep doing that :D

All in all you should feel pretty good about all this!

Cheers!
 
OP
3 Dawg Night

3 Dawg Night

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@day_trippr Thanks!

1) I use Brewer's Friend. I've found it more user-friendly than BeerSmith.

3) It's Wyeast Beer Nutrient. The bottle says 1/2 tsp per 5 gallons, so that's what I use. I'm really just in it for the zinc.

4) My BK is not that sophisticated! It's a plain-old 40 qt SS kettle to which I added volume markings myself (electrochemical etching).

6) Groundwater temp in July in Alabama is . . . suboptimal.
 
OP
3 Dawg Night

3 Dawg Night

Brewing to "save money."
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5f over mash temp is pretty high......might end up with a higher FG......
I stirred it with the lid off until I got it down to my target temperature. The initial temperature was 157 degF, and I got it down to 152 degF before putting the lid on, so I don't think it'll cause any problems.
 

bracconiere

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keep me/us posted, i'd be curious... (i haven't even cared about mash temp since 2014! it always ends up triple zero ;))
 

bracconiere

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OK, I'll bite

LOL, you'll learn better... like this goddamn mouse in my house, smart enough to not eat the bait, steal the nut from the trap without setting it off...and aparently my latest attempt with a glue trap....it's too smart to walk on it!!!! ;)


but to the question at hand, i can mash at 145f,-162f....but when i add my 10g's of gluco to the fermenter, i get 1.000 FG every time, turns my potentially 6% beer into 8-9% with less calories even, and if i add enough carmel/dark malt, don't notice the loss of mouth feel.....


edit: (and yes, if i can't kill this damn thing...i'm seriously considering buying an aquarium to keep it as a pet! lol if you can't be em, right?)
 

RM-MN

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1) My mash water temperature targets are off. I've been targeting 15 degF above target, to allow for 3 degF into my MLT, and 12 degF into the grain. My initial mash temperature was high by ~5 degF, so I'm going to try 10 degF above target next time, and see where that gets me.
Use a calculator for your strike temp. You don't want to start the mash too high.

2) The iodine test showed full conversion at 45 minutes. I'll probably keep using the iodine test for the next few brews, but if I get similar results, I'll likely cut out the iodine test and just mash for 60 minutes. I'm constantly looking for ways to simplify the brew day, and I'll cut anything that doesn't appear to provide any benefit.
This is why you don't want to star the mash at too high of a temp. Much of the conversion happens quickly and the higher temp will denature the beta enzyme leaving you with beer with more body than desired. If you tried the iodine test earlier you might find that your conversion is complete much earlier than you suspect.

3) I used yeast nutrient, because I have it. Once I run out, I'll probably try a few brews without. I doubt I'll see a difference.
Yeast nutrient is necessary for wines because the juices do not contain the free amino nitrogen the yeast need. Wort does contain it.

4) I'm a batch sparger. I collect first runnings, add sparge water, let it rest for ~10 minutes, collect second runnings, then fire the kettle. Does anyone out there fire the kettle as soon as the first runnings are collected. That might save at least 10 minutes on the brew day.
Batch sparging does not need a 10 minute wait. Dump in the sparge water, stir well, and drain.

8) I got a 76% brewhouse efficiency! I'm thrilled about that. I'd been averaging 64%. I'm not sure what would have made such a difference. I adjusted my sparge water pH to match my mash pH. That's the only thing that I can think that I did differently, but I don't think that would have made a huge difference (if any). I don't own a grain mill; I'm beholden to whatever Atlantic Brew Supply has their gap set to. Maybe it was a finer grind this time? A mill is definitely on my Christmas list.
The crush of the grain is the most likely source of the gain. It also controls how quickly conversion occurs. Unless you control the milling, you don't control either. The pH of the mash is critical, sparge is not.
 
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