I tried my hand at AG for the first time. Tried an oatmeal stout with an OG of 1.068. I followed and hit all the temperature marks on the dot. Ended up with an OG of 1.048. What do I do now? Pitch and hope for the best?
I would pitch and not worry. ABV will be a bit lower-just drink 2. As far as the low efficiency I would just start looking at your process and see were you may need to improve. Without knowing to much info it could be many things, crush, ph, temps, recipe, amongst others. Throw out some more info and sure you will get a bunch of replies about possible solutions for the low efficiency.
I followed the 3 week chocolate oatmeal stout recipe on the forum. I cut everything in half because I don't have a big enough kettle for a full AG. Had LBHS crush the grains, no equipment for testing Ph, hit the right temps for the right amount of times. What did I miss?
Could have been any number of things. Don't sweat it. Meticulous notes and repetition are key in 'getting it right'. 1.048 will be a fantastic session beer! Something to do while you're pondering your next brewday.
Had a grist ratio of 1.5 quarts and did a backward calculation for the spathe water with a boil off rate of .58 gal per hour. Unknown crush rate. But now I'm thinking over my method. I heated my spathe water to 175 to bring up the grain to 170 but I didn't let it steep for any really period of time. Can that cause such a low efficiency?
How long did you mash for and at what temp? As for letting the sparge soak for any length of time, that is really a choice for the brewer. I generally vorlof until clear, drain the first runnings, dump in half the sparge water, stir well, vorlof until clear, drain the tun, dump in the rest of the sparge water, vorlof and drain. I used to let the sparge soak for 10-15 minutes, but stopped doing so to save time. My beers have not suffered.
If you are confindent in your mash/sparge technique then i would look at grain crush first. On your next batch try running the grains through the mill at your LHBS twice and see if that make a difference.
I am a big fan of only changing/testing one part of my process at a time to determine the cause of an issue.