Things I learned on my brew day this morning

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Teufelhunde

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I've been brewing for around 2.5 years now (Extracts at first, lately switched to all grain, today was all grain batch #6), Brewing in a Brewzilla 3.1.1. I am at the point of dialing in my processes and starting to get comfortable with the all grain.

Things I learned today:

1) I had read of a lot of folks with AIO's using a brewing bag in the kettle between the false bottom and the malt pipe to keep all the garbage out of the fermenter. Had a bag hanging around and decided WTH, I'll give it a shot. It did a wonderful job of catching all the debris (grain and hop fibers from 5 oz's pellet hops (5 gal batch)), almost nothing in the fermenter. During the boil, however, the boiling wort under the bag kept lifting the bottom of the bag to the surface. I wasn't sure that my hops were getting the wort circulation that they wanted, so I kept trying to punch the bag back down, using my mash paddle. In the process, really f'ed up my false bottom(didn't think it was that flimsy). I got it straightened back out to where I think I won't need a new one, but, don't think I'll use a bag again.

2) I had Iodine today for the first time, and when I went to check the PH at 15 minutes into the mash, the Iodine showed me that I had already converted all the starch. I had read that the conversion happens fairly quickly, but this still surprised me. I continued the mash for the full 60 minutes, as I recirculate the wort, and it always gets more clear as the mash marches on.

3) Next brewing purchase: grain mill.....I really need to start crushing my own grain. I have been buying crushed grains, either from my not so LHBS (70 miles away) or online. My mash efficiencies have been all over the board, from 50% to 85%. No consistency whatsoever, and I don't think I will ever have consistency until I take control over the crush. I don't really GAF if my efficiency is 50 or 85, as long as it is the same EVERY time.

4) I brew in the house and place my Brewzilla in front of the stove, so I can use the exhaust fan. It gets some of it, but, of course, can't get all the steam coming off of the boil. A thirty minute boil certainly keeps the house more comfortable than a 60 minute boil, so all future recipes will be adjusted to 30 minute boils.

YMMV

Lon
 

RM-MN

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Response by the numbers:
1. No help here, sorry
2. The time to full conversion is dependent on how fine the grain is milled. You might want to experiment as I did with the iodine. I suggest starting with 5 minutes and then sampling every 5 minutes until iodine shows full conversion. It might be a big surprise. Do not stop the mash when you show full conversion. It takes longer to extract the flavor than to convert.
3. Until you control the milling, someone else gets to control the efficiency just as you have found. For brewing in a bag, the Corona style mill is great and not expensive. If you want, you can use a hand held drill instead of the hand crank.
4. I have gone completely to the shorter boil. Sometimes I extend it to 40 minutes if I have another project to do while the boil is going. If I boil off too much, I know that it is only water that boiled off so I can just add some back. It would be better to use distilled water as my tap water (no chlorine) has a lot of mineral dissolved.
 

hotbeer

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Yesterday during my brew I learned that I should check my hop inventory more carefully. I only had half the amount of Cascade and Chinook that the recipe required.

Didn't have anything that's normally accepted as a substitute. So will be interesting to see how the Simcoe and Amarillo mingle with the rest of the hop schedule.
 

jdauria

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Are you pulling the bag after the mash, dumping the grain and them putting the bag back in for boil and hop additions? Without something on the bottom to hold the bag off it, you risk scorching the bag during the boil, Get small hop bags and throw in a few glass marbles to hold the bags down. Use an Anvil Foundry myself and just use a bag for the mash, hops go right in unless I am making beer with a lot of hops, then they go in hop bags.

100% on getting your own mill, shops mill grain fairly wide to prevent stuck sparges. My efficiencies greatly improved with my own mill.
 

kevin58

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In most cases people with all-in-one units only use the bag during the mash. The grain goes in the bag and then you lift the bag and all the grains after the mash. This keeps a lot of grain particles out of your wort. A hop bag is slightly different... not as big as a mash bag and with some sort of frame to rest on top of the boil kettle which keeps the bag off the bottom. During the mash the heat is not enough to scorch the mash bag but during the boil you could definitely burn through that bag if it stays on the bottom.
 

Abhishek Dewan

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I use cotton bag in my brewzilla for mashing, and for hop additions during boil, use a smaller cotton hop bag with a steel tablespoon in it to keep it under. As for boil, for lighter colour beers I too use 30 minute boil but for darker, malt forward beers, always do 60 minutes boil. It brings in better taste as wort is cooked and not just evaporate water, at least this is what I feel.
 
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