Tossed 2nd all grain

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steelerguy

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This has been a very frustrating day. My first all grain batch did not go as planned...but then again I was kind of planning on that. My mash temp was a few degrees low and the crush I got from the store I got my grain at was really bad...barely crushed. So my OG suffered a bit, but I simply added a little DME to get it where I wanted.

So I did more planning, more reading, and had directions all written out for my brew day today. Was doing a simply APA and and doing a thick mash of 1 quart per pound as per Designing Great Beers. I preheated my MLT and then put all the water in there and waited until it cooled down to 170. Stirred in the 13 pounds of grain but instead of the temperature dropping to 154 like I was expecting, it only went down to 160. Added 2 quarts of room temp water, waited 3 minutes, only dropped 2 degrees...was expecting more. Added another 2 quarts (taking my mash to 1.33 to 1) of the same room temp water, waited 3 minutes and then my temp was 144. At this point, I just gave up and tossed it.

Has anyone had a thermometer stick or be inconsistent? I am using one of those generic you get with a kit thermometers. I really don't understand how my temperature could have only dropped from 170 to 160 after adding the grain (at 70 degrees). Just does not make sense and from there on out my temps were all over the place and I could not nail it down until I had too much water and just gave up. Any thermometer recommendations? Preferably one where I can read what the temp is while the probe is submerged.
 

Brewfanatic

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I have been having the same problem as you since buying a new 10 gallon rubbermaid MLT. I think the problem has been over compensating and letting the strike water get to 175, which was way too hot even without preheating the mashtun. I am brewing again today and this time I will only heat to 165 and see how that goes, maybe you can try the same.
 

the_bird

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FWIW, I'm usually using strike water of around 165° (+/-) to hit mash temps around 152°-154°, so only losing ten degrees or so makes sense. BeerSmith will give you good numbers to work with (as you learn your system, you'll learn to make a few adjustments, like I add two degrees to the number they give me). It gets easier. I just use a simple digital probe thermometer, like $12 at Target, which works fine. If you've got a decent cooler as your mash tun, you don't have to worry too much about temperature drops over the length of the mash anyway.

Some people disgree, but I like preheating the mash tun, just so that it starts out at basically the same temp every time. One fewer variable.
 

patrck17

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Wow sorry to hear about the experience. I am doing my first all grain batch later on this week and I will try to be extra careful. One thing I noticed about my thermometer is that the temperature seemed to be dependant on how much of the probe I had submerged in the water. It was a cheap dial thermometer from austinhomebrew. I have a more expensive digital thermometer in the mail I am hoping it will make things easier on me.

Thanks for describing the experience, hopefully it will help new AG brewers avoid making the same mistake.
 

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Put faith in those strike water calculators that are part of BeerTools, Beersmith, etc... If you feed them the right information (grain temp and desired mash temp) they will not let you down.
 

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One thing with all grain brewing is that you need an accurate thermometer. I would check it with boiling water and ice water to see how yours is working.
 

ol' rummie

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I also use a digital thermometer, with your mash temp. at 160F if you gave it a good stir, it should 5-10 degrees within a few min.
Also, it good to check your mash in a couple of different spots, the temps. will vary due to pockets in your mash.
 
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steelerguy

steelerguy

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I have been having the same problem as you since buying a new 10 gallon rubbermaid MLT. I think the problem has been over compensating and letting the strike water get to 175, which was way too hot even without preheating the mashtun. I am brewing again today and this time I will only heat to 165 and see how that goes, maybe you can try the same.
I also am using a 10 gallon RUbbermaid MLT. I wonder if it is actually doing it's job better than anticipated and not cooling down when the grain is added.

Put faith in those strike water calculators that are part of BeerTools, Beersmith, etc... If you feed them the right information (grain temp and desired mash temp) they will not let you down.
I guess maybe that would have been the more prudent thing to do rather than trying to do sudden adjustments, 160 just seemed way to high to try to let it ride.

I also use a digital thermometer, with your mash temp. at 160F if you gave it a good stir, it should 5-10 degrees within a few min.
Also, it good to check your mash in a couple of different spots, the temps. will vary due to pockets in your mash.
I guess I should have just tried to stir it and let the temp drop. I got a bit paranoid that I was going to blow the enzymes away with it sitting at 160 for too long.

Trying to take the temp with that crappy floating tube glass thermometer is kind of difficult. Once the grain is in, it gets all nasty and i can't read it unless I pull it and wipe it off a bit. The temp drops really quickly and then takes forever to climb back up.

I guess the moral here is to get a better thermometer than the floating glass one you get in beer brewing kits.

Thanks for the help and ideas, now that it has been a couple hours I feel a bit better and at least I didn't waste the hops and yeast.
 

Coastarine

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Stir very vigorously. Grain isn't a very good conductor of heat; the temp in the MLT will not even out very quickly. Take a few readings in different places and if they are all within a degree or three of what you want, just let it be or stir more.

As for thermometers, I use the target probe thermometer which I find to be pretty accurate (mine reads 1 degree high) and very user friendly to set. I can just leave the probe in my strike/sparge water and it'll beep when it is ready, which lets me do other things like sanitize or drain my pint glass. It does take a few seconds to stabilize though, and sometimes I wish I had a so-called "instant read", but I don't really have experience with them and they may have their own set of issues. Overall I'm happy.
 

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Usually, over compensating will cause those problems. Remember to wait after each addition, to allow the mash temps to equalize. Sometimes it is helpful to add the additional mash water, stir like crazy, and just wait 5 minutes before making any further changes.

Sorry to hear about the sucky brew day.
 

BrewFrick

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And why for the love of god did you just toss it out? You can still mash at 144, just be getting lots more fermentables in that range. I always take it to completion, that way you can see exactly what will happen under those conditions, you may just like the result better anyway. Don't ever toss ingredients, that is my opinion at least. You waste not only those ingredients but all the time and energy you put behind the process, even if you don't get the exact results you want.
 
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steelerguy

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And why for the love of god did you just toss it out? You can still mash at 144, just be getting lots more fermentables in that range. I always take it to completion, that way you can see exactly what will happen under those conditions, you may just like the result better anyway. Don't ever toss ingredients, that is my opinion at least. You waste not only those ingredients but all the time and energy you put behind the process, even if you don't get the exact results you want.
You know, I would have taken it to completion if I had not been just a few degrees low on my first all grain batch. I wanted to mash at 152 but hit 149 and let it ride and it was about 147 or so at the end of the mash. This was an IPA that started at 1.065 and fermented down to 1.006. It just doesn't have the body I wanted, but it had a good flavor. I just didn't want another 5 gallons of thin beer...probably even drier with a 144 mash.

The only good thing, I didn't completely waste the ingredients...they are currently composting. :) The time and energy...oh ya, that was wasted! Then again, I still kept track of how much I drained out of the MLT so I nailed down some of my equipment loses...also learned to just stir if you are high rather than start adding more water really quickly.
 

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Tossing it was a mistake because it would have still been beer.

Two things which may have been mentioned already but really need to be looked at: Don't make adjustments quickly. It takes the grain and strike about 5-10 minutes to fully equalize in temp. The grain was probably still pulling heat when you added the colder water. For most 1.050 or so beers and room temp grain, 167F strike temp is about right.

Also, get yourself an instant read digital probe thermo like this one:
Amazon.com: Taylor Commercial Waterproof Digital Thermometer: Home & Garden
 
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WBC

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+1 Bobby. If he did not use a program like Beersmith to get a strike temperature and over compensated with an adjustment before the temperature had stabilized then I can see why he got frustrated but I would never have thrown out $30.00 wort of potential beer. Even at 146F for 1 and 1/2 hours he would have had a nice beer.
 

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NNNNoooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Never dump a brew is my theory. I have had some funny temps at first.

Turned out not great but still beer.
 

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Stirred in the 13 pounds of grain but instead of the temperature dropping to 154 like I was expecting, it only went down to 160. Added 2 quarts of room temp water, waited 3 minutes, only dropped 2 degrees...was expecting more. Added another 2 quarts (taking my mash to 1.33 to 1) of the same room temp water, waited 3 minutes and then my temp was 144. At this point, I just gave up and tossed it.
I almost tossed an AG mash yesterday; I imported a receipe into BeerSmith and didn't catch that all the poster's settings (adjust for equipment, etc) import with it. Ended up mashing in at 168! What's worse, I didn't catch it for several minutes as the batts died in my digital therm and I was swapping them out...

So, they were at 168F for minutes before I figured it out and added hosewater (now 151F.). I cursed. I sweated. I whined to my wife. What made it worse is I didn't have enough out of my last 50# bag to make another batch. Grrr!

So I calmed down, ground the last pound of 2row and doughed it in, hoping there would be enough enzymes there to make up for the damaged ones.

Gave it an hour; iodine test was perfect, and the sparge tasted great. I expect the FG to be high from an abundance of unfermentable dextrins, but overall my hopes are up.

Beer is so forgiving.
 

The Pol

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You tossed it? WRONG answer... more than likely with 13 lbs of grain and 13 qts of water, your thermometer was in hot and cold spots. It takes alot of good mixing with a good mash paddle to get all of the dough balls broken up and get the temps assimilated. Your initial strike sounds about right... it needed to be mixed very thoroughly... instead you overcompensated and then tossed the whole thing after doing so.
You learn alot when doing AG brews, this was a learning experience... next time dont overcompensate and dont toss it out!
 

BierMuncher

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...I preheated my MLT and then put all the water in there and waited until it cooled down to 170. Stirred in the 13 pounds of grain but instead of the temperature dropping to 154 like I was expecting, it only went down to 160.
A 13 pound grain bill only dropped your 3.25 gallons of 170 degree water down to 160?

The first thing that strikes me is an improperly mixed mash.

When doughing in, I always add some grains…then some water…then some grains…then some water…mixing in between each addition.

Even with adding grains and water in these phases, I have issues with dough balls and end up using a paint stirrer in a cordless drill to break them all up.

If you added all of your water and then dumped in all of your grain, I have a hard time believing you had a thorough mix of your grist and mash water. The exceedingly high temperature on your initial reading and then overshooting your cool-down adjustments, sounds like you were perhaps reading more water…than mash.

FWIW, my step addition gives me a consistent drop of one degree per pound…plus three degrees.

In your case, if I wanted a 152 mash temp, I would have struck at 152+13+3=168.
 

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IMO, that's way too early in the game to give up the ship! I am honestly never that exact in getting the mash temps...close, but not exact. As mentioned, it will usually take a while for the heat to distribute through the mash...and you can run yourself ragged trying to nail it. For me, a non-preheated 5 gal cooler, with strike water of 170, and about 12 lbs. of grain will get the mash about 155. Wherever it ends up, just record it and roll with it...it may not be dead on the recipe, but you'll realize that 'A' will result in 'B'. Each batch is unique, and that's great!
 

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Trust your software as was posted. You have to stir and wait for temps to settle out especially witha floating thermo. I use one and my strike temps always even out.
 

snazzy

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Dude, why did you dump it? Bad beer is even better than no beer!
 
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steelerguy

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Hahaha, okay, okay...no more beer down the drain ever! :)

Really, it was a combination of things in addition the the screwy mash temps. My day overall was going like crap, so when that happened when it was supposed to be my relaxing with a beer outside and brewing time, I just said screw it...was not my day. Today was much better and I will be trying again this weekend with a little more patience!

Thanks for all the tips...and luckily I still have plenty of home brew to drink tonight while I draft my fantasy football team.
 

eddie

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Here's what I do; I heat my strike water to about twenty degrees higher than my strike temperature then add that water to my mash tun. Then I close the lid and allow it to set for ten minutes. Once the ten minute mark has been reached I open the mash tun and stir the water with my mash spoon an check the temp. Usually it'll read just a little over my strike temperature which is about ten degrees over my mash temperature. If I feel the temp is a little high then I give the water a stir for a couple minutes and check again and if, by then, the temp is close to what I want I'll add the grains to the water. I add about a third of the grains at a time and stir it in, making sure to break up any dough balls that might have formed, and continue like this until all the grains are added and stirred in. Once I've added all the grains and given a final stir, I close the lid and let it set for another ten minutes and check the temp. Usually I'm within a degree of my mash target.
 
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Maaaannnnnn I can't believe you dumped it.

What if that was the best Quaffable session beer you've ever made? All that time and effort and you couldn't spare a $2.00 Pack of notty?

OH WELL, Lessons learned (From the OP Please):
 

discgolfin

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I agree with everything said..I usually stir a bunch...wait 5 min..stir a bunch..wait another 5 min and stir a bunch again. If I am off at this point I make slow adjustments..to coo lmay I suggest(if not mentioned already) ice..throw some ice in stir and wait 5 minutes..

I always have a little boiling water for the other end of the spectrum..but lately I have been with in 1 degree with beer smith and thats all good by my book.

Jay
 

BeerCanuck

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Hay steelerguy...I hear you on hitting you mash temps with the round 10 Gallon
MLT. I find 167F at 1.25 quarts/lb works. Im adding a mash tun Thermometer to the front of my tun that calibrates properly with my main digital thermometer.

Cheers
BeerCanuck
 

Saccharomyces

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Here's what I do; I heat my strike water to about twenty degrees higher than my strike temperature then add that water to my mash tun. Then I close the lid and allow it to set for ten minutes. Once the ten minute mark has been reached I open the mash tun and stir the water with my mash spoon an check the temp. Usually it'll read just a little over my strike temperature which is about ten degrees over my mash temperature. If I feel the temp is a little high then I give the water a stir for a couple minutes and check again and if, by then, the temp is close to what I want I'll add the grains to the water. I add about a third of the grains at a time and stir it in, making sure to break up any dough balls that might have formed, and continue like this until all the grains are added and stirred in. Once I've added all the grains and given a final stir, I close the lid and let it set for another ten minutes and check the temp. Usually I'm within a degree of my mash target.
+1. This is what I do. Works like a charm. Especially the waiting part. Give the cooler time to warm up, cool to strike temp, then trust that your strike temp from your planning was right. It will be close enough. Even 5 minutes after dough in your temps will be crazy all over the map since the heat won't distribute evenly.
 

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If you have a 10 gallon cooler--this should be the easiest part of your brew day. I ALWAYS heat the strike water to 168F -- pour the water in the cooler--then pour all of the grain in the cooler--give it a good mix (2 minutes)--close the lid tightly--and walk away, sit down, drink a beer. Stir every 15 minutes or so (or don't stir). But concentrate on the beer you're drinking--and put the thermometer away. 168F is magical.
 

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Please DO NOT DUMP BEER AGAIN. I AM SITTING HERE NEARLY HAVING A HEART ATTACK. Relax have a homebrew this is not an exact science. My brother in law brews with me. He amazes me with the higher temperature water he sparges with (180) Just for kicks I followed his lead. What a difference in mouthfeel it had on my beer. By the way both beers were excellent. I still prefer to keep the temperatures a little bit lower however I may now know how higher temperatures affect the beer outcome.

Believe me you will probably make beer that will be infected and not taste good. This is a sad situation & I have tossed many beers that have been infected. Not perfect water temperatures. Do your best to correct it. Refine your process. But relax your imperfections may lead you to YOUR perfect beer.
 

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I also am using a 10 gallon RUbbermaid MLT. I wonder if it is actually doing it's job better than anticipated and not cooling down when the grain is added.



I guess maybe that would have been the more prudent thing to do rather than trying to do sudden adjustments, 160 just seemed way to high to try to let it ride.



I guess I should have just tried to stir it and let the temp drop. I got a bit paranoid that I was going to blow the enzymes away with it sitting at 160 for too long.

Trying to take the temp with that crappy floating tube glass thermometer is kind of difficult. Once the grain is in, it gets all nasty and i can't read it unless I pull it and wipe it off a bit. The temp drops really quickly and then takes forever to climb back up.

I guess the moral here is to get a better thermometer than the floating glass one you get in beer brewing kits.

Thanks for the help and ideas, now that it has been a couple hours I feel a bit better and at least I didn't waste the hops and yeast.
My floating glass thermometer was off by almost 9 degrees. Freaked me out the first time I checked it but I was lucky enough to have other thermometers to check. Once I realized what was happening, I set the floater aside. Then during the boil I threw the floater in the boil and I had wort boiling at 202 degrees according to that thing. It went right to the garbage from there.

To drop a couple of degrees, your better off opening the lid and stirring like a mad man to get the temp to drop. If you need more than a few degrees, use very cold water to minimize the amount of water you need to add. As others said, beersmith and other programs have a calculator to help you know how much to add and at what temp.

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+1 to almost everything already posted, especially the "Don't dump the beer" sentiment.

In order to fix a low mash temp and keep some maltiness, run a small decoction. Grab a couple of quarts of the mash, grains and all, and boil it. Yup, boil it. Stir constantly, as scorching can be an issue. After 10-25 minutes (the longer the better), add the decocted portion back to the mash tun. Stir well.
 

Homercidal

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Oh, jeeeeez.. He dumped the beer!

FWIW - I tested the thermometer that came with my turkey fryer and it was WAY off. Not just a couple of degrees.

I happened to have a real cheap digital probe thermometer that was very accurate, so I tossed the other one out. Just look for a cheap digital probe and check it. Likely it's not off by a degree or two. Not enough to make a difference.

Which makes me ask: How do we really check our thermometers? I'd like to know the best way.
 

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Just so the OP doesn't feel bad, I dumped beer yesterday. Granted it was 4 months old, tasted like carbonated coffee and wasn't getting any better. I wouldn't have dumped your AG batch, but I'll bet you will not do it again. Good Luck on the next batch.
 

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Just so the OP doesn't feel bad, I dumped beer yesterday. Granted it was 4 months old, tasted like carbonated coffee and wasn't getting any better. I wouldn't have dumped your AG batch, but I'll bet you will not do it again. Good Luck on the next batch.
Damn I would had that with bacon and eggs in the morning....

To the Op like been said don't . I think we all messed up once and a while see mine https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f13/my-wonderful-sunday-brew-day-71049/. But in the end even though it may not be the style of beer you were going for it could still be very tasty.
 
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steelerguy

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Thanks for all the posts!

I have realized that I was being a knob when I dumped it. The main problem is, I come from a lab background and precision is key. I am really anal about sanitizing everything and I actually write out a little plan to follow before I start my brewing. This all stems from the labs I had to do in college. So when something went completely different than what I was expecting, it through me off. Then I broke a rule that seems to hold pretty true in beer making...nothing good happens fast and I tried to quickly cool the mash.

This is definitely one of those lesson learned situations. I need to approach my beer making more like my beer drinking...sit back, relax, enjoy, and even if the beer is not the best...appreciate it for what it is (or make a mental note to never drink the piss again!). Now I am just hoping I can get out to get grain before this tropical storm Hanna hits the island so I can brew while it storms.
 

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Just remember that you are dealing with a thermal mass and it does not change instantly to another temperature. If your mash tun is sitting there with the water stabilized at the strike temperature (water stirred) and lid on. Only then add the grains while stirring. When you get it mixed and the cover on then let it sit 5 minutes to let things stabilize again and then take the cover off and mix well and then take the temperature several places (good calibrated thermometer). You should be spot on mash temperature! If you are a degree off either way it is good! Put the lid on. Next brew you can go up or down but just do the same thing you did last time and it should repeat. Remember that grain temperature and mashtun temperature and strike water all have to be calculated every time you brew because things change.
 
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steelerguy

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Two tests: Ice water and boiling water. Ice water will always read 32* and boiling water will always read 212* at sea level.
Boiling water is equaling 220...nice! I actually had 4 thermometers in the mash today just to test, 2 were reading about what I expected (Pyrex and Kitchen Aid meat thermometers) and the floating and another I just bought at the brew store were both reading about 160. I also put them all in a glass of water with ice and the Pyrex and Kitchen Aid were reading mid 30's while the tube and new one were reading in about 45 and 50. They are hitting the trash and I am going to order one of the one mentioned earlier in this post to be a dedicated brew thermometer.

So I was right on last week...more reason I can feel like a knob for dumping. Trust the calculators...trust the calculators...

Todays session is going so much better even with tropical strom Hanna bearing down on me outside.
 
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