What am I doing wrong?

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FLhomeBrewer

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Hey guys. I have been brewing for over a year now. I just recently changed to mashing in a mash tun instead of BIAB. Now with my mash tun, I cannot seem to get my beers to ferment correctly. This seems like there is something wrong with my mashing process, not the fermenting process as I have not changed that. With my mash tun I have now mashed 3 beers all with similar results of very low fermentation. They have all started around 1.045 and after two to three weeks of sitting in the fermenter they finish, which really isn't a finish, around 1.025 to 1.030. WTF?! I thought I had the basics with BIAB, as all of those turned out very well. Is there something I should be doing different with the mash tun? I will list out my process as best I can below. Any thoughts or suggestions will be much appreciated! Thank you!!
-Mash tun is a cooler with a ball valve and filter inside the cooler.
-Heat mash tun first to about 150 F
-Using online calculator to achieve mashing temp of 150 dumping in about 165 F water to mash tun
-Mash at 150 F for 60 min (drops to about 145 F by end)
-Without aerating wort, move to boil
-Boil for 60+ min also adding yeast nutrient and addidtives
-Move to ferementer and aerate
-Add yeast

Am I mashing too low?
 

JaymzMF

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If you're confident in your mash temps, then I'd say it almost has to be fermentation. Mashing at a higher temp will result in a higher FG. Longer chain sugars that aren't broken down by the yeast. Are you hitting your OG?
 

day_trippr

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Correlate the mash thermometer against a known accurate device?

Cheers!
 

Dgallo

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Agreed with everything said. Make sure to calibrate your thermometer. Mashing at 150 should produce a slightly drier more fermentable beer so I would check your thermometer first. If it’s calibrated correctly than its most certainly your fermentation.
 

cactusgarrett

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I'm also in the camp of "check thermometer" and "hydrometer over refractometer". Other than that, despite you saying you aren't changing any fermentation practices, for my own knowledge: how are you treating your fermentation? Pitching cool, letting rise? Vice versa? Typically are you using ale yeast, lager?
 
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FLhomeBrewer

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Thanks for the input. I am using an IR thermometer, I suppose that only reads the surface temp now that I think of it. I'll pick up a digital meat thermometer, or if any suggestions on a better one let me know. I have been using a refractometer since someone keeps dropping the hydrometers! (me). I have been using dry yeast US-05. I let it warm up in the packet on the counter while I brew and pitch it on top the wort when ready. Also, I have been hitting my OG pretty close, though last mash came in about .005 over OG.

From discussion above, I'll grab a different thermometer and a few more hydrometers. Is there something wrong with using a refractometer?

Just thought of this too. I do use well water which goes through a 5 micron charcoal filter a water softener and one more paper filter. Does soft water impact brewing/fermenting? It is the same water I have used throughout my brewing days.

Thanks guys!
 

brownni5

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Refractometers work great on brew day, but after fermentation has begun (and created alcohol), they need to be "adjusted" with some sort of online calculator since alcohol has a lower SG than water. It's explained better elsewhere in the forum.

Softened water isn't great for brewing (because of residual salt, I'm told - that's why I use RO water), but if that didn't change, then that wouldn't explain your problem.

Just out of curiosity, why did you leave BIAB if you were pleased with the results? Most folks, myself included, go the other way towards BIAB!
 
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FLhomeBrewer

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Thanks brownni! I didn't realize refractometers were sensitive to alcohol. I entered my numbers into some calculators and they seem a lot better, not where I want them, but might need to wait a little longer with my current beer. Also seems the cheap refractometers may be off by 10% or more. I'll grab several readings tonight and average them.

I went to a mash tun instead for a few reasons. I brew in a small kitchen with inadequate ventilation and cooling, I live in FL so it gets really hot on brew day. So going with just a 60 min boil to heat up the kitchen isn't as bad as 3+ hours of the stove on. And wanted to try something different.

Might look at getting a robobrew or something similar for next summer and brew in the garage
 
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