What's the worst that can happen? The scene...

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RealToast

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A couple of weekends ago I brewed a red ale using ingredients that I bought from my local brewmeister. Followed instructions to the T. It was not until I had the entire batch in the primary fermenter that I realized the instructions and recipe related not to whole grain (as I intended) but for malted extract(!). The biggest issues, as far as I can tell, is that my grain bill was smaller than I needed for the volume. Second, I mashed only the dark grain, and after that was done (about an hour) I added the light grain and brought to a boil (about 45 mins to a boil) and continued the process, adding hops, moss, dextrose, etc. at proper timings.

My fermenter airlock bubbled good for about 4 days, then stopped. This is shorter than my previous efforts. Today (11 days since start) I transferred to a secondary fermenter.

Is this batch dead? That's my question. Am I better to abort and start over? Or, should I just roll with it and see what happens. My thoughts are, I did not properly mash 3/4 of the grain and there simply is not enough sugar to feed the yeast. If no mission-abort, I'll add bottling sugar, cross my teeth, and hope I have something drinkable/presentable.

What's your take?
 

gnor

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What is your recipe? Do you know your OG?
 
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RealToast

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What is your recipe? Do you know your OG?
Well. Those things must be important. No. I tossed the recipe and did not bother checking OG.

My previous efforts (IPAs) have turned out excellent; perhaps in spite of my ignorance on the method/purpose of checking gravity.

As a newbie, why should I check OG? If OG is not where it should be for the recipe, how would one remedy this?

BTW, for what it's worth, the deep color, richness, and flavor (today at transfer) are seemingly good.

Thank you. I appreciate the education.
 

kh54s10

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I don't understand what you had. Did you have and extract kit. You said you didn't have enough grain. Was there any extract. For all grain you should have had between 12 and 20 pounds of grain.

Since you did not have base grains in the mash with the specialty grains you got very little conversion. They will have contributed color and some flavor but very little in the way of fermentable sugars.

Then you say you added the light grains and boiled. You didn't boil the grain did you. If you did I would not hold out much hope for this beer.

You might as well give it a shot. I would taste it at bottling time before taking the time to bottle condition. If it tastes pretty good - continue. If it tastes like s#!t cut your losses.
 
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RealToast

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I don't understand what you had. Did you have and extract kit. You said you didn't have enough grain. Was there any extract. For all grain you should have had between 12 and 20 pounds of grain.

Since you did not have base grains in the mash with the specialty grains you got very little conversion. They will have contributed color and some flavor but very little in the way of fermentable sugars.

Then you say you added the light grains and boiled. You didn't boil the grain did you. If you did I would not hold out much hope for this beer.

You might as well give it a shot. I would taste it at bottling time before taking the time to bottle condition. If it tastes pretty good - continue. If it tastes like s#!t cut your losses.

Thanks!

I had a total grain bill of about 12#. The first part was a malted, dark grain (about 3#). Instructions had me put it in the muslin sack and mash for an hour; steep for a half-hour; let drain; then discard the grain sack. It was here where I went awry. After discarding the dark grain, the recipe called for the extract. Not having extract, I simply added the remainder 9# light grain and cranked the heat - yes, I did boil the grain(!). It took about an 45 mins to get to boil. Once at boil, I then lifted the grain basket, ran the necessary amount of sparge through the grain basket, and left the wort at boil for an hour.

I think my best option is to start over with an all new batch, but keep this batch and bottle it (unless it tastes like S). Worst scenario is I'm dumping 48 bottles of light "beer" in a month or so and, no worse for the wear, I've learned something.

Thanks again!
 

seatazzz

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For what it's worth, I would let this batch ride and see what you get. You say at transferring to secondary (which is totally not necessary, BTW) it smelled and tasted good. Without knowing your OG you won't know what your FG or ABV is, but your senses of smell and taste can be better indicators of what your finished beer will be. Who knows, you may have just stumbled on to a new method of brewing! If nothing else, chalk it up to experience and start another batch if you have the equipment to do so.
 

Velnerj

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Definitely not an orthodox way to do it, but I think you're going to be fine.

While heating up your water the grains passed through the mash range necessary to convert sugar. Not sure how long they were in that range but the bulk of conversion happens relatively quickly. You probably have poor efficiency (you only converted say 50%) but you'll have beer.

Some would fear astringency for bringing grain up to that temp (212F) but there's a lot of debate about this and many palettes can't detect it anyway.

Let it ride, learn from this experience and above all: relax don't worry have a homebrew
 

ong

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Sorry, but I have a hard time imagining this will be any good. It doesn’t seem like much of your base malt will have actually converted.
 

AZCoolerBrewer

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Might as well see where it goes.

You ask why you want to kniw your OG. While I agree that if your OG isn’t what you thought it would be, you wouldn’t necessarily do anything about it, but you could then make an effort to figure out how to get closer next time and you’ll have a better idea of what to expect for this beer.
 

balrog

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Unorthodox, definitely, but I agree with @Velnerj that in bringing a basket of light grain (milled/crushed?) to a boil, you passed through and got some conversion to sugar from the starch.

You will have something, if only just experience, but you will have something. It is very promising that you think it looked/smelled good.
 

papz

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"What's the worst that can happen?"

Well, a meteor could fall from the heavens as you are bottling this batch and slams into you, destroying not only yourself, but all life on the planet for 100,000 years.

As for the beer, it will probably just be a "session" beer.(low abv)
You WANT to know your O.G. because you could have done something to change this before fermentation.
As mentioned, you may have poor efficiency but back in the dark ages before they had thermometers, many brewers would slowly bring mash to a boil similar to how you did. You will be fine. It may not be the beer that you intended, but it will still be beer.

RDWHAHB
 

mongoose33

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Recording as much information as reasonable--such as OG--will help you over time as you see what different recipes and processes produce. Further, if you want any kind of an estimate of ABV, you need to know OG and final gravity to calculate that. You can use a calculator like this one, that makes it easy:

https://www.brewersfriend.com/abv-calculator/

I'm also with those above who say let it ride and figure out what you get. The exception would be if you taste it at bottling and it's awful, then maybe I wouldn't go through the effort of bottling it.

**************

I had a bit of a brewing disaster about 5 weeks ago. New system, using a new counterflow chiller. I used it to get my strike water to 162, which is right for my equipmend and grain bill.

I'm patting myself on the back at how well I'm getting this all to work, and transfer strike water to mash tun. I get it all in there, all doughed in, a quick stir, and then check temp of the mash: 135 degrees! I'm aiming for 152, so this is a bit of a miss.

Turns out I didn't quite get the counterflow water supply completely turned off, so it was cooling the strike water as it went into the mash tun.

Well. What do to? Using a combination of intuition, estimation, and wild guessing, I boiled a gallon of RO water and added it, along with 2.25 pounds of additional malt. I also let it go longer than normal in the mash. When the wort went into the boil kettle I tasted it--nice and sweet.

It was a hazy IPA, and while the malt backbone wasn't as prominent as I like, it still was a good beer. People drinking it at a beer fest had seconds, and thirds. Just not what I was aiming for.

Yours might end up the same way.
 

papz

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You could also have tried decoction mashing.
Glad to hear it turned out alright for you.
-cheers.
 
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RealToast

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Epilogue: I chilled a couple bottles today to taste the results. The verdict is in: taste was meh. Clear, dark red beer. Toasted taste, which was pleasant, but somewhat watery flavor. Some bitterness (not the good kind). And not nearly carbonated enough (not totally flat. Had a presentable, lingering head - but carb was weak). Seemingly very little ABV%. I used a calculator to determine my priming sugar and added the recommended amount for my ale before bottling, but it seems there just wasn't enough food for the yeast so the beer could do its thing. My guess: bringing 80% of the grain bill from cold/dry-to-quick boil for an hour critically destroyed ability to adequately extract fermentable sugars.

Beer-flavored, nicely-colored, bitter water. A good education is rarely inexpensive (time or money).
 

kh54s10

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Probably toast, but you are still at the minimum in bottle conditioning time, IMO. I have had many that were not fully conditioned at 2 weeks, then were fine and tasted better at three weeks or longer. But ,they tasted ok, but flat at 2 weeks.
 
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