Mash mess

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Mash mess

Postby Radler » Sun Dec 10, 2006 9:54 pm

So, I've been brewing for a few years and I have only today had an opportunity to try all-grain. Fairly simple recipe- 5 lbs. Maris Otter, 1 lb. Munich, 1/2 lb Victory. Mash 153 F, 75 mins. then some hops. A Bitter. OG was supposed to be 1.060 (I should say here that this will be a 3 gal. recipe), after sparging and 3.5 gal in kettle, gravity seems to be more around 1.035. pH was near 5.2, then I screwed that up toward the end by putting in way too much baking soda. I will be honest and say that I did nothing else as far as water chemistry is concerned, I am simply not that smart. My question is this: what else contributes to such a bad yield (oh right, the mill was crap too), anything else anybody may want to contribute? I work in a place that has brew supplies so I get'em cheap otherwise I'd be freakin out. Thanks.
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Postby brewer13210 » Mon Dec 11, 2006 8:33 am

Obviously the grind is very important. Doesn't the homebrew shop have a good roller mill for customers? If not, they should spend the money for one.

How long was your sparge? An hour is typical, shorter than that and you won't extract all of the sugars.

Did you correct for temperature when reading the hydrometer? Also, what was the baking soda for?

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Postby Radler » Mon Dec 11, 2006 12:02 pm

Believe it or not, I work in the shop and am responsible for the brew stuff there. The mill has seen a lot of use. What would you recommend as a good long lasting mill that will handle lots of brewers. I can't break the store's bank either.
Did a batch sparge, 75 minutes mash. 2- 10 minute sparges thereafter. Yup, corrected for temperature.
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Postby brewer13210 » Tue Dec 12, 2006 7:36 am

The local homebrew shop here uses a motorized Phil Mill, and to my knowledge he's had the same one for years. Crankandstein also makes some nice three roller mills:
http://www.crankandstein.com/index.htm

A 75 minute mash is a very long mash. Do an iodine test every ten minutes to see when you finally have full conversion; it shouldn't take more than 30 minutes. If it's longer than they, then there may be other problems.

When sparging, a continuous 1 hour sparge should give you good extraction. Not sure how that compares to you 2-10 minute sparges.

What is the grind like with your current mill? Are there lots of unbroken kernels? If so, then you're yields will be lower than they should be.

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Postby Radler » Tue Dec 12, 2006 10:44 pm

Yes, we have a Phil's, and from the inspiration of such a bad yield I took t hat sucker apart and fixed it with my unique combination of thought and tape. Trust me, it worked. But that does not fix the already brewed. Yes, there were many unbroken grains. The reason I did 75 mins. was because I had read in a few places that 60 was good an d 90 had it's benefits as well, so since it was my first I wanted to go the middle road on everything.
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Baking Soda?

Postby brewmeisterintng » Wed Dec 13, 2006 8:32 pm

I think that you two nailed down the poor OG as a result of porly gound grain. Reading the post and having gone all grain approx a year now, I have never hear of someone using baking soda in the mash. Were you trying to adjust the waters PH? What kind of mash/ lauter system do you have and did you maintain the temp through the conversion?
Just trying to help and mabe learn something.

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Postby Radler » Wed Dec 13, 2006 11:56 pm

I can't tell you how many people have asked me about the baking soda. I was desperate and John Palmer's book said baking soda, I panicked and put it in. I'm not proud of it. As far as temp. I more or less maintained it the whole time.
My mash/lauter tun is a Rubbermaid 48 quart cooler, only high tech for me.
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sodium bicarbonate (baking soda)

Postby brewmeisterintng » Thu Dec 14, 2006 7:43 am

Your coment struck my interest so, I did the Google search. Rule of thumb is that if your water tastes good, it's good for beer. The second rule is that if you want to replacate water for a paticular source, you must know what your current water chemistry is. I remember wanting to make a Bass Ale clone and added Burton on Trent salts that was sold at the HBS. End state was that it wasn't a good idea as my brew buddy reminds me (quite often). Don't get discuraged as every brewer has had a batch that didn't turn out quite as planned. I have a Pils in the fermenter right now and have my fingers crossed that it will taste like an Urquell when I am done.
Regards,

James
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Postby slothrob » Thu Dec 14, 2006 10:52 am

Did you adjust the gravity reading for temperature? If you measured 1.035 at sparge temperature, your actual gravity is higher.

Are the rollers adjustable on your mill? If the rollers are worn, you might be able to close the gap a bit. Crush is the most important factor in efficiency.

You were fully converted before 60 minutes (unless something went terribly wrong, like mashing above 170
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Postby Radler » Thu Dec 14, 2006 2:01 pm

Thanks. I should give a bit of an update. In the fermentor it looks more or less like the Dagoba system (Yoda), bubbly, mucky, strange. Never seen that before, smells like it should at the the airlock. I'll rack in a few days out of curiosity as much as out of necessity.
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Postby slothrob » Thu Dec 14, 2006 4:01 pm

Don't rack until it's finished fermenting!
I give my ale primaries 2 weeks, now.

Sounds like it looks like a few yeasts I've used. Some just look like a churning cloudy mess while fermenting.
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Postby Radler » Thu Dec 14, 2006 9:40 pm

Do you mean not to rack to secondary until it's reached the FG, or just to let it go for two weeks regardless of numbers? Normally I go 7 days in Primary and then rack to sec. for a minimum of two weeks but usually much longer.
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Primary time

Postby brewmeisterintng » Thu Dec 14, 2006 11:30 pm

This subject doesn't go without debate. Some feel that you should transfer when the air lock slows as to generate CO2 headspace preventing O2 from stailing the beer and brewers are also concerned with yeast bite from sitting on the yeast cake/ trub for too long. This is an area that I don't get overly concerned as I usually will primary ales for 7 to 10 days and secondary for an additional two weeks. You kinda have to let the beer tell you that it's time to transfer. Darker beers usually take a bit longer than lighter ones.

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Postby slothrob » Fri Dec 15, 2006 10:32 am

Well said.
I just started letting mine go a week after they appeared to be done when I realized some of my beers weren't quite "finished" even though they had stopped fermenting. I had a couple run-ins with off flavors and blamed that on racking to secondary before the yeast had finished eating some of the less desirable byproducts like diacetyl and acetaldehyde.

The way I see it, a little extra time in primary won't hurt, and can only help. 3 weeks in primary is fine, too.

But I really was talking about racking after 72 hours, which I thought radler was indicating he was thinking of doing. If the gravity hasn't stopped dropping, or if the yeast hasn't mostly dropped, I wouldn't rack
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Postby Radler » Fri Dec 15, 2006 10:40 am

Not to to worry slothrob, I brewed on Sunday and probably won't be racking till tomorrow at earliest. Airlock is all but stopped and the Dagoba is making me uneasy so I think I'll be ok, assuming that the beer isn't just flat out awful because my baking soda mash destroyed everything. Brewing is fun.
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