Low OG

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Low OG

Postby ne3l » Fri Jun 27, 2008 1:48 am

I have had three batches now with OG around 1.03.

My first all grain batch was about 1.05 but was a mis mash of pouring from one pot to another using a strainer. The beer was tasty but wasn't clear at all.

So I put a two bucket sparge system together and used an ice chest to mash in. The mash seemed to go well, most temps hit, but the end result was about 1.03. Same for the next two.

#1. Using the ice chest seems to not hold temp as well as I could on the stove, could this be an issue?

#2. Sparging: I am not getting a clear wort, no matter how much I recirculate it doesn't seem to clear up much.

Final question: When racking to the primary, do you leave the hot break material in the bucket or put everything in the fermenter?

I haven't found a homebrew club near me, so I have only internet and books for inspiration.

Most of my recipes have been 9 to 10# of grain
Some I have step infused and some single.

Any ideas would be helpful.
Thanks,
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Some Advice

Postby brewmeisterintng » Fri Jun 27, 2008 5:16 pm

Review the steps outlined in http://www.howtobrew.com/ . You might look at merging the mash with the lauter by the use of a carborator or false bottom. I personnaly use ss screen hose. But examine your whole process from cracking grains through the boil. I'm betting that it's your mash process but without being there when you brew, it's a guess. Hope this helps.
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Low OG

Postby slothrob » Fri Jun 27, 2008 5:43 pm

A low efficiency (especially this low) is typically due to an insufficient crush. Try a tighter gap or crushing twice. There are other factors, certainly, but that's a big one. Also, if you are fly sparging, channeling can be an issue. Trying a batch sparge with your system can eliminate the channeling variable. If you are batch sparging, a good stir at the beginning of the sparge is crucial to good efficiency.

The cooler takes a little while to warm up, maybe 10-15 minutes, during which time it's sucking heat out of the mash. Try pre-warming the tun with some hot water. give the mash a stir at about 10 minutes in and check the temperature. If it's a little low, add some boiling water to bring it to temperature.

If you can avoid adding the break material to your fermenter, you may see some flavor improvement, but it's not a make or break issue for flavor or clarity. Recirculation will help clarity a bit, but it won't necessarily have much effect on the clarity of the final beer. I just recirculate until the chunks are out.

Are you using Whirlflock or Irish moss? These can help clarity a lot, especially if you use them correctly: rehydrating Irish Moss prior to use or adding Whirlflock in the last 5 minutes of the boil.

Cold crashing, to drop the yeast and proteins, using a strongly floculant yeast, like WLP002 or S-04, and maybe even a protein rest, can also help beer clarity.
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Thanks

Postby ne3l » Fri Jun 27, 2008 7:06 pm

Thank you both for your responses. I will review the area again and take your ideas into the works.

I have tried batch and fly sparging. My two bucket set up, just has holes and I used both methods with different batches.

I did pre heat the cooler before the last use, held temp better but still suffered.
In my cooler I have a SS hose shield as well.

The crush I hadn't considered.

Have you ever checked the gravity at the end of the sparge? If so, how much does it change during the boil?

Thought this might help me know if I need to do more before boiling.

Thank you for the info on the hot break material. I will follow your lead.

I am looking to see if I can go to one of the clubs in my state on a brew day
to see how they are doing it first hand.

Thanks, for taking the time to help.
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Efficiency

Postby slothrob » Sat Jun 28, 2008 6:22 am

The crush is a BIG factor.

Are you using a big cooler relative to you mash volume? My cooler only loses a degree or 2 during the mash (once the temperature stabilizes, which can take 10 or 15 minutes, as I mentioned). I use I 20 qt tun, which can be a little tight, but I''ve heard of brewers using 56 and 72 qt tuns having problems holding temperature with smaller beers.

I always take a gravity reading at the end of the sparge. That reading is needed to determine how long you need to boil and whether you need to change your hop additions to accomadate a different beer than you were expecting.

During the boil the gravity changes in direct proportion to the volume. What I mean is that none of the sugar evaporates, just the water, so if you start with 7 gallons at 1.050, you have 350 total points (7x50). When it's boiled down to 6 gallons you still have 350 total points, for a gravity of 1.058 [350/6=58]. At 5 gallons it will be 1.070.
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That clears up my OG questions.

Postby ne3l » Sat Jun 28, 2008 7:05 am

The cooler is probably too large for just 5 gal batches.

As far as the crush, I crushed at the LHBS, so I figured it would be OK.

Thanks for the info on calculating the gravity.
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OG

Postby slothrob » Sat Jun 28, 2008 8:41 am

Cool. Hope it helps.

LHBS have a reputation of a poor crush. The conspiratorial reason is that they want to sell more grain, but the other possibilities are that they want to make sure you don't get a stuck mash or that someone was messing with the settings. It may work okay if they let you pass it through a second time, or maybe they'll tighten the gap a bit for you.

If your temperatures are staying above 140-145oF or so, it probably won't hurt your efficiency much or cause off flavors. You'll just need to learn what kind of body and final gravity you get with certain starting temperatures and move up and down accordingly until you get the beer you want. Making higher alcohol beers that require more grain will help temp stability, too. 48qt Ice Cube coolers seem popular as a midpoint between plenty of room and too much heat loss.
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