Brew Session - Welcome Critiques & Pointers

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Brew Session - Welcome Critiques & Pointers

Postby camelfilter » Sat Aug 18, 2007 10:12 pm

Hey guys,

I just got done with a brew-day and would like ya'll to give my notes a looksee and tell me where I mighta went wrong or at least do better. I'm trying to properly calibrate my system, but am having difficulty in zeroing in on where I'm goin' wrong. So, I took some notes during the day and would like to share them in an effort garner advice and pointers,...Thanks in advance!

I wrote Full Sail Brewing to get any info I could on doing a clone of their Wreck The Halls IPA. James Emmerson (Executive Brewmaster) was kind enough to give me the following advice: 148-150 mash temp. Weight the hop additions (Cascade, and Centennial) toward the end of the boil. Make this brew 1.065++ (don't skimp) and dry hop the hell out of it.

With all that in mind I came up with an all-grain recipe of 85% 2-row, 7.1% Caramel 10, & 7.1% Caramel 20 for a healthy OG: 1.071 with three ridiculous hop additions that only equate to 55 IBU's but with an aroma-factor that's off the charts.

Here are my notes from the brew-session:

Strike Temp was pretty much dead-on. I nailed 149
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RE: Brew Session...

Postby wottaguy » Sun Aug 19, 2007 8:14 am

Hi Ryan and congrats on your session...sounds good to me! Anyways, a couple of areas you should tweak or look into:

Calculate your actual Brewhouse Efficiency: On each session that I do, I'll do this and write it down. Later I'll average the efficiency out and use that for future use. My average efficiency is 80% and I use that to formulate my recipies. Works out great!

You need to find out exactly what your evaporation rate is.

What are you considering as "Dead Space in the Tun"? This adjustment is for calculating any liquid left in the tun that cannot be collected, as I understand it. Personally, I don't use this setting at all and make my adjustments after each session by taking notes. After you learn what your system is doing, it will become second nature to know what volumes you can expect and then you can adjust your recipe accordingly.

I always work up a larger batch that is required, as I siphon the clear wort out of the kettle (from the top down..I never use that spigot..!!) and typically leave behind between 1 - 2 gallons of trub/hops etc! When I make a Pilsner I sometimes leave behing 3 gallons or so...talk about trub!! So this must be accounted for in the session!

Sounds like you are Batch Sparging and is OK! You'l need to get a handle on your efficiency numbers!

Other than that, your session seemed to go as planned and should produce a real nice beer. I hope that you are controlling your fermentation temperatures, as that will make or break the final product.

Hope this helps...and please let us know how your brew comes out and of your future sessions!

Keep Brewin'
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Re: RE: Brew Session...

Postby camelfilter » Sun Aug 19, 2007 3:03 pm

wottaguy wrote:Hi Ryan and congrats on your session...sounds good to me! Anyways, a couple of areas you should tweak or look into:

Calculate your actual Brewhouse Efficiency: On each session that I do, I'll do this and write it down. Later I'll average the efficiency out and use that for future use. My average efficiency is 80% and I use that to formulate my recipies. Works out great!


You're right, and I do. I was just hopin' for something better than 64% :( It's baffling to me as I'm very dilligent about making sure I get a good crush, my strike/target temps are correct, and calculate my volumes to get as close to 50% of my target volume from each of my two runnings. !@#$! It's enough to drive me crazy! In any case, you're right. I should just roll with it, figuring that 'my system is my system' and just adjust my recipes accordingly...but I'd still like to increase my !@#$ efficiency! :x

wottaguy wrote:You need to find out exactly what your evaporation rate is.


No doubt,...not sure how this was so off the mark,...I'm gonna do some boilin' to test this out.

wottaguy wrote:What are you considering as "Dead Space in the Tun"? This adjustment is for calculating any liquid left in the tun that cannot be collected, as I understand it. Personally, I don't use this setting at all and make my adjustments after each session by taking notes. After you learn what your system is doing, it will become second nature to know what volumes you can expect and then you can adjust your recipe accordingly.


You're probably right. I probably have introduced too many variables into my BTP calculations and need to scale it back - just let BTP formulate my targets and take mental notes on how I know my system handles things i.e. deadspace(s), runnoff, volumes,...etc.

wottaguy wrote:I always work up a larger batch that is required, as I siphon the clear wort out of the kettle (from the top down..I never use that spigot..!!) and typically leave behind between 1 - 2 gallons of trub/hops etc! When I make a Pilsner I sometimes leave behing 3 gallons or so...talk about trub!! So this must be accounted for in the session!


Absolutely! I learned this the hard way after brewing up a IIPA and transfering from the spigot to the fermenter,...ended up with 5.5 gallons of 'sludge'! Never again,...I now take the time to patiently rack off the top of my kettle and follow the top of the fluid all the way down to the settled mass of trub on the bottom - works out fantastic!

wottaguy wrote:Sounds like you are Batch Sparging and is OK! You'l need to get a handle on your efficiency numbers!


Yeah,...as I stated above, I'm taking great pains to maximize them, but am unsure of what I'm doing wrong :? It's perplexing as I'd think I would be at least in the 70% range.

wottaguy wrote:Other than that, your session seemed to go as planned and should produce a real nice beer. I hope that you are controlling your fermentation temperatures, as that will make or break the final product.


Yeah,...I think it will be, and YES, it's in a bathroom that's at 68F,...bubbling like crazy! In fact, I got up last night about 3am to, uh,...see a man about a horse :D and checked in to see how it was doin' and the top of the fermentation bucket (big 7.5 gallon) was BULGING from the pressure! I ran to the brew-house (corner closet) and grabbed makings for a blow-off tube and sanitized them quickly. When I pulled the 3-piece airlock, the bucket SPEWED hoppy krausen all over the bathroom,...and I mean ALL over - I had to stand on the toilet to clean up some spots on the ceiling! :mrgreen: In any case, it's rollin' along like a champ,...gonna let it do it's thing for about 10 days, rack it to a secondary and dry hop the hell out of it for about 3 weeks.

wottaguy wrote:Hope this helps...and please let us know how your brew comes out and of your future sessions!

Keep Brewin'
Ron S (_)3


It does! Thanks for the input, I appreciate it!

Ryan
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Re: RE...

Postby wottaguy » Sun Aug 19, 2007 10:38 pm

Hi Ryan,

Just curious here...what kind of mash tun set up are you using and how do you monitor your MT Temps? Also, have you tried to do a fly-sparge to see if your efficiency improves? Do you mill your grain yourself? Like Isaid...i'm just wondering..perhaps you are suffering from a combination of little things that are dragging your efficiency down. One last thing...how long did you lauter?

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Re: RE...

Postby camelfilter » Mon Aug 20, 2007 1:13 am

wottaguy wrote:Hi Ryan,

Just curious here...what kind of mash tun set up are you using and how do you monitor your MT Temps? Also, have you tried to do a fly-sparge to see if your efficiency improves? Do you mill your grain yourself? Like Isaid...i'm just wondering..perhaps you are suffering from a combination of little things that are dragging your efficiency down. One last thing...how long did you lauter?

(_)3


I'm using a coleman 50qt cooler with a stainless steel braided tubing. I monitor the mash temps with both a floating thermometer and a digital instant read thermometer,...both seem to be in sync in regard to temp. The instant read allows you to calibrate it in an ice-bath, which I've done, and is still in sync with the floating thermometer. As for milling, no, I don't do it myself, I've had it done at a couple of different shops (my 'AA' JSP mill is in the mail as we speak), and have run all my grain through 'their' mill twice, but no quantifiable improvement. As for lautering, I didn't really think about it. I batch sparge so I just ran maybe 4 quarts 'til it ran clear and then started lautering to the kettle. Thanks for your questions,...let me know if you have any theories,...I'm open to suggestions :)

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Re: RE...

Postby camelfilter » Mon Aug 20, 2007 1:24 am

wottaguy wrote:Hi Ryan,

Also, have you tried to do a fly-sparge to see if your efficiency improves?

(_)3


No, I've never tried fly-sparging and was hoping to never have to. I've read Denny Conn's webpage (http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/) backwards and forwards and have yet to figure out what I'm doin' wrong. It's pretty perplexing. Let me know if you have any thoughts

Ryan
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RE:

Postby wottaguy » Mon Aug 20, 2007 5:46 am

Hi Ryan,

I am starting to suspect that it maybe that your SS braid may be partially collapsing under the weight of the grain. Are you using a single straight braid or one that loops aroung and connects to a "T" junction? I use a SS Braid thats pushed over a 3/8 copper manifold that has thin slots in it and it works great. It is in the form of a loop on the bottom of the tun with about 1 inch clearance from the inside diameter of the wall of the tun. When I incorporatewd this setup my efficiency jumped up dramaticaly and i've been using it ever since. I use to get 77% eff with my old setup but now am averaging 80 and have pulled 82% as my highest one.

Hope this helps!

(_)3
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Re: RE:

Postby camelfilter » Mon Aug 20, 2007 7:23 am

wottaguy wrote:Hi Ryan,

I am starting to suspect that it maybe that your SS braid may be partially collapsing under the weight of the grain. Are you using a single straight braid or one that loops aroung and connects to a "T" junction? I use a SS Braid thats pushed over a 3/8 copper manifold that has thin slots in it and it works great. It is in the form of a loop on the bottom of the tun with about 1 inch clearance from the inside diameter of the wall of the tun. When I incorporatewd this setup my efficiency jumped up dramaticaly and i've been using it ever since. I use to get 77% eff with my old setup but now am averaging 80 and have pulled 82% as my highest one.

Hope this helps!

(_)3


:!: Hmmm,...didn't think of that. That would also explain why I might be getting weird volumes out of my mash - the braid is collapsing and not allowing fluid to properly drain out...you might be on to something here! looks like a trip to Lowe's is in my future. Thanks!

Ryan
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Re: Collapsing stainless steel mesh hose??

Postby billvelek » Mon Aug 20, 2007 12:33 pm

wottaguy wrote:I am starting to suspect that it maybe that your SS braid may be partially collapsing under the weight of the grain. Are you using a single straight braid or one that loops aroung and connects to a "T" junction? I use a SS Braid thats pushed over a 3/8 copper manifold that has thin slots in it and it works great. It is in the form of a loop on the bottom of the tun with about 1 inch clearance from the inside diameter of the wall of the tun. When I incorporatewd this setup my efficiency jumped up dramaticaly and i've been using it ever since. I use to get 77% eff with my old setup but now am averaging 80 and have pulled 82% as my highest one.

Hello, everyone. Just a couple of comments/questions here. Sorry I didn't jump in earlier, but I've been busy. First, a couple of questions about the "collapse" of SS mesh: why do you suspect that, wottaguy? And why would the use of a 'T' make any difference. You might be correct, but let me explain my perspective. First, on the sparge (after your first runnings), my experience has always been 'volume in' = 'volume out'; the grain is already saturated, so there is no way to account for any liquid not coming out other than that it's available but just isn't getting out due to blockage. That could mean a collapse, but it more likely means a stuck sparge which isn't necessarily caused by a collapsed bazooka. Now, my second comment about runnings is that you can't get something from nothing. If camelfilter's first runnings were over a gallon more than predicted, he either did something wrong (mismeasured his water, or his grain, or both, or erred with his BTP entries) or else there is a glitch in the program. Getting more than expected on the first runnings isn't going to affect the amount drained in the second runnings unless you have reduced your sparge water to help make an adjustment; I did not get the impression that this was what happened, but maybe I just missed it. Now, there is one place in BTP which is going to affect your "available water" calculations, and that is the settings in 'Edit | Preferences | Constants | Malt Water Absorption', which I never messed with until now. And I guess I'll need to post a suggestion under the software thread about this <sigh> because I just changed mine to check this out for you.

Anyway, back to the SS mesh. I use a 10 foot length of SS mesh WITHOUT a 'T'; it is simply plugged at one end with a piece of dowel, and the other end slips tightly onto plastic tubing that comes in through my ice chest drain. I don't use any clamps, and just use teflon tape on the outside to seal the tube and the drain, and then it coils up on the bottom of my tun. I've had it run slow a couple of times in the past, but usually it drains like running a hose, and until this past weekend, I never had a stuck sparge with it. My bazooka has a few permanent dents in it where I was not careful and slightly pulled on a kink or mashed down on it with my paddle or something, which convinces me that if it were to ever be pressed flat, as in a total collapse, or even partially collapsed, it would stay that way unless and until I did something to fix it. So ... I think there would be obvious and apparent evidence of any complete collapse and probably even a partial collapse, but nothing was mentioned. And if it were just a partial collapse, as you've suggested, the runnings would slow down some, but should not actually stop.

Now, I did two batches this weekend. The first went fine in every way. During the initial runnings of my second batch, it "stuck"; I have no explanation -- the recipe actually had slightly less grain than the first, and there was nothing like oatmeal, wheat, or rye to cause it. No big deal, since I batch sparge. I just dumped the sparge water in, stirred it up good, let sit a couple of minutes, vorlaufed, and it drained quickly and completely as usual without sticking. Weird.

Anyway, everything was pretty much spot on; I don't get particularly anal about my measurements. If I'm supposed to add 3.4 gallons, I just use my dip-stick to measure "slightly less" than 7 inches in the pot I use to transfer from my HLT (2" = exactly 1 gallon). Target temps were within a degree or a few, which is all I worry about. The only thing I can't get good control over is my evaporation rate. Aside from variables outside like temp, humidity, wind, and barometric pressure, my propane isn't simple "on" or "off", as I'm sure is the case with everyone else. I vary the heat by adjusting a knob, and I just can't think of a good way to be able to 'calibrate' that.

Anyway, those are just a few thoughts.

Cheers.

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RE: Re: Collapsing stainless steel mesh hose??

Postby wottaguy » Mon Aug 20, 2007 7:17 pm

Hi Bill...!

Thanks for joining in on this thread.

First of all I was just suggesting that a partial collapsed SS hose would and could indeed have an effect on the Efficiency of extraction of said mash. Although you may get your volume correct from your runoff, your extraction rate will suffer from a partially collapsed hose.

Ryan has stated that he had his grain sent thru the mill twice and I trust that he knows what a good crush is.

Ryan also stated that he monitors and indeed does maintain his mash temps very closely.

From what Ryan has already described from his session, I have come to think that his low efficiency may be caused from improper Fluid Dynamics.

I have personally experimented with using a Straight SS hose and got a lower efficency as opposed to a SS hose wrapped around a circular copper manifold connected to a "T" junction. This setup has given me my best results to date. The manifold lies an inch or so from the inside walls and sucks the wort and sparge water very evenly through out the entire mash bed. You can also make a rectangular manifold if needed.

Here's an article that may explain a little better than I about Fluid Dynamics and the effect it has on lautering:: (please pay attention to the diagram links as there are many)

http://brewingtechniques.com/library/ba ... almer.html

In the end, I was just trying to come up with a possible explaination of what may cause the problem that Ryan is experiencing and to give assistance to a fellow homebrewer.

Thank you Bill for your input as I do enjoy reading your posts!

Hope this helps anyone that is interested!
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Re: RE: Re: Collapsing stainless steel mesh hose??

Postby camelfilter » Mon Aug 20, 2007 10:38 pm

Hey Bill & Ron,

Thanks for your advice on this. As Bill mentioned, I've been very dilligent about obtaining a good crush on my grain (been burned before), and making sure my measurements are right - I used three 2-1/2 gallon jugs of spring water and a little extra for my strike water - recipe called for infusion of 7.56 gallons,...I even used my trusty story-stick to double-check the volumes of the 2-1/2 gallon jugs as I didn't trust 'em and they looked legit and it read just a wee bit over 7.5 gallons so I figured it was pretty much dead-on.

Bill brings up a good point about absorption,...mine, which I've never touched, is set at 0.479 qt/lb. I don't know that's right-on, high, or low and the specific volume is set at 0.359 qt/lb...Forgive my ignorance, but I don't even know that the hell this figure means and how it's factored into the calculations :?

As for evaporation, I'm with Bill on this - it isn't as simple as 'on' or 'off' with piloting the flame intensity on my system either, and in fact I know for a fact that I'm far more conservative and delicate in my treatment of a kettle full of boiling wort than I am with a kettle of water. I've got a very large, wide mouthed kettle (60qt) that came in at a loss-rate of 1.88 gallons/hour when I calibrated it with a 7 gallon boil of water. That seemed pretty high at the time, but there it was. I now think I might have been too aggresive in my flame intensity and probably need to dial it down somewhere in the 50% range of that,...

I also think you have a valid point Ron,...there's somethin' goin' on with my SS braid manifold,...It's at least worth the incidental expense and effort of creating a larger braided ring - I've got an extra braided hose piece that I can patch on to the existing one to create ring and maybe install some short pieces of copper tubing internally within the loop to act as a supports,... Anything else you can think of, or if you have any further info on the 'proper' absorption rate or a better guesstimate of my evaporation would be appreciated. Thanks!

Ryan
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Re: RE: Re: Collapsing stainless steel mesh hose??

Postby billvelek » Tue Aug 21, 2007 1:46 am

wottaguy wrote:snip ... First of all I was just suggesting that a partial collapsed SS hose would and could indeed have an effect on the Efficiency of extraction of said mash. Although you may get your volume correct from your runoff, your extraction rate will suffer from a partially collapsed hose. ... snip

I wasn't thinking of that when I responded, but I understand your point now, wottaguy, ... if you are fly-sparging. Fluid-dynamics or whatever else one calls it -- manifold design is an important factor that will definitely affect efficiency when "fly-sparging", because it affects how consistently and uniformly sugars are flushed through the grain bed. But, since I came into the discussion late, I did have the advantage of noting that camelfilter had indicated that he "batch sparges". That being the case, manifold design goes completely out the window; i.e., it makes no difference whatsoever how you are draining your tun, and therefore a partially collapsed bazooka wouldn't matter either, as long as you can drain all of the runnings. That's why, when I coil my ten footer in my tun, I don't pay any particular attention to how it sits in the bottom. I had given some consideration to fly-sparging, but then I would need to pay attention to manifold design as well as a method to sparge. I know that there were some careful comparisons done by some respected brewers, and the results were fairly close; IIRC, fly-sparging beat batch-sparging, but only by a very small percentage.

Cheers.

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Postby slothrob » Tue Aug 21, 2007 10:03 am

Are you stirring well prior to each running? This is important for maximizing efficiency in Batch Sparging.

The fact that you're adding 4.4 gallons of sparge water and getting 4.4 gallons back out implies that you are not having a stuck sparge or "collapsed braid".

What volume did you nenter as your dead space? I doubt you have more than a gallon of dead space. My cooler set-up has about a pint of undrainable wort. If your braid is connected very high in the tun you will have more, but 8 times more seems excessive. You can try adding a short length of copper tubing that can be bent toward the bottom of the tun, then connecting your braid to that.
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Postby camelfilter » Tue Aug 21, 2007 9:02 pm

slothrob wrote:Are you stirring well prior to each running? This is important for maximizing efficiency in Batch Sparging.

The fact that you're adding 4.4 gallons of sparge water and getting 4.4 gallons back out implies that you are not having a stuck sparge or "collapsed braid".

What volume did you nenter as your dead space? I doubt you have more than a gallon of dead space. My cooler set-up has about a pint of undrainable wort. If your braid is connected very high in the tun you will have more, but 8 times more seems excessive. You can try adding a short length of copper tubing that can be bent toward the bottom of the tun, then connecting your braid to that.


According to my calculations I have 0.98 gallons of dead space in my mash tun. The 4.4 gallon addition was the odd thing,...I added 4.4 gallons for the sparge, but only received 3.4 gallons and it ran dry (gurgled and sputtered to a stop). In the end I nailed the 8.9 gallons I was after, but am not sure how it happened. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I infused with 7.56 gallons and predicted 4.43 gallons out of the 1st runnings, but received 5.5 gallons! It's almost as if the grain absorbtion took place on the 2nd runnings and not the 1st,...if that makes any sense.

In any case, my gravity with the full 8.9 gallon volume was 1.040, not the 1.054 I was aiming for. Yeah, I stir the mash pretty well as I'm adding in sparge water,...not to mention while stirring in the grain with the strike water.

Just a question,...all you batch spargers out there

1) put your strike water into the tun at the calculated temp.

2) stir in your grain to arrive at the correct saccrification(protein etc.) rest temp,...right?

This whole thing has me second-guessing my procedures,...

In any case, I'll be !@#$ if I let this get me down. Let me know you thoughts :wink:
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Postby slothrob » Tue Aug 21, 2007 10:40 pm

camelfilter wrote:According to my calculations I have 0.98 gallons of dead space in my mash tun. The 4.4 gallon addition was the odd thing,...I added 4.4 gallons for the sparge, but only received 3.4 gallons and it ran dry (gurgled and sputtered to a stop). In the end I nailed the 8.9 gallons I was after, but am not sure how it happened. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I infused with 7.56 gallons and predicted 4.43 gallons out of the 1st runnings, but received 5.5 gallons! It's almost as if the grain absorbtion took place on the 2nd runnings and not the 1st,...if that makes any sense.

I'm confused by this. You had 5.5 gallons of 1st runnings, ended up with 8.9 gallons, so you must have had 4.4 gallons of 2nd runnings. Right?

In any case, my gravity with the full 8.9 gallon volume was 1.040, not the 1.054 I was aiming for. Yeah, I stir the mash pretty well as I'm adding in sparge water,...not to mention while stirring in the grain with the strike water.
Also, stirring at Mash Out, or just prior to 2nd runnings is important.
Frankly, crush beats most all other variables as the primary influence on efficiency. Without your own mill, so that you can progressively tighten the gap until you max out, it's difficult to know if you're crushed well enough. I can't tell a good crush just by looking at it.

Just a question,...all you batch spargers out there
1) put your strike water into the tun at the calculated temp.
2) stir in your grain to arrive at the correct saccrification(protein etc.) rest temp,...right?

Yes.
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