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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: Bret on January 31, 2010, 06:21:22 PM

Title: Organics
Post by: Bret on January 31, 2010, 06:21:22 PM
I am a Rip-van Winkle brewer--was into the sport bigtime around ten--twelve years ago. LHBS went out of business and I sorta let it go.  A few months ago-SWMBO says, "why don't you homebrew again?" So I am up and running again. Up to my fifth batch.  I do all grain with a BLUE cylindrical cooler, a Phil's phalse bottom and a Phil's sparger. I am curious about a couple of things.  My beers are tasty but seem a little thin in body.  My OGs are coming in on the low side of target.  I am using organic grains exclusively--so far-- and was wondering if anyone using organics notices a lower yield? I used same recipes from years ago--that were idealized with MO 2 row.

I also boil stove top with a 6 gal Volrath SS pot for a brew kettle, and reading here and elsewhere leads me to believe it may be too small?  I don't remember it being a problem during phase 1.

Any comments on reduced efficiency with organic grains? Or with a potentially too-small boil/kettle?  I fill her right up to the brim and whatever is there after 90 min. boil is cooled and pitched.

My instinct is to just use more grain.
Title: Re: Organics
Post by: denny on January 31, 2010, 07:25:43 PM
Most of the continental and some of the domestic malts I use are organic and I haven't noticed that.  I think it has more to do with the malt and how it's made than whether or not it's organic.
Title: Re: Organics
Post by: dean on January 31, 2010, 07:28:25 PM
What is your recipe and what temperature are you mashing at for how long?  I would think Denny is right but I don't know, I can't afford the organic malts.   ;D
Title: Re: Organics
Post by: Bret on January 31, 2010, 07:44:22 PM
Okay thanks for the responses.  It is a German Ale run--a Kolsch, and two Alts--all on WY 1007. Minimal Spalt hops. Mashed Kolsch at 149 F for an hour. A 1/3 lb of wheat added to each recipe.  The Kolsch was 10 lb Pils malt. Alt A has 9 lb pils, 1 lb.munich. ALT B has 9 lb Pils, 2 lbs. munich and a little black malt,  Alt A was mashed at 152 or so for 75 minutes to see if it helps.  The OG was a little higher, but not the .1050 I was hoping for.

Organics are not that much more expensive IMHO. Who said saving the planet would be cheap?
Title: Re: Organics
Post by: a10t2 on January 31, 2010, 09:30:08 PM
Alt A has 9 lb pils, 1 lb.munich. ALT B has 9 lb Pils, 2 lbs. munich and a little black malt,  Alt A was mashed at 152 or so for 75 minutes to see if it helps.  The OG was a little higher, but not the .1050 I was hoping for.

Assuming you're at about 1.048, that's around 65% efficiency. Do you check your mash pH, and/or treat your water? For a relatively light beer it wouldn't be unusual for tap water to pull the pH out of range and contribute to poor efficiency.

Organics are not that much more expensive IMHO. Who said saving the planet would be cheap?

I'm not sure I'm willing to grant the premise of your question. ;)
Title: Re: Organics
Post by: Bret on January 31, 2010, 09:56:48 PM
I used to use doctored distilled water, now I am using filtered tap, so you may have hit the nail right on the head. What should a mash PH be, and how to measure it easily/cheaply?  Will test papers for aquariums work?
Title: Re: Organics
Post by: dean on January 31, 2010, 11:22:08 PM
What should a mash PH be, and how to measure it easily/cheaply?  Will test papers for aquariums work?

Mash pH should be between 5.2 and 5.5, I think 5.4 is supposed to be the magic number but you get the idea.  Hey... don't be going "cheap" on it now.    :D  ;)  Colorfast or colorphast strips are supposedly the most accurate for strips, I just use the ones sold on NB's website.  But make sure you get the ones made for beer.

I'm not sure if this will have anything to do with efficiency or not but mashing that low sometimes you need to let it mash a little longer, maybe 90 minutes to get full conversion.  

Title: Re: Organics
Post by: Hokerer on February 01, 2010, 02:18:26 PM
What should a mash PH be, and how to measure it easily/cheaply?  Will test papers for aquariums work?

There was actually a long thread about this on here somewhere not too long ago.  The basic understanding I came away from that with is...

1. Actual pH at mash temperature is around 0.3 lower than actual pH at room temperature.

2. Target pH should be 5.1 to 5.4 at mash temperature which is the same as 5.4 to 5.7 at room temperature.

3. Colorphast test strips at room temperature give a reading that is approximately 0.3 lower than actual room temperature pH.

4. Colorphast test strips give the same reading at mash temp as they do at room temp.

5. Therefore, you can use the strips to test your mash pH at either temperature and the reading you get will correspond to the mash temp pH which should be between 5.1 and 5.4
Title: Re: Organics
Post by: Kaiser on February 01, 2010, 02:46:59 PM
Do you have a malt analysis sheet?

Kai
Title: Re: Organics
Post by: Kaiser on February 01, 2010, 02:53:47 PM
How much lower is the efficiency?

If I look at the organic Weyermann vs. the regular Weyermann malts I see that the organic malts have about 2% less extract content on average. That might be caused buy organic barley not containing as much starch per kernel as regular barley.

But if we are talking 10+% lower than usual it can’t be explained by the lower extract potential alone. There are some more analysis points on a malt analysis sheet that can help.

Kai

Title: Re: Organics
Post by: MDixon on February 01, 2010, 09:32:24 PM
How did you crush you malt before and how do you crush it now?

Title: Re: Organics
Post by: BrewArk on February 01, 2010, 09:52:45 PM
I've never seen a difference between organic and regular malts.  If you've not brewed in a while, there's probably something you are doing now that you didn't do before (vice versa).  Go over your notes.
Title: Re: Organics
Post by: Bret on February 01, 2010, 11:50:41 PM
Hey guys--

Cool responses.  At this point, I do think it is a PH and/or water issue.  That was a big difference in what I did before, water.(Brewark: NOTES +1)   In phase 1 I always used distilled 'burtonized" water for most everything.  I am trying to keep it as simple as possible, so I have to figure out my water chemistry, so I can use the tap.  I agree that it probably is not the organic malt, as there is no evidence in literature--or here-- that suggests lower yields.  I have yet to brew Alt B, so I will use my original burtonized distilled water and see if that does the trick.  I really want to use my tap water, so I guess I need to go down that road too--looking around the house for that sheet the water department sends out--and find the right additions to get it in range.  I guess I'll know more after the distilled batch run.  I never worried about PH before, but almost all my really good beers were pale ales made with doctored distilled water.

Dean-- ha ha on "cheap"  yeah, I know....and point taken about mash time. My understanding is MALT:more alcohol lower temperature, and these beers are supposed to attenuate fully...fwiw

Kai--there isn't a malt analysis sheet--that I can easily find....but I get your point.

MDixon--store crushed at Seven Bridges Organic Co-op.  Part of my simpler approach...could be something there.
Title: Re: Organics
Post by: pinnah on February 02, 2010, 12:46:47 AM
I am fairly certain that pesticides
have a negative effect on my head retention.



store crushed at Seven Bridges Organic Co-op.  Part of my simpler approach...could be something there.

You are onto something here. ;)
Title: Re: Organics
Post by: Bret on February 02, 2010, 12:56:43 AM
store crushing -- bad idea?
Title: Re: Organics
Post by: gail on February 02, 2010, 01:17:04 AM
store crushing -- bad idea?
Not necessarily.  It might be just that you have to adjust your grain bill to compensate for a different grind at the shop.  Or perhaps you return to your old methods; whatever works best and/or is easiest for you.
Gail
Title: Re: Organics
Post by: Hokerer on February 02, 2010, 02:24:04 AM
I am fairly certain that pesticides
have a negative effect on my head retention.



store crushed at Seven Bridges Organic Co-op.  Part of my simpler approach...could be something there.

You are onto something here. ;)

+1  99% of the time crush is the driver of efficiency issues.  No telling how their crush is different now than it was when you were brewing way back when (or whoever crushed for you at the time).
Title: Re: Organics
Post by: yugamrap on February 02, 2010, 06:24:01 PM
store crushing -- bad idea?
Not necessarily.  It might be just that you have to adjust your grain bill to compensate for a different grind at the shop.  Or perhaps you return to your old methods; whatever works best and/or is easiest for you.
Gail
If you'd rather not adjust your recipes or buy more grain, you could try to address the crush issue directly.  I saw about a 10% increase in my brewhouse efficiency when I bought my own mill and started crushing my own grain instead of using pre-crushed grain.  My mill (Barley Crusher) gap is set to at 0.030.  So, the next time you're at the store, ask if their mill is adjustable, and if they'd let you adjust it.  It may be that their mill setting is not as tight as it could be.  See what their setting is and maybe tighten it up by 0.005" or so (or at least down to 0.035").  An inexpensive feeler gauge from the auto parts store and the appropriate screwdriver are all the tools you should need.  When you're done, you can return the mill to its original gap setting so others are not affected by the change.  If the store's mill isn't adjustable, or if they won't let you adjust it, another option is to try running your grain through the mill twice to get a somewhat finer crush.
Title: Re: Organics
Post by: a10t2 on February 02, 2010, 07:44:55 PM
If you'd rather not adjust your recipes or buy more grain, you could try to address the crush issue directly.  I saw about a 10% increase in my brewhouse efficiency when I bought my own mill and started crushing my own grain instead of using pre-crushed grain.  My mill (Barley Crusher) gap is set to at 0.030.

This is my experience exactly. Brewed the same recipe with the Barley Crusher at 39 mil, then 30 mil, and went from 79% to 87%.