Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: dcb on January 26, 2014, 02:59:17 PM

Title: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: dcb on January 26, 2014, 02:59:17 PM
Yesterday a friend and I dove in with our first all-grain batch.  It would be hard to think of a more enjoyable way to pass the afternoon.  Overall, we were pleased with the process, hitting mash temps exactly and getting an OG just a bit low (1.058 whereas the recipe called for 1.065).  We had a couple of surprised that I'd appreciate comments on.

The first thing that surprised us was how dry the mash was at mash in.   We used 13.625 pounds of grain and 20 qts of water per Beersmith.   That was enough to moisten the grain well but there was no standing liquid and there would have been zero run-off from that.  I was expecting it to be somewhat soupy.  Does this sound right?

The other thing was that we lost a good bit more in the boil than expected.  We started the boil with 5.9 gal but recovered only about 4.25 gal in the fermenter.  We kept a nice gentle boil going for an hour but didn't feel like it was too terribly dramatic.    While cleaning up, I squeezed the hop-crud left in the pot to see how much might have been soaked up but managed to get only 12 more ounces, which didn't account for much of the loss.

Still, we were pleased with the results.  We felt like the wort tasted clean and sweet and hoppy, and if we got our sanitation right we'll end up with something very enjoyable.   It'll be six weeks until we know if this was just hubris on our parts, but the airlock was bubbling away nicely this morning so we'll go with that optimism for the time being.



Title: Re: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: Jeff M on January 26, 2014, 03:25:10 PM
Yesterday a friend and I dove in with our first all-grain batch.  It would be hard to think of a more enjoyable way to pass the afternoon.  Overall, we were pleased with the process, hitting mash temps exactly and getting an OG just a bit low (1.058 whereas the recipe called for 1.065).  We had a couple of surprised that I'd appreciate comments on.

The first thing that surprised us was how dry the mash was at mash in.   We used 13.625 pounds of grain and 20 qts of water per Beersmith.   That was enough to moisten the grain well but there was no standing liquid and there would have been zero run-off from that.  I was expecting it to be somewhat soupy.  Does this sound right?

The other thing was that we lost a good bit more in the boil than expected.  We started the boil with 5.9 gal but recovered only about 4.25 gal in the fermenter.  We kept a nice gentle boil going for an hour but didn't feel like it was too terribly dramatic.    While cleaning up, I squeezed the hop-crud left in the pot to see how much might have been soaked up but managed to get only 12 more ounces, which didn't account for much of the loss.

Still, we were pleased with the results.  We felt like the wort tasted clean and sweet and hoppy, and if we got our sanitation right we'll end up with something very enjoyable.   It'll be six weeks until we know if this was just hubris on our parts, but the airlock was bubbling away nicely this morning so we'll go with that optimism for the time being.

There is definitely something wrong if your mash was dry.  most common grist/water ratio is 1.25qt/lb and you used about 1.5qt/lb.  Did you stir well when mashing in to ensure you didnt get a lot of clumps etc?  Usually when i mash in as we stir in the grain it looks dry right away and then gets moist and sinks to the bottom.

Usually in a 16g pot with a 19' diameter i boil off about 1.75g an hour, so depending on your pot geometry you could boil off more or less.  Either way it sounds like you missed your preboil volume.  A simple mistake if you didnt adjust for grain absorption or if you havent calibrated your system for the way you brew:)

Post your setup details and the recipe for what you brewed.  Maybe what beersmith said too.

Cheers,
Jeff

PS Like everything else, Beersmith needs to be calibrated for your system!
Title: Re: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: riceral on January 26, 2014, 03:26:54 PM
Yesterday a friend and I dove in with our first all-grain batch.  It would be hard to think of a more enjoyable way to pass the afternoon.  Overall, we were pleased with the process, hitting mash temps exactly and getting an OG just a bit low (1.058 whereas the recipe called for 1.065).  We had a couple of surprised that I'd appreciate comments on.

The first thing that surprised us was how dry the mash was at mash in.   We used 13.625 pounds of grain and 20 qts of water per Beersmith.   That was enough to moisten the grain well but there was no standing liquid and there would have been zero run-off from that.  I was expecting it to be somewhat soupy.  Does this sound right?

The other thing was that we lost a good bit more in the boil than expected.  We started the boil with 5.9 gal but recovered only about 4.25 gal in the fermenter.  We kept a nice gentle boil going for an hour but didn't feel like it was too terribly dramatic.    While cleaning up, I squeezed the hop-crud left in the pot to see how much might have been soaked up but managed to get only 12 more ounces, which didn't account for much of the loss.

Still, we were pleased with the results.  We felt like the wort tasted clean and sweet and hoppy, and if we got our sanitation right we'll end up with something very enjoyable.   It'll be six weeks until we know if this was just hubris on our parts, but the airlock was bubbling away nicely this morning so we'll go with that optimism for the time being.

By my calculation, you used about 1.5 quarts of water per pound of grain. A little higher than what I typically use but it should have given a "soupy" mash. I haven't experienced a mash where there was no run off after the mash.

I estimate 0.1 gallon of water absorbed for each pound of grain in the mash. Using your grain bill, about 1.3 gallon of water would have been absorbed. Did you take this into account when you collected the wort?

Evaporation during the boil can be affected by a number of things. Type/shape of the kettle and relative humidity, along with the rigor of the boil can all effect evaporation.

The more batches you brew, the more you learn about your system and the process and how to take all these things into consideration. (Not that I'm an expert---I am still on the steep learning curve!)

You said that the wort tasted clean, sweet, and hoppy after the boil going into the fermentor and the air lock is bubbling away. Relax. Let the fermentation take place and when fermentation is done, sample again, then bottle.

Let us know how it turns out.
Title: Re: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: fmader on January 26, 2014, 03:39:13 PM
Welcome to the forum and welcome to all grain. I agree, it is tough to find something better to do on a Saturday. After reading your post. The first thing that alarms me is the gravity issue. I wouldn't say much by being shy by .007 on your first batch, but being shy on volume and still being low is a concern. Normally being shy on volume with cause the wort to be more concentrated. Boil off has variables. Surface area and temp are so biggies. In my system, I boil off about 1.5 gallons per hour.

You mashed in at a little mire than 1.5 quarts per lb. that should be adequate. When it's all said and done, I end up using 9-9.5 gallons of water per 5.5 gallon batch on average.

So there's a few questions for you...

Who crushed your grains?
What efficiency did you use to calculate your grain bill?
What temp did you mash at?
What temp did you sparge at?
Did you sparge? Fly or batch?
I think that's all for now

Don't worry, you'll get this dialed in before you know it!
Title: Re: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: HoosierBrew on January 26, 2014, 03:50:30 PM
Good advice and questions from all.  I collect 7 gallons of wort in my kettle to end up with 5.5 gallons at the end of a 60 minute boil. Obviously I collect more in the kettle if I'm boiling 90 minutes. To achieve accurate, consistent volumes in your kettle ( pre and post boil) you need to calibrate your pot. I use a piece of wooden dowel from the hardware store, marked a quart at a time from 0 to 8 gallons. It's indispensable. You can sparge to just the right amount, and boil down to the right amount each time. So figure how much liquid your pot boils off in an hour and you'll know how much wort to collect after sparge.
Title: Re: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: euge on January 26, 2014, 04:45:46 PM
If the mash was dry or stiff at that ratio a mistake in measurement was probably made. Either in too much grain or too little water. It is very easy to make an educational mistake this early on in the process of learning how to successfully grain brew beer. An example would be not accounting for water absorbed by the malt correctly. I always include extra water in my first strike.
Title: Re: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: denny on January 26, 2014, 05:14:25 PM
I've gotta say it one more time...Beersmith is just a tool to help you brew the way you want to brew.  It is not instructions on how to brew.  Just because it defaults to a particular mash ratio doesn't mean that's what you have to use.  Make the software work for you rather than vice versa.
Title: Re: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: HoosierBrew on January 26, 2014, 05:17:35 PM
If the mash was dry or stiff at that ratio a mistake in measurement was probably made. Either in too much grain or too little water. It is very easy to make an educational mistake this early on in the process of learning how to successfully grain brew beer. An example would be not accounting for water absorbed by the malt correctly. I always include extra water in my first strike.

+1.  Grain will absorb ~ .12 gallons water/lb of grain. Also you need to figure out the dead space of your system, ie., the amount of water you add to the mash tun that will not drain out. So your grain probably absorbed ~ 1.6 gallons of water. Be sure to figure the amount of absorption for each batch , added to dead space, added to the actual amount of mash water to get your total volume of mash water.
Title: Re: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: reverseapachemaster on January 26, 2014, 06:18:57 PM
Definitely sounds like there were some measurement errors in either the grain or water going into the mash. Regardless of what beersmith said regarding your equipment setup at 1.5qt/lb it shouldn't have mattered how beersmith calculated the mash volume. You should not have had a dry mash. Possible you measured the quarts as 16oz rather than 32oz?
Title: Re: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: Jeff M on January 26, 2014, 06:21:51 PM
Definitely sounds like there were some measurement errors in either the grain or water going into the mash. Regardless of what beersmith said regarding your equipment setup at 1.5qt/lb it shouldn't have mattered how beersmith calculated the mash volume. You should not have had a dry mash. Possible you measured the quarts as 16oz rather than 32oz?

This is what i was thinking, 1cup pints instead of 2cup pints.
Title: Re: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: dcb on January 26, 2014, 06:26:10 PM
I'm pleased to offer the group a chuckle on only my second post.   I kept going over and over what I did when it struck me: I mashed in with 20 CUPS of water, not 20 quarts.  I was using a pyrex 4 cup thing to measure and was thinking "each of these is 4, so I need 5 total..." without noticing that I was using the wrong units or simply visualizing what 5 gallons of strike water should look like.   As was pointed out, it just about had to be a measurement error, and sure enough.

While I feel silly, I don't mind making a mistake if I can see what I did wrong and learn something.  I really appreciate the people who took the time to read my question and offer help.  Not having done nor seen this done before, I didn't know what it should look like.  Having experienced people say "no, that doesn't sound right" is more helpful than you might realize.

I'm still hopeful about getting something drinkable, even if not the beer I set out to brew.  I've got my bucket in a dark, cool corner of the garage, wrapped up with a blanket and heating pad, where the temp controller I made for the occasion is keeping it right at 65 degrees.  I keep going down to admire the bubble and have a whiff of that lovely airlock vapor that smells faintly of hops and yeast.

To answer other questions, I had chosen a recipe described as a "Hoppy American Amber or Malty American Pale Ale" which described what I wanted a beer to taste like.   My grains were purchased and crushed from my LHBSP.  I batch sparged in two, 3.25 gallon batches, giving each 15 minutes before recirculating and draining.

10 lbs US 2 Row
1 lbs Crystal40L
1 lbs Munich
8.0 oz Biscuit Malt
8.0 oz Crystal120L
8.0 oz Flaked Oats
2.0 oz Chocolate malt

1.00 oz Magnum(60 min)
1.00 oz Centennial(10 min)
1.00 oz Cascade (10 min)
1.00 oz Cascade (0 min)
1.00 oz Centennial (0 min)
Title: Re: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: dcb on January 26, 2014, 06:28:03 PM
And just as I post this I see that several people had worked out what had to be the problem. 

*sigh*

Thanks again to all of you for helping a new guy out!
Title: Re: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: denny on January 26, 2014, 06:29:37 PM
And just as I post this I see that several people had worked out what had to be the problem. 

*sigh*

Thanks again to all of you for helping a new guy out!

I think we ALL have our "first brew" stories.  Now you've got yours!
Title: Re: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: HoosierBrew on January 26, 2014, 06:41:54 PM
And just as I post this I see that several people had worked out what had to be the problem. 

*sigh*

Thanks again to all of you for helping a new guy out!

I think we ALL have our "first brew" stories.  Now you've got yours!

Here's mine - I used Charlie P's old Zapap setup in the early 90's(drilled bucket inside a bottling bucket). Had what was a cheap, inaccurate crap thermometer, didn't make a good attempt to try to insulate the bucket, and best of all forgot to vorlauf. So what I ended up with was 5 gallons of 1.035 cloudy wort that should have been 1.055. And being an APA the extra utilization made it seem like a cloudy session IPA. I improved my process with that setup though, then switched for years to fly sparging in the round orange cooler, and now batch sparge which I love. Moral of the story - we've all been there !


EDIT - The other moral of the story is to not brew your first AG batch while drinking beer with your buddy.   ;)
Title: Re: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: Jeff M on January 26, 2014, 06:46:27 PM
And just as I post this I see that several people had worked out what had to be the problem. 

*sigh*

Thanks again to all of you for helping a new guy out!

I think we ALL have our "first brew" stories.  Now you've got yours!

I got grain underneath my false bottom during my first AG batch. had to take it all out vai your 4cup pyrex measuring device, put it into a fermenting bucker, clean out the hose and under the false bottom and transfer it back into the tun.  Got some nice burns(more like poached fingers i guess) from that little adventure.

I have sense gone to a SS braid ala Denny and havent had a problem mashing since.

www.dennybrew.com  give it a read:)
Title: Re: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: ynotbrusum on January 28, 2014, 11:41:48 AM
The important thing is that you gave it a try.  You will be able to cure mistakes by continuing to try again.  I suggest doing the same recipe again to see how much easier it becomes by repetition.  It will also help you dial in your system and perhaps determine what changes or upgrades to consider going forward.  Sometimes none or very few are needed!
Title: Re: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: dcb on February 08, 2014, 10:41:28 PM
It's been in the primary exactly two weeks today, and I've just drawn off the first sample.  The FG is reading 1.012, a bit lower than the 1.016 specified in the recipe.  Next came the only part of this that's made me impatient: tasting the first warm, flat sample.

I gotta say, the first few sips seem about as perfect to me as my first girlfriend in high school.   The taste is very clean, the smell lightly fragrant.  If there are any off flavors, I can't perceive them.  My wife gave it the ultimate compliment, saying it was the best homebrew she'd tasted.  We get no "green" taste at all.

Trying to be a bit more objective and self critical, I'd say the body is thinner than I had been expecting.  I expected the 1450 to give a bit more substance and mouthfeel.  I'm no where near experienced enough to judge how this will change once it's been bottled and conditioned for a couple of weeks, nor to speculate how my mashing and sparging gaffs have affected what I have.  But I'm getting optimistic that what I have will end up being enjoyable.

So the plan is to wash bottles next Friday after work, bottle on Saturday, and then brew the very same recipe on Sunday.  I thought that suggestion made a lot of sense, both in the interest of calibrating my system and applying lessons learned. 

More when the first bottle gets opened...



Title: Re: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: Jeff M on February 08, 2014, 11:39:12 PM
It's been in the primary exactly two weeks today, and I've just drawn off the first sample.  The FG is reading 1.012, a bit lower than the 1.016 specified in the recipe.  Next came the only part of this that's made me impatient: tasting the first warm, flat sample.

I gotta say, the first few sips seem about as perfect to me as my first girlfriend in high school.   The taste is very clean, the smell lightly fragrant.  If there are any off flavors, I can't perceive them.  My wife gave it the ultimate compliment, saying it was the best homebrew she'd tasted.  We get no "green" taste at all.

Trying to be a bit more objective and self critical, I'd say the body is thinner than I had been expecting.  I expected the 1450 to give a bit more substance and mouthfeel.  I'm no where near experienced enough to judge how this will change once it's been bottled and conditioned for a couple of weeks, nor to speculate how my mashing and sparging gaffs have affected what I have.  But I'm getting optimistic that what I have will end up being enjoyable.

So the plan is to wash bottles next Friday after work, bottle on Saturday, and then brew the very same recipe on Sunday.  I thought that suggestion made a lot of sense, both in the interest of calibrating my system and applying lessons learned. 

More when the first bottle gets opened...

Add more body forming malts or some flaked oats to give it a little more body next time. 1/2lb of any would probably do, just make sure you like its flavor contribution.
Title: Re: First AG batch (and first post)
Post by: garc_mall on February 09, 2014, 06:57:38 PM
It's been in the primary exactly two weeks today, and I've just drawn off the first sample.  The FG is reading 1.012, a bit lower than the 1.016 specified in the recipe.  Next came the only part of this that's made me impatient: tasting the first warm, flat sample.

I gotta say, the first few sips seem about as perfect to me as my first girlfriend in high school.   The taste is very clean, the smell lightly fragrant.  If there are any off flavors, I can't perceive them.  My wife gave it the ultimate compliment, saying it was the best homebrew she'd tasted.  We get no "green" taste at all.

Trying to be a bit more objective and self critical, I'd say the body is thinner than I had been expecting.  I expected the 1450 to give a bit more substance and mouthfeel.  I'm no where near experienced enough to judge how this will change once it's been bottled and conditioned for a couple of weeks, nor to speculate how my mashing and sparging gaffs have affected what I have.  But I'm getting optimistic that what I have will end up being enjoyable.

So the plan is to wash bottles next Friday after work, bottle on Saturday, and then brew the very same recipe on Sunday.  I thought that suggestion made a lot of sense, both in the interest of calibrating my system and applying lessons learned. 

More when the first bottle gets opened...

I would make sure that you taste it carbonated before you adjust the recipe. IMO, the body seems fuller when the beer isn't flat.