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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: jaftak22 on August 28, 2014, 09:42:51 PM

Title: First Big Beer
Post by: jaftak22 on August 28, 2014, 09:42:51 PM
So I am wanting to attempt my first big beer. My setup is  2, 10 gallon Rubbermaid coolers, one is the HLT and the other is the MLT. I have a Keggle for my boil. The only thing that concerns me about the setup is weather or not I will have enough space for all of the grain in the MLT. The grain bill is 23 pounds! That's a lot of grain. I can post the recipe if need be. Not worried about the rest, but if you have any good info for brewing big beers let me know
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: jaftak22 on August 28, 2014, 09:43:59 PM
Oh forgot to add that the Green Bay rackers mash calculator said this will take up 9.03 gallons of space
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: Jimmy K on August 28, 2014, 10:16:54 PM
I've used their calculator and it's seems accurate. I've mashed about that much grain in my 10g cooler too.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: duboman on August 28, 2014, 10:18:53 PM
Using 1.25qts per pound of grain you can do 23# of grain in a 10 gallon cooler, it's tight and you'll have to add the grain slowly with good mixing to ensure no dough balls but it'll fit
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: theDarkSide on August 29, 2014, 12:39:33 PM
Make sure you have some DME around.  I sometimes take a big hit on efficiency when doing a high gravity beer.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: mattybrass on August 29, 2014, 01:21:19 PM
Make sure you have some DME around.  I sometimes take a big hit on efficiency when doing a high gravity beer.

this is always a good idea. Or corn sugar depending on the type of beer.

Also ive mashed that much in my 10g cooler before. The other option would be to mash twice and boil once.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: morticaixavier on August 29, 2014, 04:52:34 PM
and remember to brew a small beer a couple weeks before the big beer so you have enough yeast!

Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: scottNU on August 29, 2014, 08:32:57 PM
Make sure you have some DME around.  I sometimes take a big hit on efficiency when doing a high gravity beer.

I brewed an imperial stout today that had a target OG of 1.100.  The pre-boil target was 1.079 and I came in at 1.068.  This is the biggest beer I have brewed and maxed out my cooler.  I normally hit my targets, but I knew coming in low was a risk with some much grain.  I added about 1.4 lbs and DME and hit the OG after the boil. 

The beer is a little more expensive than I expected due to the DME, but hey, it's fun!
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: morticaixavier on August 29, 2014, 08:34:30 PM
Make sure you have some DME around.  I sometimes take a big hit on efficiency when doing a high gravity beer.

I brewed an imperial stout today that had a target OG of 1.100.  The pre-boil target was 1.079 and I came in at 1.068.  This is the biggest beer I have brewed and maxed out my cooler.  I normally hit my targets, but I knew coming in low was a risk with some much grain.  I added about 1.4 lbs and DME and hit the OG after the boil. 

The beer is a little more expensive than I expected due to the DME, but hey, it's fun!

In that situation you can also sparge more. unless the problem was poor conversion from too thick a mash or something, the sugars are in there, you just need to rinse them out. of course then you have to boil longer but that isn't always bad with a big beer as it will help develop some nice flavor complexity.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: scottNU on August 29, 2014, 08:38:13 PM
Make sure you have some DME around.  I sometimes take a big hit on efficiency when doing a high gravity beer.

I brewed an imperial stout today that had a target OG of 1.100.  The pre-boil target was 1.079 and I came in at 1.068.  This is the biggest beer I have brewed and maxed out my cooler.  I normally hit my targets, but I knew coming in low was a risk with some much grain.  I added about 1.4 lbs and DME and hit the OG after the boil. 

The beer is a little more expensive than I expected due to the DME, but hey, it's fun!

In that situation you can also sparge more. unless the problem was poor conversion from too thick a mash or something, the sugars are in there, you just need to rinse them out. of course then you have to boil longer but that isn't always bad with a big beer as it will help develop some nice flavor complexity.

Good point.  Thank you.  I was a bit short of time and I was prepared for a second sparge but daddy duty called so I cheated a bit with the DME.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: morticaixavier on August 29, 2014, 09:12:57 PM
Make sure you have some DME around.  I sometimes take a big hit on efficiency when doing a high gravity beer.

I brewed an imperial stout today that had a target OG of 1.100.  The pre-boil target was 1.079 and I came in at 1.068.  This is the biggest beer I have brewed and maxed out my cooler.  I normally hit my targets, but I knew coming in low was a risk with some much grain.  I added about 1.4 lbs and DME and hit the OG after the boil. 

The beer is a little more expensive than I expected due to the DME, but hey, it's fun!

In that situation you can also sparge more. unless the problem was poor conversion from too thick a mash or something, the sugars are in there, you just need to rinse them out. of course then you have to boil longer but that isn't always bad with a big beer as it will help develop some nice flavor complexity.

Good point.  Thank you.  I was a bit short of time and I was prepared for a second sparge but daddy duty called so I cheated a bit with the DME.

ahh daddy duty, know it well.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: jaftak22 on August 30, 2014, 04:55:33 PM
So. I brewed last night. Everything went well. The cooler was at its absolutes max. I need a bigger mash tun but I missed my target gravity. How do you guys check yours during the boil? I have been letting wort cool and then checking the gravity which I know probably isn't the best way
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: denny on August 30, 2014, 05:32:30 PM
So. I brewed last night. Everything went well. The cooler was at its absolutes max. I need a bigger mash tun but I missed my target gravity. How do you guys check yours during the boil? I have been letting wort cool and then checking the gravity which I know probably isn't the best way

I gave up on refractometers.  Now I use a Pyrex measuring cup to pull 8 oz. of wort from the kettle.  I put it in an old metal cocktail shaker and swirl it in a bowl of ice water.  In less than 60 seconds it goes from boiling to 60F and I can get a reading.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: jaftak22 on August 30, 2014, 06:48:00 PM
I'm gonna try that. I wanna buy a refractometer but I am on a real tight budget.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: a10t2 on August 30, 2014, 07:22:34 PM
I'm gonna try that. I wanna buy a refractometer but I am on a real tight budget.

They're around $25 on eBay including shipping from China.

I wouldn't brew without one. I just use a small syringe to pull ~0.5 mL of wort and by the time I walk over to the refractometer it's cooled enough to get a reading.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: denny on August 30, 2014, 09:34:43 PM
I'm gonna try that. I wanna buy a refractometer but I am on a real tight budget.

I have two.  Neither agrees with the other and neither agrees with my hydrometer.  I have calibrated them more times than I can recall and finally just gave up.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: bengelbrau on August 30, 2014, 09:50:25 PM
I have one refractometer and one hydrometer. Like Denny's, neither agrees. I checked both against a 10% sugar in distilled water solution, and the refractometer was closer to the expected reading at 1.038. The hydrometer was 1.033. I have since given up on expecting accuracy from either, and am hoping that the refractometer I have decided to use all the time will at least be consistent from batch to batch.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: jaftak22 on August 31, 2014, 02:30:20 AM
So have you guys noticed a difference with refractometers? More specifically cheaper ones or more expensive ones? How about hydrometers, as far as price. I have two $7 hydrometers that measure within .01 of each other
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: klickitat jim on August 31, 2014, 02:46:11 PM
I havevone cheap refractometer. I struggle with it. If I calibrate it properly and get my test sample to the proper temp, it works. I dont trust it but its good for things I cant practically use a hydrometer for, like sugar content of juices.

My hydrometer is the cheap variety and works fine. Occasionally I check the calibration in water. With mine ive noticed the paper measurement will slide if its bumped, and you can slide it back with very gentle tapping one way or the other. I rarely have to adjust because im pretty careful with it, but when I first got it it was about 6 or 8 points out of wack.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: HoosierBrew on August 31, 2014, 02:53:00 PM
I always calibrate my refractometer before using and check a sample 2 or 3 times to be sure it's reading consistently.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: brewinhard on August 31, 2014, 03:23:18 PM
Keep in mind that all calibrations for refractometers and hydrometers are best done with distilled water.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: a10t2 on August 31, 2014, 04:54:05 PM
Keep in mind that all calibrations for refractometers and hydrometers are best done with distilled water.

Myth! The TDS required to throw either the refractive index or specific gravity of water off by enough to be measured would put it far outside the EPA guidelines for potable water.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: denny on August 31, 2014, 05:06:28 PM
Keep in mind that all calibrations for refractometers and hydrometers are best done with distilled water.

Myth! The TDS required to throw either the refractive index or specific gravity of water off by enough to be measured would put it far outside the EPA guidelines for potable water.

A myth that I've confirmed for myself.  I have used both tap and distilled water to calibrate my refractometers and they're off by the same amount no matter which I use.  :)
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: a10t2 on August 31, 2014, 05:48:11 PM
A myth that I've confirmed for myself.  I have used both tap and distilled water to calibrate my refractometers and they're off by the same amount no matter which I use.  :)

That's just because you live in the Noti Vortex, where Snell's Law doesn't apply. ;)
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: ynotbrusum on August 31, 2014, 09:03:06 PM
Snell's Law - would that have anything to do with fishing line attachment to fish hooks?  Just kidding ;D
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: denny on August 31, 2014, 09:19:06 PM
A myth that I've confirmed for myself.  I have used both tap and distilled water to calibrate my refractometers and they're off by the same amount no matter which I use.  :)

That's just because you live in the Noti Vortex, where Snell's Law doesn't apply. ;)

 ;D
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: theDarkSide on September 02, 2014, 12:21:42 PM
I tried taking a final gravity reading on my beer this weekend, but it had 8 oz of cocoa powder added at 5 min...wasn't going to happen.  The whole display just had a brown tint to it.

Otherwise, I love it.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: jaftak22 on September 02, 2014, 07:17:45 PM
So I know this will probably disgust some of you but I did not make a starter for this beer. I had a OG of 1.092 and pitched 3 packs of US-05. I am now at 1.018. According to the brewers friend yeast calculator I pitched plenty of yeast. I am quite surprised it has gone down that much in 5 days.
..
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: morticaixavier on September 02, 2014, 07:20:38 PM
So I know this will probably disgust some of you but I did not make a starter for this beer. I had a OG of 1.092 and pitched 3 packs of US-05. I am now at 1.018. According to the brewers friend yeast calculator I pitched plenty of yeast. I am quite surprised it has gone down that much in 5 days.
..

no need for a starter with 3 packs of us-05. that's one of the great things about that yeast. advice to make a start is only with liquid yeast.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: jaftak22 on September 03, 2014, 04:59:16 AM
So I as I look at this beer in the carboy, I can't help but wonder what vanilla would do to this beer. When I rack to the secondary I was thinking about tossing in two beans. I just don't know how much you would pick up off two beans. Any thoughts?
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: ynotbrusum on September 03, 2014, 11:22:20 AM
I missed where you might have stated what kind of beer you made...that will help on the decision to add vanilla!
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: jaftak22 on September 06, 2014, 12:20:45 AM
Yeah I guess that would help, thought I had posted it. Making a Russian Imperial Stout, wanna put one or two in the secondary just to see how it affects the flavor. Only problem is, I don't know how much flavor you pick up from a single vanilla bean.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: morticaixavier on September 06, 2014, 03:11:31 AM
Add two. In a sanitized hop bag. Then taste every day or two until it's where you want it vanilla wise. Vanilla fades pretty quick though so you might want to add it just a few days before packaging.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: ynotbrusum on September 06, 2014, 11:12:17 AM
+1 to what Mort said.  Vanilla can be just a hint to overwhelming depending on the method.  The beans are better done late IMHO.  In the boil, you just don't know the strength and using extract its better to go by taste in a glass and extrapolate volume back to the keg.
Title: Re: First Big Beer
Post by: jaftak22 on September 08, 2014, 03:10:29 AM
Ok will try doing this late. Gonna leave in the primary for 3-4 weeks before transferring to secondary for two months.