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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: Kirk on June 03, 2018, 02:58:57 PM

Title: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 03, 2018, 02:58:57 PM
Hey guys...I've noticed that many of my brews taste "watery". My latest IPA has the same problem. In the past I tried adding about 1/2 lb of flaked wheat - which certainly helped. However, I'm not sure that is the right thing to be adding for an IPA recipe. I want to share with you my entire recipe, and my brewing technique to get insights.

My grist ratio has always been a problem. In order to keep water just at the top of my grains - I need about 7 gallons for a typical grain bill of 11lbs. This makes a thin mash...otherwise 1/3 of the grain would not be under water...I've always struggled with this. I have a counterflow HERMS system so that the mash is continuously cycled.

Batch size- 5 gal
11lbs of total grain
8lbs briess brewers malt
1/2 lb - acid malt
1/2 lb - cara-pils malt
1/2 lb - Caramel 10
1.5 lbs of Pilsen

Hops
Cascade - 0.5 oz at 45 mins
Amarillo - 1.25 oz at 15mins, 0.5oz at flameout/whirlpool
irish moss/whirlfloc tabs at 15mins

Water Profile (city water) with active carbon filter (recently tested with Brewlab home kit)
pH ~ 7.65
Calcium - 44ppm -48ppm
Magnesium -  26-29ppm
Sodium - 54-55ppm
Chloride - 40ppm
Sulfate - 25-30ppm
Total Alk - 170-180ppm as CaCo3
Bicarbonate - 204 - 216ppm
Total Hardness as CaCo3 - 150ppm
Residual Alk - 152 - 163ppm

Mash
Grist ratio 11lbs / 7 gallons -2.5Qts/lb
150F for 60mins
Mash in and add ~10/11mL of Lactic Acid - Measured pH of 5.2 at 150F (5.4, 5.5 at room temp)
Hold mash and monitor SP with refractrometer - ended at 1.044
Ramp mash temp to 158F and hold for 20mins - ended at 1.044
Ramp for mashout/sparge - 164/168F.
Hold mashout for 10mins
Adjust Sparge water pH with 15mL of lactic acid (8-9gallons of water) - pH measures 5.2.

Sparge until getting ~ 8 gallons pre-boil (my heaters boil off at almost 2g/hr)
Preboil gravity ~ 1.033 at 8 gallons
Add 2.5g of gypsum (Sulfate/choride levels ~ 3:1)
boil for an hour adding hops and finings.

Post boil fermenter measurements
OG - 1.053
Pitch yeast (WYEAST 1332)
Hold ferm temp at 67-69 for most of the primary - ramped to 71 for diacetyl rest
Rack for age a few more days.

FG - 1.026 with refractometer - compensated to 1.010 (80% attenuation)
ABV ~ 5.7%

Carbonated it to 2.5Vols in a keg...It's been in the keg for about 2-3 days now. I had one yesterday and it has decent flavor, but very thin and kinda "watery".

I'm open to suggestions.... :)

I know my grist ratio is thin...I'm not sure what to do about that other than get a new false bottom (sits lower to the tun bottom) or get a new tun with different geometry.

Update - The false bottom sits about 2.5" off the bottom. This equates to about 1.75 gallons of water. I think the MegaPot 1.2 now ships with "The Titan" false bottom. It is a domed design with little dead space. They probably realized how bad the original false bottom design sucked. :)
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Bob357 on June 03, 2018, 04:02:12 PM
Your grain bill looks pretty solid. I would suggest increasing the mash temperature in order to produce more dextrins and go with 1/2 lb. of wheat. Your yeast is a low attenuator, so that isn't the problem.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: denny on June 03, 2018, 04:23:51 PM
Your grain bill looks pretty solid. I would suggest increasing the mash temperature in order to produce more dextrins and go with 1/2 lb. of wheat. Your yeast is a low attenuator, so that isn't the problem.

Worth a try, but I'm willing to bet not much, if any, change.  Most domestic malt, especially the Briess the OP is using, has so much diastatic power that mash temp makes little, if any, difference.  Using domestic malts, I've mashed the same recipe at 153 and 168 with identical results.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: mabrungard on June 03, 2018, 04:34:07 PM
Roughly 2.5 qts/lb is pretty thin!!  That must be quite a space under the false bottom. Are you hitting your intended SG?  That is a very high boil off rate and that can damage beer. A higher SG and lower starting volume would be a direction I would pursue.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: jeffy on June 03, 2018, 04:58:34 PM
If the perceived issue with mash thickness is the amount of dead volume under the false bottom, then the mash really isn’t as thin as you calculate.  If you have three gallons under the false bottom, then the mash thickness ratio where the malt is would be 4 gallons/11 pounds or just over 1.8 quarts per pound.
I still don’t see why you need all that sparge water, especially if you stop when you have collected 8 gallons.
In my opinion, recipe change would improve results, like switching to another base malt.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 03, 2018, 08:08:21 PM
Roughly 2.5 qts/lb is pretty thin!!  That must be quite a space under the false bottom. Are you hitting your intended SG?  That is a very high boil off rate and that can damage beer. A higher SG and lower starting volume would be a direction I would pursue.

Yeah - exactly. My false bottom sits up pretty high unfortunately. I pot the mega pot (20 gallon) about 4 years ago. It looks like they ship them with a new false bottom now (sits lower int he pot). That would for sure help me get my ratio down and thicken the mash. Also, I thought about adding an extra 1.5lb of a base malt and removing the acid malt out. This puts me at 12 total pounds, and reduce the liquor water to 6 gallons. Keeping the same mash temp seems like I would still get a higher OG, but using the same attenuation factor would yield a higher finishing gravity (hopefully more complex carbs left) and thicken it up a little.

Heaters are 6500W Ultra low density heaters. I also want to install a pulse type system which will fire the heaters on and off at a reduced interval effectively reducing the power and slowing the boiling rate.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 03, 2018, 08:13:27 PM
If the perceived issue with mash thickness is the amount of dead volume under the false bottom, then the mash really isn’t as thin as you calculate.  If you have three gallons under the false bottom, then the mash thickness ratio where the malt is would be 4 gallons/11 pounds or just over 1.8 quarts per pound.
I still don’t see why you need all that sparge water, especially if you stop when you have collected 8 gallons.
In my opinion, recipe change would improve results, like switching to another base malt.

Good point. I think their is about 2 gallons of water under the bottom, so 11lbs / 5 gallons ~ 2qts/lb. That still seems kinda thin, but better.

i don't need all that sparge water, however I don't have a pickup tube on the HLT, so I need about 3 gallons in the HLT to be able to pump the water out.

As far as sparging.. I've tried this different ways. I used to essentially drain the mash for the first runnings, then sprinkle the sparge water until hitting the boil volume.

Now I tend to sprinkle the sparge  water slowly while draining to the boil kettle at the same time.
I'm not really sure which way is better to be honest.

Thanks for the insights.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Robert on June 03, 2018, 08:33:18 PM
If the perceived issue with mash thickness is the amount of dead volume under the false bottom, then the mash really isn’t as thin as you calculate.  If you have three gallons under the false bottom, then the mash thickness ratio where the malt is would be 4 gallons/11 pounds or just over 1.8 quarts per pound.
I still don’t see why you need all that sparge water, especially if you stop when you have collected 8 gallons.
In my opinion, recipe change would improve results, like switching to another base malt.
I'm afraid you do have to count the water under the FB.   The grist solids may settle in one place, but the enzymes are diluted throhgh the whole volume and you have to balance the buffers of the malt and the whole volume of water.  To do calculations on the OP's system you'd have to consider it just like a BIAB no sparge really.  I'd want to get down to an actual viscosity in the normal 3:1 water to grist (1.45qt/lb) range.

As for the enzymes in domestic malts, as to Denny' s point, Briess is pretty "hot."  Look at typical analyses of other brands; if you want to use domestic malt, there are some with more European-like specs.

How about posting some details on that tun design?  Maybe somebody can help you come up with a refit on that FB.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: mabrungard on June 03, 2018, 11:07:29 PM
Jeff, you can’t look at it that way. The overall volume of water that is or will be in contact with the grist is part of the equation. All grists have virtually the same water/grist ratio if your analysis is used. All grists generally end up with a void ratio of about 0.3 which is typical for granular media.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: JT on June 03, 2018, 11:51:50 PM
Whoa there.  I see you're using a total of 15 to 16  gallons of water total for a 5 gallon batch of 11 pounds grain.  To put this in perspective, I would use less than 8 gallons of water for that amount of grain.   
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 04, 2018, 12:07:50 AM
Your grain bill looks pretty solid. I would suggest increasing the mash temperature in order to produce more dextrins and go with 1/2 lb. of wheat. Your yeast is a low attenuator, so that isn't the problem.

Thanks Bob. I thought about doing that for sure. I thought maybe I could remove the acid malt (since it's easy to compensate with a little more lactic acid), and add in 1.5lbs of base malt (or a combo of pilsen, caramel, ect). This would give me more available extract at the same mash temp, which would offset a higher mash temp. However, reading the other comment makes me wonder if it will make that much difference. I don't have that much experience outside of Briess malts, so it's hard for me to make that connection. I feel like I've tried something similar to this before, at least increasing the temp a few degrees. I do remember getting a slightly lower fermentable beer, but I don't recall any differences in the body.

I try IPA's all the time and wonder how the hell they get 7% and a good amount of body. I feel like they maybe adding enzymes and things like sugar to get the higher alcohol allowing them to conduct a higher mash temp to retain some body. Otherwise maybe they are compensating with additional malt for a higher OG. I don't know.

Thanks for your insight.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: jeffy on June 04, 2018, 12:15:45 AM
Jeff, you can’t look at it that way. The overall volume of water that is or will be in contact with the grist is part of the equation. All grists have virtually the same water/grist ratio if your analysis is used. All grists generally end up with a void ratio of about 0.3 which is typical for granular media.
I can see how you can look at this from the perspective of water chemistry - how much to add to a total volume of water.  I can see how this would make a difference if the whole mash were being recirculated constantly, which may be the case with this brewer.  I can also see how water volumes would impact the temperature of the strike, because I figure this in when I mash in, calculating the amount of water under the false bottom.  I cannot see how “all grists have virtually the same water/grist ratio.”  Can you explain in easier terms your last two sentences?  What’s a void ratio?
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Robert on June 04, 2018, 12:17:54 AM
I know it's been touched on above, but I also just noticed what an incredible boil off rate you have, around 40%?!  You should really target 4-6% boil off.  Just enough of a simmer to maintain circulation, low heat, lid on, short time (~40 min.) -- that would really help.  For a long time I struggled with what I considered thin tasting beer with dull malt flavors, when I was only pushing 10% boil off.  Finally got it down to 5%, and the difference in wort and beer flavor is astonishing.  Of course, to address that you first still have to get your total water volume down.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Robert on June 04, 2018, 12:26:36 AM
Jeff, you can’t look at it that way. The overall volume of water that is or will be in contact with the grist is part of the equation. All grists have virtually the same water/grist ratio if your analysis is used. All grists generally end up with a void ratio of about 0.3 which is typical for granular media.
I can see how you can look at this from the perspective of water chemistry - how much to add to a total volume of water.  I can see how this would make a difference if the whole mash were being recirculated constantly, which may be the case with this brewer.  I can also see how water volumes would impact the temperature of the strike, because I figure this in when I mash in, calculating the amount of water under the false bottom.  I cannot see how “all grists have virtually the same water/grist ratio.”  Can you explain in easier terms your last two sentences?  What’s a void ratio?
Jeff, I think it means that all mashes will settle to a certain degree of compaction.   You can artificially hold it near the top of that big volume with lots of the water underneath,  or let sink to the bottom with all that water on top, but it's the same diff.  The volume a given weight of grain will tend to settle  to occupy will be the same, but there's still (in this case) extra water somewhere in the mix.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 04, 2018, 12:30:08 AM
Whoa there.  I see you're using a total of 15 to 16  gallons of water total for a 5 gallon batch of 11 pounds grain.  To put this in perspective, I would use less than 8 gallons of water for that amount of grain.

Yeah I hear ya.. the mash filter really kills me. It stands up 2.5 inches off the problem (which is ~ 1.75 gallons).

The other issue maybe my sparge technique. I sparge and drain at the same time (which takes 30 mins +) to fill the boil kettle. I always have a lot of mash water left in the tun after getting to my pre-boil volume.
I wonder if it would be better to drain or partially drain the mash tun first, then start the sparge? I would end up with substantially less water overall, but that still doesn't seem like it would fix my initial grist ratio problem.

Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 04, 2018, 12:40:44 AM
I know it's been touched on above, but I also just noticed what an incredible boil off rate you have, around 40%?!  You should really target 4-6% boil off.  Just enough of a simmer to maintain circulation, low heat, lid on, short time (~40 min.) -- that would really help.  For a long time I struggled with what I considered thin tasting beer with dull malt flavors, when I was only pushing 10% boil off.  Finally got it down to 5%, and the difference in wort and beer flavor is astonishing.  Of course, to address that you first still have to get your total water volume down.

40% doesn't seem right. I start with 8 gallons and boil down to about 6 gallons. Seems like this would be about 25%.

So a couple of things that I've learned regarding the boil off. The best way to reduce things like DMS, and other nasty's is a vigorous boil. Now mine is a bit much likely, but I have no good way of reducing it other than cycling the heaters manually (which is perfectly fine).

I can try adjusting my overall boil off for the next brew. Thanks for your insight.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Robert on June 04, 2018, 12:56:12 AM
^^^^
I did a rough estimate based on your pre- and post- boil gravities; anyway, that's way too much. The homebrewers' myth of the vigorous boil has to go.  It takes around 30 min on heat (just on heat, not vigorous) to convert the precursor SMM to DMS, and then simply uncovering the kettle will vent off the DMS in a few minutes.   All that boiling is just degrading proteins (reducing body and foam) and driving off aromatics while creating caramelized products with much less pleasant flavors than those produced in malting, among other damaging effects.  A little circulation to coagulate the break you do want to get rid of, and enough heat to extract your hops, is all that's needed.  Technically, it is not really necessary to boil wort at all, though with homebrew equipment we're stuck with it to some degree.  Oh, and unless you're using certain extra pale Pilsner malts, DMS is not an issue anyway.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 04, 2018, 12:59:00 AM
Hey guys...I've noticed that many of my brews taste "watery". My latest IPA has the same problem. In the past I tried adding about 1/2 lb of flaked wheat - which certainly helped. However, I'm not sure that is the right thing to be adding for an IPA recipe. I want to share with you my entire recipe, and my brewing technique to get insights.

My grist ratio has always been a problem. In order to keep water just at the top of my grains - I need about 7 gallons for a typical grain bill of 11lbs. This makes a thin mash...otherwise 1/3 of the grain would not be under water...I've always struggled with this. I have a counterflow HERMS system so that the mash is continuously cycled.

Batch size- 5 gal
11lbs of total grain
8lbs briess brewers malt
1/2 lb - acid malt
1/2 lb - cara-pils malt
1/2 lb - Caramel 10
1.5 lbs of Pilsen

Hops
Cascade - 0.5 oz at 45 mins
Amarillo - 1.25 oz at 15mins, 0.5oz at flameout/whirlpool
irish moss/whirlfloc tabs at 15mins

Water Profile (city water) with active carbon filter (recently tested with Brewlab home kit)
pH ~ 7.65
Calcium - 44ppm -48ppm
Magnesium -  26-29ppm
Sodium - 54-55ppm
Chloride - 40ppm
Sulfate - 25-30ppm
Total Alk - 170-180ppm as CaCo3
Bicarbonate - 204 - 216ppm
Total Hardness as CaCo3 - 150ppm
Residual Alk - 152 - 163ppm

Mash
Grist ratio 11lbs / 7 gallons -2.5Qts/lb
150F for 60mins
Mash in and add ~10/11mL of Lactic Acid - Measured pH of 5.2 at 150F (5.4, 5.5 at room temp)
Hold mash and monitor SP with refractrometer - ended at 1.044
Ramp mash temp to 158F and hold for 20mins - ended at 1.044
Ramp for mashout/sparge - 164/168F.
Hold mashout for 10mins
Adjust Sparge water pH with 15mL of lactic acid (8-9gallons of water) - pH measures 5.2.

Sparge until getting ~ 8 gallons pre-boil (my heaters boil off at almost 2g/hr)
Preboil gravity ~ 1.033 at 8 gallons
Add 2.5g of gypsum (Sulfate/choride levels ~ 3:1)
boil for an hour adding hops and finings.

Post boil fermenter measurements
OG - 1.053
Pitch yeast (WYEAST 1332)
Hold ferm temp at 67-69 for most of the primary - ramped to 71 for diacetyl rest
Rack for age a few more days.

FG - 1.026 with refractometer - compensated to 1.010 (80% attenuation)
ABV ~ 5.7%

Carbonated it to 2.5Vols in a keg...It's been in the keg for about 2-3 days now. I had one yesterday and it has decent flavor, but very thin and kinda "watery".

I'm open to suggestions.... :)

I know my grist ratio is thin...I'm not sure what to do about that other than get a new false bottom (sits lower to the tun bottom) or get a new tun with different geometry.

Update - False bottom sits up ~ 2.5" off the bottom. This equates to about 1.75 gallons of water. I don't think they sell these anymore. Now I think they offer "The Titan" false bottom. Domed design with very little dead space. They probably realized how badly this design sucked. :)
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: JT on June 04, 2018, 01:03:17 AM
We can help you through this.  You have multiple options.  Here are a couple. 
1) Drain your initial mash completely first.  Measure your runnings from collecting this wort and add only enough water for sparge to get to your initial pre-boil volume.  (You indicated your will have 2.5 gallons lost, so add this to your sparge volume.  Ideally, your don't want water left in the mash tun. 
2) This would be what I would do:  Forget sparging or water to grist ratios.   Add enough water to get your preboil volume from the first runnings.  Your 20 gallon mash tun is plenty big enough.  This is called no-sparge.  Generally a bit more grain will be needed. 
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 04, 2018, 01:05:50 AM
If the perceived issue with mash thickness is the amount of dead volume under the false bottom, then the mash really isn’t as thin as you calculate.  If you have three gallons under the false bottom, then the mash thickness ratio where the malt is would be 4 gallons/11 pounds or just over 1.8 quarts per pound.
I still don’t see why you need all that sparge water, especially if you stop when you have collected 8 gallons.
In my opinion, recipe change would improve results, like switching to another base malt.
I'm afraid you do have to count the water under the FB.   The grist solids may settle in one place, but the enzymes are diluted throhgh the whole volume and you have to balance the buffers of the malt and the whole volume of water.  To do calculations on the OP's system you'd have to consider it just like a BIAB no sparge really.  I'd want to get down to an actual viscosity in the normal 3:1 water to grist (1.45qt/lb) range.

As for the enzymes in domestic malts, as to Denny' s point, Briess is pretty "hot."  Look at typical analyses of other brands; if you want to use domestic malt, there are some with more European-like specs.

How about posting some details on that tun design?  Maybe somebody can help you come up with a refit on that FB.

The false bottom measures about 2.5 inches high which equates to ~ 1.75 gallons of water. They ship "The Titan" false bottom now with the Mega Pot's. It appears to be a much better design.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Robert on June 04, 2018, 01:16:47 AM
So it seems your two obvious choices are install the Titan if you can do that and adjust your current procedure, or do a no-sparge as JT suggests.  If you don't mind using a little more grain every time, that second one sounds good:  you mentioned possible mods to your heaters to reduce the boil strength, and I'd spend the money there instead of a new false bottom.  Ironically, you need a less robust system!  :)
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 04, 2018, 02:41:40 AM
^^^^
I did a rough estimate based on your pre- and post- boil gravities; anyway, that's way too much. The homebrewers' myth of the vigorous boil has to go.  It takes around 30 min on heat (just on heat, not vigorous) to convert the precursor SMM to DMS, and then simply uncovering the kettle will vent off the DMS in a few minutes.   All that boiling is just degrading proteins (reducing body and foam) and driving off aromatics while creating caramelized products with much less pleasant flavors than those produced in malting, among other damaging effects.  A little circulation to coagulate the break you do want to get rid of, and enough heat to extract your hops, is all that's needed.  Technically, it is not really necessary to boil wort at all, though with homebrew equipment we're stuck with it to some degree.  Oh, and unless you're using certain extra pale Pilsner malts, DMS is not an issue anyway.

Gotcha. In the past I mentioned that I covered or partially covered the boil kettle and got a lot of $hit for that! I went to Cal Davis for a week long brewing course last August, and a hardy boil was one of the emphasis points for driving off DMS.

I'm going to try and reduce the overall power of my heaters by cycling the heat and see if I can get my evaporation rate down to something more reasonable. Thanks for the tip!
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: narcout on June 04, 2018, 02:46:26 AM
My grist ratio has always been a problem. In order to keep water just at the top of my grains - I need about 7 gallons for a typical grain bill of 11lbs. This makes a thin mash...otherwise 1/3 of the grain would not be under water...I've always struggled with this. I have a counterflow HERMS system so that the mash is continuously cycled.

That doesn't really seem like a problem.  A lot of people who utilize the no sparge method brew with similar water/grist ratios without issue (including me).

Hops
Cascade - 0.5 oz at 45 mins
Amarillo - 1.25 oz at 15mins, 0.5oz at flameout/whirlpool
irish moss/whirlfloc tabs at 15mins

Is that the hop schedule for an IPA?  It seems like nowhere near enough hops.

Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 04, 2018, 02:51:10 AM
We can help you through this.  You have multiple options.  Here are a couple. 
1) Drain your initial mash completely first.  Measure your runnings from collecting this wort and add only enough water for sparge to get to your initial pre-boil volume.  (You indicated your will have 2.5 gallons lost, so add this to your sparge volume.  Ideally, your don't want water left in the mash tun. 
2) This would be what I would do:  Forget sparging or water to grist ratios.   Add enough water to get your preboil volume from the first runnings.  Your 20 gallon mash tun is plenty big enough.  This is called no-sparge.  Generally a bit more grain will be needed.

Thanks for the tip. I used to do #1 above, especially from the days of using a cooler for my mash tun. The more I read, I decided to start doing a fly sparge method instead, hoping it would improve my relatively low efficiency numbers. I've always wondered if I was sparging properly. My other thought was to partially (say half) drain the tun for the first runnings, then start to sprinkle the sparge water until hitting my preboil volume.

Everything I read on fly sparging tended to make me believe that consistently moving liquid would help rinse the remaining sugars, so this meant not draining the first runnings before conducting the sparge. I'm certainly willing to go back to the old method, or incorporate a hybrid method to see how that affects things.

I appreciate the insight.

Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 04, 2018, 02:55:12 AM
My grist ratio has always been a problem. In order to keep water just at the top of my grains - I need about 7 gallons for a typical grain bill of 11lbs. This makes a thin mash...otherwise 1/3 of the grain would not be under water...I've always struggled with this. I have a counterflow HERMS system so that the mash is continuously cycled.

That doesn't really seem like a problem.  A lot of people who utilize the no sparge method brew with similar water/grist ratios without issue (including me).

Hops
Cascade - 0.5 oz at 45 mins
Amarillo - 1.25 oz at 15mins, 0.5oz at flameout/whirlpool
irish moss/whirlfloc tabs at 15mins

Is that the hop schedule for an IPA?  It seems like nowhere near enough hops.

Yeah I think that's it. I'm getting about 45IBU out of it (beer smith). I think my 0.5oz addition of cascade is yielding a pretty good number since my preboil volume is about 8 gallons and not sugar concentrated. The flavor and late addition hops are definitely something I want to add more of though. I probably can drive the first addition up as well, but the overall bitterness was good for me in this last batch. I up'd the sulfate levels too and noticed a really nice smooth bitter from this.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: JT on June 04, 2018, 03:11:55 AM
Just keep in mind that sparging really only serves to try and rinse extra sugars from the grains.  The more you rinse the less sugar you get (it gets watered down). 
Sparging is a huge deal for commercial breweries because of the volume of grain they use.  In a homebrew setting, it is beneficial for the cost conscious brewer that wants the most extract out of his/her grain, or the home brewer that doesn't have a mash tun large enough to do a no-sparge.  For me, the downsides of sparging- pH fluctuation, oxygen ingress and additional time spent easily justify the cost of a few dollars more in grain.

That said, you can do as you described, but try to limit the mash tun sparge addition so that you don't have a ton of water left when you hit your boil volume.  It is likely that you're diluting those second runnings. 
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 04, 2018, 11:22:26 AM
Just keep in mind that sparging really only serves to try and rinse extra sugars from the grains.  The more you rinse the less sugar you get (it gets watered down). 
Sparging is a huge deal for commercial breweries because of the volume of grain they use.  In a homebrew setting, it is beneficial for the cost conscious brewer that wants the most extract out of his/her grain, or the home brewer that doesn't have a mash tun large enough to do a no-sparge.  For me, the downsides of sparging- pH fluctuation, oxygen ingress and additional time spent easily justify the cost of a few dollars more in grain.

That said, you can do as you described, but try to limit the mash tun sparge addition so that you don't have a ton of water left when you hit your boil volume.  It is likely that you're diluting those second runnings.

Agreed - I've often thought that I wasn't doing this correctly. It always seemed that I was using way too much water during the sparge. I think it's time to go back to the original method. :) As you state - It's probably not worth the small gain in extract efficiency. I have no problem adding an extra pound or so of grain to make this up.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: mabrungard on June 04, 2018, 11:53:49 AM
I cannot see how “all grists have virtually the same water/grist ratio.”  Can you explain in easier terms your last two sentences?  What’s a void ratio?

Void ratio is defined as the volume of voids (the spaces filled with wort) divided by the total volume of the grist. Its a geotechnical term, but still applicable to a mash since a mash is an assembly of particles. A grist is going to settle (or compact) to a similar degree if its just left to settle. All bets are off when you start drawing wort since the speed of that draw can impose significant hydrodynamic forces on the particles in the mash.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: MDixon on June 04, 2018, 12:39:31 PM
Just looking at the recipe, why are you adding the acid malt and do you need the lactic acid addition? If you touched on it already, then just ignore my question.

Also CaraPils (depending upon manufacturer) and Caramel 10 are essentially the same thing.

Since it is a watery "feeling" I would lose the acid malt and determine if you need to add the lactic acid in the first place. Think about boosting the CaraPils.

My last suggestion would be to use a hydrometer to be sure what you are reading on that refractometer is correct. It sounds like you are using a pH meter, refractometer, thermometer, and other measurement devices which can be very precise, but only if calibrated properly. A good old hydrometer can be temperature corrected via a chart to determine if you are actually getting what you think/measure you are getting.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: mabrungard on June 04, 2018, 01:01:01 PM
Mike raises a good point. How much attention are you paying to pH? If adding acid malt and lactic acid, maybe the pH is too low. Low mashing pH does tend to produce a beer that comes across 'thin'. 
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: denny on June 04, 2018, 03:33:54 PM
Thanks for the tip. I used to do #1 above, especially from the days of using a cooler for my mash tun. The more I read, I decided to start doing a fly sparge method instead, hoping it would improve my relatively low efficiency numbers. I've always wondered if I was sparging properly. My other thought was to partially (say half) drain the tun for the first runnings, then start to sprinkle the sparge water until hitting my preboil volume.

Everything I read on fly sparging tended to make me believe that consistently moving liquid would help rinse the remaining sugars, so this meant not draining the first runnings before conducting the sparge. I'm certainly willing to go back to the old method, or incorporate a hybrid method to see how that affects things.

I appreciate the insight.

This is a misconception that refuses to die.  I get 83-85% batch sparging.  Take a look at www.dennybrew.com
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: BrewBama on June 04, 2018, 03:48:25 PM
When I batch sparge I am also in the mid to low 80(s)


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Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 04, 2018, 05:25:13 PM
Just looking at the recipe, why are you adding the acid malt and do you need the lactic acid addition? If you touched on it already, then just ignore my question.

Also CaraPils (depending upon manufacturer) and Caramel 10 are essentially the same thing.

Since it is a watery "feeling" I would lose the acid malt and determine if you need to add the lactic acid in the first place. Think about boosting the CaraPils.

My last suggestion would be to use a hydrometer to be sure what you are reading on that refractometer is correct. It sounds like you are using a pH meter, refractometer, thermometer, and other measurement devices which can be very precise, but only if calibrated properly. A good old hydrometer can be temperature corrected via a chart to determine if you are actually getting what you think/measure you are getting.

I originally tried acid malt thinking it would be enough to lower the pH into the 5.2ish range or at minimum reduce the lactic acid contribution. However, it isn't doing nearly enough. I was planning on getting rid of this for the next brew and replacing it with more base malt. The latic acid contributions (along with the acid malt) brought my pH down to ~ 5.2 at 150F. I believe this equates to ~ 5.5 at room temp. My pH without any acid additions is quite high (around 6.8-7). The original post has my water chemistry.

I originally had carmel 20 in the bill, removed it a couple brews ago, then decided to add a little back in hoping for a touch of color.

Yes, I believe things are calibrated correctly. However, it's certainly worth another look to be sure.

Thanks for the insight.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 04, 2018, 05:31:44 PM
Mike raises a good point. How much attention are you paying to pH? If adding acid malt and lactic acid, maybe the pH is too low. Low mashing pH does tend to produce a beer that comes across 'thin'.

Mash pH is measuring ~5.2 at 150F with the acid additions. The pH meter is calibrated (4.0 and 7.0 solution) and appears to be working correctly from what I can tell. Also the pH of my tap water is pretty close to what I calculate using my profile.

The acid malt isn't contributing a lot of reduction from what I can tell. I was planning on removing that out of the grain bill and replacing it with more base malt.

Also does my total and residual alkalinity seem high? This may explain why I need this much lactic acid to bring the pH down to the 5.2 range?
Thanks,
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 04, 2018, 07:09:55 PM
Thanks for the tip. I used to do #1 above, especially from the days of using a cooler for my mash tun. The more I read, I decided to start doing a fly sparge method instead, hoping it would improve my relatively low efficiency numbers. I've always wondered if I was sparging properly. My other thought was to partially (say half) drain the tun for the first runnings, then start to sprinkle the sparge water until hitting my preboil volume.

Everything I read on fly sparging tended to make me believe that consistently moving liquid would help rinse the remaining sugars, so this meant not draining the first runnings before conducting the sparge. I'm certainly willing to go back to the old method, or incorporate a hybrid method to see how that affects things.

I appreciate the insight.

This is a misconception that refuses to die.  I get 83-85% batch sparging.  Take a look at www.dennybrew.com

Thanks for the link. Yeah, I think I'll go back to doing a batch sparge splitting the total pre-boil volume in half. I always liked this method. This will save me some time too since fly sparging takes a while to complete.

Thanks again.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: mabrungard on June 04, 2018, 07:17:01 PM
So a couple of things that I've learned regarding the boil off. The best way to reduce things like DMS, and other nasty's is a vigorous boil. Now mine is a bit much likely, but I have no good way of reducing it other than cycling the heaters manually (which is perfectly fine).

Well here's another myth that will die. Excessive and prolonged boiling CAN AND DOES actually damage wort. Back in the day, pro brewers did boil off with long and hard boils that evaporated 15 or more percent of the original wort volume. Then they had the realization in the 70's, that energy efficiency was actually a good thing (oil embargo) and there was a flurry of activity in investigating wort boiling and what its effects were. They found out about what it takes to deal with DMS and other volatiles in wort. They also devised better kettles that significantly reduce the heat stress on wort and the amount of evaporation. Now, modern breweries are typically evaporating 4 to 10 percent of the original volume and still producing the DMS reduction they need for good beer. I'm not going to steal the thunder of my upcoming HomebrewCon presentation, but I've spent over a year of intensive study on this subject and conference attendees and AHA members will learn more about this subject and why they shouldn't be abusing their wort that way.

One effect of excessive boiling that may align with this thread's subject is that you can reduce the wort's Coagulable Nitrogen content too low and that can reduce head retention and possibly some body.

Checking wort pH at 150F means that you have little idea where your pH actually is. Calibrating the meter with room-temp calibration standards and then expecting the meter to report correctly at 150F, is folly. In addition, that offset between room-temp and wort-temp pH is variable. You can't (and shouldn't) apply it with confidence. Do cool off the wort sample into the 60F to 70F range to improve your measurement and avoid abusing your probe.

Denny, I agree that batch sparging can produce pretty decent efficiency. But in this case, I expect that the large amount of wort produced in the initial runoff means that there will be less sparging water volume used in the subsequent batch or fly sparge. Getting that water/grist ratio to a more typical range is likely to help either sparging method.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: denny on June 04, 2018, 07:31:53 PM
Thanks for the link. Yeah, I think I'll go back to doing a batch sparge splitting the total pre-boil volume in half. I always liked this method. This will save me some time too since fly sparging takes a while to complete.

Thanks again.

Splitting the total preboil volume in half is not the advantage that many people think it is in batch sparging.  I mash with whatever ratio I like, usually around 1.65 qt./lb., and then sparge with whatever amount it takes to get my boil volume.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 04, 2018, 08:10:10 PM
So a couple of things that I've learned regarding the boil off. The best way to reduce things like DMS, and other nasty's is a vigorous boil. Now mine is a bit much likely, but I have no good way of reducing it other than cycling the heaters manually (which is perfectly fine).

Well here's another myth that will die. Excessive and prolonged boiling CAN AND DOES actually damage wort. Back in the day, pro brewers did boil off with long and hard boils that evaporated 15 or more percent of the original wort volume. Then they had the realization in the 70's, that energy efficiency was actually a good thing (oil embargo) and there was a flurry of activity in investigating wort boiling and what its effects were. They found out about what it takes to deal with DMS and other volatiles in wort. They also devised better kettles that significantly reduce the heat stress on wort and the amount of evaporation. Now, modern breweries are typically evaporating 4 to 10 percent of the original volume and still producing the DMS reduction they need for good beer. I'm not going to steal the thunder of my upcoming HomebrewCon presentation, but I've spent over a year of intensive study on this subject and conference attendees and AHA members will learn more about this subject and why they shouldn't be abusing their wort that way.

One effect of excessive boiling that may align with this thread's subject is that you can reduce the wort's Coagulable Nitrogen content too low and that can reduce head retention and possibly some body.

Checking wort pH at 150F means that you have little idea where your pH actually is. Calibrating the meter with room-temp calibration standards and then expecting the meter to report correctly at 150F, is folly. In addition, that offset between room-temp and wort-temp pH is variable. You can't (and shouldn't) apply it with confidence. Do cool off the wort sample into the 60F to 70F range to improve your measurement and avoid abusing your probe.

Denny, I agree that batch sparging can produce pretty decent efficiency. But in this case, I expect that the large amount of wort produced in the initial runoff means that there will be less sparging water volume used in the subsequent batch or fly sparge. Getting that water/grist ratio to a more typical range is likely to help either sparging method.

I'd like to see your presentation regarding boil off rate and its effects - sounds interesting.

I'd like some clarification on pH. It seems as there is a lot of confusion out there as to the correct way to measure it, and at what temperature these normal ranges are referring to.  Additionally, does Auto temperature compensation only refer to the instruments ability to calibrate or to measure the pH of wort (or whatever solution).

Again, thanks for the insight.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 04, 2018, 08:12:40 PM
Thanks for the link. Yeah, I think I'll go back to doing a batch sparge splitting the total pre-boil volume in half. I always liked this method. This will save me some time too since fly sparging takes a while to complete.

Thanks again.

Splitting the total preboil volume in half is not the advantage that many people think it is in batch sparging.  I mash with whatever ratio I like, usually around 1.65 qt./lb., and then sparge with whatever amount it takes to get my boil volume.

Gotcha. I'll shoot for a reasonable grist ratio, and sparge with whatever I need to get to the boil volume. I have a lot of things to change for this next brew. :)
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: denny on June 04, 2018, 08:23:14 PM
I'd like to see your presentation regarding boil off rate and its effects - sounds interesting.

I'd like some clarification on pH. It seems as there is a lot of confusion out there as to the correct way to measure it, and at what temperature these normal ranges are referring to.  Additionally, does Auto temperature compensation only refer to the instruments ability to calibrate or to measure the pH of wort (or whatever solution).

Again, thanks for the insight.

pH is always measured at room temp...around 70F. 
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: MDixon on June 04, 2018, 09:02:01 PM
Skip the acid malt, skid the lactic acid, and skip measuring the pH. Remake the beer substituting either C10 or CaraPils for the Acid Malt and see how it turns out. My $0.02.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: thcipriani on June 04, 2018, 10:03:44 PM
FWIW, I have a similar mash-tun situation as you (3 gallons under the false-bottom). It doesn't seem to affect the final product much apart from making it hard to hold temps steady. Doesn't seem like a lot of hops for an IPA, and it sure seems like a lot of lactic acid for such a thin mash; however, watery flavor (in my experience) seems to come from low yeast vitality. Large amounts of lethargic yeast make for watery beer. I don't see much discussion about your pitch-rates or procedures -- could that be a possible culprit in this instance?
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Robert on June 04, 2018, 10:21:16 PM

I'm not going to steal the thunder of my upcoming HomebrewCon presentation, but I've spent over a year of intensive study on this subject and conference attendees and AHA members will learn more about this subject and why they shouldn't be abusing their wort that way.

Martin, this has been one of my pet obsessions for years as well -- and I've finally got my boil off down to ~4% after some difficulties putting principle into practice! -- and I'd really like to hear your presentation, but won't be at HBC.  Will the content subsequently be available otherwise?
Title: "watery beer"
Post by: BrewBama on June 04, 2018, 11:23:19 PM

I'm not going to steal the thunder of my upcoming HomebrewCon presentation, but I've spent over a year of intensive study on this subject and conference attendees and AHA members will learn more about this subject and why they shouldn't be abusing their wort that way.

Martin, this has been one of my pet obsessions for years as well -- and I've finally got my boil off down to ~4% after some difficulties putting principle into practice! -- and I'd really like to hear your presentation, but won't be at HBC.  Will the content subsequently be available otherwise?

If I may; The AHA will post them on the website for member access. I’ve seen nearly all presentations posted from past conferences. https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/seminars/

Getting down to 4% boil off is tough. I have a 3500w induction cooktop and even at a simmering 2400w I still boil off ~ 10% (from 7 to 6 gal). I’ll keep turning it down and shorten the time on subsequent brews.


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Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Robert on June 05, 2018, 12:08:25 AM

I'm not going to steal the thunder of my upcoming HomebrewCon presentation, but I've spent over a year of intensive study on this subject and conference attendees and AHA members will learn more about this subject and why they shouldn't be abusing their wort that way.

Martin, this has been one of my pet obsessions for years as well -- and I've finally got my boil off down to ~4% after some difficulties putting principle into practice! -- and I'd really like to hear your presentation, but won't be at HBC.  Will the content subsequently be available otherwise?

If I may; The AHA will post them on the website for member access. I’ve seen nearly all presentations posted from past conferences. https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/seminars/

Getting down to 4% boil off is tough. I have a 3500w induction cooktop and even at a simmering 2400w I still boil off ~ 10% (from 7 to 6 gal). I’ll keep turning it down and shorten the time on subsequent brews.


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Thanks, I'm glad we get to benefit from Martin's research.  And yeah, 4% is tricky (and I still get more like 5-6 if I'm not careful with the burner level;) I was stuck at 10% for quite a while.  But I saw your question on a new thread, there is more to it.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 05, 2018, 03:30:04 AM
FWIW, I have a similar mash-tun situation as you (3 gallons under the false-bottom). It doesn't seem to affect the final product much apart from making it hard to hold temps steady. Doesn't seem like a lot of hops for an IPA, and it sure seems like a lot of lactic acid for such a thin mash; however, watery flavor (in my experience) seems to come from low yeast vitality. Large amounts of lethargic yeast make for watery beer. I don't see much discussion about your pitch-rates or procedures -- could that be a possible culprit in this instance?

Pitch rate was a little tricky on this one. I used the WYEAST 1332. The original pitch had terrible viability (even with a starter), so I pitched a new one about 2 days in. The temp was around 67-68F for most of the primary fermentation. I've never used this particular strain, but it did seem to take painstakingly long. However, I'm comparing this to a WLP001, which I've used in my last few batches. It's very possible it was underpitched, but how much I'm not real sure. My overall fermentation volume was just under 5 gallons.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: thcipriani on June 05, 2018, 08:36:19 PM
Pitch rate was a little tricky on this one. I used the WYEAST 1332. The original pitch had terrible viability (even with a starter), so I pitched a new one about 2 days in.

When I used to can starter wort, I did something wrong somewhere along the way, and I had a bunch of batches come out watery. I messed up yeast vitality or viability somewhere in there. At the time I was doing cell-counts (but not staining) for every batch. I was sure I was pitching the right amount of yeast, but not that the yeast was very healthy when I did pitch.

I finally figured out my problem when I skipped the starter for a batch and it came out tasting much better than the last few batches. My unsupported guess is this was a yeast problem: I'd try a changing up your starter procedure or skiping it and pitching a few fresh packs and seeing if that clears things up.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Richard on June 06, 2018, 01:50:12 AM
Thanks, I'm glad we get to benefit from Martin's research.  And yeah, 4% is tricky (and I still get more like 5-6 if I'm not careful with the burner level;) I was stuck at 10% for quite a while.  But I saw your question on a new thread, there is more to it.

For a small-batch brewer it is hard to achieve 4% - 6%. For boiling in larger vessels, the decrease in surface area to volume ratio should make it easier to achieve lower boiloff rates. For commercial brewers this is a matter of economy because the energy costs money, regardless of whether it produces a better beer. I have been able to reduce my boiloff to 7% - 8% with my electric kettle, but attempts go go lower have produced anemic circulation so i am going to stick with what I have now.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Robert on June 06, 2018, 02:37:48 AM
Thanks, I'm glad we get to benefit from Martin's research.  And yeah, 4% is tricky (and I still get more like 5-6 if I'm not careful with the burner level;) I was stuck at 10% for quite a while.  But I saw your question on a new thread, there is more to it.

For a small-batch brewer it is hard to achieve 4% - 6%. For boiling in larger vessels, the decrease in surface area to volume ratio should make it easier to achieve lower boiloff rates. For commercial brewers this is a matter of economy because the energy costs money, regardless of whether it produces a better beer. I have been able to reduce my boiloff to 7% - 8% with my electric kettle, but attempts go go lower have produced anemic circulation so i am going to stick with what I have now.
Exactly.  Circulation is needed, but you want to use the minimum total thermal loading to achieve it.  Whatever that is in your brewery.  As I've said somewhere , now that I know I can get rapid circulation and 4% evaporation,  I know that if I get 6%, I just had the burners a little higher than I really should have.  It's something you have to calibrate for yourself.  One thing that helps me is that I'm an old school stovetop brewer, with my 10 gal kettle spanning two burners. By setting one burner a little lower than the other, I can utilize the asymmetry to induce great circulation with minimal flame.  Some breweries utilize analogous kettle design, or mechanical agitators, to get more circulation with less heat applied.  It's reducing thermal stress on wort, relative to previous conditions, that will noticeably improve the beer.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: hopfenundmalz on June 06, 2018, 01:47:22 PM
Commercial systems have a large volume, and a relatively small stack area, which helps attain the low boil off %s.

Those that I know that make maple syrup have shallow pans with a large surface area to get the required boil off to concentrate the sugars, the ratio is 40 gallons reduced to 1 of syrup.

Some of the German brewhouse s use a 2 phase boiling process. Here is GEA Huppmann’s write up.

https://www.gea.com/en/binaries/JETSTAR_1015_EN_tcm11-12656.pdf
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Robert on June 06, 2018, 08:19:20 PM
Interesting link, thanks Jeff.  I seem to have a crude version of this going: my lid-on, asymmetric-heat circulating phase for 35 minutes, followed by the last 10 minutes with the lid off and the burners on full.  Actually, maybe my system isn't so crude:  it has virtually no moving parts!
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: hopfenundmalz on June 06, 2018, 09:02:11 PM
Interesting link, thanks Jeff.  I seem to have a crude version of this going: my lid-on, asymmetric-heat circulating phase for 35 minutes, followed by the last 10 minutes with the lid off and the burners on full.  Actually, maybe my system isn't so crude:  it has virtually no moving parts!

I don’t think they crank up the heat when the “top hat is engaged”, but I read that years back.

A pro friend says he has a fairly gentle boil, then cranks it up at the end to blow off volatiles. Sounds like you are brewing like my friend.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: mabrungard on June 06, 2018, 09:09:46 PM
Promoting a good rolling wort circulation is important. Asymmetric heating can really help that circulation and that is something that most brewers can create with their current equipment. While it seems counter-intuitive to heat one side of the kettle instead of keeping the burner or heat source centered, producing an organized wort circulation is actually more important for getting DMS out of wort. Applying heat across the entire kettle bottom produces a haphazard circulation that is less effective at cycling wort to the surface where it can unload its DMS and other volatiles.

I use a water heater element in my kettle and its in the center of the kettle. Fortunately, that produces a 'line' of heating that does produce a two-directional rolling circulation within my kettle. 

If I had ports plumbed into my kettle, I could actually use my RIMS tube to 'boil' my wort. That would be the same as the external boiler that some manufacturers employ. Maybe someday.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Robert on June 06, 2018, 10:03:14 PM
Interesting link, thanks Jeff.  I seem to have a crude version of this going: my lid-on, asymmetric-heat circulating phase for 35 minutes, followed by the last 10 minutes with the lid off and the burners on full.  Actually, maybe my system isn't so crude:  it has virtually no moving parts!

I don’t think they crank up the heat when the “top hat is engaged”, but I read that years back.

A pro friend says he has a fairly gentle boil, then cranks it up at the end to blow off volatiles. Sounds like you are brewing like my friend.
That is my idea, blowing off the volatiles at the end.  I crank up the heat because once the lid is off, circulation would subside otherwise,  and I figure a good roll is essential for expelling volatiles from the  full volume.   I am somewhat conflicted, as the 10 min mark is also my late hop addition, and I would kind of prefer a gentler simmer for the hops.  But it all seems to work.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: BrewBama on June 06, 2018, 11:04:53 PM
I recently added a whirlpool to my kettle and thought about circulation during the boil.  Adding it was as easy as drilling a hole and bolting it on. https://www.brewhardware.com/product_p/spincycle.htm

I also added a RIMS to the system.... hmmm. Hadn’t thought of running the wort thru it during the boil as well.


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Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 07, 2018, 01:57:12 AM
Pitch rate was a little tricky on this one. I used the WYEAST 1332. The original pitch had terrible viability (even with a starter), so I pitched a new one about 2 days in.

When I used to can starter wort, I did something wrong somewhere along the way, and I had a bunch of batches come out watery. I messed up yeast vitality or viability somewhere in there. At the time I was doing cell-counts (but not staining) for every batch. I was sure I was pitching the right amount of yeast, but not that the yeast was very healthy when I did pitch.

I finally figured out my problem when I skipped the starter for a batch and it came out tasting much better than the last few batches. My unsupported guess is this was a yeast problem: I'd try a changing up your starter procedure or skiping it and pitching a few fresh packs and seeing if that clears things up.

Interesting...not a bad idea by any means. I haven't counted nor stained yeast to get an idea of the cell count or viability. This particular batch had a poor viability from the start, so I pitched a new batch. Even a back of the napkin pitch rate would be ~ 250 billion cells. One pack of WYEAST is about 100 billion. However, looking at documentation on yeast starters indicates I would likely need about a 2L starter with one pack of yeast to even get to around 200 Billion cells. So maybe your starter wasn't good enough in the past? Pitching 3 packs would put you in the 300 Billion range, which should be plenty for a 5 gal batch.

Do you harvest or buy new yeast for each batch? I've already gotten started on the modifications to my system. :)
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 08, 2018, 05:55:09 PM
Update:

Well, it's still not what I was really aiming for, but it tastes much fuller after letting it sit in the keg for about a week. It's been cold and carbonated for about a week now and it tastes /feels significantly better.

I've gone back to the drawing board and come up with some changes that should help.

1. Got a new false bottom to help my initial grist ratio. This one sits about 1/4" off the bottom, which should reduce the mash water by ~ 1.75/2 gallons and reduce the losses.
2. Sparge - I'm going to batch sparge this time aiming for a preboil volume of around 6.5 gallons (1.5 gallons less than last time). I'm estimating that the new false bottom will allow me to use ~ 2 gallons less water, making my grist ratio ~ 1.68 qts/lb (before grain absorption).
3. Reduce Evaporation losses - I'm going to pulse my boil heater as well as circulate it through the CF heat exchanger. I plan on running some experiments tonight on evaporation losses to get a better idea for the next session. Hoping for 10% or less for this first round of brewing.
4. pH measurements - Cool the sample down to room temp before measuring. As an experiment measure both at mash temp and room temp just to see the change in pH measurement. Targeting 5.5 at room temp for both the mash/sparge (after reading comments regarding too low of pH).
5. My sulfate levels are still not high enough. Add enough to get to 3:1 ratio (I think I was only at about 2.25:1)
6. Make sure I have a good yeast pitch this time (might try the same recipe with the WLP001 yeast instead)
7. Adding more boil hops to make up for the more concentrated wort, adding more late hop/whirlpool additions to get more flavor. Overall IBU's should be around 50.
8. Changed the recipe to remove the acid malt.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Robert on June 08, 2018, 07:27:14 PM
Sounds like real progress!  Good luck and be sure to report results on the next batch.  :)
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 11, 2018, 01:34:15 AM
Sounds like real progress!  Good luck and be sure to report results on the next batch.  :)

The new false bottom works considerably better. I get only about 1/2 gallon dead space, and it allows me to add about ~ 1.5 gallons less water to the mash, keeping the water level at the top of the grain. Winning.

I did a batch sparge this time, instead of the fly sparge, and still got ~ 80% mash efficiency. Winning.

Lactic Acid additions from Bru'n water matched very well with my measured mash/sparge pH. Measured ~ 5.5/5.6 at room temp. I had a cup of ice water on hand, which works well to quickly cool the sample.

For today's brew, I pulsed my boil heater 20 secs on / 40 secs off, circulated the wort, and had the lid on about 3/4 of the way. I'm happy to report that I only had about 11% evaporation loss, which is a far cry from 25%. I have a pulse circuit designed, but I'm wondering if it makes more sense to buy another thermocouple and use the PID instead?

I increased my hop additions to compensate for the more concentrated wort, and am getting about 50 IBU's with beersmith. Additionally, I added another 1.5 oz to the late hop and flameout/whirlpool additions. Hoping this gives me more hop flavor.

The OG ended up being about 1.054 at 5.4 gallons into the fermentor.

I went back to my harvested WLP001 yeast from the previous batch.

We'll find out in a few weeks. :)
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Richard on June 11, 2018, 04:57:11 AM
For today's brew, I pulsed my boil heater 20 secs on / 40 secs off, circulated the wort, and had the lid on about 3/4 of the way. I'm happy to report that I only had about 11% evaporation loss, which is a far cry from 25%. I have a pulse circuit designed, but I'm wondering if it makes more sense to buy another thermocouple and use the PID instead?

There's no reason to use a PID during the boil. During the mash, yes, to maintain the right temperature and overcome heat losses. The temperature differences during a full-power vs a reduced power boil are very small (1-2 F), so the tuning of a PID would be very tricky. You really just need a power or duty cycle controller during the boil. Try a couple of batches (or just experiment with water) and you will soon figure out what duty cycle gives you the boiloff you want.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Ahks on June 14, 2018, 03:35:59 PM
In my mini eBrewery, I control my mash with a PID/SSR.

If yours is similar, something like https://www.auberins.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=444 could help you control the boil quite simply.
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on June 14, 2018, 07:44:09 PM
In my mini eBrewery, I control my mash with a PID/SSR.

If yours is similar, something like https://www.auberins.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=444 could help you control the boil quite simply.

I'll take a deeper look at this. I already own an auber instrument ramp controller. This might work well, and is essentially what I'm looking to build anyways. I'm pricing my design out and it's going to be comparable in price. This would give me a display as well, so I know the power output.

Thanks!
Title: Re: "watery beer"
Post by: Kirk on July 16, 2018, 11:52:23 AM
I picked up the DSPR1 - wort boiling controller. I haven't installed it yet, but will sometime next weekend.

I could barely build my design for what they were selling it for, and that didn't include a display or the 1/16 DIN enclosure (I couldn't find those anywhere).

I think this will simplify my life a little. :)