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Messages - malzig

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All Grain Brewing / Re: More Water Report help
« on: March 18, 2011, 10:40:30 AM »
For clarity,
1mg/L = 1/1000th of a gram in 1000 grams of water. 1000 x 1000 = 1 million, so 1 mg/L = 1 ppm

1 µg/L = 1,000,000th of a gram in 1000 grams of water. 1000 x 1000 = 1 billion =1000 million, so 1 µg/L = 0.001 ppm.

41 µg/L = 0.041 mg/mL = 0.041 ppm.
For our water, I'd recommend some CaCl in the mash for darker beers, maybe some CaSO4 if you're going for hoppy.
I also have very soft, low alkalinity water.  I find that CaCO3 or NaHCO3 in combination with CaCl2 works well for black beers.  The slightly higher pH seems to round out and mellow the roasted flavors to make very dark beers more pleasant.  The Na and Cl help, as well.

Just adding CaCl2 will be sending the pH in the wrong direction.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.
« on: March 17, 2011, 02:23:46 AM »
If the conversion efficiency between both mashes is the same a thin mash will have a better efficiency into the BK due to the larger amount of sparge water available in thick mashes.
Was this a typo?  I would think that more sparge water would lead to higher efficiency so that if you see any effect at all it would be that thicker mashes are more efficient.  Or am I missing a secondary effect here?
One secondary effect is that a lot of brewers are limited, not by sparging efficiency, but by conversion efficiency.  It's really the only way to explain the less than 75% efficiencies that so many homebrewers report.  Mashing thin improves conversion efficiency which can give a lot of people a bigger gain, with a reduced risk of of oversparging, than increasing their sparge volume.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.
« on: March 16, 2011, 10:44:37 AM »
What's the downside to going above ~2 qts lb?  pH?
I'd think you'd also be driving the enzyme concentration too low
The enzyme concentration might be a bit lower but the enzymes probably have been access to the starches in a thinner mash.
Right, enzyme concentration is probably rarely the limiting factor for most mashes.  Starch gelatization more apt to be limiting.  A thinner mash probably improves starch gelatinization.
From my experience, anything 1.25-1.75qt/lb is the sweet spot (no pun intended) for the best mash efficiency.
Did you actually have problems above 1.75 qts/#?  I never have.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Improving Efficiency
« on: March 15, 2011, 03:25:33 AM »
When we talk about "first wort runnings" and their gravity (i.e. Kai's chart), is this the gravity of the first few drips of runnings of the drain valve?  Or upon draining of all the mashed wort? 
It' the first part of the runnings out of the tun. How much comprises the first runnings is something of a semantics debate.
In a batch sparge, it's the runnings you get from the mash.  The runnings from the sparge are the 2nd runnings.
Particularly in this case.  For the purpose of determining Conversion Efficiency, we mean something very specific by First Runnings.  What we are interested in is the gravity of all the wort in the tun, not the potentially higher gravity of the first couple drops of wort.  You don't need to completely drain the tun, but you need to stir it very well before pulling a sample and testing it's gravity.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.
« on: March 15, 2011, 03:16:18 AM »
What's the downside to going above ~2 qts lb?  pH?
I'd think you'd also be driving the enzyme concentration too low
Nope.  I know brewers who regularly go over 3 qts/#.  Out of curiosity, I thought I'd give it a try.  So, I made a few batches of no sparge beer at over 3 qts/#.  The grain converted quickly and with very high efficiencies for no-sparge.  It also made delicious beer.

I have very soft water and I made amber and brown beers, which might have helped, but I had absolutely no pH issues or tannin problems.  I just finished a run of Lagers, all of which were mashed at 2-2.6 qts/#, and every one is clean, malty and everything I hoped they would be.

Supposedly, a thick mash can help with the low prevalence and poor stability of proteinases during a preotein rest.  I think intentionally mashing thick is mostly just a hold-over from the days of under-modified grain and brewers using mash tuns that were too small.  I don't know how it ever became seen as "best practice" for starch conversion among homebrewers,  

All Grain Brewing / Re: Improving Efficiency
« on: March 13, 2011, 09:24:38 PM »
I was reading that a 20 minute rest at 114F before bringing the mash to temp will also increase efficiency.  Is this true? 

Also, does water volume in the mash matter?  Some people seem to be using a quart, some 1.25 or so.  Is more better or less or it doesn't really matter when it comes to efficiency?
A 114°F mash doesn't usually do very much for modern malted grain because they've essentially already gone through that step during malting.  That's what you'll often see described as "fully modified".

Thinner mashes, about 1.5-2 qt/# aid gelatinization and conversion.  This can help efficiency quite a bit, for some people.  1-1.25 qt/# is thick enough to slow down conversion and potential reduce efficiency.  Not that you can't get good efficiency with a thick mash, but it's suboptimal.

General Homebrew Discussion / Re: Got a break on the hot break......
« on: March 13, 2011, 04:31:18 PM »
Even just one addition of whole hops can make a decent filter bed.

I'm a little worried that you didn't see any obvious hot or cold break, though.  That could be a sign that your pH was off.  Your beer might be cloudy without a decent break, but hopefully the pH wasn't off enough to damage the flavor too much.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Improving Efficiency
« on: March 13, 2011, 04:25:32 PM »
You can't measure brewhouse efficiency accurately without measuring volumes exactly accurately...

The crush is the other most important thing to look at it.  Make sure it's crushed very fine.  If done at your LHBS, mill it twice...

My bet is that your problem is a little of both.  Fix both, and your efficiency will skyrocket.  Every other possible concern is peanuts compared to these two huge elephants.
I mostly agree with this.  Crushing finer has the potential to gain the OP 25% efficiency, but if he actually has 1 qt dead space and continues to leave 1-3 qts in the tun, assuming those volumes are reasonably accurate, he'll be tossing 5-10% of that gain onto the compost pile.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Improving Efficiency
« on: March 13, 2011, 12:13:37 PM »
So, I was skimming back through How to Brew about this.  I read that you should stir the mash and check the temp every 15-20min during the hour long rest.  I did not do this, I got the mash to the temp I wanted it to be and closed the cooler and forgot about it for an hour basically.  Is this just a recommended thing to do and not necessary, or can this improve efficiency?
Stirring might help speed up conversion a little, which could help your efficiency if you are simply stopping the mash too soon, but it is completely unnecessary.  Your biggest gain would most likely come from crushing finer (or double-crushing, if you can't adjust the mill).  If you're stuck with a coarse crush, mashing longer might help.  Probably better still, stepping the mash temperature up to 158-162°F for about 20 minutes after the main mash will improve gelatinization and speed up conversion to get more of those remaining points out.  

It appears that you only got about 75% conversion efficiency.  If you want to maximize your efficiency, you need to mash until you get 100% conversion.  Kai has gone to the trouble to make this table for us, which gives you the gravity that your first runnings should be for a given mash thickness, when you've hit 100% conversion:

However, tschmidlin pointed out a big problem with your process, you left a lot of wort behind and have a big dead space.  Particularly in light of your small batch size.  With a dip tube, you can reduce your dead space, I have about 1 cup dead space, for example.  In addition, you should add only enough sparge water to hit your kettle volume, so that you drain the tun completely.   

Reducing your dead space alone could have raised your efficiency by about 5%.  Collecting all the second runnings combined with reduced dead space could have raised your efficiency nearly 10%.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Skimming foam from the boil
« on: March 09, 2011, 12:05:40 PM »
...I pour my wort through a strainer enroute to the fermenter and it is not a problem
Haven't found a strainer, yet, that will catch the hot break.
I use a regular strainer with a piece of flour sacking over it.
Using whole hops can effectively turn a strainer into a hop back, and seems to do a decent job of removing break material.  That's what I use for my small batch brewing, where losing a small volume can mean losing a high percentage of good wort, and the wort stays pretty clear into the fermenter.

Someday I'm going to collect the last gallon of wort, break and all, and ferment it side-by-side with the clear wort to see what difference it makes.  I don't want to say it doesn't matter, but I can't say that I can really cite any obvious difference in the flavor of beers I made before I left the break behind and those I made afterwards.

Alcohol is loaded with calories.  Fermenting a beer to 1.000 (or lower) makes very little difference in it's caloric content.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Drainage time
« on: March 06, 2011, 02:21:08 PM »
Are the bags impervious to ambient moisture?
I don't have a sack at the moment so I can't take a look (all my grain is sealed up in buckets), but isn't the top of the inner bag usually just tied off or closed with a zip-tie?  That wouldn't be moisture impermeable, just resistant.  I imagine that pro-breweries regularly get grains from the same suppliers, so their systems are probably dialed in to the reasonably predictable characteristics of grain from that warehouse.  We're also talking about adding very little moisture, Kai suggests 2%, I usually use closer to 1%, of the grain weight.  This is well within the variation among malt specifications, so you might have no problem with 10 sacks then get a sack that causes slow lautering on your system.

It's not like malt conditioning is a hair-brained idea. According to Kai's site, either malt conditioning or wet milling is used by most German breweries that use traditional lauter tuns.  They seem to make some pretty decent beer. ;)

On the other hand, mill settings, grain bill, braid quality and tun geometry all play a role.  You can probably fine tune your mill to get good efficiency and fast lautering, but you still may get a sack that suddenly leads to slow runnings.  Mash conditioning may help you get through that sack without readjusting your mill.  Or perhaps you want to make a batch with a lot of wheat, rye or oatmeal and don't have rice hulls. 

If you have a plastic braid, you should replace it, but there are variable results from different water supply braids and you might get tired of buying new braids to find a good one.  I do like the larger water-heater supply line braids, which seem to be good for fast runnings.

From my experience, rectangular coolers can tend to run faster than taller, narrower coolers with less surface area.  They probably help to spread out the oberteig, reducing drag.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Protein Coagulation
« on: March 05, 2011, 01:24:30 AM »
Can you remove enough hot break by just putting the beer from your kettle through a small-mesh sanitized kitchen strainer before it enters your fermenter, or does this let too much of the smaller particles through?
It depends.  If you use whole hops, they can act as a filter to remove much of the break material.
I'm pretty sure I don't know how much "enough" is, though.  What are you trying to accomplish by removing the hot break?  Do you have a problem in your beer?

I ran a quick recipe using Tinseth's formula and came up with increasing the hops by 20% to account for the volume change if you boil from 4.25 down to 3.25 gallons post-boil volume and add 1.75 gallons in to bring it to 5 gallons.  I think those volumes are more realistic in a 5 gallon kettle, from my experience making 3.25 gallon all-grain batches.

The other concern is the 110 IBU limit of solubility.  This would mean that you couldn't hit 60 IBU if you were only boiling to 2.5 gallons, but since you have the ability to boil 3+ gallons, you dodge that problem.

All Grain Brewing / Re: Drainage time
« on: March 03, 2011, 03:07:18 AM »
... I don't malt condition. My crush is fairly fine but not as fine as flour. I can usually drain 30lbs of malt using a 1.25:1 qts/lb in about 10-15min. My beers are typically clear after a few weeks and the tannin levels are non-existent. In fact my most recent ESB is so clear it's like looking through a glass window.
Then I wouldn't recommend Malt Conditioning to you.  The OP is having trouble with slow run-off, so I think it might help him.  Clearly there is a difference between your two systems.  He can try rebuilding the tun or changing other parameters randomly, and perhaps he'll solve the problem, or he can condition the malt and have a decent probability of solving the problem.
It's a process that has only upsides, for me, and I even suspect it may be contributing to the improved clarity of my beer, lately.
Can you say how it contributed to clarity?

Again, if it works for you, it works, but I also crush very fine average 85% efficiency, and don't condition.  Malt conditioning might help some people, but I'd say it's far from a universal solution.
Again, I wasn't saying that people who don't have runoff problems should start conditioning their malt (unless they just want to give it a try).  It isn't going to cure a problem that you don't have, just like taking antibiotics aren't going to make you feel betterr if you don't have an infection. I don't think it's easy to come up with another treatment for slow runnings with such a high probablility of solving the problem, other than coarser milling which risks lower efficiency.  I recommend malt conditioning to people who have slow runoff and it seems to help them.

I perfected my current water treatments around the same time as I started Malt Conditioning, so I can't say for sure, and I usually credit my water treatment to my improved clarity.  In fact, I've always had pretty clear beer, but I was controlling my pH and still had some minor haze (nothing I ever fretted about, I could still read the paper through my beers).  Since I've been Malt Conditioning I've had absolutely crystal clear beers as soon as they're carbonated.  Frankly, I'm wondering why people use finings.

I don't bother trying to get clear runnings.  I don't believe that matters, at all.  I've tried it both ways and it never does in my beers.  I think that I may have reduced my already slight polyphenol extraction to even less, thanks to not having a tun full of tattered husks. Perhaps it's just enough to give me a slightly larger leeway with pH and Calcium.  

I don't mean to oversell Malt Conditioning, and I haven't done the proper experiment, I'm just saying that there seems to be a correlation in my brewery.

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