Author Topic: Brew Suggestions  (Read 3308 times)

Offline t-bone

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Brew Suggestions
« on: June 23, 2012, 06:19:39 AM »
Hello everyone I'm new to this forum. 

I would like some opinions, advice, or just plain rantings and ravings on my brew method.  I’ve been brewing all grain for a couple of years and I’m trying to work on polishing my brewing skills.  Here’s a quick description of a brew day.

Water Treatment

Use RO water with one teaspoon of CaCo3, Gypsum, and phosphoric acid (in lieu of acidulated malt)

Mashing

Mill grain on motorized barley crusher stock setting

My defacto mash schedule is a three step mash at the following temps:
113 degree for 15 minutes
144 degree for 35 minutes
158 degree for 25 minutes
172 degree for 5 minutes
Mash out with 172 degree water.

I mix everything thoroughly at dough in and then don’t mix it again.  I use a sabco rims wizard for recirculating, maintain temps, and data logging.
Pump to boil kettle
At the conclusion of the boil I recirculate the wort with a tangential inlet for 15 min to whirlpool.
I then pump through an external hop filter to a plate chiller.
Pitch yeast starter (usually 1 liter from magnetic stirrer grown for about 6 hours)

Here are my questions.  Should I be mixing the mash tun more?  I don’t conduct an iodine test after mashing should I incorporate on?  I live in the desert southwest so summer brew days are usually in the triple digits.  Even with the plate chiller the lowest I can drop the wort temp is 78-80.  After pitching I move the carboy to a temp controlled chest freezer set at 65 (for ale strains).

Any recommendations or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

thanks

Pat

Offline cheba420

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Re: Brew Suggestions
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2012, 09:33:11 AM »
Pat,

Sounds like you have your brew process dialed in. If you're hitting all of your targets then you dont need to do the iodine test. You're getting full conversion or you wouldnt hit your targets. Step mashing seems like an awful lot of trouble for ales. Have you ever tried single infusion? IMO, it makes the brew day easier and you still get great results. What are your fermentation parameters? Digital or analog? Are you measuring ambient temp in the fermentation chamber, taping the probe to the fermenter or submerging it in the wort? The closer the probe is to the wort, the better your results will be.

I'm in the desert too and have a hard time with water temps in the summer. I got a great little sump pump from Harbor Freight Tools. I fill a container up with a few gallons of water and 2-3 5 lb blocks of ice and recirc the ice water to cool my wort. I start with just plain hose water to knock the temp down to 90-100 and then use the ice recirc to bring it down to the 60's. Works great. The pump was around $40 and one of the best brewing investments I've made. I can go from 212* down to 65* in about 20-25 minutes in the summer.
Matt
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Offline Mark G

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Re: Brew Suggestions
« Reply #2 on: June 23, 2012, 09:54:18 AM »
I wouldn't worry about any additional stirring of the mash as long as you're thorough with it initially. My only suggestion would be to pitch your yeast after you get the temp down into the 60s, instead of pitching high and then cooling it down. I find you get a cleaner fermentation that way.
Mark Gres

Offline jeffy

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Re: Brew Suggestions
« Reply #3 on: June 23, 2012, 10:15:11 AM »
I agree that you may be wasting some time with all those step mashes.  I normally mash in for ales with well modified malts either in the upper 140F range or the mid 150's and let it go.  I also have a Sabco unit, but it's probably a lot older than yours.  No stirring necessary with fly sparging.
I have not done an iodine test in years.
I also have hot ground water, so I chill with the wort to 100F and then pump ice water out of the hot liquor tank through the chiller to achieve colder temps.
I change the water chemistry depending on the grain bill and the style.
Are you having trouble with anything in particular?
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Offline nateo

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Re: Brew Suggestions
« Reply #4 on: June 23, 2012, 11:30:30 AM »
Low-temp rests should only be used for specific reasons, some of which are high total protein, high beta-glucans, or low soluble nitrogen ratio. With "typical" malt used by brewers, low-temp rests are likely to be both a waste of time and deleterious to the beer quality. Like I said, when the malt warrants it, use a low-temp rest, but the vast majority of commercially made malt is designed specifically to be used by pro brewers in a single infusion mash.
In der Kürze liegt die Würze.

Offline t-bone

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Re: Brew Suggestions
« Reply #5 on: June 23, 2012, 11:59:05 AM »
Thanks for all the input.  I will definitely try the sump pump trick. 

The probe I have is the digital Johnson controller.  I have the probe in a stopper thermowell and that in a carboy of water.  I didn't drop the thermowell in a fermenting carboy since I read that fermenting is exothermic and can giver higher readings than ambient.

Beside the step mashing being a longer than necessary procedure can it damage the beer i.e. poor head retention, lack of body, hazy etc...

The only problem I noticed was that on a few occasions I wasn't hitting the OG on some northern brewer kits.  Since then I added the phosphoric acid as a water treatment and monitor ph levels at each temperature step.  I haven't the OG problem since.

thanks again

pat

Offline nateo

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Re: Brew Suggestions
« Reply #6 on: June 23, 2012, 12:07:17 PM »
Beside the step mashing being a longer than necessary procedure can it damage the beer i.e. poor head retention, lack of body, hazy etc...

Yes, that's what I meant by "deleterious."
In der Kürze liegt die Würze.

Offline t-bone

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Re: Brew Suggestions
« Reply #7 on: June 23, 2012, 12:58:09 PM »
I know deleterious means 'nateo' and if I didn't I certainly know how to use a dictionary or google.  What specifically could be some of the defects caused by a three step mash and why chemically would they occur?

Thanks again

Pat

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Brew Suggestions
« Reply #8 on: June 23, 2012, 12:58:31 PM »
Thanks for all the input.  I will definitely try the sump pump trick. 

The probe I have is the digital Johnson controller.  I have the probe in a stopper thermowell and that in a carboy of water.  I didn't drop the thermowell in a fermenting carboy since I read that fermenting is exothermic and can giver higher readings than ambient.

Beside the step mashing being a longer than necessary procedure can it damage the beer i.e. poor head retention, lack of body, hazy etc...

The only problem I noticed was that on a few occasions I wasn't hitting the OG on some northern brewer kits.  Since then I added the phosphoric acid as a water treatment and monitor ph levels at each temperature step.  I haven't the OG problem since.

thanks again

pat

Two things, first, I would use the thermowell in the fermenting beer because that's the temp you want to control. The fact that it is exothermic is exactly WHY you want to measure that temp instead of the ambient. When you are fermenting at 65 you want the beer to be 65. the ambient might be 62 or 60 even but it's the beer temp that matters.

second, if you try the ice water thing this will be moot but until then, it's better to wait a day or a half a day to pitch and let the wort come down to ferm temp or lower tha nto pitch at 80. those first several hours are critical in flavour development.
"Creativity is the residue of wasted time" - A. Einstein

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Offline firedog23

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Re: Brew Suggestions
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2012, 02:53:47 PM »
I agree that you may be wasting some time with all those step mashes.  I normally mash in for ales with well modified malts either in the upper 140F range or the mid 150's and let it go.

+1 on why all the mash rests. Are you brewing something in particular? I would say ease up a bit on the steps.
In the fermenter:


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First boil in a bag

Offline nateo

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Re: Brew Suggestions
« Reply #10 on: June 23, 2012, 04:37:11 PM »
I know deleterious means 'nateo' and if I didn't I certainly know how to use a dictionary or google.  What specifically could be some of the defects caused by a three step mash and why chemically would they occur?

You already mentioned the problems this causes:
Beside the step mashing being a longer than necessary procedure can it damage the beer i.e. poor head retention, lack of body, hazy etc...

I'm not a chemist, so you'll have to do your own research on the "why," but you want a certain amount and type of protein in your wort. Proteolytic enzymes are active in the "protein rest" range, though those enzymes aren't nearly as powerful or prevalent as the starch-converting enzymes. Modern malt already has the right mix of soluble protein, so best-case, you're wasting your time, worst-case, you're hurting the beer in the ways you listed.
In der Kürze liegt die Würze.

Offline t-bone

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Re: Brew Suggestions
« Reply #11 on: June 24, 2012, 08:20:14 AM »
I usually have three or four carboys fermenting in my chest freezer.  I reasoned if I put the temp controller probe in one of the fermenting carboys the reading would be off because of the heat generated by the yeast and it might make the controller drop the chest freezer to temperature range that would negatively impact the other fermenting beers.

Do you guys think I should place the controller probe into one of the fermenting beers?

As for the step mash I just like brewing and when I do a three step mash it allows me to take more measurements and prolong the fun.  Weird but true.

Thanks

Pat