Author Topic: Help me improve my process (Pictures!)  (Read 4262 times)

Offline amh0001

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 84
    • View Profile
Help me improve my process (Pictures!)
« on: November 25, 2012, 09:33:06 PM »
Hello all,

I wanted to create a thread detailing my entire process so I could hopefully improve it. I feel like 70% of my beers come out okay, 25% bad or flawed. And about 5% great. I want to increase the greatness! I also really want to simplify my process. Please feel free to add any questions, comments, or suggestions.

I have been brewing beer for almost 2 years with a 1 year hiatus in between. I have brewed approximately 35 batches of beer. Many have been on an ever changing system as I have re bought and re done my system. I currently do 2.5 or 3 gallon batches, and I am thinking of trying no chill. This is about my 4th brew on this exact set up. I had a lot of hiccups today which I will add. I took pictures to show, but I had to do them from my phone in one hand and brewing in the other. Today's Batch took about 5-6 hours to brew/clean.

Okay my recipe today is based off of NB's Oatmeal cookie BIAB.

Recipe: BIAB Oatmeal cookie

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Boil Size: 4.40 gal
Post Boil Volume: 3.65 gal
Batch Size (fermenter): 3.00 gal   
Bottling Volume: 2.78 gal
Estimated OG: 1.067 SG
Estimated Color: 35.3 SRM
Estimated IBU: 36.4 IBUs
Brewhouse Efficiency: 65.00 %
Est Mash Efficiency: 76.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amt                   Name                                     Type          #        %/IBU         
5 lbs                 Pale Malt (2 Row) UK (3.0 SRM)           Grain         1        56.6 %       
1 lbs                 Munich Malt (9.0 SRM)                    Grain         2        11.3 %       
1 lbs                 Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM)                   Grain         3        11.3 %       
1 lbs                 Special B Malt (180.0 SRM)               Grain         4        11.3 %       
8.0 oz                Brown Malt (65.0 SRM)                    Grain         5        5.7 %         
5.3 oz                Pale Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM)               Grain         6        3.7 %         
1.00 oz               Goldings, East Kent [5.00 %] - Boil 60.0 Hop           7        26.2 IBUs     
1.00 oz               Styrian Goldings [5.40 %] - Boil 10.0 mi Hop           8        10.3 IBUs     
0.06 oz               Cinnamon Stick (Boil 5.0 mins)           Spice         9        -             


Mash Schedule: BIAB mash at 154
Total Grain Weight: 8 lbs 13.3 oz

 
Okay to start. I used RO water and added 1 tsp of Calcium chloride to 5 gallons.


This is my 6 gallon stainless steel kettle and Banjo Burner. Once I added the tinfoil it helped the burner really work. Without the foil it would take twice as long to heat water.


Added what beer smith calculated to the kettle used a paint stir stick to measure. I start the banjo burner to get the water warming to mash temp.


Here is my grain storage, getting ready to measure my recipe and  mill.


I use this large kitchen bowl on top of my scale and measure my grain.


grains in the mill.


grinding at half speed.



Here is my crush I leave it at stock setting.


add the oats un milled

Now, I though I had enough grains for this recipe but I found out as I was measuring I did not and this is what my recipe turned into. This usually doesn’t happen but I bought these ingredients about 4 batches ago. Only a month or two ago tho.

Ingredients:
------------
Amt                   Name                                             
5 lbs                 Pale Malt (2 Row) UK (3.0 SRM)                   
9.7oz                 Munich Malt (9.0 SRM)                           
1 lbs                 Oats, Flaked (1.0 SRM)                           
14.2oz                 Special B Malt (180.0 SRM)                     
8.0 oz                Brown Malt (65.0 SRM)                     
5 oz                Pale Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM)   


I checked my water temp and saw it was too hot when I was finished milling. This happens a lot I need to really lower my heat.


add some ice to cool it down.


grab my bag to line the kettle


add some 5.2 stabilizer to the grains prior to mashing in.


Ok I usually average about 1 degree loss per pound of grain. I am shooting for 154, but this is the temp I got to before I mashed in.


Mash in


stir well for any doughballs. I love how creamy this is looking. I hope the beer comes out creamy.


okay when I first mashed in I was around 156 so I needed to cool it down, I added some more ice and unfortunately got half a degree too low. I decided to let it sit here because I dont want to add heat to the bottom because im scared of melting the bag. I have a veggie steamer to put in the bottom. but im still scared of melting the bag so I dont use it.


I drape a snowboarding jacket over the top to help insulate.


I usually mash for 1 hour but I ended up letting this one go for 75 mins. Here is the ending temp.


pull out the bag. I will squeeze the bag try and get more out and I think this makes a difference. If I don’t squeeze it there is like 1/3 a gallon left in that sucker plus i'm sure lots of sugar. This is hot and sticky but it works.


heres the wort. Start the heat and get ready to test our pre boil gravity


Drop a bit onto the refractometer.


So the refractometer shows around 15 Brix which = 1.061

\
got the wort boiling. Sprayed with water to prevent boil over. Now time for our 60 min hops.


add them in



now about 30 minutes into the boil my propane tank runs out. I go ahead and switch the tanks and get it going again. In the mean time I took a refactometer sample to see how my boil off was effecting it. It came out to 17 Brix = 1.069. I was aiming for an OG of about 1.066 so I added some water (about 1/3  of a gallon) to compensate with the boil off. I know this could effect hop utilization but I wasn’t too worried.


20 minutes left add the wort chiller, no wirlfloc needed seeing as this is a dark beer.


I tasted the wort and it tasted pretty bitter so I waited to add my second hop addition at 5 minutes instead of 10. added in these.


I also added in a bit of nutrient


flame out dropped in 2 cinnamon sticks. They were a little old so I went with 2 instead of 1.


now my tap water dosent really get below 68 so I have added a pond pump the this bucket to suck water into the intercooler and then I can add ice near the end to get it down.


I stir the wort really good to get it moving around the intercooler and then spray some tin foil with starsand and cover up. I not worried about any DMS, plus its not completely tight.


get my carboy with sanitizer going.


I saved this ice packs from when I get shipped my yeast.


throw them into bucket to chill the wort down even more. At this point worts been chillen for about 25 mins.


while im waiting I went online to check my efficiency, and it came out good 74%. I average between 70-80%


I dump the water out of the carboy into this tub to sanitize my other stuff. O2 injector and funnel and airlock. The wort cooled to 68 and I dumped it into the carboy with the funnel.


one of the cinnamon sticks got stuck in the funnel. Kinda like a hop back but for cinnamon lol.


there she is.


check out mr malty pitching rate calculator. Now. Seeing as I usually only make half batches 2.5 I dont use a starter I just use one tube of liquid yeast. I like not having to make starter as it saves time. I also usually make worts around 1.040-1.50 so it seems okay to me. Seeing as I do this, I decided to use 2 tubes of Cal Ale. I didnt have Nottingham or NB's neobritania.


I know im over pitching here a bit.


I use whats left at the bottom of the kettle to take a hydro reading. To my surprise it was lower than I expected! Dont know what happened there, bummer. Oh well 1.062 will do. Also the sample did not taste at all like cinnamon so I will probably add some to the keg.


add about a minute of O2 and slosh it around.


put it in the ferm fridge with the johnson controller set to 67 and let it sit.

I checked the beer about 12 hours later and didnt notice sings of fermentation. I checked again 24 hours after pitching and I had a nice layer of brown bubbles on the top.

I plan to let it go for a full 2 weeks and then see if its dropped clear. Then keg it up.

Ok and that's all folks!




 

Offline euge

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 7396
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my process (Pictures!)
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2012, 10:00:02 PM »
Looks like fun! And like you have your system down well.

BTW the 5.2 stabilizer isn't really necessary. The experts don't seem to think it's worth much in regards to effectiveness. 
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline hopfenundmalz

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4772
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my process (Pictures!)
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2012, 12:52:42 AM »
You have some good things going in your set up and procedures.

I like the foil on the kettle idea - might try that.

Measuring the mash pH would be a good step.

I agree with Euge on the 5.2. Read what the local expert has to say, Special Note in section 2.1.
https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/water-knowledge

Edit - you really did a fine job with the pictures and laying out the process for us, along with a recipe that had targets. Thanks for that.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2012, 12:59:19 AM by hopfenundmalz »
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, AHA Member, BJCP Certified
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline mmitchem

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 360
  • Suffolk, VA
    • View Profile
    • http://www.barfclub.org
Re: Help me improve my process (Pictures!)
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2012, 06:34:36 AM »
Wow, super detailed! If your process is getting you consistent results, I say stick with it. Maybe too much water was added dropping the gravity to 1.062, but that isn't so bad. The only thing there I would say is to make more preboil wort, although it looks like you are maxing out your kettle volume...

As far as process simplicity, you seem to be all over it!

When you say 25% of your batches are lack luster, what makes them seem that way? Are there noticeable flaws? I am WAY more critical of my own beer than any other. I tend to beat myself up over nothing :)
Michael P Mitchem
Beer and Ale Research Foundation (B.A.R.F.)
AHA Member since 2011

Offline jamminbrew

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 812
  • theAntipunk
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my process (Pictures!)
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2012, 07:07:54 AM »
My only comment is on squeezing the grain bag... I don't BIAB, but my understanding is that you could get some tannins from squeezing the grains. Otherwise, your process looks very similar to mine.
Member, AHA
Member, Brew Brothers of Pikes Peak
BJCP judge# D1248
In caelo cerivisiae nil, hic igitur bibimus.

Offline VinS

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 118
  • Harwinton CT
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my process (Pictures!)
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2012, 07:21:09 AM »
One make sure wort is around room temp when using refractometer I know letting my wort sit in a spoon for a min shows big swing in gravity reading. 2 put on shoes.
" There is no such thing as a bad beer. It's that some taste better than others." Billy Carter

Offline In The Sand

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 397
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my process (Pictures!)
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2012, 07:29:09 AM »
Looks good.  I have a question.  I brew 5 gallon batches, full boil, in an 8-gallon BK.  I like IPA's and typically have a small boil over no matter how hard I try not to.  Also, the last two batches I did a 75 minute and a 90 minute boil and boiled off a ton of wort.  When that happens, I usually top off before I pitch my yeast with filtered water.  However, I had someone notice a sour taste in my most recent IPA (I didn't taste it due to the hops, but he claimed he did).  So I'm wondering if it may have been from the filtered water.  I have it in a Brita pitcher, so the pitcher and the water haven't been sanitized.  I'm wondering if I got an infection from this.  I noticed you add your water to the boil if you lose too much, which makes since unless you're worried about hop utilization.  I'm not really worried about that at this point.  I've only brewed 7 batches.
Trey W.

Offline hopfenundmalz

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4772
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my process (Pictures!)
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2012, 07:40:32 AM »
One make sure wort is around room temp when using refractometer I know letting my wort sit in a spoon for a min shows big swing in gravity reading. 2 put on shoes.
That was something I missed. Shoes or rubber boots to prevent burn and other wounds.

The carboy is on concrete in many pics. Carboys on concrete scare me, just a little bump on the concrete could cause a broken carboy. Get a milk crate for the carboy, or at least a brew hauler (nylon strap carrier).
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, AHA Member, BJCP Certified
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Online mtnrockhopper

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 3117
  • Delaware
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my process (Pictures!)
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2012, 08:25:07 AM »
The carboy is on concrete in many pics. Carboys on concrete scare me, just a little bump on the concrete could cause a broken carboy. Get a milk crate for the carboy, or at least a brew hauler (nylon strap carrier).

I've seen it happen - not pretty. Even sub-lethal knocks can cause tiny fracturing in glass and those add up. I have a few squares of scrap plywood that I place carboys on so they never touch concrete.
Jimmy K

Delmarva United Homebrewers - President by inverse coup when the old president ousted himself.
AHA Member since 2006
BJCP: B0958

Offline rabeb25

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 78
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my process (Pictures!)
« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2012, 11:18:27 AM »
Are the beers that don't turn out an certain style, or srm?
Head Brewmaster of " The Beerery" with a custom electric brutus20.

Like "The Beerery" on facebook, to see neat beer stuffs! https://www.facebook.com/thebeerery

Offline udubdawg

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 627
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my process (Pictures!)
« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2012, 11:19:22 AM »
so if that's 3 gallons you're somewhere in upper 60's on efficiency %, is that right? 

I believe most who brew in a bag turn on the heat and raise to mash-out temps before pulling out the bag.  I don't follow this exact procedure so I can't calm your fears of a melted bag, but a lot of people seem to do it without problems...anyway there's some un-claimed sugary goodness still in that bag you should be able to get out without squeezing/tannin extraction.

I don't trust the amount of evaporation I get on a shallow spoon or on the prism when wort is hot.  The numbers I get just don't make sense, so instead I take a sample with a pipette, cover the end with my finger as I hold it upside down and dunk it in some cold water.  Chills in a matter of seconds, then I put it on the refractometer. 

also, if i what I am squinting at says those yeasts are best before early/mid January, you're not overpitching.

re: things like mash temperatures I would just say that yes, you need to be in a certain range.  However you also need to know your equipment.  If a specific number on your thermometer that is outside the "ideal" range of the books is giving you the beer you like best, go with that.  Understand your equipment and make your process repeatable.

looks like you do a lot of really good things; I bet your beer is great.

cheers--
--Michael

Offline rob_f

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 29
  • Corcoran Brew Works, Maryland
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my process (Pictures!)
« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2012, 12:24:51 PM »
I would never put ice cubes made from my tapwater in my beer. My tapwater has so much chlorine in it that I consider it undrinkable.  I don't know how much chlorinated water it takes to get that phenolic taste, but I just wouldn't risk it. 

If your ice cubes are made from good water, never mind.  Just something to check.
Rob Farrell
AHA
CRABS

Offline tomsawyer

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1694
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my process (Pictures!)
« Reply #12 on: November 26, 2012, 02:10:59 PM »
I think some of the most important process stuff comes after fermentation is over.  You have the potential for a lot of oxidation at those points.  How you transfer and whether you use a secondary, how full your secondary is during that period, and bottle conditioning vs kegging are important steps.
Lennie
Hannibal, MO

Offline amh0001

  • Cellarman
  • **
  • Posts: 84
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my process (Pictures!)
« Reply #13 on: November 26, 2012, 02:48:44 PM »
Thank you everyone for your comments! They do mean a lot to me.

Looks like fun! And like you have your system down well.

BTW the 5.2 stabilizer isn't really necessary. The experts don't seem to think it's worth much in regards to effectiveness.

Thanks Euge! I read your post about your recent hardships. Glad to see your still being positive and contributing to the forum. Thanks for the info about the 5.2

You have some good things going in your set up and procedures.

I like the foil on the kettle idea - might try that.

Measuring the mash pH would be a good step.

I agree with Euge on the 5.2. Read what the local expert has to say, Special Note in section 2.1.
https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/water-knowledge

Edit - you really did a fine job with the pictures and laying out the process for us, along with a recipe that had targets. Thanks for that.

I bought the PH test strips and tried them last batch. I think my mash PH was a little high. I am going to buy some acidulated malt to be adding 2% to my grain bill in the future.

Wow, super detailed! If your process is getting you consistent results, I say stick with it. Maybe too much water was added dropping the gravity to 1.062, but that isn't so bad. The only thing there I would say is to make more preboil wort, although it looks like you are maxing out your kettle volume...

As far as process simplicity, you seem to be all over it!

When you say 25% of your batches are lack luster, what makes them seem that way? Are there noticeable flaws? I am WAY more critical of my own beer than any other. I tend to beat myself up over nothing :)

Well I have had all sorts of problems, some due to ferm temp, IE phenolic or estery beer. I lowered my ferm temp a bit and then warm it up just a tad at the end. But lately I have had beers that just seem lack luster. For instance a IPA that was bitter but seemed dull. SO i think i need to look at the ending PH of my beer. Exp when I am aiming for hoppy or malty styles.

My only comment is on squeezing the grain bag... I don't BIAB, but my understanding is that you could get some tannins from squeezing the grains. Otherwise, your process looks very similar to mine.

When i started brewing I heard all about tannins from squeezing, but after doing further research it doesnt seem to be an issue from squeezing. I have never had a problem with tannins in any of my beers.

Looks good.  I have a question.  I brew 5 gallon batches, full boil, in an 8-gallon BK.  I like IPA's and typically have a small boil over no matter how hard I try not to.  Also, the last two batches I did a 75 minute and a 90 minute boil and boiled off a ton of wort.  When that happens, I usually top off before I pitch my yeast with filtered water.  However, I had someone notice a sour taste in my most recent IPA (I didn't taste it due to the hops, but he claimed he did).  So I'm wondering if it may have been from the filtered water.  I have it in a Brita pitcher, so the pitcher and the water haven't been sanitized.  I'm wondering if I got an infection from this.  I noticed you add your water to the boil if you lose too much, which makes since unless you're worried about hop utilization.  I'm not really worried about that at this point.  I've only brewed 7 batches.

Seeing as you are having a ton of boil overs and a lot of evaporation it sounds like your heat is pretty high. I would suggest keeping a constant eye on your wort until it gets past the boil over stage. I cant tell you many times I would turn my back for only a second to find m wort boiling over.

Another great thing besides lowering the heat is get a spray bottle with some water. adjust it to fine mist and spray that foam down, it works wonders.

The only thing I can think of for sourness would be some sort of infection. Your beer can still be slightly infecting giving it off flavors without looking and tasting completely infected. Other that that, it if tastes good to you i wouldnt worry.

all though sometimes I top off with some filtered water, i think it is ideal to hit your target OGs which means you need to figure out what your boil off rates are so you can start with enough to begin with. (I actually need to do this too lol).

One make sure wort is around room temp when using refractometer I know letting my wort sit in a spoon for a min shows big swing in gravity reading. 2 put on shoes.
That was something I missed. Shoes or rubber boots to prevent burn and other wounds.

The carboy is on concrete in many pics. Carboys on concrete scare me, just a little bump on the concrete could cause a broken carboy. Get a milk crate for the carboy, or at least a brew hauler (nylon strap carrier).

I have a layered mesh cloth that I usually rest the carboy on, you are are right I should be more careful with shoes and more cautious about the glass. This carboy is the first one I ever bought and its still holding steady (crosses fingers).

so if that's 3 gallons you're somewhere in upper 60's on efficiency %, is that right? 

I believe most who brew in a bag turn on the heat and raise to mash-out temps before pulling out the bag.  I don't follow this exact procedure so I can't calm your fears of a melted bag, but a lot of people seem to do it without problems...anyway there's some un-claimed sugary goodness still in that bag you should be able to get out without squeezing/tannin extraction.

I don't trust the amount of evaporation I get on a shallow spoon or on the prism when wort is hot.  The numbers I get just don't make sense, so instead I take a sample with a pipette, cover the end with my finger as I hold it upside down and dunk it in some cold water.  Chills in a matter of seconds, then I put it on the refractometer. 

also, if i what I am squinting at says those yeasts are best before early/mid January, you're not overpitching.

re: things like mash temperatures I would just say that yes, you need to be in a certain range.  However you also need to know your equipment.  If a specific number on your thermometer that is outside the "ideal" range of the books is giving you the beer you like best, go with that.  Understand your equipment and make your process repeatable.

looks like you do a lot of really good things; I bet your beer is great.

cheers--
--Michael

As far as the efficiency I am I usually in mid to high 70's. But I am using my pre boil volume in the calculation so it is more than 3 gallons. Check the picture i posted with the eff.

I dont seem to have a problem with effciency being low so I am not worried about the mashout.

What is a pipette? is that like a little jar to cool the wort? I know it says your supposed to have the wort at room temp, but i saw an episode of Northerbrewer TV where they just used it hot outta the kettle so i figured if it was good for them it was good for me, but you might be right. I should do an experiment to see how that effects my readings!

and you are right i think the use by date was 1/30/13.

I would never put ice cubes made from my tapwater in my beer. My tapwater has so much chlorine in it that I consider it undrinkable.  I don't know how much chlorinated water it takes to get that phenolic taste, but I just wouldn't risk it. 

If your ice cubes are made from good water, never mind.  Just something to check.

I agree with you. My ice cubes are from my R/O faucet!


All i do after i let my beer sit for around 2 weeks and it has dropped clear for at least a couple days is siphon to a purged keg. Other that that there should be no other exposure to oxygen.

Thanks again everyone for the comments.
I think some of the most important process stuff comes after fermentation is over.  You have the potential for a lot of oxidation at those points.  How you transfer and whether you use a secondary, how full your secondary is during that period, and bottle conditioning vs kegging are important steps.

Offline EHall

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 571
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my process (Pictures!)
« Reply #14 on: November 26, 2012, 03:02:49 PM »
You should be a hand model.
Phoenix, AZ