Author Topic: First all-grain, help me make a SMaSH APA recipe?  (Read 2303 times)

Offline anje

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First all-grain, help me make a SMaSH APA recipe?
« on: January 17, 2013, 01:22:07 PM »
I'm gearing up to go all-grain, have a lot of new equipment, and I'm trying to come up with a basic, easy-to-brew SMaSH recipe that'll also give me an excuse to test out the new grain mill. (Yes, it was a good Christmas.)

I'm thinking that I want to make an APA with Rahr 2-row, Cascade pellets, and US-05. Thinking an OG of roughly 1.050 would be good, and I like the mouthfeel I've gotten from extract batches that came out at about 1.012. I have a 40-quart pot (about 15 inches in diameter), a big cooler with a stainless braid inside that I'll preheat, and I'd like to do a single step infusion. Looking to come out with 5-5.5 gallons of wort.

My local water is very hard, but I haven't had an analysis done on it yet.  Alkalinity is reported as being 240 ppm as CaCO3, hardness as 360 ppm, and sulfates as 61 ppm. (Here's a link to the water report, which is semi-helpful.) I plan to get some out of my faucet filter and throw in a Campden tablet (chloramine, yuck), but I wouldn't be opposed to substantially diluting my water with distilled.

Should I follow Palmer's advice and add a small amount of dark malt just to lower the pH, or consider pH5.2 mash stabilizer?

What else do I need to know?
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Offline firedog23

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Re: First all-grain, help me make a SMaSH APA recipe?
« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2013, 01:29:53 PM »
Why kill yourself over a SMaSH (just did one last month) and not do something you may like? I found the SMaSH as a good barometer of getting your system/process right but I have more fun doing beers I actually like.
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Offline snowtiger87

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Re: First all-grain, help me make a SMaSH APA recipe?
« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2013, 01:31:54 PM »
A bit of dark malt would not hurt - probably works better than 5.2. I would also consider using some distilled water in place of your tap water (maybe half). Do you know the pH of your tap water?
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Offline anje

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Re: First all-grain, help me make a SMaSH APA recipe?
« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2013, 01:36:23 PM »
Why kill yourself over a SMaSH (just did one last month) and not do something you may like? I found the SMaSH as a good barometer of getting your system/process right but I have more fun doing beers I actually like.
Honestly, largely because I like APAs a lot, though I've done them before with all store-bought water. (Adding the local water to extract seems... excessive. Also, I've moved to a new rental and I think the water tastes better from the tap at the new place.)
Do you know the pH of your tap water?
The water report says 7.3.  I don't have a pH meter at home yet (perhaps should pick up some strips?), but I can grab a sample and check it tomorrow at school.
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Online hopfenundmalz

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Re: First all-grain, help me make a SMaSH APA recipe?
« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2013, 01:44:20 PM »
My local water is very hard, but I haven't had an analysis done on it yet.  Alkalinity is reported as being 240 ppm as CaCO3, hardness as 360 ppm, and sulfates as 61 ppm. (Here's a link to the water report, which is semi-helpful.) I plan to get some out of my faucet filter and throw in a Campden tablet (chloramine, yuck), but I wouldn't be opposed to substantially diluting my water with distilled.

Should I follow Palmer's advice and add a small amount of dark malt just to lower the pH, or consider pH5.2 mash stabilizer?

What else do I need to know?

This should help your water knowledge, as it is Martins page on water knowledge.
https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/water-knowledge

I have spent a lot of time in Lafayette in the last year due to elder care issues. The water is hard, but last time I was there it did not seem so bad. Mine is worse, especially for alkalinity.

Hardness as CaCO3 = 423ppm
Alkalinity as CaCo3 = 298 ppm

I had to do something to make the beers I wanted, so my advice is to see if you can find a water machine in town that has RO process touted on it. That takes most of the minerals out and is much cheaper than distilled, I pay $0.29/gallon. This is what Gordon Strong says he does in Brewing Better Beer, and I have heard he makes good beer.

If you can check pH, that is a step in the right direction. Lactic or phosphoric acid are good for dropping the pH for all pale malt or Pils malt (I do SMaSH beers called Pilsners  ;)). If you need to raise pH, get some pickling lime. I found mine at the Rural King farm store on Teal by the Alcoa plant when I was in town to see the inlaws.

5.2 didn't do much for me, but I was using RO water - and I had a pH meter that said it wasn't doing much for me.

Edit - get some pH papers. Read about the correction to apply in Martins water page. Read about 5.2 on Martins water page.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2013, 01:46:57 PM by hopfenundmalz »
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Offline anje

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Re: First all-grain, help me make a SMaSH APA recipe?
« Reply #5 on: January 17, 2013, 02:17:39 PM »
Honestly, I'm really hoping I don't have to obsess about water too much, but it might not be possible given the fact that I like IPAs and APAs and live where I do. Diluting with RO and going with it seems a lot more my speed, and requires less hauling than buying all RO and adding back minerals.

Then again, in my experience, locally made stouts and porters tend to taste great, while the paler hoppy stuff comes across as harsh.
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Online morticaixavier

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Re: First all-grain, help me make a SMaSH APA recipe?
« Reply #6 on: January 17, 2013, 02:25:31 PM »
Honestly, I'm really hoping I don't have to obsess about water too much, but it might not be possible given the fact that I like IPAs and APAs and live where I do. Diluting with RO and going with it seems a lot more my speed, and requires less hauling than buying all RO and adding back minerals.

Then again, in my experience, locally made stouts and porters tend to taste great, while the paler hoppy stuff comes across as harsh.

It's not that much work, you can keep it pretty simple, Three 'powders' and one acid.

I like Gypsum (calcium sulfate), Calcium Chloride, Pickling lime, and lactic acid (because that is what they had when I was as the LHBS, others prefer other acids)

Download bru'n water and set it up for 100% dillution with RO and save it that way.

I generally add a few grams of calcium chloride and a few of calcium sulfate to the mash and pickling lime only with really dark beers like stouts and lactic acid only with really light beers like kolsch. You can adjust the ratio of sufate to choloride by adjusting the relative amounts of each while getting all the calcium you will need. I do not own a pH meter and have not seen any issues just relying on martin's calculations from 'standard' RO numbers. If I was adding the complication of adding any % of the local water it would be to much for me.
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Offline davidgzach

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Re: First all-grain, help me make a SMaSH APA recipe?
« Reply #7 on: January 17, 2013, 02:54:37 PM »
IMHO-If this is your first all-grain, I would not worry about water, PH or ANYTHING except dialing in my temperature and remembering to do all the steps correctly.  RDWHAHB.

Unless your water is coming straight from the sewer, you will make beer if your process is sound and probably good beer at that.  I'm no chemist or water expert, but I do not see anything on your report that jumps out and says "this will make horrible beer!"  Does it taste good out of the faucet?

As for the dark grain, I would add .25-.5 pounds of Crystal 40 to that SMaSH and go with it!  A Cascade Pale Ale is a great first recipe idea and one that will probably taste great with a few blemishes in your process (and some slightly less than perfect water).

Enjoy your first all-grain and keep it simple!  And RDWHAHB!   8)

Dave
« Last Edit: January 18, 2013, 06:02:06 AM by davidgzach »
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Offline alcaponejunior

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Re: First all-grain, help me make a SMaSH APA recipe?
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2013, 08:04:27 AM »
my first all grain batch was a maris otter / willamette SMaSH with us-05.  full details at link.  it came out good, but not what I expected.  I'd like to re-make it with cascade and 2-row, that sounds good!

Offline anje

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Re: First all-grain, help me make a SMaSH APA recipe?
« Reply #9 on: January 28, 2013, 08:07:23 AM »
Well, I did it. Not exactly a SMaSH -- decided to throw some crystal in there for color/flavor/acid. I'll probably start monkeying with water chemistry in a few brews.

What have I learned?
(1) Hitting temperatures when it's 33F where you're working is kinda tricky. (Glad I didn't do it last weekend when it was more like 12F.  But chilling worked great!)
(2) I used too much water. My efficiency might actually have been OK if I measured it, but everything came out a bit dilute.
(3) My cooler keeps grains untouchably hot after the sparge is drained for several hours. But it takes a LOT to get it warmed up.

Can anyone link me to a quick tutorial on how to tune the temperatures needed to heat a mash tun? Even with preheating, my strike water temp wasn't even close at first. The thing weighs about 17lbs, for what it's worth.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 08:09:39 AM by anje »
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Offline davidgzach

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Re: First all-grain, help me make a SMaSH APA recipe?
« Reply #10 on: January 28, 2013, 08:46:36 AM »
Congrats on your first All-Grain!  It's takes a while to dial in your process so I hope you had fun and enjoyed the day.

Honestly, I never pre-heat my MT.  I bring it inside and warm it up to 68F and bring my strike water a few degrees above to compensate.  You'll get used to it and I'm not taking anything away from pre-heating.  I also always have an extra pot of boiling water on hand, just in case. 

What did you use to calculate the amount of water needed?  I would definitely recommend investing in some brew-ware if you have not already.

Dave
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Offline alcaponejunior

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Re: First all-grain, help me make a SMaSH APA recipe?
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2013, 09:15:23 AM »
Well, I did it. Not exactly a SMaSH -- decided to throw some crystal in there for color/flavor/acid. I'll probably start monkeying with water chemistry in a few brews.

What have I learned?
(1) Hitting temperatures when it's 33F where you're working is kinda tricky. (Glad I didn't do it last weekend when it was more like 12F.  But chilling worked great!)
(2) I used too much water. My efficiency might actually have been OK if I measured it, but everything came out a bit dilute.
(3) My cooler keeps grains untouchably hot after the sparge is drained for several hours. But it takes a LOT to get it warmed up.

Can anyone link me to a quick tutorial on how to tune the temperatures needed to heat a mash tun? Even with preheating, my strike water temp wasn't even close at first. The thing weighs about 17lbs, for what it's worth.

Hitting strike temperatures is a toughie.  I'm on batch 8 of all grain and I still haven't pegged it.  I haven't had to deal with very cold or very hot weather yet either, mostly it's been between 55-65 degrees.  Beersmith II would be helpful, but you still have to dial things in.  I am getting closer tho, I'm usually within 2-3 degrees.

Water usage is another issue that you can't necessarily solve on your first or second batch.  Again, beersmith II has helped me, but in the end I've basically decided on using eight gallons per batch for reasonable OG batches.  Obviously if I make something high gravity, it may require more water.  For now, eight gallons has mostly been close to the right amount, with enough left over for starters, priming sugar etc.  Even then, on my last batch I had nearly a gallon left over. 

Using too much sparge water will leave you a little thin on your OG.  I've moved from using the precise amounts shown on beersmith to using "close" to the first amount, and adjusting the second sparge amount according to how much wort I have.  I have also been trying to almost completely drain before sparging.  The one time I followed the beersmith amounts directly, I came out seven points low, and when I had reached boil volume, there was still sparge water flowing.  Because of this, I assume that I wasn't draining completely enough before the next sparge step, and was using too much water.

My cooler keeps the grains quite hot too.  I only lose perhaps two degrees over 75 minutes of mashing, even with several stirs.  The spent grains remain very hot for a long time too.

Pre-heating your mash tun might be a good idea if you're dealing with greatly varying temperatures.  Near-freezing temps will obviously suck some energy out of your strike water, and you'll probably dial in your system easier if you don't have to deal with such big temperature fluctuations.  I have not been pre-heating, but I live in TX where it's pretty much always warm, if not damn hot, so this isn't as much of an issue for me. 

You CAN do a smash beer, but you don't have to, and honestly I'd probably have preferred the recipe you chose over a pure smash.  As I said earlier, my first beer was a smash and didn't come out like I expected.  It had plenty of head and body though, I used maris otter. ::D  It was good, just not what I expected!  Way maltier and not very hoppy (bitterness was fine, but lacked hop flavor).  FWIW it was a willamette/MO smash.

You're on the right path man, keep it up!

I also recommend some brewing software.  I use beersmith II and I think it was worth the money.  If anything, it's over-complicated, but it will certainly cover the issues and parameters you need, and then some.
« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 09:18:09 AM by alcaponejunior »

Online gmac

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Re: First all-grain, help me make a SMaSH APA recipe?
« Reply #12 on: January 28, 2013, 09:43:30 AM »
I'm sure I'm not doing this the way that people would recommend but it works for me.
I bring my water to about 180F and add water to my mash tun cooler and let it sit for 10 mins.  Then I take the temp.  If I think it's gonna be way too hot I may add a few ice cubes but probably not. 
I mash in and then take the temp again.  If it's way too hot I add a few ice cubes and stir slowly.  On the very, very rare occasion that it's been too cold I add some more boiling water.  Yes it may cause my water:grain ratio to vary slightly from my planned amount but I've never ever had an issue with it nor do I give a hoot.  I shoot for 2L/lb of grain and if I have to add another couple liters of boiling water to a brew I end up at about 2.2L which works just fine.

My water is pretty hard so I use 1/2 tap and 1/2 distilled for pale beers, pure tap plus dark malts for darker beers.  Again, may not be what others think is ideal but sure works for me.  Maybe some day I'll screw around with trying pure distilled water and adding minerals etc but I really can't see myself getting that wound up about it.  If you want to worry over water, go ahead since there's lots to obsess about but for me the 1/2 and 1/2 method works just fine.

Glad you added Crystal to your mash.  I think it's sort of needed in an APA.  100% MO or even Munich might work but with pale malt, I like a bit of crystal (although I am dialing that back to get them a bit dryer).  To my mind, the reason for doing a SMaSH beer would be to determine the characteristics that a particular malt or hop bring to the beer and I wouldn't be doing that until I had my process down perfectly to eliminate brewing variables (although I like Jeff's comment that he calls them Pilsners).

Good luck and enjoy. 

Offline anje

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Re: First all-grain, help me make a SMaSH APA recipe?
« Reply #13 on: January 28, 2013, 10:41:48 AM »
One of the sillier things that I didn't anticipate is how much freaking fog you get with hot water in cool weather. Had to take off my glasses and was constantly wiping the display on my thermometer (which is waterproof, for the record) to try to see anything.

But I finally got to use all my new toys. New kettle (aluminum, yes I heated water in it previously), bayou burner that sounds like a jet engine, milled my own grain, and it's in my new fermentation chamber at 63F. Because the best part of Christmas is when you get to play with your toys!

ETA: For the moment, I'm using BrewTarget for my software. Which isn't fantastic, but it seems to be functional. Even if the temps it gave me for strike water were off (blame not knowing any values for the cooler, need to mess with those), it at least gave me something to shoot for. I do need to more carefully measure my water -- this was largely scoop, pour, oops-too-cold, throw some back and heat more, dump some more in, good-quick-add-grain!
« Last Edit: January 28, 2013, 10:49:15 AM by anje »
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Offline davidgzach

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Re: First all-grain, help me make a SMaSH APA recipe?
« Reply #14 on: January 29, 2013, 10:29:56 AM »
I do need to more carefully measure my water -- this was largely scoop, pour, oops-too-cold, throw some back and heat more, dump some more in, good-quick-add-grain!

I have an app on my iPhone called 'Sparge Pal'.  It's a snap to figure out how much water you need and at what temp.  Then adjusting for outside temp and other variables is much easier. 

Dave
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