Author Topic: "watery beer"  (Read 2685 times)

Offline Kirk

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"watery beer"
« 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. :)
« Last Edit: June 04, 2018, 01:03:58 AM by Kirk »

Offline Bob357

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #1 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.
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Offline denny

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #2 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.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #3 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.
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Offline jeffy

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #4 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.
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Offline Kirk

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #5 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.

Offline Kirk

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #6 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.

Offline Robert

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #7 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.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #8 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.
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Offline JT

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #9 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.   

Offline Kirk

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #10 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.

Offline jeffy

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #11 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?
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
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Offline Robert

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #12 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.
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Offline Robert

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #13 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.
Rob Stein
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Offline Kirk

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #14 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.

« Last Edit: June 04, 2018, 12:50:11 AM by Kirk »