Author Topic: "watery beer"  (Read 3926 times)

Offline Kirk

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #45 on: June 05, 2018, 03:30:04 AM »
FWIW, I have a similar mash-tun situation as you (3 gallons under the false-bottom). It doesn't seem to affect the final product much apart from making it hard to hold temps steady. Doesn't seem like a lot of hops for an IPA, and it sure seems like a lot of lactic acid for such a thin mash; however, watery flavor (in my experience) seems to come from low yeast vitality. Large amounts of lethargic yeast make for watery beer. I don't see much discussion about your pitch-rates or procedures -- could that be a possible culprit in this instance?

Pitch rate was a little tricky on this one. I used the WYEAST 1332. The original pitch had terrible viability (even with a starter), so I pitched a new one about 2 days in. The temp was around 67-68F for most of the primary fermentation. I've never used this particular strain, but it did seem to take painstakingly long. However, I'm comparing this to a WLP001, which I've used in my last few batches. It's very possible it was underpitched, but how much I'm not real sure. My overall fermentation volume was just under 5 gallons.

Offline thcipriani

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #46 on: June 05, 2018, 08:36:19 PM »
Pitch rate was a little tricky on this one. I used the WYEAST 1332. The original pitch had terrible viability (even with a starter), so I pitched a new one about 2 days in.

When I used to can starter wort, I did something wrong somewhere along the way, and I had a bunch of batches come out watery. I messed up yeast vitality or viability somewhere in there. At the time I was doing cell-counts (but not staining) for every batch. I was sure I was pitching the right amount of yeast, but not that the yeast was very healthy when I did pitch.

I finally figured out my problem when I skipped the starter for a batch and it came out tasting much better than the last few batches. My unsupported guess is this was a yeast problem: I'd try a changing up your starter procedure or skiping it and pitching a few fresh packs and seeing if that clears things up.
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Offline Richard

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #47 on: June 06, 2018, 01:50:12 AM »
Thanks, I'm glad we get to benefit from Martin's research.  And yeah, 4% is tricky (and I still get more like 5-6 if I'm not careful with the burner level;) I was stuck at 10% for quite a while.  But I saw your question on a new thread, there is more to it.

For a small-batch brewer it is hard to achieve 4% - 6%. For boiling in larger vessels, the decrease in surface area to volume ratio should make it easier to achieve lower boiloff rates. For commercial brewers this is a matter of economy because the energy costs money, regardless of whether it produces a better beer. I have been able to reduce my boiloff to 7% - 8% with my electric kettle, but attempts go go lower have produced anemic circulation so i am going to stick with what I have now.
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Offline Robert

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #48 on: June 06, 2018, 02:37:48 AM »
Thanks, I'm glad we get to benefit from Martin's research.  And yeah, 4% is tricky (and I still get more like 5-6 if I'm not careful with the burner level;) I was stuck at 10% for quite a while.  But I saw your question on a new thread, there is more to it.

For a small-batch brewer it is hard to achieve 4% - 6%. For boiling in larger vessels, the decrease in surface area to volume ratio should make it easier to achieve lower boiloff rates. For commercial brewers this is a matter of economy because the energy costs money, regardless of whether it produces a better beer. I have been able to reduce my boiloff to 7% - 8% with my electric kettle, but attempts go go lower have produced anemic circulation so i am going to stick with what I have now.
Exactly.  Circulation is needed, but you want to use the minimum total thermal loading to achieve it.  Whatever that is in your brewery.  As I've said somewhere , now that I know I can get rapid circulation and 4% evaporation,  I know that if I get 6%, I just had the burners a little higher than I really should have.  It's something you have to calibrate for yourself.  One thing that helps me is that I'm an old school stovetop brewer, with my 10 gal kettle spanning two burners. By setting one burner a little lower than the other, I can utilize the asymmetry to induce great circulation with minimal flame.  Some breweries utilize analogous kettle design, or mechanical agitators, to get more circulation with less heat applied.  It's reducing thermal stress on wort, relative to previous conditions, that will noticeably improve the beer.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #49 on: June 06, 2018, 01:47:22 PM »
Commercial systems have a large volume, and a relatively small stack area, which helps attain the low boil off %s.

Those that I know that make maple syrup have shallow pans with a large surface area to get the required boil off to concentrate the sugars, the ratio is 40 gallons reduced to 1 of syrup.

Some of the German brewhouse s use a 2 phase boiling process. Here is GEA Huppmann’s write up.

https://www.gea.com/en/binaries/JETSTAR_1015_EN_tcm11-12656.pdf
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Offline Robert

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #50 on: June 06, 2018, 08:19:20 PM »
Interesting link, thanks Jeff.  I seem to have a crude version of this going: my lid-on, asymmetric-heat circulating phase for 35 minutes, followed by the last 10 minutes with the lid off and the burners on full.  Actually, maybe my system isn't so crude:  it has virtually no moving parts!
Rob Stein
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #51 on: June 06, 2018, 09:02:11 PM »
Interesting link, thanks Jeff.  I seem to have a crude version of this going: my lid-on, asymmetric-heat circulating phase for 35 minutes, followed by the last 10 minutes with the lid off and the burners on full.  Actually, maybe my system isn't so crude:  it has virtually no moving parts!

I don’t think they crank up the heat when the “top hat is engaged”, but I read that years back.

A pro friend says he has a fairly gentle boil, then cranks it up at the end to blow off volatiles. Sounds like you are brewing like my friend.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #52 on: June 06, 2018, 09:09:46 PM »
Promoting a good rolling wort circulation is important. Asymmetric heating can really help that circulation and that is something that most brewers can create with their current equipment. While it seems counter-intuitive to heat one side of the kettle instead of keeping the burner or heat source centered, producing an organized wort circulation is actually more important for getting DMS out of wort. Applying heat across the entire kettle bottom produces a haphazard circulation that is less effective at cycling wort to the surface where it can unload its DMS and other volatiles.

I use a water heater element in my kettle and its in the center of the kettle. Fortunately, that produces a 'line' of heating that does produce a two-directional rolling circulation within my kettle. 

If I had ports plumbed into my kettle, I could actually use my RIMS tube to 'boil' my wort. That would be the same as the external boiler that some manufacturers employ. Maybe someday.
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Offline Robert

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #53 on: June 06, 2018, 10:03:14 PM »
Interesting link, thanks Jeff.  I seem to have a crude version of this going: my lid-on, asymmetric-heat circulating phase for 35 minutes, followed by the last 10 minutes with the lid off and the burners on full.  Actually, maybe my system isn't so crude:  it has virtually no moving parts!

I don’t think they crank up the heat when the “top hat is engaged”, but I read that years back.

A pro friend says he has a fairly gentle boil, then cranks it up at the end to blow off volatiles. Sounds like you are brewing like my friend.
That is my idea, blowing off the volatiles at the end.  I crank up the heat because once the lid is off, circulation would subside otherwise,  and I figure a good roll is essential for expelling volatiles from the  full volume.   I am somewhat conflicted, as the 10 min mark is also my late hop addition, and I would kind of prefer a gentler simmer for the hops.  But it all seems to work.
Rob Stein
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Offline BrewBama

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #54 on: June 06, 2018, 11:04:53 PM »
I recently added a whirlpool to my kettle and thought about circulation during the boil.  Adding it was as easy as drilling a hole and bolting it on. https://www.brewhardware.com/product_p/spincycle.htm

I also added a RIMS to the system.... hmmm. Hadn’t thought of running the wort thru it during the boil as well.


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Offline Kirk

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #55 on: June 07, 2018, 01:57:12 AM »
Pitch rate was a little tricky on this one. I used the WYEAST 1332. The original pitch had terrible viability (even with a starter), so I pitched a new one about 2 days in.

When I used to can starter wort, I did something wrong somewhere along the way, and I had a bunch of batches come out watery. I messed up yeast vitality or viability somewhere in there. At the time I was doing cell-counts (but not staining) for every batch. I was sure I was pitching the right amount of yeast, but not that the yeast was very healthy when I did pitch.

I finally figured out my problem when I skipped the starter for a batch and it came out tasting much better than the last few batches. My unsupported guess is this was a yeast problem: I'd try a changing up your starter procedure or skiping it and pitching a few fresh packs and seeing if that clears things up.

Interesting...not a bad idea by any means. I haven't counted nor stained yeast to get an idea of the cell count or viability. This particular batch had a poor viability from the start, so I pitched a new batch. Even a back of the napkin pitch rate would be ~ 250 billion cells. One pack of WYEAST is about 100 billion. However, looking at documentation on yeast starters indicates I would likely need about a 2L starter with one pack of yeast to even get to around 200 Billion cells. So maybe your starter wasn't good enough in the past? Pitching 3 packs would put you in the 300 Billion range, which should be plenty for a 5 gal batch.

Do you harvest or buy new yeast for each batch? I've already gotten started on the modifications to my system. :)

Offline Kirk

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #56 on: June 08, 2018, 05:55:09 PM »
Update:

Well, it's still not what I was really aiming for, but it tastes much fuller after letting it sit in the keg for about a week. It's been cold and carbonated for about a week now and it tastes /feels significantly better.

I've gone back to the drawing board and come up with some changes that should help.

1. Got a new false bottom to help my initial grist ratio. This one sits about 1/4" off the bottom, which should reduce the mash water by ~ 1.75/2 gallons and reduce the losses.
2. Sparge - I'm going to batch sparge this time aiming for a preboil volume of around 6.5 gallons (1.5 gallons less than last time). I'm estimating that the new false bottom will allow me to use ~ 2 gallons less water, making my grist ratio ~ 1.68 qts/lb (before grain absorption).
3. Reduce Evaporation losses - I'm going to pulse my boil heater as well as circulate it through the CF heat exchanger. I plan on running some experiments tonight on evaporation losses to get a better idea for the next session. Hoping for 10% or less for this first round of brewing.
4. pH measurements - Cool the sample down to room temp before measuring. As an experiment measure both at mash temp and room temp just to see the change in pH measurement. Targeting 5.5 at room temp for both the mash/sparge (after reading comments regarding too low of pH).
5. My sulfate levels are still not high enough. Add enough to get to 3:1 ratio (I think I was only at about 2.25:1)
6. Make sure I have a good yeast pitch this time (might try the same recipe with the WLP001 yeast instead)
7. Adding more boil hops to make up for the more concentrated wort, adding more late hop/whirlpool additions to get more flavor. Overall IBU's should be around 50.
8. Changed the recipe to remove the acid malt.
« Last Edit: June 08, 2018, 05:58:28 PM by Kirk »

Offline Robert

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #57 on: June 08, 2018, 07:27:14 PM »
Sounds like real progress!  Good luck and be sure to report results on the next batch.  :)
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Offline Kirk

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #58 on: June 11, 2018, 01:34:15 AM »
Sounds like real progress!  Good luck and be sure to report results on the next batch.  :)

The new false bottom works considerably better. I get only about 1/2 gallon dead space, and it allows me to add about ~ 1.5 gallons less water to the mash, keeping the water level at the top of the grain. Winning.

I did a batch sparge this time, instead of the fly sparge, and still got ~ 80% mash efficiency. Winning.

Lactic Acid additions from Bru'n water matched very well with my measured mash/sparge pH. Measured ~ 5.5/5.6 at room temp. I had a cup of ice water on hand, which works well to quickly cool the sample.

For today's brew, I pulsed my boil heater 20 secs on / 40 secs off, circulated the wort, and had the lid on about 3/4 of the way. I'm happy to report that I only had about 11% evaporation loss, which is a far cry from 25%. I have a pulse circuit designed, but I'm wondering if it makes more sense to buy another thermocouple and use the PID instead?

I increased my hop additions to compensate for the more concentrated wort, and am getting about 50 IBU's with beersmith. Additionally, I added another 1.5 oz to the late hop and flameout/whirlpool additions. Hoping this gives me more hop flavor.

The OG ended up being about 1.054 at 5.4 gallons into the fermentor.

I went back to my harvested WLP001 yeast from the previous batch.

We'll find out in a few weeks. :)

Offline Richard

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #59 on: June 11, 2018, 04:57:11 AM »
For today's brew, I pulsed my boil heater 20 secs on / 40 secs off, circulated the wort, and had the lid on about 3/4 of the way. I'm happy to report that I only had about 11% evaporation loss, which is a far cry from 25%. I have a pulse circuit designed, but I'm wondering if it makes more sense to buy another thermocouple and use the PID instead?

There's no reason to use a PID during the boil. During the mash, yes, to maintain the right temperature and overcome heat losses. The temperature differences during a full-power vs a reduced power boil are very small (1-2 F), so the tuning of a PID would be very tricky. You really just need a power or duty cycle controller during the boil. Try a couple of batches (or just experiment with water) and you will soon figure out what duty cycle gives you the boiloff you want.
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