Author Topic: "watery beer"  (Read 2797 times)

Offline Kirk

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #15 on: June 04, 2018, 12:40:44 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.

40% doesn't seem right. I start with 8 gallons and boil down to about 6 gallons. Seems like this would be about 25%.

So a couple of things that I've learned regarding the boil off. The best way to reduce things like DMS, and other nasty's is a vigorous boil. Now mine is a bit much likely, but I have no good way of reducing it other than cycling the heaters manually (which is perfectly fine).

I can try adjusting my overall boil off for the next brew. Thanks for your insight.

Offline Robert

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #16 on: June 04, 2018, 12:56:12 AM »
^^^^
I did a rough estimate based on your pre- and post- boil gravities; anyway, that's way too much. The homebrewers' myth of the vigorous boil has to go.  It takes around 30 min on heat (just on heat, not vigorous) to convert the precursor SMM to DMS, and then simply uncovering the kettle will vent off the DMS in a few minutes.   All that boiling is just degrading proteins (reducing body and foam) and driving off aromatics while creating caramelized products with much less pleasant flavors than those produced in malting, among other damaging effects.  A little circulation to coagulate the break you do want to get rid of, and enough heat to extract your hops, is all that's needed.  Technically, it is not really necessary to boil wort at all, though with homebrew equipment we're stuck with it to some degree.  Oh, and unless you're using certain extra pale Pilsner malts, DMS is not an issue anyway.
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Offline Kirk

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #17 on: June 04, 2018, 12:59:00 AM »
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 - False bottom sits up ~ 2.5" off the bottom. This equates to about 1.75 gallons of water. I don't think they sell these anymore. Now I think they offer "The Titan" false bottom. Domed design with very little dead space. They probably realized how badly this design sucked. :)

Offline JT

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2018, 01:03:17 AM »
We can help you through this.  You have multiple options.  Here are a couple. 
1) Drain your initial mash completely first.  Measure your runnings from collecting this wort and add only enough water for sparge to get to your initial pre-boil volume.  (You indicated your will have 2.5 gallons lost, so add this to your sparge volume.  Ideally, your don't want water left in the mash tun. 
2) This would be what I would do:  Forget sparging or water to grist ratios.   Add enough water to get your preboil volume from the first runnings.  Your 20 gallon mash tun is plenty big enough.  This is called no-sparge.  Generally a bit more grain will be needed. 

Offline Kirk

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2018, 01:05:50 AM »
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.

The false bottom measures about 2.5 inches high which equates to ~ 1.75 gallons of water. They ship "The Titan" false bottom now with the Mega Pot's. It appears to be a much better design.

Offline Robert

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #20 on: June 04, 2018, 01:16:47 AM »
So it seems your two obvious choices are install the Titan if you can do that and adjust your current procedure, or do a no-sparge as JT suggests.  If you don't mind using a little more grain every time, that second one sounds good:  you mentioned possible mods to your heaters to reduce the boil strength, and I'd spend the money there instead of a new false bottom.  Ironically, you need a less robust system!  :)
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Offline Kirk

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #21 on: June 04, 2018, 02:41:40 AM »
^^^^
I did a rough estimate based on your pre- and post- boil gravities; anyway, that's way too much. The homebrewers' myth of the vigorous boil has to go.  It takes around 30 min on heat (just on heat, not vigorous) to convert the precursor SMM to DMS, and then simply uncovering the kettle will vent off the DMS in a few minutes.   All that boiling is just degrading proteins (reducing body and foam) and driving off aromatics while creating caramelized products with much less pleasant flavors than those produced in malting, among other damaging effects.  A little circulation to coagulate the break you do want to get rid of, and enough heat to extract your hops, is all that's needed.  Technically, it is not really necessary to boil wort at all, though with homebrew equipment we're stuck with it to some degree.  Oh, and unless you're using certain extra pale Pilsner malts, DMS is not an issue anyway.

Gotcha. In the past I mentioned that I covered or partially covered the boil kettle and got a lot of $hit for that! I went to Cal Davis for a week long brewing course last August, and a hardy boil was one of the emphasis points for driving off DMS.

I'm going to try and reduce the overall power of my heaters by cycling the heat and see if I can get my evaporation rate down to something more reasonable. Thanks for the tip!

Offline narcout

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #22 on: June 04, 2018, 02:46:26 AM »
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.

That doesn't really seem like a problem.  A lot of people who utilize the no sparge method brew with similar water/grist ratios without issue (including me).

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

Is that the hop schedule for an IPA?  It seems like nowhere near enough hops.

It's too close to home
And it's too near the bone

Offline Kirk

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #23 on: June 04, 2018, 02:51:10 AM »
We can help you through this.  You have multiple options.  Here are a couple. 
1) Drain your initial mash completely first.  Measure your runnings from collecting this wort and add only enough water for sparge to get to your initial pre-boil volume.  (You indicated your will have 2.5 gallons lost, so add this to your sparge volume.  Ideally, your don't want water left in the mash tun. 
2) This would be what I would do:  Forget sparging or water to grist ratios.   Add enough water to get your preboil volume from the first runnings.  Your 20 gallon mash tun is plenty big enough.  This is called no-sparge.  Generally a bit more grain will be needed.

Thanks for the tip. I used to do #1 above, especially from the days of using a cooler for my mash tun. The more I read, I decided to start doing a fly sparge method instead, hoping it would improve my relatively low efficiency numbers. I've always wondered if I was sparging properly. My other thought was to partially (say half) drain the tun for the first runnings, then start to sprinkle the sparge water until hitting my preboil volume.

Everything I read on fly sparging tended to make me believe that consistently moving liquid would help rinse the remaining sugars, so this meant not draining the first runnings before conducting the sparge. I'm certainly willing to go back to the old method, or incorporate a hybrid method to see how that affects things.

I appreciate the insight.


Offline Kirk

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #24 on: June 04, 2018, 02:55:12 AM »
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.

That doesn't really seem like a problem.  A lot of people who utilize the no sparge method brew with similar water/grist ratios without issue (including me).

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

Is that the hop schedule for an IPA?  It seems like nowhere near enough hops.

Yeah I think that's it. I'm getting about 45IBU out of it (beer smith). I think my 0.5oz addition of cascade is yielding a pretty good number since my preboil volume is about 8 gallons and not sugar concentrated. The flavor and late addition hops are definitely something I want to add more of though. I probably can drive the first addition up as well, but the overall bitterness was good for me in this last batch. I up'd the sulfate levels too and noticed a really nice smooth bitter from this.

Offline JT

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #25 on: June 04, 2018, 03:11:55 AM »
Just keep in mind that sparging really only serves to try and rinse extra sugars from the grains.  The more you rinse the less sugar you get (it gets watered down). 
Sparging is a huge deal for commercial breweries because of the volume of grain they use.  In a homebrew setting, it is beneficial for the cost conscious brewer that wants the most extract out of his/her grain, or the home brewer that doesn't have a mash tun large enough to do a no-sparge.  For me, the downsides of sparging- pH fluctuation, oxygen ingress and additional time spent easily justify the cost of a few dollars more in grain.

That said, you can do as you described, but try to limit the mash tun sparge addition so that you don't have a ton of water left when you hit your boil volume.  It is likely that you're diluting those second runnings. 

Offline Kirk

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #26 on: June 04, 2018, 11:22:26 AM »
Just keep in mind that sparging really only serves to try and rinse extra sugars from the grains.  The more you rinse the less sugar you get (it gets watered down). 
Sparging is a huge deal for commercial breweries because of the volume of grain they use.  In a homebrew setting, it is beneficial for the cost conscious brewer that wants the most extract out of his/her grain, or the home brewer that doesn't have a mash tun large enough to do a no-sparge.  For me, the downsides of sparging- pH fluctuation, oxygen ingress and additional time spent easily justify the cost of a few dollars more in grain.

That said, you can do as you described, but try to limit the mash tun sparge addition so that you don't have a ton of water left when you hit your boil volume.  It is likely that you're diluting those second runnings.

Agreed - I've often thought that I wasn't doing this correctly. It always seemed that I was using way too much water during the sparge. I think it's time to go back to the original method. :) As you state - It's probably not worth the small gain in extract efficiency. I have no problem adding an extra pound or so of grain to make this up.

Offline mabrungard

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #27 on: June 04, 2018, 11:53:49 AM »
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?

Void ratio is defined as the volume of voids (the spaces filled with wort) divided by the total volume of the grist. Its a geotechnical term, but still applicable to a mash since a mash is an assembly of particles. A grist is going to settle (or compact) to a similar degree if its just left to settle. All bets are off when you start drawing wort since the speed of that draw can impose significant hydrodynamic forces on the particles in the mash.
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Offline MDixon

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #28 on: June 04, 2018, 12:39:31 PM »
Just looking at the recipe, why are you adding the acid malt and do you need the lactic acid addition? If you touched on it already, then just ignore my question.

Also CaraPils (depending upon manufacturer) and Caramel 10 are essentially the same thing.

Since it is a watery "feeling" I would lose the acid malt and determine if you need to add the lactic acid in the first place. Think about boosting the CaraPils.

My last suggestion would be to use a hydrometer to be sure what you are reading on that refractometer is correct. It sounds like you are using a pH meter, refractometer, thermometer, and other measurement devices which can be very precise, but only if calibrated properly. A good old hydrometer can be temperature corrected via a chart to determine if you are actually getting what you think/measure you are getting.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: "watery beer"
« Reply #29 on: June 04, 2018, 01:01:01 PM »
Mike raises a good point. How much attention are you paying to pH? If adding acid malt and lactic acid, maybe the pH is too low. Low mashing pH does tend to produce a beer that comes across 'thin'. 
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