Author Topic: That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped....  (Read 9564 times)

Offline Djehuty

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That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped....
« on: April 14, 2010, 01:50:03 PM »
Yesterday I finally made my first foray into all-grain brewing.  I'm not pleased with the results.

I attempted to make an Irish red ale.  The target OG was 1.056, with an assumed brewhouse efficiency of 70%.  I fell FAR short of that mark.

My brewing equipment consists of a 52-qt. Igloo picnic cooler, with a drainage gizmo made out of the stainless steel mesh lining from a toilet tank supply line.  I'm using a 7.5-gallon brew pot on a propane burner, with my older 5-gallon pot serving to heat the water for mashing and sparging.

I followed the BrewSmith instructions, and added 13.25 quarts of water at 170F, which brought the temperature up to 158F.  I hurriedly added a small amount (less than one quart) of cool water, and watched the temperature plummet to 150F.  Obviously I should have waited for the temperature to equalize, but even so that would have left it at around 150, instead of the target 154.  I quickly boiled some water, but it took several tea-kettles full (and about ten minutes) to bring the temperature up to 154.  It remained steady for the full hour.

I then pulled off two quarts of wort and gently poured it back in, and repeated this four times.  The wort refused to clarify.  After the fifth two-quart draw was cloudy, I gave up and emptied the mash tun.  I added my sparge water, and was more than a little bit worried by the foam which was accumulating due to the recirculating of wort and now the addition of sparge water.  I let it sit ten minutes, tried again and failed again to get it to run clear, and emptied it into the brew pot.  I took a sample and set it on the counter to cool, then put the pot on the burner.

One hour of boiling later, I popped in the wort chiller (well, fifty-five minutes of boiling later, and then the chiller boiled with the wort for five).  While the wort was chilling (about twenty minutes or so to go from boiling to 70 degrees -- is that OK?), I measured the specific gravity of the sample.  Modified for temperature (97F), it was 1.037 -- well off the expected target of 1.048.  BeerSmith calculates this as 57.91% efficiency.

I had some trouble siphoning the wort into the brew bucket, because of a bunch of gunk (including the hops) which sank to the bottom of the pot.  I think the hops may have floated last time, but I'm not sure.  I didn't siphon previously, so my main difficulty had been in clearing spent hops out of the sieve.  Anyway, I eventually got the job done, and left maybe a quart or so of wort in with the gunk, after siphoning five gallons into the brew bucket.  That's now in the basement, where it is worrying me a bit because nothing's bubbling out the airlock.

The specific gravity of the wort just before pitching the yeast was 1.044.  BrewSmith gives me an efficiency rating of 55.09%.

What did I do wrong, and how can I improve my efficiency?

Offline BobBrews

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Re: That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped....
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2010, 02:41:22 PM »
Your beer will turn out OK! Relax and have a home brew (or any other craft brew) The numbers are all approximate when your in the learning mode. If I had a nickel for every time I missed the numbers I would be a millionair. The thing about brewing beer is that there are some many variables may that throw things off that it is not an exact science. The big boys? Are so exact in temperature and other things that you would think that brewing beer is rocket science. Nothing could be further from the truth. Your boiling water with grain in it.

If you are cleaning and sanitizing well your beer is 90% safe. My wort is always cloudy because I do "Brew in A Bag" but when I serve it the beer is crystal clear. No worries.
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Offline BM1

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Re: That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped....
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2010, 07:07:57 PM »
Quote
If I had a nickel for every time I missed the numbers I would be a millionair.

Ditto on that one.Just don't get too exited or anxious next time.Once you get the routine down pat you'll be hitting the numbers and dialing in your own BHE %age.One thing to focus on is that if you miss your target OG re work your hop schedule and get the bitterness in keeping with what you wanted in the beginning.Make sure you have good fermentation temperature control and your beer will  turn out great.I've had some OG misses that turned out so good that I wished I had planned it that way to begin with.
Also...the degree to which you grind/crack your grains will have a huge impact on efficiency.
That beer ain't gonna be undrinkable.  ;D
Drink responsibly.Brew like a bat out o' Helles.

Offline Djehuty

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Re: That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped....
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2010, 07:25:35 PM »
Well, OK... and I did have a homebrew while the boil was going. :)  But is there anything I can do to improve my brewing efficiency?  Or am I just stuck with 55%?

Also, regarding the cleaning and sanitizing, how much sanitizing is needed?  For instance, is it sufficient to wash my containers with sanitizing solution?  Or do I have to fill each one completely and let it sit?  I've just remembered reading that one should let the sanitizer sit in contact with whatever is being sanitized for at least two minutes.  I've made three successful batches with careful washing rather than soaking the brew bucket, but it's possible i just got lucky three times.

I should probably go research that.  It only occurred to me upon reading BobBrews' caution.

Anyway, the main question is the one about efficiency.  I'd love to increase that if possible.  I hate waste, and it would help me get through the "paying off" of my all-grain brewing equipment a bit more quickly (comparing my beer's price to that of decent commercial beer, in order to make myself feel better about spending a wadge of cash on brewing stuff :) ).

Offline stevemwazup

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Re: That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped....
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2010, 04:07:39 AM »
     You could rinse your grains again, with a second sparge, with a gallon or two more water.
You will end up with more wort in the pot, but just boil it down. That way you will have more sugar for a good OG.
stevemwazup

Offline MaltLicker

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Re: That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped....
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2010, 06:17:54 AM »
.......with an assumed brewhouse efficiency of 70%. 

You did nothing wrong, but maybe expectations ran high for your first batch AG.  I think first-time AG'rs should use 55-60% EE% and move upward as they dial in. 

I quickly boiled some water, but it took several tea-kettles full

It's helpful to have ~1 gallon on the stove in 'ready reserve' to raise temps when they're low.  (It is infinitely easier to drop temps with ice than to raise six gallons of mush by xx degrees.) 

The wort refused to clarify.  After the fifth two-quart draw was cloudy...

Vorlauf/recycling is really just to remove particles and litter.  It's going to be cloudy.  At this point it is protein-rich sugar water that has not yet been thru the hot-break and cold-break. 

I had some trouble siphoning the wort into the brew bucket, because of a bunch of gunk

Try whirlpooling.  Leave your long s/s spoon in the boiler at end of boil, and after removing chiller.  Upon removing chiller, stir wort madly, then cover and let rest for 30 mins.  Most gunk will settle to middle/bottom, away from the out-spout.  I have also started using a s/s scrubby inside the boiler on the out-spout and it's amazing how it filters out gunk.  I also have a fine mesh nylon bag on the end of the transfer hose, but with the scrubby in place the bag catches very little. 


Offline Djehuty

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Re: That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped....
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2010, 08:02:58 AM »
Hmm... I got the 70% figure here, but if it's normal for the efficiency to be lower, then I s'pose that's what it'll have to be. :)  Would a mash-out or multiple batch sparges increase the efficiency at all?  I'd have to end up with the same total volume of wort, though, because my pot won't hold much more than it did.

I will definitely keep some spare hot water handy next time.

Thanks for the tip about madly stirring the cooled wort.  I'll try that next time.  I don't have a spout on the pot, but that should work for my autosiphon just as well.

Thanks for the help! :)

Offline CR

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Re: That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped....
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2010, 09:25:43 AM »
I submit that Efficiency is a red herring.  That it is a false goal.
For my money efficiency is for: (1) commercial  houses where they will kill to save a nickel; (2) Brewers whose mash tun is woefully small; (3) Brewers whose wallet is too thin to buy an extra few pounds of grain; and lastly (4) brewers who  just like the idea of it so well that they pursue it, finding joy in the numbers they can rack up.

Unless you fall into one of those categories I submit that efficiency is a dangerous  and slippery slope that can easily lead to astringent and sour beer.  It is also one that can easily be avoided by using a few more pounds of grain.

Buy a few more pounds of grain.
Grain is cheap.

Quote
52-qt. Igloo picnic cooler
Nice size you can definitely buy more grains
 
Quote
drainage gizmo made out of the stainless steel mesh lining from a toilet tank supply line.

I use a 36” dishwasher  braid.   I have convinced myself that it  - being longer – will encourage a more homogenous and dispersed flow through the grain bed than a smaller point of drainage might.

Quote
  I'm using a 7.5-gallon brew pot on a propane burner, with my older 5-gallon pot serving to heat the water for mashing and sparging.

Sweet.


Quote
I followed the BrewSmith instructions, and added 13.25 quarts of water at 170F, which brought the temperature up to 158F.  I hurriedly added a small amount (less than one quart) of cool water, and watched the temperature plummet to 150F. 

Good move.  The Enzymes won’t denature  in a flash it takes a  few minutes.  Next time  I suspect you’ll add  water with a lesser temperature and  lesser volume and bump the temp up with small additions.  But, adding cold is also a very workable solution.

Quote
Obviously I should have waited for the temperature to equalize, but even so that would have left it at around 150, instead of the target 154.

Naah  you dun good. 

Quote
  I quickly boiled some water, but it took several tea-kettles full (and about ten minutes) to bring the temperature up to 154.  It remained steady for the full hour.

See?  You dun good.

Quote
I then pulled off two quarts of wort and gently poured it back in, and repeated this four times.  The wort refused to clarify.  After the fifth two-quart draw was cloudy, I gave up and emptied the mash tun.  I added my sparge water, and was more than a little bit worried by the foam which was accumulating due to the recirculating of wort and now the addition of sparge water.

Just by way of comparing notes:
I don’t try to get clear  wort until after the sparge.  Then, I compress the grain bed under a nice wide flat bottomed colander (a piece of perforated plastic from the BORG cut to fit the MT  would do nicely)  pushing gently down to make things just a little more snug and Vorlauf  till the wort comes out bright and clear.  I’ll pour the wort through maybe five times.    It happens fast.


Quote
One hour of boiling later, I popped in the wort chiller (well, fifty-five minutes of boiling later, and then the chiller boiled with the wort for five).  While the wort was chilling (about twenty minutes or so to go from boiling to 70 degrees -- is that OK?)

You Betchya >wink<

Quote
I measured the specific gravity of the sample.  Modified for temperature (97F), it was 1.037 -- well off the expected target of 1.048.  BeerSmith calculates this as 57.91% efficiency.

You dun good Ollie, real good~!!


Quote
I had some trouble siphoning the wort into the brew bucket, because of a bunch of gunk (including the hops) which sank to the bottom of the pot.


Tilt the Pot before you  siphon.  This causes the water to form a tighter column  for more fluid extraction and also helps get the flocculated crap ( you are using  a flocculant right?) in a more manageable little pile.   You’ll get some but hey~!!  It’s all good~!!

Go the  Grocery Store with the Missus this weekend.  Get a Laundry Bag.  Get the one made from nylon in some light color (non-colored if they have it) and toss your hops in that during the boil.   Mine is large enough that  I can Binder Clip it to my pot rim and let it dangle into the wort.    I leave it clipped to the pot so I can add hops every ten minutes or so.  Works GREAT~!! You Betchya~!!  >wink<
While not perfect it ensures that nothing is headed to the siphon that is large enough to be an issue.  Then, it all settles out in the Primary. 

I used to use Women’s Nylons (  ya gotta boil the plastic smell out of them first)  and they are fine but  they are too small for the hop volume I prefer.  I’d have like eight or ten of them in the wort all slogging around  and in the way of the chiller.  The laundry bag lets me pop my gloves on  (ya need gloves), haul the  bag out ( wring it gingerly) and chill.

Quote
That's now in the basement, where it is worrying me a bit because nothing's bubbling out the airlock.


You may just have a slow starting yeast.  Did ya pitch enough?
What yeast is it ?
How did you prepare the starter?

Quote
What did I do wrong

Nuthin.  You dun good~!! You Betchya~!! >wink<

Quote
, and how can I improve my efficiency?

Don’t try.  It’s a fool’s errand for the home brewer with the sole exceptions noted above.









Offline Djehuty

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Re: That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped....
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2010, 10:56:43 AM »
Well, okeydokey then.  I guess I dun good.  ;D  I'll relax, stop worrying, have a homebrew or two, and for next time I'll buy a laundry bag and more grain.

Thanks for clearing up the question of efficiency.  I wasn't worried worried, but I hate feeling like I've done something wrong but can't work out what that is.  But if I dun good, I dun good, and dat's good enough for me. :D

One last (for now) question, if you don't mind, CR.  You said you don't try for clear wort until after the sparge.  I'm not sure how that works.  You drain the wort, add the sparge water, drain that... then what's left to get clear wort from?

Offline CR

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Re: That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped....
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2010, 02:26:59 PM »
Some people vorlauf before sparging some after.
I do it after 'cause what I'm trying to do is leave the particulate crap behind clear the haze and what not.
When I sparge I use a fair amount of water.  I like to float the grain bed if possible.  so I'll be extracting  a good bit of crap with the remaining wort.  I gotta get the crap out afterward.  So I'm cool  with leaving a little wort in the grain bed if the trade is that I get a brilliant clear wort.
But all said, there's little to prevent me from running some more hot water through the grain bed to see if there's some goodness still in it.
I suppose one could call that a sparge or  just me being spastic.

You betchya >wink<

As an aside: I am building myself a brand spanky new brewery. I's a goin' EElektrikal woohaaah 
80 quart SST pots, a hunnert feet O' half inch SST tubing for da integral chiller, and all manner o' dem fancy schmancy Swagelok  fittin's and a 'puter to run it all.  It'll be  'puterized~!!    I'm even getting me a jacketed conical rig which I'l control with a glycol heater/chiller.
 The theory behind the rig'll be Lonnie Bird's Brutus.
So the whole sparge voorlauf thing will be in the past.


 

« Last Edit: April 15, 2010, 02:34:19 PM by CR »

Offline Djehuty

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Re: That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped....
« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2010, 03:37:00 PM »
Wow... that's impressive.  And smart!  If we teach the computers to make beer, they'll never turn against us!

Offline Pirate Point Brewer

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Re: That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped....
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2010, 05:47:23 AM »
Wow, I think CR has given you some great tips!  We do however see the importance of efficiency differently. To us, the percentage of efficiency is important for other than cost reasons.

1.   The OG of you wort will be determined by the extraction efficiency.
2.   The utilization of your hops, and therefore the IBU of your brew, is determined by the OG achieved
3.   If you are a craft of competition brewer, the color will also change

We like to try to hit our targets as closely as we can to have a consistent result.
Its hard to improve or evaluate you result if it’s a moving target. Since efficiency effects more than one variable, its hard to evaluate your result.  To us, achieving a consistent  efficiency has importance.  I believe what CR was saying, and we would agree with, chasing a high efficiency like 85% compared to 55% is not really important. If you can plan on 55%, and you develop your recipe on 55%, and you achieve 55% or close to it everytime, everything will work just fine.

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Offline MaltLicker

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Re: That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped....
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2010, 02:11:35 PM »
I agree that knowing your system's inherent efficiency is what really matters.  You cannot taste efficiency, whether high or low.  But if you can improve your efficiency with a simple procedural change or a better-designed false bottom, etc., then why not?  Or perhaps you could change some variable and eliminate the variance between batches and really dial in to a repeatable efficiency.  That would be worth pursuing.  But if you're making good beer at ~70% EE% or better, there are plenty of things to pursue to make better tasting beer before chasing higher efficiency. 


Offline Pirate Point Brewer

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Re: That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped....
« Reply #13 on: April 18, 2010, 03:42:10 PM »
MaltLicker has said it all in fewer words!  If you are consistent, then you have made great progress!  If, you can improve, Mores the better!  But Like CR said, don’t get caught in the race for efficiency unless you can do it every time!! 

You are on your way! Good Luck and enjoy!

Preston 
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In Spring & Summer, we're on the water or walking the beach!
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Offline SOGOAK

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Re: That didn't work out as well as I'd hoped....
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2010, 06:15:21 AM »
You did great!  It is a slippery slope trying to mess with mashtemp when you do infusion mashing in a cooler.  Next time you build a recipe, think about the ambient temp (you don't want to dial in at 60degrees and then later this summer struggle when it is 80).  You can always stir a lil more in the MT to drop temp.

Hops plugging my pickup has been a long fight.  I think I may go back to the hop bag too.  Maybe one more batch using only whole.

Efficiency is a crazy target.  I used to set BS at 60 then my beer would be 7.5 abv.  So I started dialing it back.  I count on 75 now. 

Definately boil down.  You can pick up 10 points on your OG that way.  Otherwise, I think you are on your way!
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