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How can I improve this?

kw642

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Tried the attached recipe and tasted good throughout the process, but final product is severely lacking in flavour and seems fizzy no matter how much I adjust the CO2 in my kegerator (it's like drinking beer flavoured soda water).  I've been seeing "Error: Infusion temperature above boiling. Add more water!" a lot these days in the mash out step.  Any feedback is greatly appreciated.
 

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Oginme

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Splitting your issues up into two separate parts:

Your first one is the recipe coming out lacking flavor and being very fizzy.  Does it also lack body?  Are there any other unexpected flavors?  I would degas some of the beer and recheck the gravity.  My guess right off the top is that you had some bacterial infection which reduced the remaining sugars and dextrins, thus removing the flavor and making it highly carbonated. 

Your second is an issue with your equipment profile.  You have a very large amount of dead space under your false bottom or somewhere in your system.  6.44 liters + 0.95 liters (sorry, I work in metric units) is 1.6 gallons of water which does not directly interact with the grains and further reduces the amount of sparge water you have available.  To further aggravate the lack of sparge water, you are topping off your kettle with a gallon of water.  This water could be better used in your sparge step to improve your efficiency.

It is the low volume of sparge water in your system due to the factors above which creates the issue with the sparge water temperature.  There is not enough thermal capacity in the small volume of sparge water your system has specified to allow you to reach the selected mash out temperature without the water being higher temperature than the boiling point.  Thus the error message.

 

kw642

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Thanks so much for taking the time to reply.  To be honest, I don't entirely understand this software and I'm fairly new to all-grain brewing so a lot of the feedback I get is somewhat lost on me.  Where in the recipe does it show the 6.44L + 0.95L?  Can I change this, and if so, should I measure the space in between the bottom and the false bottom and see if it's the same as what it shows in the brew steps.  The equipment profile was set up by a friend that I sometimes brew with and I've been blindly following it under the assumption that it's correct.  I've attached a recipe that I want to try tomorrow but I foresee the same issues.  Any advice with that one?

As for the red ale, the colour is exactly as intended and it seems to have body to it.  This is only the second batch that I've kegged - the first one had a few issues with foam, but nothing out of the ordinary.  This one doesn't foam at all, and seems to be lacking "head retention", if I understand that term correctly.  I'll drop the gas and check the gravity as you suggested.

Thanks!!
 

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Oginme

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I would recommend checking out some of the guides for setting up your equipment profile.  Everything in BeerSmith revolves around getting this correct for your system.

Check Brad's blogs for how to set up equipment profiles in BeerSmith.  BeerSmith 2 guides pretty much apply to BeerSmith 3 for most of the critical pieces.  Additionally, the videos listed below will step you through the process.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmW7pwQP5mQ&t=2s

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYiOw6anG7w

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GxZ-qEWLqM

If you have some specific questions as you go through this, ask them here and we will help out with explanations and guiding your through the process.  The more you can tackle this yourself, the easier it will be in the long run for you to make adjustments to get the software to perform best for you.

I have attached a screen shot of your equipment profile from the first recipe you posted and circled the entries in red where I pulled the volumes I referenced in my previous post.

As for your brew lacking flavor, pour out a bottle and use that to test your gravity.  You can cover it and shake it occasionally once it hits room temperature to get the carbonation out.  Use this to double check the gravity reading.

 

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kw642

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Thanks for the suggestions - you were right on all counts.  So far I've been leaving all the Beersmithing up to a friend and I did need to get personally familiar before trying to solve any problems.  The video links were very helpful.  Also, our current equipment profile did need some tweaking, particularly in the area you highlighted.  I measured the mash tun and it's 1.75 gallons (6.62L) from the screen to the bottom and 0.75 gallons (2.8L) from the bottom to the spigot where water starts to go into the kettle.  There's also 0.5 gallons from the bottom of the spigot to the screen - I assume this would be recoverable as it's below the screen but it does go into the kettle.  So, my profile now reads 0.75 gallons for "mash deadspace losses" and 1 gallon for "recoverable mash deadspace".  I changed the top up water to zero.  Sound right?

I always tilt the tun toward the spigot at the end to get every possible drop, should I not be doing that?  I suppose if I continue to do that it will change the recoverable mash space.

Finally, I see now that other recipes I've used don't have a mash out step, and since I don't even know what that means, is there a way to take that out of the brew steps?

Thanks again
 

kw642

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Ok.  Just went to mash profile and I see how to get the mash out step removed.  I now have everything set to "single infusion, full body, no mash out".  Is this a good default mash profile?
 

Oginme

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Tipping the mash tun to get as much wort out is fine.  After all you payed for those sugars!

You will want to replicate the tipping to see just how much is lost doing it thst way.

The mash out step is something more crucial to large systems and fly sparging where the time from mashing to the end of the sparge can be lengthy.  The object of it is to stop all enzyme activity and lock in the fermentability/body characteristics at that point.  The choice to follow it or not is yours to make.  Since you moved the kettle top off to the sparge step you may want to try it with and without the mash out to see what works best for you.

A lot of brewers using Biab, full volume mashes, or quicker batch sparging will skip the mash out as they are usually starting to heat up to a boil pretty soon after draining the mash tun or lifting the bag. 

 

kw642

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Ok.  I took out the kettle top off part of everything - both "Mash and Lautering Adjustments" and "Post Boil Losses".  I've never topped up, but maybe I should be? 
 

dtapke

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also, it's set up for fly sparging, are you fly or batch sparging?

the biggest issue seems to be in the equipment setup, it seems that you've attempted to modify an existing profile instead of building one up from the ground. definitely watch that video on setting up an accurate equipment profile.


What is your "usual" procedure? you should be able to find a mash profile that matches that. then learning what to do differently and how to navigate those processes will come in time. (mash out, fly sparge, etc. )

as far as bubbly water goes, what was your gravity into the fermenter and what is your current gravity? that could tell you if there was an infection or not. take a sample from the keg, and de-gas it, then check the gravity. if its well below your targeted finishing gravity, than you likely had an infection of some sort.
 

Kevin58

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Speaking of mash profiles... you can customize those too. And probably should.

Here are some more videos on that topic. The first is for setting up a batch sparge mash profile and the second is for BIAB mash profile. The third I've included is a companion to Oginme's equipment profile tutorials only this one shows how to set one up from scratch.

Batch Sparge Mash Profile:
https://youtu.be/CZ0TFtMnzxs

BIAB Mash Profile:
https://youtu.be/VKiEjhxo2oo

Equipment Profile from scratch:
https://youtu.be/HwEbjOt8OR8
 

kw642

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Thanks to everyone for weighing in, and to answer dtapke's question, I'm fly sparging.  I tweaked the equipment and mash profiles and tried a blonde ale on Monday.  Yesterday I was working all day near the pail and the airlock was very active - more active than I've ever seen.  I woke up this morning to find that the lid had blown off.  Nothing spilled but there was a lot of foam at the top which I figured is normal, but I've never removed a lid only a day or two in the fermentation process so I'm not sure.  The airlock was filled with fermenting wort.  I cleaned and sanitized the airlock and lid and put it back on and once again she's vigorously bubbling away.  Key questions are:

1)  What are the chances that this will turn out?  That lid could've been off anywhere between 12 hours and 5 minutes

2)  What would cause this?  I've never had this happen before.
 

dtapke

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your airlock couldn't handle the fermentation, this is why many new brewers use a blow off tube of 1" or so diameter. this allows yeast and such to flow through without clogging up the airlock and causing an excess of pressure which in turn blows off the lid ;)

your beer will likely be fine. generally the lid just pops and doesn't flip off to the side? if your lid was totally off and the top was open there's more of a chance something may have wandered in there, but even if thats the case, for something to really cause a problem is relatively minimal.
 

kw642

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Thanks.  I'll stick with it.  Just checked and the airlock liquid is all cloudy so it's drawing in beer again.  I looked up the blow off tube.  So that goes into the hole where the airlock goes?
 

Oginme

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Yes.  I have an old, cracked airlock which I use for a blow off tube.  I have tubing which fits over the center tube of the airlock and runs to a container which contains Star San.  Once the danger of massive blow off has subsided, I replace this airlock with an intact one for the remainder of the fermenting.
 

dtapke

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Also, I'll add that I assume you're using a three piece airlock and not an S type airlock.

Check to make sure the bottom doesn't have any plastic blocking it up. sometimes there's kind of a little X or + across the hole. I always cut those out. At that point you can take the plastic cap off, take the dome off, then affix a piece of silicon or vinyl tubing to the tube that the dome shaped piece covers, submerge that in a bucket or something of sanitizer and now you've got something that's far less likely to clog.

Another option is to get a second bucket lid, and cut a 1" hole in it. get some 1" OD tubing and then just always use that bucket for your primary fermentation. I honestly see no reason to use those tiny little annoying airlocks lol! Everything i own now has 1" blow off tubing and i use these: https://www.bulkreefsupply.com/uniseal-bulkheads.html to seal them up.
 

kw642

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Correct, I only have the three piece ones, but I'm going to try both of your suggestions.  I've already switched out the airlock on this batch 3 times this morning.  Keeps filling up with beer!
 

kw642

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Thanks again for all the tips - this was a very educational process.  I've yet to see such an aggressive fermentation and I've ordered 4 1" ID uniseals which I will use from this point on.  How long is the pipe that you feed into the hole in the lid?  Do you have a way of clipping it to keep it from whipping around when things get particularly active?  So glad I stuck with this batch.  I was convinced it was infected and just about dumped it twice, but through research I learned about pellicles and a whole bunch of similar things and realized that my beer could very well turn out.  Yesterday had been 8 days so I had a taste (quite good) and took a reading (1.006 - OG was 1.040) and everything's looking promising going forward.

Thanks again
 

dtapke

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you could use anything you want. I had access to some spare pieces of stainless tubing, so mine is rigid and attached to the fermenters. it sits about 1/2" inside my fermenters. (plastic conicals)

just plain ol 1" pvc flex tubing would work fine, set it in 1/2" or so then prop it in place however it works best. I've even got a friend who made a wooden radius that he sets on top of his fermenting buckets to hold it in place. I used to use tubing like that and would just prop a 12 pack of cans next to it to hold it "up" so it made the radius down into the "airlock" (typically a mason jar or random bucket with sanitizer)
 

kw642

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Got the uniseals, any tips on where to get the 1" OD tube?  The only one I can get around here is extra think and has a 1/2 inch ID
 

dtapke

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I've had no problem finding it at just about any hardware store for pvc, here's a link to some silicone tubing as well:
https://www.brewhardware.com/product_p/siliconetubing34id.htm
 
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