Disappointing First Partial Mash

Tips, tricks and techniques regarding brewing with beer kits or extract, steeping grains, and partial mash

Disappointing First Partial Mash

Postby Hairy » 03 Nov 2008, 08:37

I decided that after brewing 10+ of kit + extract beers, it is time to start doing something different. So bought some grain and wanted to do a kit + grain partial mash. Used 2 kg of pale malt and mashed according to the instructions given in the How-To-Brew magazine.

It goes something like this.

1. Use 3L of water per Kg of grain (So i used about 6 L)
2. Heat water to abt 74 degrees C and add in the grains in a grain bag. Temperature should drop to abt 68 degrees C.
3. Hold temperature at about 66 - 68 degrees C for 45min (I held it for slightly more than 1h to be sure)
4. Recirculate wort and sparge with half the amount of mash water (so it is about 3L for me. In fact I used like almost 5L because the sparging was so messy. )
5. Add extract and boil for 1h.

Did a partial boil and so need to top with with water in the end. When I took the gravity reading, it was only 1.034! I don't know what is wrong really. It is fermenting right now. Since the gravity is so low, is it advisable to add in some dextrose / extract? I think the beer would have like 2% ABV in the end. wat the fish....

Any advice is welcomed. I still have another 2kg of grain with me. In the coming months when I decide to mash again, I hope to do better. For now, let me rant a little... It's really disappointing.
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Re: Disappointing First Partial Mash

Postby southernoise » 03 Nov 2008, 10:43

don't be discouraged.

What is your final volume? What are the grains that you've used? Give us more details cos I have a feeling something went wrong somewhere in the calculations department and also the efficiency of your mash/sparge.

Also you should sparge with hot water(Normally @ 65+deg for me) rather than the wort collected from the mash. Sparging is to extract as much fermentables as possible from the grains.

2kg of grains + 1kg of LME won't give you big SG readings for a 23L final volume. In fact, your SG reading sounds about right.

I've been doing partial mash for a while with DME/Dextrose.
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Re: Disappointing First Partial Mash

Postby Hairy » 03 Nov 2008, 15:16

I used a 1.5kg Kit from ibrew (Coopers European Lager) and threw in 2kg of pale malt. Topped it up to 23L. For my part, since things are so messy as I was doing the mash, I did not check the gravity of my mash fluid. I was told to recirculate the wort into the grain bags for a few times before adding in new sparging water. I was told to use half of my wort volume and i seriously used much more than that. In addition, since my pot was so big, 6L of water didn't cover the grain bag completely and I reckon I used closer to 8L of water for my mash.

To make things worse, my grain bag was scotched at the bottom and if I haven't realised it during sparging, all the grains would have fallen into the wort. Arrgh...
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Re: Disappointing First Partial Mash

Postby Hunty » 03 Nov 2008, 16:41

2kg of grains + 1kg of LME won't give you big SG readings for a 23L final volume. In fact, your SG reading sounds about right.


Southern, I think Hairy sad he was using a kit + 2 kg grains and at a 70% efficiency to make to 23 litres his OG should have been about 1.042. A kit is 1.7 kg of LME....

Anyways Hairy, it does seem the problem lies in the efficiency of your mash. If you get to 1.034 then its only about 45%, and you really should be up around 70% to get to the 1.042+ target. I think if you mash in a muslin bag you will have difficulty to achieve a 'free flow' mash efficiency, unless you rinse the hell out of it.

Did you crush your own grains ?
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Re: Disappointing First Partial Mash

Postby southernoise » 03 Nov 2008, 21:56

Hunty when I plug his figures into my homemade excel calculator I got OG 1033 for 23L. 1.5kg LME + 2kg pale malt grains.

I've been tweaking this calculator on the go for quite a few brews already and it seems to give me consistent results for my method. You're right when you say efficiency is 0.45, I use an efficiency of 0.5 for my calculator.

I'd like to think my efficiency is just not there but I've been using those vacuum insulated thermal pot that maintains heat really well for mashing. Still the same results each time.

What is this "free flow" mash efficiency?
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Re: Disappointing First Partial Mash

Postby Hairy » 03 Nov 2008, 22:24

ok my bad. the kit is 1.7kg indeed. I did not crush the grains myself. They came already crushed. Looks like I am on my way to have a batch of lite beer for alcohol conscious drinkers. Can't really imagine a 2% ABV beer. Just hope that the taste would make up for it.

Any idea on how to improve my mash? I only have the simplest of equipment - A big brewpot and a grain bag big enough for I guess 5kg of grain. (Ok, to be honest, I can't find a grain bag and I used a new pillow case as one.) Is it a better idea to separate the grains into 2 bags? After all the extra time put into the mash, now I wished I have just brewed a kit + extract beer.
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Re: Disappointing First Partial Mash

Postby htkm » 03 Nov 2008, 23:41

Hi Hairy,
A pillow case and a grain bag are two different things. Unless your pillow case is the same material as a grain bag, the efficiency will be greatly effected. Like what Hunty has mentioned "Free flow" mash efficiency. What that means is your pillow case material was too fine/dense therefore the wort could not flow freely in which case the sugar inside the grain was not rinsed properly thus you end up with low OG.

I'm guessing you did the BIAB (Brew In a Bag) method.
Link >> http://www.aussiehomebrewer.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=11694

Any idea on how to improve my mash?

>> First of all get the right equipment to do the job. Starting with the grain bag. Especially the material of the bag. Stick to the grain/water ratio. 3lt per/kg is fine. Otherwise you'll have a thin mash. Next heat up the water to approx. 10C higher then your target mash temp. Once you add the grain it will drop about 10C. Always stir or have the grain bag hanging on a stick/wooden spoon rather then leaving it in direct contact with the bottom of pot. Ideally get those pots with a thick bottom. This helps retain/even heat and prevents scotching.

Never add/top-up water to boil. Even if it's partial. Just boil what you have collected without adding the kit also. This way you can take a sample and calculate your efficiency and OG of the wort that you have collected. By doing this if you fall short of your target, you can add DME to the wort and still get your target OG.

If your pot is big/wide enough you can split into two bags. Again always hang the bags. don't let then sit at the bottom of the pot.

Don't worry about it. Take this as a learning curve. Next time you know what you need to do.

Cheers,
HT

Hairy wrote:ok my bad. the kit is 1.7kg indeed. I did not crush the grains myself. They came already crushed. Looks like I am on my way to have a batch of lite beer for alcohol conscious drinkers. Can't really imagine a 2% ABV beer. Just hope that the taste would make up for it.

Any idea on how to improve my mash? I only have the simplest of equipment - A big brewpot and a grain bag big enough for I guess 5kg of grain. (Ok, to be honest, I can't find a grain bag and I used a new pillow case as one.) Is it a better idea to separate the grains into 2 bags? After all the extra time put into the mash, now I wished I have just brewed a kit + extract beer.
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Re: Disappointing First Partial Mash

Postby Hairy » 04 Nov 2008, 01:36

I was told that the kopitiam coffee sock material would suffice and to my knowledge that is made from cotton. That's why I used a 100% cotton pillow case. I heated using an induction cooker, which I feel is actually pretty even and efficient. 3L / kg if grain is ok but my pot is so wide (makes me wonder why my mum has such a big pot) that 6L of water only covered like 3/4 of the bag and I wasn't even hanging the bag to anything. Now.. for AG brewers, where to get such a big grain bag??? Tailor made or something?

Well, I can only hope that the batch would turn out fine. The additional amt of ice needed to cool the wort ate away my ice supply that I wanted to use in my ice powered cooler box. So for the first 12 hours or so, the beer was essentially left at room temperature.
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Re: Disappointing First Partial Mash

Postby htkm » 04 Nov 2008, 02:14

Hairy wrote:I was told that the kopitiam coffee sock material would suffice and to my knowledge that is made from cotton. That's why I used a 100% cotton pillow case. I heated using an induction cooker, which I feel is actually pretty even and efficient. 3L / kg if grain is ok but my pot is so wide (makes me wonder why my mum has such a big pot) that 6L of water only covered like 3/4 of the bag and I wasn't even hanging the bag to anything. Now.. for AG brewers, where to get such a big grain bag??? Tailor made or something?


Hi Hairy,
Recommended Swiss Voile material. Otherwise you can try using cheese cloth. You need to get a mash pot for yourself. Your mom's pot is not meant for brewing AG beer. Also 3kg of grain in a bag does not help either. What you need is to invest in a soup pot. Usually the size of the pot's diameter is equal to the height of the pot. Example: A 14Lt pot size is approx 26mm (Dia) x 26mm(H). If your gonna get one bring along a measuring tape. So that you can calculate the volume that it can hold. Also get a stainless steel pot with a thick bottom. Ideally the pot size should be 33mm(Dia) x 33mm(H). Cost about S$120 without lid. Lid is about S$75. You need the lid. See photo below. It's the one in the middle.
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LINK To Formula for calculating volume >> http://www.mathsteacher.com.au/year9/ch14_measurement/18_cylinder/cylinder.htm

Most of us AG brewers in the forum use either Continuous Sparging Or Batch Sparging Method.

Well, I can only hope that the batch would turn out fine. The additional amt of ice needed to cool the wort ate away my ice supply that I wanted to use in my ice powered cooler box. So for the first 12 hours or so, the beer was essentially left at room temperature.


Next time you can pre-chill your cool box by freezing 4Lt size plastic containers. You know, the ones with the red lid.

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Re: Disappointing First Partial Mash

Postby Hunty » 04 Nov 2008, 07:33

southernoise wrote:Hunty when I plug his figures into my homemade excel calculator I got OG 1033 for 23L. 1.5kg LME + 2kg pale malt grains.

I've been tweaking this calculator on the go for quite a few brews already and it seems to give me consistent results for my method. You're right when you say efficiency is 0.45, I use an efficiency of 0.5 for my calculator.

I'd like to think my efficiency is just not there but I've been using those vacuum insulated thermal pot that maintains heat really well for mashing. Still the same results each time.

What is this "free flow" mash efficiency?


Hey Southern

I think its answered above, kits are almost always 1.7 kg and not 1.5 kg of Liquid Malt Extract.
and what I mean by free flow is that the grains are loose inside the pot or mash tun, ie not constrained by a bag. That way you get an even contact and uniform extraction. I think if you are in a bag the mash ratio ie water to grist becomes meaningless and you can never be quite sure that you are getting out of the centre of the bag what you do from the grains at the perimeter, and the results will inevitably yield a lower efficiency. Thats not to say you can't reach target OG using a bag, but you just need more grain... ;)
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Re: Disappointing First Partial Mash

Postby Hunty » 04 Nov 2008, 07:45

Now.. for AG brewers, where to get such a big grain bag??? Tailor made or something?


When I started doing this I improvised using a car polishing cloth would you believe... saw it in a NTUC supermarket I think, and dirt cheap. Its actually sold in a roll, but is essentially knitted in a tube or cylinder that they cut to saleable lengths before rolling it up and packaging. Its mesh size is a bit finer than hessian but not as fine as woven cotton and holds crushed grain very well. What I did was just cut the tube to the size I wanted and sewed up one end of the tube. The other end you just tie with some string after filling with grain. After use a good rinse and even can go in the washing machine with no problems before using again.

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Re: Disappointing First Partial Mash

Postby southernoise » 04 Nov 2008, 09:01

Hunty, thanks. After reading HT's and your comments, I think I gotta seriously rethink how I'm mashing which means I need a bigger fricken pot! :lol:

And if I'm going to do that, might as well I go all grain... :lol:

Let me find a day when the missus is out of the country and make it a major procurement day. :mrgreen:
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Re: Disappointing First Partial Mash

Postby Hunty » 04 Nov 2008, 09:34

And if I'm going to do that, might as well I go all grain...


now you are talking Southern.... ;)
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Re: Disappointing First Partial Mash

Postby Hairy » 04 Nov 2008, 23:17

thsk for the comments and encouragement guys. I still have a 2kg bag of pale malt and shall do a better job the next time I mash. Won't be so soon I guess...
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Re: Disappointing First Partial Mash

Postby Hunty » 06 Nov 2008, 08:24

Hairy wrote:thsk for the comments and encouragement guys. I still have a 2kg bag of pale malt and shall do a better job the next time I mash. Won't be so soon I guess...


Harry, before making the plunge to AG, why not try a few of your own Hairy specials by using DME and hops only... no kits.

That way you know exactly what goes into your brew of your own creation... then the next step is go down a little on the DME and add in grains. You need no special equipment for all DME brewing either, and IMHO you can make some top beers this way without having to "cook" for 6 hours (as some would put it :D ) and you avoid that kit "twang" which most of us can taste from a distance of 1000 miles. :mrgreen:

There are plenty of tools out there to assist you in the concoction of a Hairy Special Brew...
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