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1st all grain brew, an abortion?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by arkinsparkin, Apr 22, 2012.

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  1. arkinsparkin

    arkinsparkin Initiate (0) May 12, 2010 Massachusetts

    So I did my first all grain brew this weekend, a rye pale ale, step infusion done on stove top in brew kettle, transfer to cooler lauter tun. Manifold started out with a wrap of cheesecloth, due to 1/8" maifold holes, sparge got stuck, so I tilted cooler to remove cloth, sparge flow was great with balanced flow from infuent liquor, and effluent wort. To my dismay, the wort tasted weak, and the spent grains still seemed to have alot of residual sweetness. (perhaps liqour tank colled below 170?)
    No big deal, I had 3# DME on hand. Start brew, drew wort sample, after temp correction, got a 1.030. Added DME, hop schedule, blah, blah. Recipe called for 45 mini boil. Figured H20 level too high, boiled 30 more min to reduce, before last hop dump. Chilled, went to transfer 2 carboy, flow was super slow. I had to keep tickling the bazooka screen at the bottom of brew kettle to get flow. Yeilded 2.5 gallons in fermenter, with no further flow. Figuring ancient beer was full of crap, I dumped kettle contents through funnel into carboy. I now had 4 gallons inthe fermentor, drew sample of 1.070. Added gallon of water, sample now on target @ 1.050. (sample tasted bitter).
    After settling overnight, 3.5" layer of trub, with 10" amber layer of wort, follew by a 12" layer of dark wort. (night before there was 2" trub on bottom, 4" dark layer fluid, a 2nd level of suspended trub, then nice 9" layer of amber wort)
    I figure I'll just let this ferment out. But I can't help but wonder if the baby is dead. Does this seem normal?
    Should I transfer off the trub while primary fermentation is still active?
    Any advice would be appreciated.......
  2. Riggsy

    Riggsy Devotee (456) Jul 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Subscriber Beer Trader

    Let it go... you achieved the sugar content you expected if I'm reading correctly. The method by which you got there may not have been your ideal but we all brew in different ways and get beer. I wouldn't worry about the layering either as this is common.
  3. scurvy311

    scurvy311 Disciple (346) Dec 3, 2005 Louisiana

    You shouldn't tickle your bazooka while brewing...for safety and sanitation sake. I'm sorry. "Tickle the bazooka" should definitely become a common term, if it isn't already.

    You probably learned a few dos and don't while this brew day unfolded. As for advice, what do you feel was the main setback.
    VonZipper likes this.
  4. arkinsparkin

    arkinsparkin Initiate (0) May 12, 2010 Massachusetts

    "Tickle the Bazooka"' LOL, can't believe I may be responsible for coining a term.
    I feel the main setback was the amount of crud, sediment that was experienced on transfer from kettle 2 carboy. I also wonder if the taste of the wort is an indication of what's to be. Usually my wort is a nice sweet tasty beverage, void of bitterness. No husks were transfered from the lautering, so I doubt tannins are the cause.
  5. scurvy311

    scurvy311 Disciple (346) Dec 3, 2005 Louisiana

    The wort taste pre-yeast is not a reliable indication of the final project. I taste wort also, but mostly out of curiosity. I used buckets for several years and had 2-3 week average fermentations with no off taste I would attribute to trub.

    I actually thought you were gonna say mash or sparge procedure was your main setback, but like you, I learned some procedures the hard way and adapted/evolved as I went. I still am actually.
  6. kjyost

    kjyost Meyvn (1,174) May 4, 2008 Manitoba (Canada)

    For future AG batches until you know your system, may I suggest staying away from Rye, and stick to normal grain bills so you don't get issues of stuck sparges.

    As for your low efficiency, to improve it advice can be offered but we need to know what does your tun/manifold/sparge arm look like? What was your mash temp? How much strike water and sparge water did you use? Etc...
  7. MLucky

    MLucky Aspirant (286) Jul 31, 2010 California

    Definitely ferment it out. You've got nothing to lose, really, and I don't see any reason to assume the finished beer will be a disaster.

    A couple thoughts: rye (and wheat) are harder to work with, and it might be a good idea to do a few beers with good ol' barley before using those ingredients as a significant part of your grist. Also, when you do you use rye and/or wheat, you might consider adding some rice hulls, which make for an easier sparge. Also, I personally find it pretty hard to control mash temps using direct heat. I know other people do this, but I'm always overshooting my temps, fluctuating up and down etc. I would recommend using your cooler as a mash tun to to do single infusions and batch sparge, again keeping it simple for the time being.

    Oh, and don't worry about that layering in the wort, or the layer of trub. It's best to avoid transferring the trub, but I've done it before with no ill effects. Sometimes with IPAs, where there's a ton of hop matter in there, I just transfer the whole shebang, let it go through primary, and then move the beer to secondary leaving the trub behind. My thinking is that the trub's not going to hurt anything if the beer's only sitting on it 5-6 days.
  8. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    I'd recommend you check out some youtube videos on AG brewing. Get a good feel for how other people go from start to finish. If you know anyone in a brewing club etc. you should see if you can sit in on an AG brew. You become more familiar with what your setup is, what you can accomplish, and what to expect out of your grainbill.

    I'm wondering if you 75 min boil added more bitterness than you wanted. Listing your recipe along with the process may also help provoke more response. What kind of volume and gravity did you get from your runnings? how many # of grain did you use?

    At what point did you taste your runnings? If in the beginning, you should have something syrupy and very sweet. There shouldn't be ANY bitterness because you haven't hopped yet. At the end of your runnings it should taste very thin and watery. It should still taste sweet and malty. Sort of how maple syrup tastes sort of sweet directly from the tree, but you can tell there's a huge difference in what comes in the glass bottle. Dip your finger in your kettle just before the boil, and you should have something that is way too sweet to want to drink a pint of.

    I'd also agree you should stay away from rye and wheat until you get your legs under you in AG. Stuck mashes/sparges are not going to be a smooth transition. Don't give up, and have extra malt extract on hand in case you miss your gravity.
  9. arkinsparkin

    arkinsparkin Initiate (0) May 12, 2010 Massachusetts

    Thanx for the responses, I'm not going to give up, but definitely want to persue all grain brewing, both for cost effectiveness, and the love of of what beer brewing has evolved from.

    The original recipe called for 4# belgian bicuit malt (using vienna for a substitute), 3.5# klages malt (using maris otter substitute), 2 # flaked rye, 1# flaked barley. Hops schedule called for perle, and willmette, but I have to substitute the perle with northern brewer.
    Runnings were tased after sparging. gravity after sparging was 1.030.

    I think I'll take the advice of you experienced AG brewers n stick 2 single infusion brews.

    Good news is that I'm experiencing a strong fermentation, and the darker and lighter layers have melded together in the convectional flow of a strong fermentatiom. the trub is mostly on the bottom with a few rogue pieces being swooped up in the convectional flow.
    This is the 1st time that 1, I've experienced layering in the original carboy transfer after 1/2 hour, and 2nd, the 1st time a fermentation has been so violent that the krausen has infiltrated my 3 piece airlock, keeping in mind that I'm using a 6.5 gal carboy.
    I'm certain that for now on, my hop pellet additions will be in cheesecloth sacks during the brew to help elimanate sediment on transfer to the carboy from kettle.
  10. inchrisin

    inchrisin Defender (654) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    Lots of people pour through strainers to get protein and hops out of their kettle. This also aerates the wort, which is a plus at this point in the process.

    I'm in the camp of dump it all in. Within a month the beer is going into a keg/bottles for me anyway.
  11. Naugled

    Naugled Crusader (737) Sep 25, 2007 New York

    Congrats on your first baby. Sounds like you learned a lot. They mostly get better from here.
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