1st brew not as planned, any insights?

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by Alain24601, Jun 17, 2020.

  1. Alain24601

    Alain24601 New Member

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    Hi there,
    New to the hobby, just brewed my first batch and it didn’t go as planned. Looking for any comments to point out what I did wrong, what I could’ve done better etc.

    Brewed an Abbey Ale kit, all grains Biab. 5.25G
    Recipe called for
    Est. OG: 1.062
    Estimated FG 1.015
    Pre boil vol 6.25G
    Post boil vol 5.25

    Recipe called for a mash at 150, my strike water was high and didn’t come down as expected so I mashed for an hour at 153 after some stirring to bring the water from 160 to 153. Pre boil gravity was 1.045 rather than 1.062. what did I do wrong here? What could I have done to get to the recipe’s 1.062?
    since my volume was now below the recipe post boil volume, I sparged to bring it back to the 6.5G volume. Boiled for an hour with lid closed and lost about half a gallon. Ended post boil with 6G.
    As for post boil gravity, I recorded 1.050....way off 1.015 recipe called for. Again, what did I do wrong and what could I have done better? I went from 1.062 to 1.050 is that even possible or is my gravity reading wrong?
    For full disclosure, I have a refractometer but it never recorded a thing so I used a floating hydrometer.

    my chiller is DYI 50ft 3/8, I thought it would be great to have it in a closed system, hooked to a pump in a cooler filler with water and ice. The mistake I made was to have the return in the cooler (closed system right?) since we just came off the boil, the return melted the ice in seconds!. I then switched to tap water running through it because at that time the water in the cooler was hot...something no one talks about in their videos on YouTube, lol
    Live and learn! tap water brought it down to pitching temp in 15 min.

    pitched the yeast starter and now it’s fermenting.
    What should I expect when I open it up in a month’s time? Or should I wait even longer? Should I even bother?

    i know everyone says you should start with extract first but I didn’t want to and here we are...lol
    I didn’t expect to be successful on my first one. I already have 3 brews scheduled for the very near future. I would like to get better and not mess them up so any constructive feedback you can provide would be greatly appreciated!

    next batches planned are witbier and Irish stout.
    Cheers!
     
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  2. Bubba Wade

    Bubba Wade Well-Known Member

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    Well, you won’t know if you’re successful until you finish and you drink it.

    Just be patient and see how it turns out.
     
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  3. BrewPatgonia

    BrewPatgonia Well-Known Member

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    a few things to note, but not to worry.. it gets easier.
    you sparged to get volume up, that diluted your preboil and that is why the sg went lower than you expected. you appear to have had 300 points in total, if you had boiled it down to the 5.25 gallons suggested, your sg would have been 1.057 ... a little off from the design but not bad off.
    another point of concern, when you boil your wort... you need to boil with the lid off.. never with the lid on... you are trying to concentrate it as well as driving off unwanted components of the wort... lid on keeps them inside... giving unwanted flavors... but, you just need to wait and taste what you have to see how it turned out.
    otherwise, not a bad brew session for the first one.
     
  4. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    There are a number of reasons for not "hitting your numbers", but allow me to clarify a few terms for you regarding gravity.
    PBG = Pre Boil Gravity which is the gravity before the boil, this will be a lower number as the wort becomes more concentrated as you boil off water. Your number was 1.045
    OG = Original Gravity which is the gravity at the beginning of fermentation ( end of boil). Your number was 1.050
    FG = Final Gravity, you won't know this until after fermentation is complete.
    If you get to expected FG (this is now up to the yeast) your ABV will be around 4.6%, not what you were hoping for but now "it is what it is".

    What you need to do now is leave it alone, forget about it for at least two weeks. Let the yeast do its thing, they are living organisms, nothing you can do to speed up the process.
     
  5. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Oh, by the way, don't boil with the lid on.
     
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  6. Alain24601

    Alain24601 New Member

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    Thanks for the feedback!
    All I am hoping is something drinkable. 4.6 isn’t too bad for a first session, but I need to get better. Lid wasn’t totally closed but will remove entirely next time. pas for yeast, I brew kombucha and baked sourdough which is why I wanted to do a starter. I have lots of patience, in the meantime, I will probably start another batch in a week or two and improve my sessions, that’s what it’s all about.
    Thanks for all the great feedback and support.
     
  7. Herm_brews

    Herm_brews Well-Known Member

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    #7 Herm_brews, Jun 17, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2020
    Did you correct your hydrometer reading for temperature? If not, then your reading will appear lower than it actually is. Hydrometers are calibrated to a certain temperature - in my case, the calibration temp is 60 degrees F. Yesterday, I measured with my hydrometer a post-boil sample at 1.046 specific gravity (SG) with the temperature recorded as 145.4 degrees F. At the same time, using my refractometer with auto temperature correction, I measured ~15.6 degrees Brix. Using the handy Brewer’s Friend Hydrometer Temperature Calculator, I obtained an adjusted SG of 1.063, exactly the target I was shooting for. As I went about the rest of my brewing tasks, the post-boil sample continued to cool. A few hours later, the sample had cooled to room temperature, around 72 degrees F, and the hydrometer read 1.062.

    You might need to get some practice using your refractometer, a very handy tool when you know how to use it. The more you use it, the more sense it should make. I use mine all throughout the brew day, whereas my hydrometer gets used twice - once to measure pre-boil gravity (and that sample volume gets added back to the boil), and once to check post-boil original gravity (OG). The OG sample acts as a tasting sample when you are cleaning up.

    I hope this helps.
     
  8. Zambezi Special

    Zambezi Special Well-Known Member

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    Just something else and I don't know if it is relevant.
    I also started with all grain and didn't hit my numbers. However, I just let it go and the beer became very drinkable (partly by a stroke of luck by using a yeast that ferments till low FG).
    Later on, I decided that my grain bag is most likely too small and I didn't get all the good stuff out of the grains ;)
    I do full volume BIAB
     
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  9. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Great point on the sample temperature Herms!
     
  10. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Remember: Your goal is not to hit a set of estimated numbers, it's to make good beer. If after a few batches you keep getting the same results, then adjust your recipes accordingly. If you're not getting the same results, it's in your process. Beer is process-driven so perfecting your process should be your first goal. Great beer relies on a lot of little things (like cooling samples). You'll learn them in time and they'll become automatic.
     
  11. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Well-Known Member

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    ^^ this!
    It is exactly like target practice, get your grouping (consistency!) down first, then adjust.
    FWIW, for many (most? ....definitely myself!) it takes a couple brews just to understand how your set up actually works. How much dead space you have, how well your thermometer works, how the grain is crushed, etc, etc, etc...
     
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  12. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    I will dispute this claim these days, most AIO brewing systems use a lid to get a boil going and the beers turn out fine. It could go bad but probably won't.

    As other said, you messed around enough that you lost the thread of what you intended. That happens I do it myself from time to time.

    Something Nosy hits on and is very relevant, this is not a hard and fast science. Get your processes down and the rest will sort itself out in time, the first few batches will be really stressful.
     
  13. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    As an anecdote, I used a Robobrew for the first time on the weekend instead of the brew rig I spent 3 years piecing together myself.

    I was to lazy to really adjust my recipes so I tried eyeballing it and it turned into a minor disaster the first day. I ended up with around 59% efficiency and 19L of wort at the end of the day. On the second day I actually took the time to follow the guidelines I could find on a robobrew and I came out almost bang on but at around 83% efficiency which is considerably higher than my normal system gets.

    Practice and experience with your equipment will make a big difference.
     
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  14. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    Didn't see any mention of it in other responses, but the #1 cause for low extraction is a poor crush. This is especially true when doing BIAB. Brew shops generally crush grains pretty coarse and you need a relatively fine crush to make up for the naturally lower extraction rate of BIAB brewing. Some shops will double mill your grains if you ask, which helps.
     
  15. Herm_brews

    Herm_brews Well-Known Member

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    I second @BOB357’s advice concerning the milling of your grains. For BIAB I have found that milling the grains twice improves efficiency considerably. At my lhbs, customers are allowed to weigh and crush their grains, so it is easy to know what you are getting.
     
  16. Alain24601

    Alain24601 New Member

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    UPDATE:
    Hey everyone, today was bottling day for this batch, turns out I got a FG of 1010 bottled just under 6G. I am happy with it considering the mistakes I've made and learned from. Smelled liked beer, tasted like flat beer. Bottle conditioning it goes!
    Thanks for all the feedback, keep it coming!
     
  17. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    That's how it goes. Every batch you do you'll get better at it.
     
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  18. BOB357

    BOB357 Well-Known Member

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    It'll be entirely different once it's carbonated and then chilled down for a few days.
     
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  19. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    It may not turn out to be what you had planned or envisioned, but it will be beer. You will learn a little from each batch you brew, and your beer will become more like it is supposed to be each time! Before you know it you will be making great beer, and giving advice to newbies on this forum on how to get there as well!
     

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