Consistently hitting target OG, losing a ton of volume.

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by HOWHARDRYA, Mar 31, 2018.

  1. HOWHARDRYA

    HOWHARDRYA New Member

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    I'm relatively new to home brewing. I've had some training at a local brewery as an intern. I'm not going in completely blind, but I'm no professuh.

    About 6 weeks ago, I made my first all-grain batch. That was a bit of an experiment in terms of putting what I know to use with full creative control, and learning how my equipment behaves. I went with an oatmeal stout because it's a forgiving style (from my understanding). My target OG was 1.065 and I wound up with 1.062. I had considered this fairly close, but I wound up with 4 gallons at primary fermentation when calculations were done for a 5.5 gal batch.

    Today, I had went for an American IPA and had similar results. My target OG was 1.071, wound up with 1.071 on the money, and I finished with 4 gallons in the carboy with an anticipated 5.5 gallons.

    It appears I am doing something where I consistently hit my targets, but lose quite a bit of volume. My question is mainly why that is and how do I maintain both the anticipated volume and sugar concentration? Am I a victim of dumb luck? It seems to me that if I were to be losing a gallon and a half it would be during the boil, then I would be increasing the wort's density relative to water.

    Thanks a ton.
     
  2. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Active Member

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    Can you share one of your recipes with us? (assuming you have it saved here within your profile)
    At least the numbers are show consistency, which is very good! It is easy to fit your numbers to your equipment profile, just change target volume (fermenter) and brewhouse efficiency accordingly.
    The question does remain though, why is your anticipation so far removed from the real results? ;)
     
  3. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Active Member

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    #3 sbaclimber, Mar 31, 2018
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2018
    fwiw, if I use 36L of H2O and 6kgs of grain (OG=14°P) and boil for 1hr, I end up with ~24L of wort.
    From what I have observed the difference of 12L breaks down very roughly to 1L/kg grain absorption + 10% boil off + 1-2L "other losses", e.g. dead space in my mash tun.
     
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  4. okoncentrerad

    okoncentrerad Active Member

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    You lose water during mash, during the boil, by hopping and during chilling. When you find out your numbers on these losses you should be able to start/calculate with the correct amount of water to get the desired volume in the fermenter. Of course you will lose some in the fermenter too, for trub, yeast etc.
     
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  5. The Brew Mentor

    The Brew Mentor Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like you're learning your system.
    Brew and take notes. Repeat.
    Cheers,
    Brian
     
  6. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Active Member

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    +1
     
  7. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    +1 to the learning but to the diagnostics: How much water are you starting with, I mean all the mash and sparge water. A 6-gallon batch of regular strength beer generally takes me about 9 to 10 gallons of water. How long are you boiling? My system generally boils off about a gallon an hour so if I want 5 gallons in the fermentor and am boiling 60 minutes, I need 6 gallons of wort. And what are your boil gravity numbers? My hunch, based on all I've read, is you're putting too little wort into your kettle by about a gallon, meaning your recipes are scaled for a boil volume (volume to kettle) of five gallons, not a fermentor volume of 5 gallons. In the recipe builder, there's a dropdown that says "Target". Check to see if that box is reading to kettle. If it is, switch it to "fermentor" and adjust your recipes, your problem should then be solved.
     
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  8. bradyt88

    bradyt88 Member

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    It sounds like you're not collecting enough pre-boil volume. You lose wort as you boil due to evaporation so you'll need to collect more wort typically around 7.5-8 gallons to account for evaporation and trus loss.

    There is a great calculator I use that tells you how much mash and sparge water you need.

    http://www.brew365.com/mash_sparge_water_calculator.php

    Hope this helps
     
  9. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    If one is using the Brewer's Friend recipe calculator there's no need to calculate water separately. Once your system losses are observed and entered into your equipment profile, the "Brew" button generates a detailed list of water requirements and brew steps.
    No calculator is useful without knowing your system losses so the work still has to be done in observing real-world losses, taking notes and dialing in your system.
     
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  10. bradyt88

    bradyt88 Member

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    Agreed but he hasn't done that yet. He mentioned he is fairly new to homebrewing with only a few batches under his belt. So a good way to get to know your system is to first check the amount of water you're using. You can't know your system without brewing a few batches first, so a calculator would be a great starting point and then adjust from there.
     
  11. sbaclimber

    sbaclimber Active Member

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    That is how I started AG. Calculated, brewed, measured, noticed everything was waaaaaaay off, corrected, and brewed again. By about the 3rd time, I had my setup and corresponding losses/efficiency dialed in an correctly saved in the calculator.
     
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  12. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Profile error, maybe? Boil-off rate of zero? For some reason, the boil volume seems to have been based on the final batch size all the way down to the grist. He did mention this is his second repetition of the same error, I wonder if he didn't enter any profile data so that the recipe builder is calculating based on a lot of zero values for losses.
     
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  13. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    #13 J A, Apr 1, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2018
    My point is that you have to fill in the values of any calculator, including the one you cited and to do that you need to do, as you mentioned as well, a few batches and figure out your equipment. That being done, the values can be added to equipment profile and calculations are taken care of automatically. Until one can confirm the values, estimated values can be used in the equipment profile just as they'd be used in any mash water calculator and then edited to reflect a more accurate picture of the system requirements.
    We're saying the same thing. :)
     
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  14. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Not a bad idea to start with the defaults then adjust from there? It's been so long since I did a profile change here I don't remember if it starts with default values or zeroes. If it's the latter, it explains our poster's problems.
     
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  15. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    one thing to think about is using fermentor or boil kettle, my settings match closer to the boil kettle and for a newbie its deceiving
     
  16. Mase

    Mase Well-Known Member

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    #16 Mase, Apr 2, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2018
    Rather than aggravate myself with vessel losses.... After first runnings, I just sparge until I reach preboil volume. ;)

    *I use Brewers Friend Infusion Calculator to determine volume and temp for mashing then vorlauf and lauter and run off to boil kettle. Once drained into boil kettle, we mix the top third of the mash to eliminate any preferential pathways for sparge water from HLT to channel through grain bed, then start sparging until preboil volume is achieved (6.5 a 6.75 gallons), then boil for 60 minutes down to 5.5 gallons. Wort shrinks down to 5.25 gallons when chilled from boiling to yeast pitch (65 (f) +/-). We transfer the entire volume to fermenter (using a fine nylon mesh filter to catch grain/hop debris) and then pitch yeast.
     
  17. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    That's what I did...researched a little to find numbers that were likely to fit my initial system and then edited the system values as I gained more understanding and had more data to work with. Every time I changed or upgraded systems, I had a better idea of how it would react based on experience with the previous one and could dial it in within just a brew or two.
     
  18. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

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    First off, it's good to hit your target gravity and be less concerned about volume. It's better to hit gravity so the intended flavor profile of your beer reflects your recipe.

    Second, it's not a boil off problem, if it were you would have a very high gravity with those low volumes of wort. It's seems to me you have a lower efficiency in your process than what your calculator indicates, which is not a real big deal, but if you want to hit the right volume and the right gravity, you will have to calculate your actual efficiency and plug that number into the recipe calculator to correct the problem.

    Efficiency is affected by the amount of sparge water to some degree, pH, temperature, mash length (time), whether or not you step mash (step mashing improves extraction), how much sugar is left behind in the grain (not using enough sparge water), loss from trub/hops,spillage, etc, etc. Efficiencies for home brewers range from 60- 90+%. Most land around 75%, which I believe is the default of Brewer's Friend calculator.

    Learn your system like others suggested, correct your calculator and everything will be total fine.
     
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  19. timetobrew

    timetobrew New Member

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    Agreed. The best thing you can do is brew and keep detailed notes. This way you will always be able to reverse engineer anything-- both good and bad. If something works, you know how to do it again. If something got ruined, you can figure out what you did. I have tons of brewing notebooks. They have become a source of pride. :)
     

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