Feedback on my biab brewing process

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by jay3847, Sep 11, 2017.

  1. jay3847

    jay3847 Member

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    I've been brewing pretty regularly for the past 4 or 5 months and have learned lots of good techniques while still not brewing really good beer. Some due to brain farts but other times not sure why the mediocre results. So, I'm standardizing my process and would love some feed back.

    Clean - pbw, no detergent, no hard scrubbing, but everything gets clean and dry.

    Water - RO. Nice starting point and predictable.

    Recipe - start with a reviewed recipe and adjust for size (probably big issues here). Double crush my grain. Using hop pellets, not leaf.

    Brew day for May - Sept in California.
    1) Get the RO water. I do both 5 and 3 gallon, but settling on 3 to save my back.
    2) Set all the kettles, equipment, supplies, ingredients out on a towel and ready to go. Prepare 1 gallon Starsan w/ 1.2tsp.
    3) Brewer's Friend log printed out and ready. Log everything as it happens.
    4) Fire up the water on propane burner. Hit strike temp.
    5) Minimal salt additions. Usually just a bit of gypsum. Mix it good. In goes the bag, In goes the grain. Avoid the dough balls. I don't have a ph meter and will wait to buy a good one. The strips were a joke. So, so ph control for me.
    6) Let it sit a minute so I am sure I hit the right temp. Wrap it up good. Check at 30 minutes, adjust as necessary.
    7) Heat to 170. Lift the bag, twist and squeeze. Hit that target boil gravity! Taste the wort. Mmmmmm!
    8) Usual process with bittering hops, yada yada, follow the recipe. Use a hop bag.
    9) 15 minutes. Irish moss. In goes immersion chiller. Sterilize everything now.
    10) Final hops in. Immersion chiller on (depending on recipe). Usual about 20 minutes to 75 or 80.
    Now it gets a bit more interesting.
    11) I can't seem to whirlpool in this kettle, so I strain into the sterilized carboy (forgot that once). Into the beer fridge with controller to drop it to 62. Ah hour or so.
    12) Sterilized stone in and aerate it well. Yeast has either been hydrated per recent Palmer or at room temp for pure pitch. Pitch it! Fermentation always seems to be about what is expected. Only one blowout due to bad temp control.
    13) Inkbird controller set to 62, 1 degree drift up allowed. 10 minute delay to save the compressor.
    14) 3 - 5 days until quieting down. Raise 1 degree morning and evening until 68. Let it sit on the cake for up to 2 weeks. Check gravity with a refractometer using a small thief. Adjusting for alcohol to get gravity. Seems to work fine and same number when I use the hydrometer at bottling. I have controlled the banana flavors and esters following this.
    15) Bottling is awkward and I'm petty sure I am sterile. Only one bottle bomb so far. The poor flavors don't seem to we wild yeast.
    16) It has been a hot summer, and just thought about that. I put the bottles in a cooler location of the garage, but I suspect it has gotton warm in there. Hmmmm.
    17) I do get some acetaldehyde and a bit of alcohol sharpness. Carbonation is inconsistent, though I usually target 2.2. Foam is better on older bottles (1 - 2 months).

    Suggestions for me?
     
  2. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    Your process sounds good to me.
    What types of beers have you brewed? Which ones were better than others? Do you taste any other off flavors? What's your bottling process and why do you think it's awkward?

    The alcohol sharpness might be fusels being produced at a high ferm temp, but you've got temperature control so not sure
     
  3. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    Your pretty solid there mate if your brew days are as detailed asnyour brew step report it should be flawless:). Not stressing too much and try to enjoying the process is a big one. Only things i do different is in your recipie in the water calc section adjust your water calculations in here so it loads your grist for you and this way you can gwt an idea how your mash ph is looking. I then adjust with acid to fit in desired 5.2-6 range. Only other thing i do is cold crash for a day or three and fine with geletin to try and drop some haze and particles out.

    Looks like your doing everything in your power to make beer and i bet your doing a great job :). Keep it up itll become second nature and more interesting the more you brew. Cheers
     
  4. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    If you're getting higher / fusel alcohols then ferment temps may be warmer than you think .
    Most temp controllers have a calibration setting to allow for inaccurate readings .
    Are you measuring wort temps and not air / ambient chamber temps ? I use duct tape and an old beer cooler I cut up taped firmly to side of my buckets to ensure I'm measuring wort not air
     
  5. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    Some yeasts also behave very differently with different yeast strains .


    Also you really should go metric my friend , all the cool countries did it centuries ago
     
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  6. jay3847

    jay3847 Member

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    You need a pH meter to adjust the acid properly, don't you? I have lactic acid, but chose not to buy the junking pH meter. I have linked in the water calc. Is that reliable enough to make the salt/acid adjustments using just the software?
     
  7. jay3847

    jay3847 Member

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    I have done some experimenting and found a sponge that works great isolating the temp probe. With that nailed, I am starting the yeast on the very low side of its range and setting the Inkbird to two degrees below that.
     
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  8. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    A sponge should work , my last post made no sense ...
    Some yeast strains behave differently depending on grain bill , us-05 and more than 10% wheat in a grist can start throwing phenols
     
  9. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    A PH meter is preferable. Mine carked it recently and I've been using the software alone to dial in ph. I trust it enough to know it's within .1ph point. Don't adjust ph with salts just acids:).
     
  10. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member

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    I'm curious about gypsum. I almost never use it, unless building a profile for a very specific beer. 9 out of 10 beers that I make (maybe more) use no gypsum.

    I know MDP mentioned measuring wort temp versus air temp in the chamber, and it sounds like you have that factored with the sponge idea. But I wonder if 62 isn't too low. 62 F I mean. I think that might be 42,000 Celsius. Anyway, i know it's counter intuitive since high temps will yield off flavors, but for me it is rare to ferment an ale below 68 and almost never below 65. They are generally ar 66 to 68 until fermentation is near done and they rest at room temp.

    By the way, the biab proocess sounds fine. Just wondering how and when you know the mash is done ... hydrometer? Refractometer?
     
  11. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    #11 Ozarks Mountain Brew, Sep 12, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
    we’ll all I can say is I ferment at 60f to 62 and never had a bad tasting beer from it so it’s up to you what temperature you like to ferment at, as far as gypsum its only used for hoppy beers in my process or to even out too much maltiness and add calcium, I do that allot but it’s really up to your experience with your brews to get the beer how you like it
     
  12. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    I know my mash is done when the timer goes ding. If you want to get technical, you know your mash is done when a drop of iodine stays the same color in a few drops of wort. Remember the great potato starch experiment of the fourth grade? (I don't know what grade that would be in Celsius.)
     
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  13. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    as far as mashing I don't measure it I know it's done based on how it looks, the clearer it looks the more its done when I'm recirculating, as far as a temperature rest its just based on a guess or a time, usually 1 hour to 90 minutes will surface
     
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  14. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    Even an iodine test reveals starches , enzymes continue trimming long chain sugars into shorter more fermentable sugars ...im at work so don't have my text books handy to tell you the names of them
     
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  15. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    Damn metrics! :D:D
     
  16. jay3847

    jay3847 Member

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    .... and other questions.

    First, thank you everyone! Great feedback.

    The better brews have been kits. Blast. The best was a 1 gallon smash using Columbus. I think it was cold at that time and the entire process was at 64 degrees. THAT set incorrect expectations.

    I think the notion about the interaction between yeast and grain is interesting. I just tonight bottled a 2 gallon IPA that was more pale ale using Dennys Favorite 50. This was the "forgot to sanitize the fermentor" batch. I do know that I had very tight temperature control. This is still a bit green but the the fusel burn is there. Going to let that sit a couple weeks.

    "when you know the mash is done ... hydrometer?" Yup! I let it sit longer if the gravity isn't right. Double crush really made all that easier.

    "Gypsum?" Yes for the hoppy profile. This past batch was balanced since I wanted the malt taste provided by this particular yeast.

    "Metric system" I thought about it for a while this morning and couldn't come up with a good joke. Pathetic.

    So, it sounds like my basic approach is fine (allowing for personal preference) and my conclusion is........Don't drink when I brew because that is when I screw it up. Damn! That's why I am doing this in the first place.
     
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  17. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

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    I use gypsum in my pilsner and light largers i find it gives the beer more crispness and a dryer finnish.

    I ferment on the cool side of both lager and ale yeast:cool: love clean flavours...

    Read your yeast pack or research and just stick within your yeasts limits also free rising yeast temp towards end is the GO.
     
  18. soccerdad

    soccerdad Active Member

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    I was assuming that the reply on gypsum was going to be 'I make IPAs.' Those hoppy beers are the only ones I use gypsum for - to increase the sulfatre value. Interesting to see others use gypsum for other styles .. gonna do some reading. I'm still a bit confused on whether folks are talking about air temp or wort temp when monitoring fermentation. My chamber is often 60 to 62 and my wort temp 67 or 68.

    Jay3847 - I can't imagine your mash out step (#7 in o.p.) would have flavor impact, but if off flavors persist, you might do a test with skipping it. Mash out is generally not needed with biab if you have achieved your pre boil gravity .. just pull the bag and drain or squeeze.
     
  19. Mark D Pirate

    Mark D Pirate Well-Known Member

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    Mash out can effect flavours depending how you achieve it , if its a direct fired mash tun/ kettle then due to a grain bag impeding convection you'll have much hotter wort at bottom of pot that at the top .
    Excessive mash temps can lead to tannin extraction, astringent flavours ect ect .

    When I do steps or a mash out in my single vessel biab rig I do a manual recirc from ball valve into a clean bucket and pour and stir ...new system means I wont have to
     
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  20. BoomerBrian

    BoomerBrian Active Member

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