General advice for higher ABV needed

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by Jonny the Brewer, Jun 9, 2020.

  1. Jonny the Brewer

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    #21 Jonny the Brewer, Jun 10, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2020
    Different yeasts - see above.

    A 90 min mash is a good idea. I'll give it a go.

    The issue was both the first brews with the kits... and the OG is high in the two I've done since (not bottled yet so FG not known and I'm not taking a reading until I do) so it's not likely to be an issue with a low pitch...

    I don't temperature control my fermentation - It's just in the spare room at room temperature. In the UK it's around highs of 26c at the moment but of course it varies. I don't have anywhere warmer to store them and not sure of my options temperature controlling two or three one gallon glass demijohns....
     
  2. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Don't boil with the lid on and consider this: What would you do if you somehow boiled off too much? Add water. Unless you're scorching the wort, you can't over-boil (you can, however, boil over but that's a different problem). The gap between predicted OG and your actual is too large for this to be an issue with small effects. In fact you're getting almost no-sparge results (about 2/3 of your gravity comes from first runnings, about 1/3 from sparging).
     
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  3. ^Tony^

    ^Tony^ Active Member

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    You could try wrapping a thick towel around the demi to help stabilize the temperature a bit. The theory for that is the insulation will help it heat up slower and lose heat slower so stabilize the temp. You could also buy some cheap Styrofoam insulation (2 inch think maybe) and build a very basic fermentation chamber...course, at your room temps you may run into the problem of having the demi's too warm during the ferment. There is lots of info on the internet about swamp coolers and basic temp control as well.

    Be very careful about bottling too early. You may get bottle bombs and nothing ruins an evening like an exploding bottle of brew. IMHO you should NEVER bottle based on time. You should only bottle based on stabilized gravity readings. I know you don't have large batches but remember, you can always drink your sample after!! I do. :p:cool:
     
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  4. Jonny the Brewer

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    Good advice, thanks. Apart from the general exploding of the bottle and beer everywhere, what's the actual problem with bottle fermentation? Will it affect the ABV?
     
  5. Jonny the Brewer

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    Why is this a bad idea out of interest?
     
  6. BarbarianBrewer

    BarbarianBrewer Well-Known Member

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    With the lid on for the entire boil the DMS (Dimethyl Sulfide) can't escape. DMS leads to a creamed-corn/cabbage/canned vegetable off flavor. Boiling with the lid off for the last 20 minutes should be enough time for the DMS to boil off.
     
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  7. ^Tony^

    ^Tony^ Active Member

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    #27 ^Tony^, Jun 10, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2020
    Absolutely nothing wrong with bottle conditioning. I do it for all my brews. But conditioning is very different than fermenting. Conditioning adds bubbles/carbonation. Fermenting adds ABV. When you ferment you need to let the pressure out unless you are using a pressure rated vessel...which a glass demi is not. The pressure from an active fermentation created in the sealed beer bottle makes them brittle bubble geyser at best...random beer grenades that rip your walls up with glass shards and cause severe injury at worst. You really really want as much of the fermentable sugar gone from your beer BEFORE you bottle. Add just enough sugar (or whatever) during the bottling process to carbonate the bottles...not enough to ferment again.

    And a covered pot boils over easily. It also inhibits the boil off of the DMS (see last post by BarbarianBrewer) DMS makes icky beer. If your worried about boiling off to much water, add more water at the beginning of the boil or add sanitized cold water to top it up at the end of the boil or in the fermenter.
     
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  8. Jonny the Brewer

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    Thanks! Maybe a silly question - Won't adding water make for weaker beer? It would surely reduce the OG?
     
  9. BarbarianBrewer

    BarbarianBrewer Well-Known Member

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    You could plug this into the recipe builder to find the expected OG.

    The target mash temp has a lot to do with what you are brewing and what your preferences are. I generally favor malty over hoppy beers so I tend to mash higher to get a sweeter, maltier wort. So I almost always target 152-153F (66 C).
     
  10. ^Tony^

    ^Tony^ Active Member

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    the answer is "kind of". (Perhaps someone more experienced can answer better but...) After your mash you have a gravity reading. As only an example, lets say 1.5 gallons pre-boil is 1.04. after boil you have 1 gallon at a higher gravity...lets say 1.05 because the amount of fermentable sugar doesn't boil off. It just gets more concentrated. The water volume changes not the sugars.

    So, if you want 1 gallon in the demi at 1.06 gravity. you can start with 2 gallons to mash, then you have 1 1/2 gallons after mash (lets say 1.055). Then you boil and have 0.75 gallons at 1.07 gravity. Add water to top it up and you get 1 gallon at the target 1.06 gravity. The recipe tool on this site works very well for this calculation

    FYI: these are only examples for simplicity to explain not real numbers.
     
  11. Jonny the Brewer

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    Thanks. This made me think. What about temperature during sparge? I take my mash off the heat, and then I get my sparge water to 170 then take off the heat, and then I sparge. Something this takes 20 mins or so as I like to push down and extract what I can. But the whole time it's all getting cooler. Is this ok?
     
  12. BarbarianBrewer

    BarbarianBrewer Well-Known Member

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    Since fermentation is complete, I don't think sparge water temperature is really matters all that much. All you're trying to do with sparging is to simply rinse off more sugars, so you just need to keep the resulting mash temperature below 170 F (77 C).
     
  13. BrewPatgonia

    BrewPatgonia Well-Known Member

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    Hey Jonny, you have a lot of good advice above.
    take it all... mash longer (no negatives of this, other than a little more time involved). sparge with 170 deg. water, don't recirculate wort during or after sparge.... if you recirculate wort, do this prior to sparging to get a clear wort coming from the mash......the sparge is intended to remove all the sugars from the grain which were converted by the enzymes during the mash..... when you get the volume you were intending to get by sparging... don't sparge more...even if there are still sugars to be washed from the grains... you have the volume you want and the boil kettle can handle. boil vigorously, it makes a greater beer and you are looking for higher ABV... if the volume after boil is less than you want... you can dilute with water... but yes, this will lower the ABV but give you more beer (volume). if you prefer more ABV and not worried about a little less volume...... go with it without dilution. add a little higher grams of yeast with the higher ABV... and be patient... wait until there is no more activity in the fermenter, or very very slow activity... then wait another 5 days before bottling.... bottle with your desired volume of CO2 priming sugar, and after 3 + weeks in the bottle, chill and enjoy. Patience is key!
    anything less.. you will still get a drinkable beer and alcohol. recipe is important, but process and patience is more important. document all aspects... temperatures, times, volumes....preboil OG, postboil SG, final gravity.. etc. anything that you can take note of... then repeat if you like it... make changes (one aspect at a time) until you perfect it. perfection is in your own taste and preferences. have fun with it.
    ....... and don't take it too serious. serious comes later. :D
     
  14. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    Ok, reason I ask is that I wondered if you were pitching hot enough to send the yeast to its certain death, so cross that off the list
     
  15. Craigerrr

    Craigerrr Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure if this was explained this succinctly. Especially when bottling it is critical that fermentation is complete. Adding the correct amount of "priming" sugar when bottling causes a secondary fermentation that carbonates the beer. When fermentation is not complete, and you add what you think is the correct amount of sugar, this is when you can run into issues with exploding bottles.
     
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  16. Jonny the Brewer

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    Thanks

    Please can you clarify what you mean here? It's very confusing to me - the kit instructions say to recirculate once. eg, sparge with sparge water, then take the wort and pour it over the grains again, once. Would you suggest otherwise?

    How could you recirculate wort before sparging? I thought the re-circulation kind of is the sparge?
     
  17. Jonny the Brewer

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    Great, thanks!
     
  18. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Jonny, I'm going to point you to a website. This is not to be intended as a "Read a book, lepton!" answer - I hate those. From your questions I'm sensing a general lack of understanding of the brewing process so this is intended to give you basic knowledge, not as criticism. John Palmer has put his entire first edition of "How to Brew" online. Here's the link:

    http://www.howtobrew.com/

    The number one thing is that homebrewing is relatively easy. Each of us do it somewhat differently but key is relax and have fun at it. Armed with a bit of knowledge, you'll be making fantastic beers in pretty short order but it does take that bit of knowledge.

    If you're doing all-grain BIAB (Brew in a bag), one of the simplest causes of low gravity would be simply that you didn't get all
    I think you just told us your problem. First, the nature of the questions you're asking hint that you may not know a lot about the brewing process - you don't seem to know what each step is doing and why. This isn't a critique, we've all been there. So I'm going to recommend a website:

    www.howtobrew.com

    It's the entire first edition of John Palmer's "How to Brew" and it's where a lot of us got started. Sorry if this appears to be a "read a book, noob" answer - I hate those, they're not the norm for Brewer's Friend and don't want to come across as arrogant. It'll give you some of the basic knowledge you need to feel confident that you're at least doing the right thing.

    Sparging rinses the sugars from the spent grain and should be done with clear water. The procedure here would be to do your mash in a bag or strain the wort after mashing - either way the goal of that step is to remove the grain from the wort. I believe the procedure then asks you to pour your sparge water over the grains. This will rinse any remaining sugar from them. Recirculation, taking the wort and pouring it back through the grains until it's relatively clear, seems difficult if not impossible with this setup. If you did pour the wort back through the grains after your sparge step, you added back sugar to the spent grain, taking it out of the wort, which could account for your lowered gravity.

    Here's where knowing the terminology counts. Recirculation in brewing (also called by its German name, Vorlauf) is a step prior to draining the mash or sparge: Before running it into your kettle, you drain off wort and pour it back through the grain bed to clarify it. When the wort is relatively clear, then you start running it into your kettle. This may not be practical for your kit so what I'd do, I'd get the first wort and the sparge wort in a vessel, let them settle for a while, then pour the clear wort off, leaving the gunk in the bottom.
     
  19. BrewPatgonia

    BrewPatgonia Well-Known Member

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    #39 BrewPatgonia, Jun 11, 2020
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2020
    jonny, what Nosybear said is the answer. yes, John Palmers book is great, and readable online for free.
    quick answer.. wort contains sugars from the mash... you want to keep those in the wort. Clear, hot water is used to rinse all available sugars from the grains (sparge). any more concerns.. just ask freely... we are all here to help.

    edit.. or to include... recirculation of the wort is only to put the hazy components of the wort back into the grain filter to try and keep it out of the boil.. but not super critical. in your setup, if you are brewing in a bag, it may be easier to avoid trying to scoop up wort to recirculate, but only sparge with clear hot water trying to get all available sugars rinsed off the grain.. for higher efficiency. once you start to sparge (rinse) the grains.. do not put wort (sugars) back into the grains. hope this helps some.
     
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  20. Jonny the Brewer

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    Ah-ha! Thanks guys. I think there was a problem with terminology here. I've just read the page of John Palmer's about sparging and it seems clearer now (no pun intended).

    So, as I understand it now then, the "re-circulation" is pouring just the wort that comes off the grain back over the grain bed? Then, the sparge is clear water (at 170) poured slowly over the grain, after that. (batch sparging) Is that right?

    If so, it sounds like as suggested then, to stand a change at getting the highest ABV possible, I should do this:

    1. Pour my grain from the pan I do my mash in, into the strainer (above a second pan) and strain out the wort from the grain. I sometimes take ten mins to do this as I want to get as much out as possible.
    2. Take my sparge water (170) and slowly pour over the grain, once, extracting the sugars (this will combine with the small amount of wort left in my pan from in step 1.

    Is that it? Usually I would repeat steps 1 and 2 with my wort but it sounds like that's a bad idea. My confusion was because the Brooklyn kit says to pour sparge water over the grain, then do it all a second time. By the sounds of it this might potentially reduce the sugar level as you're pouring sugary water over the grain so sometimes the sugar might stay in the grain..?

    Thanks again everyone
     
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