X Brew Lessons Learned
Sometimes it can be a challenge to “Relax, Don’t Worry, etc…”. It has been a while since I have broken in a new mash tun, and man did I forget how frustrating that can be. Yesterday was one of those brew days where you are constantly maneuvering trying to stay on course. No matter what adjustments I made, I couldn’t get back on track. Because mistakes provide the opportunity to learn, I decided to push off my X Brew Session Review until I get the bugs in the new system worked out. In its place, I’m going to go over some of the things I learned … or re-learned as it may be.
I fell short on my projected mash temp
Description: This is something I learned on my larger cooler-based system, but failed to remember for this brew session. I ended up a few degrees shy of the target 152 F mash temp. I’m going to go into it in more detail in a new section of the site called Brewing Tips, but the short story is that I was wrong about the cooler was actually colder than what registered on my thermometer. While I brought it in an hour or so before doughing in, this was not enough time for the internal walls of the cooler to completely warm up to the room temperature of the house.
Fix: Bring in the cooler the night before brew day.
I completely missed target gravity (added DME, adjusted recipe)
Description: Pretty sure this is due to being shy of my already-low target mash temperature.
Fix: See above.
Description: I think that missing my target gravity also had something to do with my lack of ability to adequately regulate my lautering speed. I have not converted my cooler yet to have an outlet valve, so my process was going to be based on batch sparging. Multiple batches of a one gallon mash volume would theoretically yield a pre-boil volume of around 1.25 gallons. I doughed in with a grain bag, and just slowly pulled it up to let it drain. The results yielded only around 53% efficiency, which was far too low even for batch sparging. I had to add DME to bring the OG up to be in line with my recipe’s hopping rate. My working theory is that this method drained too fast to adequately rinse the grains of their sugars.
Fix: Convert the cooler by drilling a hole through the cooler wall, and do one the typical conversions (outlet valve + bulkhead + manifold, plumbing hose, etc.) to give me more control over the draining of the mash.
I will need to get to the point where I can accurately predict my brewing if this X Brew series is going to go where I expect it to. More to come.