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problems getting correct pre-boil volume with scaled recipe

 
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philipCT



Joined: 30 Aug 2013
Posts: 14
Location: CT, USA


PostLink    Posted: Mon Jan 19, 2015 10:46 pm    Post subject: problems getting correct pre-boil volume with scaled recipe Reply with quote


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How can I scale a recipe to the efficiency of my setup, and achieve the volumes I'm looking for, without adding any mash runnings less than 1.008 in gravity, all without overshooting the wort OG.

It's a classic three parameter optimization and I don't know how to fix it.

Here's what's going on:

Using established BeerSmith process, I scaled a recipe (see below) based on 70% efficiency to 80%, which is what I'm currently using while I'm still dialing in my brewery (I'm six batches in). This predicts 86% mash efficiency using BeerSmith. While drawing off wort from the mash and fly sparging per Kal's practices, I measured runnings periodically and stopped when gravity got to 1.008. At that point, I only had 9.5 gallons, not the 12.85 gallons I was looking for. So this was disappointing, but then I measured the gravity of the BK and came out with 1.040 on the pre-boil wort, instead of the 1.034 predicted. So although I had to stop collecting at 3+ gallons short of what I needed, the gravity was way high. In fact, using BrewersFriend wort dilution calculator, I added 1.5 gallons of left over sparge water to achieve a little over 11g. Not what I was looking for, but better. I also noted that post-boil OG was 1.040 - right on target after all that messing around. So I probably saved the brew just fine - I'm not worried about that because it's in the fermenter and there's nothing more to be done about it. but I really need an answer to the question posed in the first sentence above.

Any thoughts, experiences?

--Brew Notes--

Original Recipe for 10g @ 70% efficiency (omitting hops for brevity):

Quote:
Biermuncher's Centennial Ale:

****10-Gallon Batch****
Batch Size: 11.00 gal
Estimated OG: 1.039 SG
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.0 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
14.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) (80%)
1.25 lb Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) (8.6%)
1.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) (5.7%)
1.00 lb Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) (5.7%)

-------------------------------------------------
Recipe scaled using Beersmith for 80% efficiency/86% mash efficiency:

Quote:
Batch Size: 10.40 gal
Brewhouse Efficiency: 80.0 %

Ingredients:
------------
11.18 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) (77.1%)
1.21 lb Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM) (9.1%)
1.19 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) (8.2%)
0.80 lb Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) (5.5%)

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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 9395
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Hop Candy Jr, Scottish 70/-, English IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter, Saison

Working on: Kölsch


PostLink    Posted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:38 pm    Post subject: Re: problems getting correct pre-boil volume with scaled rec Reply with quote

philipCT wrote:
While drawing off wort from the mash and fly sparging per Kal's practices, I measured runnings periodically and stopped when gravity got to 1.008. At that point, I only had 9.5 gallons, not the 12.85 gallons I was looking for.

Did you compensate for the hotter wort? Example: Assuming your hydrometer's calibrated at 60F, 1.008 at 140F is actually 1.024 at 60F. If not, you were actually stopping at 1.024.

Quote:
So this was disappointing, but then I measured the gravity of the BK and came out with 1.040 on the pre-boil wort, instead of the 1.034 predicted.

One other thing to make sure of is to stir the wort well before measuring. It'll be thicker on the bottom. If you simply drop a hydrometer in the wort after you're done sparging, it'll probably read too low.

Another point to make is that if the gravity drops below 1.008, it's normal for many brewers to simply add water as you've done.

It's normal for the wort to drop below 1.008 with lower ABV beers. There's only so much sugar in there to begin with.

Now that said, as per my BREW DAY STEP BY STEP process, because I purposely let the sparge water temp drop throughout the sparge, *and* I keep my sparge water pH in check (below 6, usually around 5.6 to 5.8), I don't really worry about extracting too many tannins due to low gravity at the end of the sparge. I find that I don't overly extract tannins, even with lower ABV beers. It's not a black and white thing so don't think of any of the 3 values as brick walls. A rule like "never sparge past 1.008 gravity" can't be made. It depends.

So because I keep my pH and temp low by the end of the sparge, over time I've found that I can just sparge until I hit my pre-boil volume regardless of how low the wort gravity drops. Even for low ABV beers. YMMV of course. If you find yourself getting too much tannin extraction (taste the wort) at the end, use sparge water instead to top up directly. Many brewers do. What is "too much tannin extraction"? I don't know/that can't be defined. That's another YMMV point! Wink Depends on the person, depends on the beer, and so forth. You'll always have some extraction and I've heard of some German brewers who actually brew to try and extract more tannins for some of their beers because they actually want it. So it's always YMMV.

Brewing is in may ways like cooking. There are no hard and fast rules for much of it, only recommendations and the "don't sparge past 1.008" is a common one.

I'd say it's more important to taste beer than measure it. Don't only brew by numbers. Brew by taste too. Taste the wort throughout the process.

Good luck!

Kal

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Tungsten



Joined: 06 Dec 2014
Posts: 316
Location: Buffalo, NY


PostLink    Posted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 3:51 pm    Post subject: Re: problems getting correct pre-boil volume with scaled rec Reply with quote

Quote:
So this was disappointing, but then I measured the gravity of the BK and came out with 1.040 on the pre-boil wort, instead of the 1.034 predicted.

One other thing to make sure of is to stir the wort well before measuring. It'll be thicker on the bottom. If you simply drop a hydrometer in the wort after you're done sparging, it'll probably read too low.[/quote]

I would definitely take 3 readings for pre-boil gravity. It's not uncommon for me (using a refractometer) to get 3 different readings when taking pre-boil gravity, probably due to the wort not being properly mixed, as Kal indicated. It won't be like 10 points off or anything, but it's not uncommon for me to see a 4, 5 or 6 point disparity between a couple of the measurements.
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James Edmonton



Joined: 29 Jan 2014
Posts: 124
Location: Edmonton, AB

Drinking: West Coast Dry Hopped IPA

Working on: Session Ale


PostLink    Posted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with the above comments and would add a couple of other notes - one is along the compensation for the temperature of the wort, you might want to calibrate (or check) your hydrometer as they are often out a bit. (When I first started brewing some 30 years ago, we didn't know (or bother) compensating for temp and ended up making some pretty high alcohol beers as we kept adding sugar to get the SG up to suggested levels (these were extract brews). I know better now, and make much better beer now as well!

The recipe you used has a pretty light grain bill, so I would expect the SG to be pretty low by the end.

One of the unintended effects of a system like Kal's is the tendency to make brewing a highly technical operation and in doing so lose some of the art. It is easy to become overly concerned with numbers and efficiencies etc. What matters most at the end is if you make a brew you like. A few points one way or the other don't really matter. In the words of the great Charlie Papazian "Relax don't worry have a homebrew." It is really good advice - which is not to say that one should be sloppy or careless, but don't be afraid to experiment and improvise.

The other note is that different software programs calculate mash efficiencies differently. I use Beer Alchemy, which calculates it on the pre-boil reading. Kal I believe uses Beer Tools Pro, which calculates on the original gravity.(or that is often the reading he uses). I can't remember which Beer Smith uses, but you might want to check that. I thought my readings were quite low, but then discovered the biggest discrepancy was in the calculation (along with my first sparges which were too fast).

Bottom line is more, get as technical as you want/need, but don't get overly focused on the minute details. And maybe take what commenters say with a grain of salt. Beer making, like wine making (and BBQ, cooking, etc) is filled with a ton of "folk wisdom," myths, and supposed rules, many of which have little or no basis in reality. There are always those who will be "over the top" in their claims, many of which are not supported at all in, for example, double blind taste tests. BYO and Wine Maker magazine have done articles on a few of these over the years with some interesting (depending on your own bias) results.

RDWHAHB!
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Tungsten



Joined: 06 Dec 2014
Posts: 316
Location: Buffalo, NY


PostLink    Posted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to clarify:

Beersmith also uses pre-boil to calculate MASH efficiency. It does use BREWHOUSE efficiency as a significant condition in the recipe building process, so it's important to know the difference between the two.
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philipCT



Joined: 30 Aug 2013
Posts: 14
Location: CT, USA


PostLink    Posted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 9:00 pm    Post subject: Re: problems getting correct pre-boil volume with scaled rec Reply with quote

kal wrote:
philipCT wrote:
While drawing off wort from the mash and fly sparging per Kal's practices, I measured runnings periodically and stopped when gravity got to 1.008. At that point, I only had 9.5 gallons, not the 12.85 gallons I was looking for.

Did you compensate for the hotter wort? Example: Assuming your hydrometer's calibrated at 60F, 1.008 at 140F is actually 1.024 at 60F. If not, you were actually stopping at 1.024.

Quote:
So this was disappointing, but then I measured the gravity of the BK and came out with 1.040 on the pre-boil wort, instead of the 1.034 predicted.

One other thing to make sure of is to stir the wort well before measuring. It'll be thicker on the bottom. If you simply drop a hydrometer in the wort after you're done sparging, it'll probably read too low.

...
Kal


Kal:

Thanks for these comments. This is very helpful.

Some responses: I'm using a refractomoeter for SGs during the brewday, so no worries on the hydrometer calibration. Having said that, I realize that a refractometer is subject to the same issue and cool the wort before taking off a measurement.

Also, I do realize the wort will be stratified in the BK and stir well, but without splashing, before taking a sample.

Even at that, I do as Tungsten suggested, and take two or three readings to make sure I'm getting good results.

I do taste the wort at every opportunity. One of the joys of brewing is smelling and tasting everything throughout the process. One thing I've noticed is that the runnings will definitely taste tangy-er, tarter - maybe that's astringency (?), toward the end. I'm not sure if that's just the sweetness going away and allowing the background tastes to come though, or if that's tannins.

I guess this is a judgement call, but maybe I'll get some other opinions on the next group brewday. I still have so much to learn about all the flavors.

At the end of the day though, I aspire to James' point of view - to bring a little more freedom and experimentation to my brewing, but I like to have a strong technical & knowledge foundation, so all the comments really help.

I've brewed this beer before (SWMBO fav) so I'll update this thread with tasting notes after I get it tapped.

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philipCT



Joined: 30 Aug 2013
Posts: 14
Location: CT, USA


PostLink    Posted: Tue Jan 20, 2015 9:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kal:

The other thing I note about your comment is that you don't worry about tannin extraction "for low ABV beers". This rang a bell for me: I just brewed an Imperial Stout, and by the time I had collected my pre-boil vol, the gravity was still very healthy. DUH! This is why partigyle exists - to take advantage of the good wort left after extracting for a hi-gravity beer. So, obviously, this will only ever be an issue for lower gravity beers.

Sounds obvious now that I see it, and something that I'll keep in mind brewing the lighter beers going forward.

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kal
Forum Administrator


Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 9395
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Hop Candy Jr, Scottish 70/-, English IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter, Saison

Working on: Kölsch


PostLink    Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 1:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

philipCT wrote:
The other thing I note about your comment is that you don't worry about tannin extraction "for low ABV beers". This rang a bell for me: I just brewed an Imperial Stout, and by the time I had collected my pre-boil vol, the gravity was still very healthy.


Really high gravity beers have limitations too: There's so much grain, and less water so efficiency ends up lower. My barleywine recipe on this site was a test to see how efficiency dropped with really high ABV beers.

Quote:
This is why partigyle exists - to take advantage of the good wort left after extracting for a hi-gravity beer.

Correct- many brewers historically would brew this way. Fullers is one. They make one mash and the do separate runnings, one after another, into different boil kettles to make their higher gravity beers and lower gravity beers.

Kal

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philipCT



Joined: 30 Aug 2013
Posts: 14
Location: CT, USA


PostLink    Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Barleywine, mmm. So what kind of efficiency did you end of pulling with that recipe? I"m dying to make one. Maybe I'll try your recipe. Were you happy with it?

Winter is the time to brew something like that and just put it away for a while to age...

I"m not really set up to do a partygyle... actually, now that I think of it, I have a single burner propane top at the end of my brewline I could do a smaller boil on. Something less than 4 gallons. That would be a busy brew session but I'm sure I could pull it off if I wasn't enjoying too much homebrew at the time Smile

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philipCT



Joined: 30 Aug 2013
Posts: 14
Location: CT, USA


PostLink    Posted: Wed Jan 21, 2015 3:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just read your thread on that Barleywine brew. Great notes. Gotta do that one soon.
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