2nd AG Batch Done - A Couple Questions

Thanks for all the advice after our first AG batch where we missed the gravity by 16 points (thread here:
http://forum.northernbrewer.com/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=114526
).

We finished up our second batch yesterday - the Irish Red Ale. Missed the gravity again, but only by 4 points. Was suppose to be .044, came in at .040. I noticed that we had about 1/8 extra gallon of wort in the ferementer, so just a little too much. Ironically, the previous batch, where we missed by 16, we had an extra half gallon and the math works out to .004 points per 1/8 gallon extra. Kinda cool how the math works out!

This latest batch, we used about a gallon less water through the system and I really paid attention to our boil off and grain absorption. I think the third batch should be spot on…unless I totally biff something.

Anyways…on to my questions…

1.) The gravity on first runnings of this latest bast was .038. Shouldn’t gravity on first runnings be really really high since it’s so concentrated? Second runnings really low, and then it all mixes and boils off to be on-point?

2.) Our brew pot doesn’t have a spiggot, so we have to pour. We like to pour through a mesh bag to catch all the particulate and sediment - is this okay or should all that go into the fermenter minus the sludge at the bottom?

3.) How important is Lactic Acid for brew mineral additions? I don’t have any, so left it out.

Thanks!

  1. As you boil, you’re evaporating water which concentrates the sugars in your wort. So your gravity after an hour (or longer) boil will always be lower than preboil. But yes, you second runnings will have a lower gravity than your first since most of the sugars have already been extracted.

  2. You can filter the wort like you do or not. It really has no effect on your final product. Some people will filter their wort through a funnel with a screen. I did this for the first 6 months or so when I began brewing and it was a slow process. Then I read a lot of posts that said it wasn’t necessary. Now I just dump the pot into my fermentor. I do try and leave some of the trub/sludge behind, but am not overly cautious about it. I can say from my experience, there is not difference either way. I’ve brewed some of the same recipes with filtering and not filtering, absolutely no difference in the final product.

  3. I’ve never used Lactic Acid, so maybe someone else can chime in here.

Thanks for the info. Perhaps we’ll stop filtering then. We run it through a mesh bag, and the bag always clogs up and we have to sit there and squeeze the liquid through (with clean/sanitized hands of course). But it just feels like something is asking to go wrong when we go that…plus the beer sits out in the open for longer.

I would agree. I think you’re taking more of a chance of introducing something bad into your beer. There’s no benefit other than less break material in your fermentor, which will all drop out with time and cold temps anyway. Skip it.

Cool, dump, aerate, pitch :cheers:

  1. I think dobe had a little slip there, but your post boil gravity will be higher than your preboil gravity.

What temp was your first wort runnings taken at? Hydrometers are temp dependant, so if you took your reading with hot wort, it will give you a low false reading. Next time cool the sample down before you take your hydro reading. I think hydrometers are caliberated to read at 65°F or 68°F (not positive on that).

  1. I like to do something to keep the hops and a good part of the hot break out of the fermentor. I use a hop bag for the hops and try to leave the better part of the hot break in the kettle when I transfer.

  2. Any acid added to the mash would be there to adjust the pH. If you are getting conversion, I wouldn’t worry about it now. Get the rest of your AG process down first. If you do need to adjust your pH in the future, lactic is just one of your options. You can also use phosphoric acid which effects the flavor of the finished beer differently than lactic acid. For that matter you might actually need to add a base to bring the pH up… Either way don’t worry about it now.

[quote=“WiVikesFan”]1) I think dobe had a little slip there, but your post boil gravity will be higher than your preboil gravity.

What temp was your first wort runnings taken at? Hydrometers are temp dependant, so if you took your reading with hot wort, it will give you a low false reading. Next time cool the sample down before you take your hydro reading. I think hydrometers are caliberated to read at 65°F or 68°F (not positive on that).

  1. I like to do something to keep the hops and a good part of the hot break out of the fermentor. I use a hop bag for the hops and try to leave the better part of the hot break in the kettle when I transfer.

  2. Any acid added to the mash would be there to adjust the pH. If you are getting conversion, I wouldn’t worry about it now. Get the rest of your AG process down first. If you do need to adjust your pH in the future, lactic is just one of your options. You can also use phosphoric acid which effects the flavor of the finished beer differently than lactic acid. For that matter you might actually need to add a base to bring the pH up… Either way don’t worry about it now.[/quote]

Yes sir, you are correct. Thanks for fixing that!
The hydrometer should have the calibrated temp written on it somewhere. Mine is calibrated for 60F.

where are you guys doing your fermentation? Do you have a temp-controlled fridge? Controlling temp makes such a huge difference in the quality of your beer. Keep your eye on that as one of your first gear pick ups (before, no offense to our sponsor, a bunch of the junk that homebrewing gear-makers insist you UNEQUIVOCALLY NEED before you can make good beer :slight_smile: )

If you do have a ferm. fridge of some sort, remember that you don’t have to pitch right away if you are worried about trub/hop matter. This way you can basically decant your chilled wort off the trub and leave it behind. Explained differently:

-After boil, I chill my wort down below 140*
-dump the beer from kettle to fermenter
-place fermenter in fridge, set temp to pitching temp
-12-24 hours later, wort will be chilled exactly to pitching temp
-vigorously dump into a new clean, sanitized fermenter, leaving trub behind

this does 2 things: 1.) you will leave all trub/hop/break material behind, and 2.) you will have a pretty clean yeast cake if you want to re-use it in another beer.

Not sure if this totally answers your question, but I thought of it after reading your method of filtering out the trub/hops.

Or skip the multiple steps and get an immersion chiller. I can cool my wort from boiling to 65F in about 15-20min. Then just dump the wort into a single fermentor (leaving some of the sludge behind), aerate and pitch.

Not saying what Pietro is doing is wrong, because it’s not, but common practice is to get your yeast in the wort asap. Cooling over night is NOT an issue. Many people do it. I use to do it for lagers before I got an immersion chiller. But with an immersion chiller, you can get your wort to pitching temps in under 30min.

[quote=“dobe12”]Or skip the multiple steps and get an immersion chiller. I can cool my wort from boiling to 65F in about 15-20min. Then just dump the wort into a single fermentor (leaving some of the sludge behind), aerate and pitch.

Not saying what Pietro is doing is wrong, because it’s not, but common practice is to get your yeast in the wort asap. Cooling over night is NOT an issue. Many people do it. I use to do it for lagers before I got an immersion chiller. But with an immersion chiller, you can get your wort to pitching temps in under 30min.[/quote]

I have an immersion chiller as well, I do this more so I have a clean yeast cake and I find I can separate more trub/break material by ‘long-chilling’ than with the IC.

I’ll rescind my prior comment and say this: get (or build) an immersion chiller even before a temp control setup!

We do have a temp controlled freezer. Best investment we made so far after a few nasty first batches that fermented in the 70s.

We also have an immersion chiller. I’ve been stirring the wort around the chiller…which, I know, doesn’t allow the sediment to settle, but I feel like it cools faster. Maybe it doesn’t matter?

[quote=“stompwampa”]We do have a temp controlled freezer. Best investment we made so far after a few nasty first batches that fermented in the 70s.

We also have an immersion chiller. I’ve been stirring the wort around the chiller…which, I know, doesn’t allow the sediment to settle, but I feel like it cools faster. Maybe it doesn’t matter?[/quote]
The cold break is about getting protein out of solution, which is different than settling. If stirring it cools it faster and gets you a better cold break, do it. Just be careful with sanitation. You can use a chiller and still do the let-it-settle-for-a-while-and-rack-before-pitching (LISFAWARBP, for short) technique.

[quote=“stompwampa”]We do have a temp controlled freezer. Best investment we made so far after a few nasty first batches that fermented in the 70s.

We also have an immersion chiller. I’ve been stirring the wort around the chiller…which, I know, doesn’t allow the sediment to settle, but I feel like it cools faster. Maybe it doesn’t matter?[/quote]

Good advice directly above. Nice to hear u have the temp control. Clearly you guys aren’t messing around with this brewing endeavor! :smiley:

What you are describing is called whirlpooling, the idea being that the break material will collect in the middle of the kettle, allowing you to leave behind when u transfer to the fermenter by siphoning from the sides. most comml breweries do it, and it’s a pretty widely accepted technique. Now I just need to taste your beer!

Whirlpooling? I’ve heard of that, but that’s not really what I’m “trying” to do. When I say I stir the wort, It’s all over the place, i’m just sloshing it around to get more in contact with the chiller. There’s nothing very “whirlpooly” about it.

  1. Like somebody else said, what was the temp when you took your gravity? I bet it was high. For instance, if your runnings measured 1.038 @ 150 degrees, the corrected gravity is 1.058. I use a free brewing program called Qbrew, which includes a hydrometer correction function.

  2. I agree with others here that it doesn’t make much difference. I’ve even tested it a couple times using this method: Cool and let settle for a few hours, so the break material settles. Rack clear wort into fermenter and ferment. Rack remaining schmoo into 1 gallon fermenter, and ferment side-by-side with the clear wort. Same wort, same fermentation temp, same yeast, etc. I was not able to distinguish between the two bottled beers. I think the trub version actually fermented out a couple points lower, IIRC. But otherwise it was nice and clear with no off-flavors at all. I was surprised!

  3. From what I understand (after reading the instructions page on Bru’nWater), lactic acid is only needed to acidify your sparge water if the water is highly alkaline. Since you’re using RO water with no mineral content, this is not an issue. I hope somebody will correct me if I’m wrong about this, since I’m still getting a handle on water chemistry!

:cheers:

Wow. I didn’t realize the wort temp made THAT big of a difference. I thought when it said “calibrated to 60 degrees” that having hotter or cooler liquid would only affect it by a few points.

That’s good to know! It probably explains when my gravity readings on previous batches have been so seemingly random!

Whirlpooling? I’ve heard of that, but that’s not really what I’m “trying” to do. When I say I stir the wort, It’s all over the place, i’m just sloshing it around to get more in contact with the chiller. There’s nothing very “whirlpooly” about it.[/quote]

right. That will accomplish getting more wort in contact with the chiller, but if you go in the same direction and get a whirlpool going, as it cools, a lot of the trub/hops, etc. will collect in the middle of the kettle.