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A couple questions after my first couple all-grain batches

I have 4-5 batches under my belt and have a few questions.

  1. My understanding is that with batch sparging, I can drain as fast as it will come out of my cooler. I also have read to drain slowly until the grain bed is settled. How do I know when the grain bed is settled? After the bed is settled, can I literally drain with the spigot wide open?

  2. My system must have more absorbtion than most. I usually end up with a 40/60 split on first and second runnings rather than 50/50. Will this affect the final product?

3.I have overshot my OG everytime. Yesterday I had 18 lbs of grain and added two pounds of cane sugar at the end of the boil. Recipe state OG would be 1.054. I ended up with 1.062 at 10.5 gallons. My other beers have been similar. Should I start cutting back on my grain bill accordingly?

  1. Can I disturb the grain bed while draining. As I near the end, I will have wort pool on top of the bed and in the back of the cooler when I tip it up. Yesterday I took a spoon and made a channel for the wort to get to the drain. I ended up getting 2-3 more cups. Is this considered an acceptable practice, or could it lead to tanin extraction.

[quote=“Roddy”]I have 4-5 batches under my belt and have a few questions.

  1. My understanding is that with batch sparging, I can drain as fast as it will come out of my cooler. I also have read to drain slowly until the grain bed is settled. How do I know when the grain bed is settled? After the bed is settled, can I literally drain with the spigot wide open?

  2. My system must have more absorbtion than most. I usually end up with a 40/60 split on first and second runnings rather than 50/50. Will this affect the final product?

3.I have overshot my OG everytime. Yesterday I had 18 lbs of grain and added two pounds of cane sugar at the end of the boil. Recipe state OG would be 1.054. I ended up with 1.062 at 10.5 gallons. My other beers have been similar. Should I start cutting back on my grain bill accordingly?

  1. Can I disturb the grain bed while draining. As I near the end, I will have wort pool on top of the bed and in the back of the cooler when I tip it up. Yesterday I took a spoon and made a channel for the wort to get to the drain. I ended up getting 2-3 more cups. Is this considered an acceptable practice, or could it lead to tanin extraction.[/quote]

1.) Knowing when the grain bed is set will come from experience, but in general after a minute or 2 of slow runoff you should be fine.

2.) sounds like you’re close enough. If my runnings are within about a gal. or so of each other, I don’t worry about it

3.) Yep…sounds like you’re assuming your efficiency is less than it is

4.) You won’t get tannins from doing that. If it helps, go for it, but for 2-3 cups I personally wouldn’t bother. Your choice.

+1 to Denny’s response, with one exception. On #4, I do the same thing as the OP – I sometimes have to make a channel to get the last of the wort out. As long as you don’t channel all the way down to where your stainless mesh is, it’s fine. Sometimes the gooey stuff on top of the grain bed is too finely sized and just refuses to let anything through it. So cutting through that layer I think is a good idea. And I’m one of those guys who collects down to the last drop. I wouldn’t waste 2-3 cups of good wort if I could help it. If I was real busy, I could forget about it during the brew session but then collect the extra wort after the session was over, then use that extra wort for making yeast starters or whatever – boil it for a few minutes, cap it off, and store in the fridge until needed.

How long can the wort be stored in the fridge for starter use? 2 months??? If so, it seems it would make sense to have a third runnings and store them for future starters.

I am no expert but I have always heard that it is not wise to store wort without it being pressure canned.

Without being frozen or pressure-canned, maybe a week at most. Even then I’d re-boil it just to be safe.

Without being frozen or pressure-canned, maybe a week at most. Even then I’d re-boil it just to be safe.[/quote]
If I plan on boiling it can it be stored for a month or two?

Yes, but you probably wouldn’t want to use it for a starter after that long. Whatever bacteria and/or yeast started fermenting would have consumed most of the sugars by that point.

I would (and do) freeze the wort to store it for that long.

Back to Number 3 of the Original Post; higher than planned original gravities.

I trim my sugar addition at the start of my boil:

I’ve learned to take a gravity reading at the beginning of the boil, and then adding sugar or dry malt extract as needed to achieve my expected finishing gravity.

Generally 10% of my recipe original gravity (malt/adjunct/cane/etc.) are sugar or DME.

I collect runnings and add extra water to start my boil with 1.5 gallons more than my planned final volume.

If my expected recipe OG is 1050 for five gallons, I expect to finish my boil with 250 gravity points.

Therefore my total gravity points at start of boil, at 6.5 gallons volume is also 250, for a start-of-boil specific gravity of 10385.

Working backwards, if my start of boil SG is 1038 or higher, I simply omit the sugar/DME addition and silently thank the stars for my wonderfully efficient mash extraction. But sometimes it goes the other way:

Say my start of boil SG is 1034. For 6.5 gallons this means I have 6.5 x 34 = 221 when I wanted 250 gravity points. So I need to add 29 points. 29/40 = 0.725 lbs cane/corn sugar. Approximately works because my volume measurements aren’t pin point exact either. Ever. So I add this at the start of my boil and end up within a point or two of my target gravity.

This system works for me and I no longer have pilsners at 1060 when I was looking for 1048.

I’m pretty certain there are more elegant solutions but I hope this helps.

Every time I read a thread, I learn a little something new. It was news to me that you can collect and freeze wort for starter purposes. There are so many ways to save time and money when making beer.

What is your method for collecting and saving wort for starter purposes?

On a separate note, how long can One-Step be saved for reuse?

[quote=“Sooner49er”]Every time I read a thread, I learn a little something new. It was news to me that you can collect and freeze wort for starter purposes. There are so many ways to save time and money when making beer.

What is your method for collecting and saving wort for starter purposes?

On a separate note, how long can One-Step be saved for reuse?[/quote]

I add a couple of extra quarts to my mash/sparge. then harvest it from the pot before the boil and freeze it.

[quote=“Sooner49er”]Every time I read a thread, I learn a little something new. It was news to me that you can collect and freeze wort for starter purposes. There are so many ways to save time and money when making beer.

What is your method for collecting and saving wort for starter purposes? [/quote]

You can save wort and feeze it but there is a risk of botchulism if you do not boil the starter. I have found making a separate batch and canning it gives me an entire year of starter wort that does not need to be boiled when used. Just pour and add yeast.

Oh yea, boil is a necessity. I thaw, boil, cool, pitch.

:cheers:

I wouldn’t recommend reusing it. Frankly, I wouldn’t recommend using it at all, but if you do, keep it to a single use.

As far as reserving wort for future yeast starters… as long as it’s boiled and put into a sanitized bottle and refrigerated right away, it can last for a good long time. A few months is fine. It might hiss and bubble when you pop it open when it’s needed, but as long as you then boil it a second time before adding yeast for your starter, it’s fine. I’ve done this a couple times with no issues.

I did that up until the first time a bottle exploded in my refrigerator. Sanitation is never 100%, and cleaning that up was a PITA.

Bummer. Come to think of it… you know, I believe I used Grolsch bottles… I wonder if that had something to do with it, because sometimes the gaskets leak, so maybe that let some of the pressure out. That, and the Grolsch bottles are pretty darn thick. But when I popped the bottles they weren’t gushers or anything like that either. Just a bit of a hiss from the natural fermentation in there at 32 F. Maybe I was indeed just lucky.

You might have won the lottery in terms of your local microflora, too. Stuff that can ferment at a significant rate in the 35°F range is probably pretty rare.

[quote=“Roddy”]I have 4-5 batches under my belt and have a few questions.

  1. My understanding is that with batch sparging, I can drain as fast as it will come out of my cooler. I also have read to drain slowly until the grain bed is settled. How do I know when the grain bed is settled? After the bed is settled, can I literally drain with the spigot wide open?

  2. My system must have more absorbtion than most. I usually end up with a 40/60 split on first and second runnings rather than 50/50. Will this affect the final product?

3.I have overshot my OG everytime. Yesterday I had 18 lbs of grain and added two pounds of cane sugar at the end of the boil. Recipe state OG would be 1.054. I ended up with 1.062 at 10.5 gallons. My other beers have been similar. Should I start cutting back on my grain bill accordingly?

  1. Can I disturb the grain bed while draining. As I near the end, I will have wort pool on top of the bed and in the back of the cooler when I tip it up. Yesterday I took a spoon and made a channel for the wort to get to the drain. I ended up getting 2-3 more cups. Is this considered an acceptable practice, or could it lead to tanin extraction.[/quote]

  2. The amount of wort you drain during vorlauf (normally 2 - 4 quarts), and then carefully add back to the mashtun is typically enough at half-flow, to set the grain bed before opening full-throttle to drain the mashtun while keeping grain out of your kettle.

  3. All your grain absorption occurs during the mash, usually at a rate of 0.12 gallons per lb of grist. That is why additional strike water is added for the mash vs. sparge water, for which the amount added is the same as collected if your mash/lauter tun is drained empty after mash runoff.

  4. If I had 18 lbs of malt and 2 lbs of sugar, I would reduce the amount of sugar I add rather than the amount of malt. :wink:

  5. Usually setting the back end of the mashtun on a brick or something, to tilt the mashtun towards the spigot, will work to drain it completely. Only if you are close to a stuck mash do you need to create a channel to the drain. When I have to do that, I use the tip of the handle of my brewing spoon to make a few holes through the grain bed down to the Bazooka Screen that filters my wort. The spoon handle is only about 1/2" diameter. This works well without stirring up any sludge.

Hope this helps.

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