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A total disaster

Did my first all grain on my single tier today and it was a total disaster. I mashed in at my target temp based on beer smith but the mash temp missed by 5 degrees. I could have lived with this but what made things worse was that the hole cone hops clogged my cfc and my tubing. Totally screwed me up and ended up with 3 gallons in the fermenter. I’m totally bummed the hell out.

Do you have a direct fired mash/liquor tun? I have found my direct fires to be about 5° lower than what Beersmith says which would make sense for you if you have direct fires.

I understand being bummed but keep at it! You’ll improve!
Edit: so if beersmith says to heat to 160° for mash I need to heat to 155°.

Some of the calculations (like strike water temperature) have factors for the brew system. I don’t know about beersmith, but for ProMash which I use there is a “Mash Tun Thermal Mass” field that needs to be filled in, which you just play with until it matches your actual test run data.

And you’ll need to get some sort of filter to make sure the hops can’t get into the chiller. I use a stainless braid on the end of the kettle pickup, but some others use a stainless scrubby pad with just as good results.

It always takes a try or two to get a new system tuned in; no reason to be bummed.

I’m not sure how Beersmith works, but BeerTools Pro has a calibration procedure that determines heat capacity and thermal transfer rate of your particular equipment. Perhaps Beersmith has a similar feature. That calibration worked out well for my mash tun, but the adjustments that Rebuiltcellars suggests should accomplish a similar thing.

I use Beersmith and love it but the mash temp calculations are way off for me, but I know my system. Generally to hit 152-153 deg, my strike water needs to be 168 to 170, Beersmith says like 162 every time. Definitely no reason to be bummed!!!

Well i guess i can look at the bright side and that I learned a lot yesterday. I already see a few areas where i need to make adjustments to process and the brew stand.

Whole hops suck. My life is much easier without them.

Sounds like a horrible day, but probably a valuable day in terms of lessons learned. I get pretty much dead on temps using Beersmith. Some things to double-check:

  • In your equipment profile, check the Mash/Lauter Tun settings. Particularly the Specific Heat setting.
  • In your recipe check the Mash Tun Temperature and Grain Temp settings.

You’ve got several options for filtering whole hops. I’ve used all of these.

I assume a pint per ounce for absorption when using whole hops. I think that’s more than most people assume, but I find it’s closer to reality.

Thanks man, i found those settings and they were set way higher than what i had going on. I adjusted the numbers to what i likely had and the strike water temp jumped about five degrees. I plan on getting back on the horse and brewing a black ipa this weekend. Wish me luck.

Experiments are what makes brewing fun, and if you knew the outcome for certain it wouldn’t be an experiment. You’ll be mashing like a pro soon enough, and these mistakes will be a big part of why.

My first AG was much worse than that…

Personally, I wouldn’t use a CFC unless you pointed a gun at me. In the event you did, I would bump recipe to 6G, whirlpool well and let it sit for a half hour before I started chilling and leaving a half gallon in the kettle.

Best of luck with the black IPA.

Well, my second all grain batch is behind me. It went a bunch smoother but still had a few things to be desired.

First off, i missed my target mash temp by 4 points, my goal was 154. I thought that I would have corrected this as i plugged in my grain and mashtun temps into beersmith. In hindsight i think i need to heat my strike water a few degrees warmer to account for temp losses from pumping. I think next time i will try batch sparging because i think i fly sparged too quickly as i missed my preboil gravity by 14pts. I assume this is both sparge and mash temp related.

Luckily this time i filled my carboy, which is much better than the 3 gallons in the last batch. One thing that was only slightly problematic was the muslin bag that initially plug the outlet tube, but that was easily removed with the spoon. I was wondering what is typical for everyone in regards to their boil off. I had a preboil vol of 9 gallons and i probably only left about a half gallon in the bottom of the kettle. One thing to note is that i probably lost some water due to the 8 ozs of hops used during the boil.

Sorry for the long winded post but I wanted to feed you guys a lot of info as you have been very helpful and i want to further extract more info from you!!

With my kettle, a decent but not violent rolling boil will reduce the volume by about 1.2 gallons/hour, and I adjust the flame according to the weather conditions in an attempt to keep it right there. Your kettle will be different. It is worthwhile to put 5.0 gallons of (measured carefully) water into your kettle, and boil it at the level you think is good for an hour, then measure what is left. Then plug that number into your program so it can calculate how much volume you need to start with based on the boil length for any given beer.

Go ahead and try the batch sparge; much less chance for something to go wrong compared to a fly sparge, and faster to boot. I understand why some people fly sparge, but the justification can get pretty thin when you start talking about homebrewing.

Definitely do this from now on. Here is an illustration of my SOP: This morning I heated my strike water 6°F higher than target. I lost about 4°F from the transfer. I waited a few min for the temp to drop two degrees further and then carefully stirred in my grain. Target was 154. At about the five minute mark, my temp was 153.9.

[quote=“mppatriots”]I was wondering what is typical for everyone in regards to their boil off.
Variable, but typically less than 1 gal. per hour. I’m still trying to nail down my standard, since I’ve changed some equipment recently. On Saturday I assumed .9 gal/hour and had to boil a little extra to achieve volume & gravity. For the batch I’m brewing today, I’m assuming .8 gal/hour. I use a 10 gal. Blichmann Boilermaker.

Agree with the kcbeersnob, I always heat higher than I need to. It’s much easier to lower the temp of your strike water than it is to heat it back up (especially if you are using a cooler). I usually aim for around 10-12 degrees above my desired temp (depending on ambient temps). That’s what works well for my system. By the time I transfer the water to the cooler and add the grain and stir for a couple minutes I’m always right on my temp.

I use beersmith but have never attempted to dial-in the temperature stuff cause it’s just much easier for me to wing it and adjust. If I go too high, i keep the cooler open and stir for a couple extra minutes. No harm done.

Thanks guys, with your approach in mind, what is the best way of saying with all equipment being equal that you need to have strike water at x temp in order for a post mash in temp of y based z lbs of grain?


Take notes! I even take note of the ambient temp as I brew all year round and it’s nice to have a reference to a brew you did when it was 4 degrees out.

Doesn’t work that way - all equipment is not equal, and how much you need to tweak is very much based on the equipment you are using. Brew a few more times, take notes on the exact numbers you get, and you’ll tune it in before you know it.

It sounds like you’re very close. Next time you brew, use the same procedure as last time, but heat your strike water a bit higher than the target suggested by Beersmith. In my system I lose approximately four degrees from the transfer. You might lose more or less.

I was thinking that i had to heat about 4 or 5 degrees more to hit the temp. I’m going to give it a try again this week or the next. I just gotta figure out what i’m going to brew. I have a lot of the same ingredients as the black ipa i brewed but i don’t want to brew another one. I’m looking into what i’d have to switch up to make a stout or porter out of the ingredients i have. So far, i think the hops are my problem.

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