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BIAB #2 - Status

After my first attempt, I took a step back and remembered KISS (keep it simple stupid). I found a simple basic amber ale recipe that had been used numerous times with excellent results. It was a simple recipe with two grains (2-row and Munich malt 40L) and a single hops (Cascade). This time I ordered my grain bill from our host, NB, to insure I had quality grains and most importantly the correct milling (crush) on the grain. I also used an ice bucket with my immersion cooler lines coiled in the ice to help reduce the cold break time (I got it from 170F to 85F in ~40 mins). I stayed with the Omega Hothead Ale yeast, but created a starter using the Propper Starter (concentrated wort in a can) in a mason jar 24 hours before pitching at 85F. To insure the wort was properly aerated I let the wort flow through a meshed strainer to collect the residual hops, etc. and aerate the wort. I pitched onto a nice head of foam and then stirred the yeast starter into the wort, sealed it and put it in the closet.
Going back to the KISS mantra, I stuck with the basic BIAB process - mash in, hoist out the bag and let it drain, boil the wort with the addition of the hops, cold break, into the fermentation bucket, pitch the yeast and let it go. No mash out, no sparging, nothing added to the process - KISS. I added some additional measurements and tests such as checking the mash pH (4.6 - 5.0 range) and using the iodine test to check the mash conversion (clear to yellow). My OG measured at 95F was 1.050 and adding the .003 temperature calibration factor equals 1.053 (my calculation at 70% efficiency was 1.054).
Its been ~12 hours in and the airlock activity is very high. There is a nice crust that has formed on the beer. Time to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Again, thanks to all of your help in my first adventure into BIAB. Looking forward to how this one performs over the next few weeks.

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Sounds like success! Before too long, the training wheels come off and you are doing wheelies! What a great hobby! Sneezles61

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[quote=“olanwade, post:1, topic:27529, full:true”]
I added some additional measurements and tests such as checking the mash pH (4.6 - 5.0 range) and using the iodine test to check the mash conversion (clear to yellow).[/quote]

That’s quite low. The generally accepted mash pH is 5.2-5.6.

I assumed it was a mis type.

I stopped checking my pH because it was always this range. @olanwade what water modifications did you add to make it so low? It’ll be fine in the end just curious.

All, I’m not putting a lot of stock in the pH measurement. I’ve owned a pool for some 30 years and have performed pH tests thousands of times. I quit using these pH tabs due to the lack of accuracy. These things are affected by the heat, shelf life, etc. Who knows how long they were no the shelf (no date). I use an OTO test kit for my pool. These tabs were cheap ~$5 so I purchased these at the local brew shop out of curiosity. I actually tested twice and got the same result. I tried them on my pool and they weren’t even close to the OTO test results. Matter of fact I got the same result. Just FYI, the OTO test kit isn’t any good for brewing, but I did use it to test the pH of the brew water pre-boil at 7.5. I reported what I recorded for the mash pH with no comment of my confidence in the reading.
I know there’s a lot of discussion on pH and it’s affects on the ability of the mash to process certain enzymes, proteins, etc. It may also affect the beer’s tastes and clarity (FYI I added 1 tsp of Irish moss). I’ve attached the following article that goes through all of these and the optimum pH for each. So even if we assume the pH was correct I believe things would still be okay. As always, time will tell.

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Nice article. That article backs up what @loopie_beer was saying with regards to mash pH. We are all targeting highest mash yield coupled with fermentability.

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I agree that the optimum pH is in the 5.2 - 5.6 (per Briggs et al / Bamforth and Simpson), but as you can see in the tables even starting as low as 4.6 - 5.0 will target the enzymes, proteins, etc. I believe it was in G. Noonan’s book that he states that mash may proceed if the pH is between 4.7 and 6.2. So you can see there’s a lot of good discussion on this subject.
These strips I used have a stated accuracy of ±.15 (per their website), but I’ve read reviews that show a consistent +.3 correction is needed. Taking that into consideration the range could be 4.5 - 5.3 for my reading. Again not optimum, but as I’ve stated I don’t put a lot of stock in the pH reading with these strips.
For now I’m not going to do a lot of over analysis. It’s been in the active fermentation stage for the past 72 hours.

The strips are garbage. The confusion was you didn’t mention strips in your post. I would strike it from your notes in case you look back and thought it was correct. Yes you will get conversion across a wide range of pH just as you will get fermenation at a wide range of temperatures some more optimum than others

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I enjoyed the conclusion… Did he say it was a crap shoot? It seemed not much actual testing was done for quite some time… AND the difference between the laboratory verses the brewery where quite different… It was a technical read, ranks right up there with John Palmers “water” book… BUT… I’ll venture out to read it again…
So with this hobby, you can strive to be the scientist at every step, or, just take some small steps and see where you end up… I do correct my water, ends up at a level that I’ve come to use as my standard… My brews are a far cry from where I started… But that may be that I’ve come to BIAB as my final system, and honing variables that MAKE it work for me… And with that, many of you brewers have offered me tips and ideas to reach this level…Thank You!! Isn’t this fun? Sneezles61

I hope to be tweaking things in the future. Right now I need to get a few more successful and repeatable brews under my belt. I’m hoping this recipe and getting the BIAB process will get me to my standards.
I have to agree on Palmar’s book on water. I don’t think I’ve been able to stay awake long enough to finish it.

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When I first did an AG beer I had no idea how the (well) water was. pH was a mystery but I did shortly after try the strips. Hard to read and I know now not very reliable. I made a Zapap double bucket mash-lauter tun from Charlie Papazian’s book The joy of home brewing… A bucket with a zillion holes drilled in the bottom inside another bucket with a spigot. Mash temp was close I guess, sparge same thing. I don’t remember what yeasts I used back then and temperature control was whatever the basement was. Despite this caveman set up it came out beer. Pretty good beer.

Since then I have gone to a 20 gallon HERMS system. Got my water report, ran it through Brunwater and discovered my municipal water is very good and needs so little adjustment I don’t bother except campden for chlorine. I either find a way to control temps or use Kveik type yeast strains that don’t need it. Now it comes out beer. Pretty good beer.

I find AG brewing is very forgiving. If you are close to the temps, it will come out beer. As you go then of course you will tweak it and make it better beer. Until then “don’t worry have a homebrew”.

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I have to agree you can be as anal as you want and read a ton of stuff but basically making beer is pretty darn simple. Only a couple of rules to follow the most important of which is use good water if you’re water needs alot of adjusting to me that’s not good water.

I pulled the water report for our local water a while back and it’s just too much chlorine. Our water is also very hard water here in the desert Southwest. We usually drink bottled water because of the taste and chlorine levels. I use a local spring water that I found meets the minimum guidelines that I’ve read in both Palmer and Papazian’s books for my brewing.

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The minimum guidelines in Palmer and Papazian’s books that boil down to “if it tastes good you can brew good beer with it” ? That’s nonsense.

All water needs adjustment depending on the beer style. I can brew a stout with my well water straight from the tap and it’s pretty darn good. If I try that with a pilsner I won’t be happy with the results.

I’m not saying you should dive into water analysis yet but it can make a huge difference in some of your beer styles. You’ll get to a point in dialing in process where it’s the logical next step to improve your beer.

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Well, well, well… Interesting results on this batch. After 3-4 days no airlock activity and at a week the specific gravity reading is at 1.030. Sound familiar?
So here’s what I did… Performed a forced fermentation using about 200ml of the wort and ~1/3 pack of safale 05. After 24 hours the gravity sat at 1.028 @80F (or 1.030 unchanged) for the test sample. So this beer is finished (as was the other beer). This means I have to go back and look at my mash process, temperatures, equipment (thermometer calibrations, etc.). Also why did the iodine test show a good conversion? Did I do something wrong with that test? I’m going to go back and perform this test on some water with starch and sugar mixtures to verify good/bad readings (yes these will be the far extremes, but will help).
I looked at my brew notes on mash temperatures. I checked every 15 mins and it was 152F, 160F, 154F and 143F. The temps look ok, but are the readings correct/accurate? I used one of those point & click temperature guns, but it only checks the surface. I need to used at a minimum a 12" thermometer to check the temperature in the future.
I don’t think it’s a mill/crush issue as I used grain from two different sources with the same results.
I also entered this into Beersmith 3.0 to just validate the recommended mash steps and temps, along with calculated gravity readings, water volumes, etc. The results weren’t that different than my calculations.
I tried this batch for clarity, taste, etc. This batch looked really clear with a great color. I really liked the taste. I plan to bottle this to get a better feeling/taste for the final product albeit the ABV will be very low.

Oh dear… So it seems your yeast stalls, stuck fermentation… Did your sample taste sweet? It’s been asked I’m sure but need to do again. Checked your gravity a refractometer?
We’ll all have to load up and head down there for a brew week with you… Sneezles61

I guess it’s semantics, but I’d call it finished versus stuck. The yeast did it’s thing and converted all of the available fermentables. I was curious why the iodine test showed good conversion and here’s what Nate at Omega said…“The iodine test will only tell you if there’s starch in the mash, but won’t give any indication as to the fermentability of the wort. So you could have wort that is free of starch, but composed of mainly longer chain carbohydrates that aren’t fermentable by yeast. E.g. Mashes conducted at 148 and 158 will both pass an iodine test but give you dramatically different final gravities.”
@sneezles61 I use a hydrometer and I’ve calibrated it using distilled water. The sample didn’t taste sweet. It had a good beer taste and I could pick up the hops very nicely. AND you’re more than welcome to come on down to the desert. Bring your swimsuit as it’s 110F outside and the pool is just out back. :slight_smile:

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You went from 152 to 160 then back down to 154. How are you doing doing that? If your adding boiling water you may inadvertently doing a mash out. Why don’t out just leave it at 152?

@olanwade I’m just curious how many different scales are on your hydrometer. My original one had 3 different scales marked out Specific Gravity, Brix/Balling and Potential Alcohol. I would confuse the brix/balling one upon occasion.

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