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Moderately weak beers-is this a mashing issue?

I brewed two different beers over Spring Break about seven weeks ago - a Red Rocket clone and an American wheat beer. These are both beers that I have brewed once before with great body and flavor, however, the second time around both turned out pretty weak, especially compared with the first go-round. I use a ten-gallon Igloo picnic cooler for my mash tun, I batch-sparge, and as close as I can tell, the temperatures were relatively close between the two brews. The main differences that I can see in methods is that I only mashed in for 45 minutes on the Red Rocket the second time I brewed it, with an additional sparge that I let sit for about 30 minutes before slowly sparging out, whereas the first time I brewed it, I mashed in for a full 60 minutes, as well as the additional batch sparge time. My main question is this: did I rush things, and that is why I have weaker beers? Using my system, batch sparging, etc., about how much time should the mash and sparge take, including time for recirculating and collecting runnings? Additionally, my mash in/out temperatures were within two to three degrees of each other between the two brews, but could that be the main problem? Thanks for your help and comments; I’m really tired of drinking this weak beer, and I don’t want to repeat this mistake again!

Paragraphs really help with reading. They organize thoughts.

Any other differences between the batches? Different water source/treatment? Different mill or crush setting? Were the final volumes different? A 45 vs. 60 min mash time doesn’t really seem like it would make a huge difference…

maybe old grains? hard to tell… where the gravity readings identical? when you say weak, do you mean thin? or low alcohol? or just lacking in flavor?

This ^^^

What are the recipes.

We are not English professors here, but some breaks in post sure make it easier to read.

[quote=“Nighthawk”]
What are the recipes.[/quote]

Don’t worry:

What were the OG and FG on the beers?

Did the shorter mash give you a lower FG or the lower temperature give you a lower FG?

I’m new to all grain. My first batch (hefeweizen with 7 lb grain and 4 lb wheat) turned out with a low OG (1.03), but also a very low FG (1.006).
It was batch sparged but I did not go slow with it. Some guys at a local fest suggested stirring the mash a couple times.

My next was a brown ale, 10 lbs grain. I stirred twice during the 60 min mash. I batch sparged, but slower. The OG hit at a nice 1.046.

Same crusher for both. I might keep the extra stirring in mind for the next one.

[quote=“harpdog”]
It was batch sparged but I did not go slow with it. Some guys at a local fest suggested stirring the mash a couple times.[/quote]
Stirring is very important to good efficiency from a batch sparge, but running slow is not. Of course, if you didn’t stir the sparge in well, running slow will give it more time to mix passively and will increase your efficiency and gravity somewhat, but probably not as much as stirring would.

[quote=“Slothrob”][quote=“harpdog”]
It was batch sparged but I did not go slow with it. Some guys at a local fest suggested stirring the mash a couple times.[/quote]
Stirring is very important to good efficiency from a batch sparge, but running slow is not. Of course, if you didn’t stir the sparge in well, running slow will give it more time to mix passively and will increase your efficiency and gravity somewhat, but probably not as much as stirring would.[/quote]

I should clarify. I did stir in the sparge water both times, and let sit 10 minutes.
The second beer, I stirred in the first mash, then again at 20 min, then again at 40 minutes. That one turned out with expected OG.

there is no reason to stir the mash during the mash. it only lowers the temperature. best is to stir in your grain well t ensure no doughballs and to ensure the temp is consistent throughout the grain bed…but at the beginning. The close it up and leave it alone for the 60-90 minute mash.

:cheers:

Thanks everyone for the responses, and I’m sorry that I did not break into paragraphs (the irony of this is that I’m an English teacher, so I should know better).

There were some slight variations between the first and second brews of each beer as far as gravity is concerned, especially with the wheat beer. Here’s a breakdown:

Red Rocket first brew: OG = 1.066, FG = 1.016 Red Rocket second brew: OG = 1.066, FG = 1.018

American Wheat first brew: OG = 1.046, FG = 1.016 Second brew: OG = 1.046, FG = 1.008

What I mean by weak beers is that they are weaker in malt flavor and mouthfeel (not quite as full bodied;just a bit more watery than last time).

How long should I take to drain the runnings from the initial mash after a 60 minute mash? Also, after leaving the batch sparge alone for 30-40 minutes after a vigorous initial stirring, how long should I be taking to drain off the sparge? I feel like I rushed things, but after reading other peoples’ posts, it doesn’t necessarily feel that way. Any info you have on best practices is appreciated!

http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/

What was the mash temp you used?

[quote=“stevereeves3583”]
What I mean by weak beers is that they are weaker in malt flavor and mouthfeel (not quite as full bodied;just a bit more watery than last time).

How long should I take to drain the runnings from the initial mash after a 60 minute mash? Also, after leaving the batch sparge alone for 30-40 minutes after a vigorous initial stirring, how long should I be taking to drain off the sparge?[/quote]
You can mash warmer to improve body. Also, over-carbonating or fermenting too warm can make a beer seem thin, too.

Stir the mash, vorlauf, then you can drain as fast as your tun will allow, add the sparge water, stir, vorlauf, and then you can drain as fast as your tun will allow. For some brewers, allowing the sparge to sit for a short while can help finish converting the grain, but if you are having that problem, I’d try raising the temperature before the first runnings, while the enzymes are still concentrated.

[quote=“Slothrob”] fermenting too warm can make a beer seem thin
[/quote]

Gotta agree with this one. Low ferment temperatures seem to really help the malt flavors to come through. Were ferment temps in the low side of the yeast’s range?

I think the 45min mash is a big source of your lower efficiency. I’m sure if you’d mashed to at least 60min you’d have gotten more sugar. Maybe as much as 20% more depending on your mash ratio. I like to mash for at least 60min and my testing has shown an increas in sugar up through 75min or more.

The length of the sparge is irrelevant, you already drained the majority of your enzymes out. All you need to do with a batch sparge is to mix it up good, then drain. Thats what Denny says, and my experience is the same.

[quote=“harpdog”][quote=“Slothrob”][quote=“harpdog”]
It was batch sparged but I did not go slow with it. Some guys at a local fest suggested stirring the mash a couple times.[/quote]
Stirring is very important to good efficiency from a batch sparge, but running slow is not. Of course, if you didn’t stir the sparge in well, running slow will give it more time to mix passively and will increase your efficiency and gravity somewhat, but probably not as much as stirring would.[/quote]

I should clarify. I did stir in the sparge water both times, and let sit 10 minutes.
The second beer, I stirred in the first mash, then again at 20 min, then again at 40 minutes. That one turned out with expected OG.[/quote]

But it was a different recipe. You don’t know if the stirring or the recipe was the reason. Especially since the first one was a wheat beer. Those often come in low due to a bad crush of the smaller wheat kernels.

To collect 7.5-8 gal. of wort takes me a total of 15 min. from the time I start my mash runoff til the time I end my sparge runoff. I vorlauf the first runnings (usually about a qt.), runoff the mash, stir in the sparge water, vorlauf that, and runoff again, all in a 15 min. time span. There is no gain from taking longer.

I mashed the Red Rocket around 154 degrees, which I had heard was the ideal temperature to mash most beers at.
The wheat beer mashed at 150-152 degrees, which was lower than I had hoped for.

I fermented both beers between 66 and 72 degrees because the temperature in the most ideal room in the house for that fluctuates. From what I’m hearing from you guys, I assume this is probably too warm, and that could also be effecting the beer negatively.

What temperatures do you guys usually mash at, and what temperature do you usually ferment ales at?

Depending on what I’m going for, I mash anywhere from 146-156F. I ferment most lagers at 45-50F and most ales at 62-65F.

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