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New to all grain; low starting gravity

Started all grain brewing but my starting gravity has been consistently each different recipe. What am I doing wrong?
Making 2.5 gallons
Mashed 6lbs grain in 2 gallons of water between 143-155* for 1hr 10min.
Pulled grain bags(2) and placed in bowls, poured room temp. water over to get all juices out and put back in pot.
Brought up to boil and boiled for 60min adding hops and flavor agents a varying times.
Took of burner and placed in cold water bath
Brought temp down to 90* in 15min and poured into fermenter
Added cool water to bring batch up to 2.5gal.
Stirred and took hydrometer reading-1.022 @ 78*

Ok, how many things am I doing wrong? Thanks for any help.

Todd

Sounds like you’re doing all grain via BIAB, which I’m not really familiar with. I’ll ask the easy question first–I’m assuming the grain is crushed?

And have you checked pre-boil gravity with your hydrometer at all?

170 degree water would be better for your sparge rinse

no, never checked pre-boil gravity. What does sparging w/170* water do different than room temp.? Will taking mash up to 170* before pulling grain out do anything? If so, how long do I hold it there?

Thanks

“Mashed 6lbs grain in 2 gallons of water between 143-155* for 1hr 10min.” -Why such a wide temp variation? With such a variation, you will have a completely different gravity readings all the time depending on where you are in that range each time. You should be setting a specific temperature target and aim to hit it and stay at it for the duration of your mash.

“Pulled grain bags(2) and placed in bowls, poured room temp. water over to get all juices out and put back in pot.” -I agree with other commentors, you should aim to sparge your grains with 175ish water (assuming that you are batch sparging).

Another general comment i have is that you should aim for a lower final wort temperature when cooling maybe 75 to 80 degrees before you top off, this way you end up with 65ish wort temp for for adding yeast. Your fermentations will be less volcanic and you will end up with cleaner tasting beer.

Just my thoughts…

My suggestion would be to ditch BIAB all together. I did it for awhile, then broke down and and built my own mash tun. I got increasingly frustrated with low efficiency, although never near as low as yours. Looks to me like your should have an initial gravity more around 1.060-1.070 with that grain to water ratio.

Also, a mashout isn’t necessary with BIAB because you won’t experience the “stuck mash” you would if you were using a mash tun. Just like the other gentleman said, sparge with 165-170 degree F water instead of room temperature, make sure you don’t over sparge, and pour slowly all around the bag. I used to put my bags on a colander over a brew bucket to let them drain all the way, then you can pour those last runnings back into the boil.

I BIAB and get very high efficiency and great beers. It’s more about your process.

Dial in your mash temp and stick to it.

I would also suggest that you didn’t get a good hydro reading because you topped off with water after your boil. How much water?

You started your boil with 2.5 gals, so I’d guess you probably lost 1/4-1/2 gallon in a 60 minute boil. Figure out what your boil off rate is and begin your boil with larger volume. Example, if you boil off half gallon start with 3 gallons so you don’t need to add top off water after the boil.

Sparge with hot water. Anything above 170 is fine. That temperature will end the enzymatic process that extracts sugars from your grain and reduce the risk extracting tannins if your mash pH is not correct.

The other option with BIAB is a full volume mash. In that case you need to figure out how much water you’ll lose to your grain bed, say .1 gal per lb of grain or less. So for example, you’d mash in with target volume(2.5gal) + boil off(.5) + grain bed loss(.6) = Mash H20 volume ( 3.6gals)

Sparge until you get your FULL pre-boil volume. Boil until you have your target fermenter volume and/or target OG.

This will give you more consistent results than trying to mix in top off water.

Thanks again for all your suggestions as this was the first time I have posted. I am mashing on an electric burner stove and have a hard time keeping a constant temp. I can do better than a window of 145-155* though. Will use your suggestions on my next batch.

After you mash in take your pot and wrap it with a blanket this will help hold the temp. I normally heat my mash water 10 deg f more then my desired mash temp, I then add the grain and stir till I hit my mash temp. After that I close the lid to my cooler but that’s when you should warp your kettle.

You don’t keep the pot on the stove for the entire mash time? Put it in a cooler then back on stove multiple times? Just trying to understand proper methods so I can make a good beer.

Thanks.

If you’re brewing in your kitchen I’ve even heard of people setting their oven on the desired mash temp and putting the kettle in the oven.

I brew outdoors and wrap mine in a sleeping bag. Seldom lose more than 1 degree over an hour.

[quote=“toddfore”]You don’t keep the pot on the stove for the entire mash time? Put it in a cooler then back on stove multiple times? Just trying to understand proper methods so I can make a good beer.

Thanks.[/quote]

I use a cooler so what I do is heat my mash water and add to a cooler that has a false bottom, then mix in the grain and stir, close the lid and wait an hour then drain the wort into my kettle, then I add my sparge water to the cooler mix and drain that into the kettle then boil ect…

If I was doing BIAB like you are I would heat my water to 10deg over my desired mash temp add the grains stir very well till I reached my mash temp (check in several places till all are even). Put the lid on wrap in a blanket wait 1 hour then unwrap pull the grain bags put in a bowl with your sparge water at 170-190 deg stir, pull bag squeeze then add that wort to the kettle and boil ect…

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