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Whirlpool vs settle and transfer

Admittedly, I’ve had a tough time mastering the whirlpool. Not sure what I’m doing wrong, maybe just impatient. Before starting to try the whirlpool, I always just put most of the wort into the primary, leaving just the last really heavy stuff. This led to a thick layer of trub, but I’ve never had a bad batch of beer, just a bit lower volume. Well, tonight I brewed and transferred into the primary as usual, but before pitching the yeast, I got called away for just a little while, and when I came back, I noticed a lot of the really heavy trub had already settled. So I decided to transfer it again and leave the trub. My thought was that were I to have successfully done the whirlpool, then I would have ended up with that volume anyway, and then topped it off to the 5.25 gal the recipe calls for. Now, here’s the issue. I had measured the OG/Brix before the transfer idea popped in my head, and I was spot on (1.063og and 15.4 brix). But, after transferring and bringing the volume up, the og and brix dropped to 1.055 and 13.6. Common sense dictates that it would water things down a bit, I get that. So my question is, were I to have whirlpooled successfully, would I not have ended up with less wort, and when I brought it up to the 5.25gal, would it not have been the lower OG? Does the trub increase the OG that much? It’s late and I’m rambling. Thanks for any feedback.

Did you top off in the first fermentor and then the second as well?

If so you diluted your wort with the second top off addition.

Frank,

Everyone seems to have a different philosophy concerning trub in the fermenter. Some worry about it, others not so much. I suspect it’s a minor issue. With a little benign neglect the trub will settle out either before you transfer or during fermentation. At some point you get the opportunity to transfer clear wort or clear beer off the trub. When you do it doesn’t seem to matter much - IME.

A more important point (to me): I see a lot of posts inn which brewers top off to hit their intended volume and get an unintended OG. In time it’s possible to refine your process to hit the targeted OG at the targeted volume. Until that time I recommend you concentrate on hitting the OG for the style you’re brewing and let the volume fall where it may. If you top off, your OG will drop and you’ll get a different beer than intended.

My experience is that trub doesn’t “cone up” in a whirlpool, only the hops do that. The trub stays mostly suspended during the whirlpool and when you turn it off and let it settle for 30min+, it settles more or less uniformly with a cone of hops in the middle. So I do both, whirlpool while I chill with an IC, then pull the IC and whirlpool for another few minutes, then turn it off and let it settle for up to an hour. I have my pickup tube set up high enough to be above the level of the trub (about in inch), and if it looks like I’m leaving a lot of good wort I will tilt the kettle when the wort level gets low. I’ve also poured the trub into a pitcher and harvested more wort off this stuff for use in starters, or with a quick re-boil you can even add it to the beer if you really want to be efficient.

I’m not even going to try to answer the questions, but I settle and transfer almost every batch I do now unless I’m not going to harvest the yeast. If your process is good then if I were you I would quit trying the whirlpool and just transfer after. I even let mine sit over night. I then auto siphon over to the ferm carboy leaving all that crud in the old carboy/bucket by using a piece of paint strainer on the bottom of the AS. Now that I’m good at getting the yeast I do this pretty much all the time, might as well save myself 3-12 bucks for the next batch and it also saves me from making starters cause I just pitch the cake from the jar :slight_smile:

[quote=“Old_Dawg”]Frank,

A more important point (to me): I see a lot of posts inn which brewers top off to hit their intended volume and get an unintended OG. In time it’s possible to refine your process to hit the targeted OG at the targeted volume. Until that time I recommend you concentrate on hitting the OG for the style you’re brewing and let the volume fall where it may. If you top off, your OG will drop and you’ll get a different beer than intended.[/quote]

+1

[quote=“Old_Dawg”]
A more important point (to me): I see a lot of posts inn which brewers top off to hit their intended volume and get an unintended OG. In time it’s possible to refine your process to hit the targeted OG at the targeted volume. Until that time I recommend you concentrate on hitting the OG for the style you’re brewing and let the volume fall where it may. If you top off, your OG will drop and you’ll get a different beer than intended.[/quote]
I was thinking this^^^^ as well.

I suspect that a significant amount of your trub is particulate matter from pellet hops. If you want to significantly reduce the amount of trub, try a method of separating the spent hops from the wort. For example, use a homemade hop spider (instructions available via a simple google search) or something like this: http://www.stainlessbrewing.com/Hop-Spi … p_158.html.

If you can separate the hops from the wort, whatever is left in the kettle shouldn’t be cause for concern.

It is also important to note that when you top off you often get wort stratification (unless you mix very very well). This means that not all the wort was mixed with the top off water providing an incorrect gravity reading.

Thank you all for the responses and advice. Regarding the input from Old_Dawg about topping off, I thought that’s the way the extract kit boils are supposed to work. i.e., there is a partial boil that presumably has a higher OG, but by adding the water to top off to volume, it brings the OG down to the intended target level. That’s why I was wondering about the transfer. If I transfer with the trub, then my actual liquid volume is less when I top off. If I were to whirlpool or let it settle, transfer to the fermenter, and then top off, shouldn’t the OG be at target per the recipe kit? (assuming everything else was done correctly prior to that, of course). Maybe I’m just over-thinking this. Thanks again!

If you hit the OG at a lower volume then 5.25 of coarse adding water will lower the OG? Not sure if i undstand. If you got the right OG in the kettle at the right volume with the trub but then transferred and had to add more water to hit 5.25 because you lost wort by leaving trub behind that would be different.

I think kits are generally designed to deliver an OG at 5.0gal and they ignore the loss to trub.

The key here … as to why you are not getting a nice cone of trub is simple. If you chill INSIDE the brewpot (i.e. with a immersion chiller), you are getting cold break in your brewpot. This will never settle out like the hops and trub will.

If you chill OUTSIDE of the brewpot (counterflow chiller), your trub will settle into a nice cone and your cold break will end up in your primary fermenter. This is actually beneficial for the yeast if making an ale.

That is what you are doing wrong. Whirlpool before you transfer any of the wort out of the kettle. Create a whirlpool with as much volume as you have; that will cause the hop materials and hot break to form a nice cone in the center. If there isn’t enough volume there, it can’t form an effective density gradient to keep the trub pushed to the bottom center.

It is worth stating that the advantage of whirlpooling is that it allows you to position a pick-up tub near the wall of the kettle lower down that you could without whirlpooling. If you empty your kettle by pouring, or if you do something to disturb the cone formed, there is no reason to do it.

Thanks all for the responses and advice. I’ll try my hand at whirlpooling again.

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