An American style pale ale featuring a combo of Waimea and Willamette hops plus a little Dr Rudi.
Sep 07 2016
I came across a very interesting discussion on the effect of full volume mash on the fermentablity of the wort and resulting maltiness and body of the beer in BIAB brewing on HomeBrewTalk.
My approach is to mash with about 2/3 of the water with 1/3 reserved for sparging. I have considered doing a full volume mash, which is the more traditional BIAB approach, but haven’t tried it yet.
Original poster, Bassman2003, who switched to full volume mashes noticed some beers lacking maltiness or body and asks ‘Do you think BIAB results in more fermentable wort? Do you find the need to mash a little higher? if so, how much higher?’
The first response, from dmtaylor, is interesting – ‘If you find your beers are lacking in body, perhaps your efficiency is too high? Or your water too hard? Your mill gap too tight? Mashing too long? I’ve been mashing for only 40 minutes for the past 10 years with no ill effects because it’s a waste of time to mash longer than that for most styles (except maybe Belgians). If you mashed for much longer, like 75-90 minutes, this would certainly hurt body.’ His theory that mash length and efficiency affects body/maltiness is interesting. I am aware that the temperature is a major factor with a lower mash temperature producing more simple sugars and hence a more fermentable wort, but hadn’t considered mash length as important in this regard. My thinking was that mash length and/or efficiency was just about getting more sugars out of the grain and hadn’t considered whether the additional sugars tended to be biased towards complex unfermenatble sugars or the simpler more fermentable sugars.
Gavin C, chips in, ‘No alterations to recipe/mash profile other than the obvious slightly altered mash pH considerations are needed if doing full volume mashes’. He cites an experiment by Braukaiser on the topic of fermentability and mash thickness – ‘Contrary to common believe no attenuation difference was seen between a thick mash (2.57 l/kg or 1.21 qt/lb) and a thin mash (5 l/kg or 2.37 qt/lb). Home brewing literature suggests that thin mashes lead to more fermentable worts, but technical brewing literature suggests that the mash concentration doesn’t have much effect in well modified malts’.
Another fellow, wilserbrewer, mentions an approach that I think might be very practical and worth a go – ‘Another approach I have used, mainly to save heating time while making large batches, is to mash in with around 60% of the total water, then after 40 minutes or so add the remaining water to the mash at say 160 – 180 degrees, stir well, wait a few minutes, stir well again and remove the bag.’ I like the idea of this approach, it eliminates the sparge but does not alter mash thickness. Also this is very practical for me because I have to lift the pot onto the gas burner after the mash and this approach makes the weight that I have to lift more manageable.
On the subject of mash PH Gavin C notes ‘Thinner mashes are more dilute meaning all other parameters being equal they will have a higher pH than a thicker mash’ and ‘an often overlooked method to increase a mash pH is to mash thinner’.
Brulosophy also has done an experiment on sparge vs no sparge. The results of this were somewhat inconclusive. The sparged beer was noticibly more hazy and 14 out of 26 testers were able to detect a difference. 7 out of the 14 preferred the sparged version. Overall though it seems the differences in the final beer were quite minor.
There are so many variables in brewing but luckily I’m not too much of a perfectionist or it would drive me insane. I tend to go with the practical, easy, approach that gets good results and as a result of this discussion I will be trying out the approach mentioned by wilserbrewer, that is to mash with usual volume but add the extra water towards the end of the mash in lieu of sparging.
Sep 05 2016
First use of new grainmill and new grainbag. Big gain in efficiency: 93% mash efficiency compared to typically around 80% with old bag. Old bag was under-sized for pot, new one is plenty big so better able to mix grain and water, also temp appears more even.
Retroactively named this one ‘Swamp Monster’ due to it’s murky appearance. A lot of sediment and it being a bit over-carbed churns it all up. Not the prettiest but tastes pretty good.
Jun 05 2016
Inspired by some interesting posts on Brulosophy.com I tried out a new ‘express’ approach to brewing – short mash (30 min), short boil (25 min), short final hops stand (5 min). This resulted in a nice short brew night and I didn’t notice any downsides apart from a small loss in efficiency so I think I will be taking this approach again in the future.
Feb 05 2016
Some notes on my plum wine making for 2016 (learnings for next time)
Fruit – picked approx 60kg of fruit – 4 times my harvest of 2012 (the last time I made plum wine). The tree was loaded this year. I picked the ripe plums between 5th and 12th Jan, that’s later than usual for the plums to ripen. I ended up discarding about 25% of the fruit due to being smushed, broken skin, not ripe enough – made jam and cordial with some of that.
Batch 1 (started 12 Jan)
The approach used for batch 2 worked out less troublesome and quicker so recommend this method for next time – i.e. ferment on the whole fruit instead of trying to separate the juice from the fruit
Update (April 2016)
Racked on 3rd April. Both batches very clear. Just a small amount of sediment/lees in both cases. Taste is ok but quite sharp – will need back-sweetening. Batch 2 is tasting the least sharp which is another tick in favour of fermenting directly on the fruit. Racked batch 1 into plastic fermenter, added oak staves. Racked batch 2 to glass carboy (full up so very little head-space).
Update (July 2016)
I bottled batch 1 (the one I had in plastic fermenter with oak staves). I treated it with campden tablets potassium sorbate to kill off the yeast, left it for a day or 2 and back-sweetened it, then bottled it. It tastes pretty good, a bit sweet as it took quite a bit of sugar to balance the sharpness. (I need to find my notes and fill in amount used!) A little sediment made it into the bottles so appearance is a bit cloudy. Perhaps if I take more care when racking batch 2 I can end up with clearer result.
Batch 2 is left to bulk age for longer in the glass carboy.
Dec 21 2015
Pitched this onto the yeast cake of the previous pilsner. Managed to chill the wort down to 12.5°C by pumping ice water through the immersion chiller. Due to pitching on yeast cake there was a very short lag time – obvious fermentation activity within 12 hours (at 12°C).
Result was just ok – tasted fine, slightly sweet/malty, not much bitterness and despite an extended lagering period quite a lot of sediment ended up in the bottles resulting in a cloudy appearance.
Nov 17 2014
Nov 03 2014
I had planned to use S-04 yeast in this one but didn’t manage to pick up any on time so just made it with US-05 (hydrated this time). I also did a small split batch using Coopers yeast as I had more wort than would fit in the carboy. No hydrometer this time either so running blind on gravity numbers. I got a new hydrometer by bottling time so got a FG reading of 1.008 – a bit more attenuated than was calculated.