Grainfather first brew - bit of a disaster

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Jomay
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Grainfather first brew - bit of a disaster

Post by Jomay » Sat May 12, 2018 11:16 am

Hello

I am a BIABer who decided to get a Grainfather. It arrived last week and I had my first brew a couple of days ago. Basically it was a bit of a disaster. Having watched a load of youtube vids I thought it would be ideal ie could use it in the kitchen, would be easier to clean and manage than the propane BIAB set up I use at the front of the garage.

I decided to brew a Punk clone recioe which I downloaded from the Grainfather recipe site. The mashing went well and so did the mash out, something I never did with BIABing. My first problem was the sparging - was using about 16 litres of water for the sparge, again never sparged with BIAB so this was a new process for me. It took about 30 mins to drain thro, in the vids I had watched it seemed to go a lot quicker than that. My first question, is that sort of time normal??? was about a 5kg grain bill.

The second problem was my own making. Switched to boil but left the grain still draining over the wort. When it reached boiling it bleeped but before I could get there it boiled over. Mess on the kitchen floor and over the grainfather. The third problem was during the boil, which went fine, a good rolling boil. The problem was that one of the reasons for buying it was to use it in the kitchen but about 45 mins into the boil I had water droplets on the walls and a damp ceiling, and it was a warm day. I had the cooker hood on full extract, but it was not really sucking much of the steam out. Is this normal? Or am I missing a trick?

The final problem was the OG, the recipe forecast an OG of 1.054. but mine turned out to be approx 1.070. I had to add just short of 4 litres of water to get it down. Never had to do this before, all my BIAB recipes always roughly turned out somewhere near the prediction. Is this a common occurance? Was not pleased with this as while adding water gets the alcohol correct am worried that it may affect the flavour. Would be pleased to hear any comments on this. It could be just my ineptitude on my first brew.

The final problem was the cleaning. It took me nearly as long to clean it as to do the brew, also I did it outside. From that one brew it seems to me that it is not suited for brewing in a kitchen. Again, is it me? What do others think.

Thanks for any replies and comments - John

Dave S
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Re: Grainfather first brew - bit of a disaster

Post by Dave S » Sat May 12, 2018 12:31 pm

Jomay wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 11:16 am
Hello

I am a BIABer who decided to get a Grainfather. It arrived last week and I had my first brew a couple of days ago. Basically it was a bit of a disaster. Having watched a load of youtube vids I thought it would be ideal ie could use it in the kitchen, would be easier to clean and manage than the propane BIAB set up I use at the front of the garage.

I decided to brew a Punk clone recioe which I downloaded from the Grainfather recipe site. The mashing went well and so did the mash out, something I never did with BIABing. My first problem was the sparging - was using about 16 litres of water for the sparge, again never sparged with BIAB so this was a new process for me. It took about 30 mins to drain thro, in the vids I had watched it seemed to go a lot quicker than that. My first question, is that sort of time normal??? was about a 5kg grain bill.

The second problem was my own making. Switched to boil but left the grain still draining over the wort. When it reached boiling it bleeped but before I could get there it boiled over. Mess on the kitchen floor and over the grainfather. The third problem was during the boil, which went fine, a good rolling boil. The problem was that one of the reasons for buying it was to use it in the kitchen but about 45 mins into the boil I had water droplets on the walls and a damp ceiling, and it was a warm day. I had the cooker hood on full extract, but it was not really sucking much of the steam out. Is this normal? Or am I missing a trick?

The final problem was the OG, the recipe forecast an OG of 1.054. but mine turned out to be approx 1.070. I had to add just short of 4 litres of water to get it down. Never had to do this before, all my BIAB recipes always roughly turned out somewhere near the prediction. Is this a common occurance? Was not pleased with this as while adding water gets the alcohol correct am worried that it may affect the flavour. Would be pleased to hear any comments on this. It could be just my ineptitude on my first brew.

The final problem was the cleaning. It took me nearly as long to clean it as to do the brew, also I did it outside. From that one brew it seems to me that it is not suited for brewing in a kitchen. Again, is it me? What do others think.

Thanks for any replies and comments - John
If you used GF's calculation to work out the Sparge water then that's why you ended up having to add water, because their calculator is incorrect, (I'm on my band wagon again). I'm hoping that at some point they will do something about it, god knows I've tried long and hard to bring it to their attention. There is a thread here where I've explained how to calculate it properly.

Regarding the steam, yes you will need some kind of extraction method if you want to avoid a sticky mess in the kitchen. I use mine outside. Otherwise the GF is a great bit of kit :D .
Best wishes

Dave

Jomay
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Re: Grainfather first brew - bit of a disaster

Post by Jomay » Sat May 12, 2018 1:50 pm

Thanks for that Dave, much appreciated. Wish I had read it before starting, but Im new to sparging, one of the advantages to BIAB. Will be brewing in the garage next, like I said I had hoped to brew in the kitchen. Dosnt matter now but in the depths of winter then it would be useful to use the kitchen. One last thing. is half an hour or so for the sparging roughly normal for 5kg grain and 16 litres of water. At the time it seemed to take an age to filter thro but I have no experience.

Once again thanks very much - John

Manngold
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Re: Grainfather first brew - bit of a disaster

Post by Manngold » Sat May 12, 2018 3:01 pm

The cleaning process really shouldn't have taken that long. Generally speaking it takes me about 30 minutes at the end of the day. It should take a bit longer than BIAB as there is far more too clean. I try to clean things as I go, such as the grain basket.
Last edited by Manngold on Sat May 12, 2018 4:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Robhaigh
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Re: Grainfather first brew - bit of a disaster

Post by Robhaigh » Sat May 12, 2018 3:15 pm

Yes. Sparging takes that long. It’s not only the amount of grain that determines it but the size of the crush.
Don’t worry about it, just let it sparge.. I can recommend a sparge water heater , it helps tremendously with having the right amount of spargewater to hand).

You picked quite a complex recipe to start with (don’t worry.. i did exactly the same on my first Grainfather brew!!). All those different hops etc etc ...

I do find with hop heavy and big grain bill brews you can get some boil over. (I did a porter the other week and I thought it was going to take over the garage!)...
It makes a bit of a mess but, as you wil prob end up doing.. I brew in the garage.
Clean up... It gets easier. Best advice here is as soon as you finish using any part of the GF, i.e you take out the grain basket, the hop plate or anything give it a zap with a decent hose pipe and wash off the worst of it. Then when all done everything is free of sludge and you can whack it all back in the gf with some water and cleaner, 20 mins at 65degrees, a swish out with clean water and all done till next time.
Oh yes... and get a hop spider.... it makes clean up so much quicker.





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Jomay
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Re: Grainfather first brew - bit of a disaster

Post by Jomay » Sat May 12, 2018 5:40 pm

Thanks Rob and Manngold

I think the cleaning took so long - because it was my first time, and mostly because of the boilover, although not a lot of liquid came over, it was very messy. I also did a 20 mins with special cleaner and then 20 mins with water at 60 degrees. I live in a hard water area and with all the grain and hops there was crud burnt onto the bottom heater plate. That all took a while to get off; with my BIAB kettle I use "Vim", good old fashioned scouring powder but was reluctant to use it on my new Grainfather. I suspect as I get more experienced this will get quicker. I have always felt that successful brewing is more cleaning and sanitising than anything else, so perhaps go a bit overboard on these aspects.

Thanks for your replies and suggestions - much appreciated - John

chefgage
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Re: Grainfather first brew - bit of a disaster

Post by chefgage » Sat May 12, 2018 6:35 pm

A few answers to your questions. The sparge i find does take a while, half hour seems about right. I just do 2 litres at a time using the controller to log the amount of sparge water going in. I also just use cold water to sparge with. I find i hit all my targets and efficiency is good. I see no reason now to use hot sparge water.

When sparging just leave the controller on sparge. It will continue to heat the wort up to 96'c and then control around that temperature allowing you to continue and finish sparging.

Yes if you use the app sone if the values are wrong such as grain absorbtion etc.. I dont let this worry me. If i end up with a coupe of litres less in the fermenter then just up the grain bill next time to compensate.

As for you high OG im not sure about that. I use the grain father recipe tool to create the recipe and then the grainfather app to then control the brew. I always get within a couple of points of the OG.

I brew in the kitchen and my method of steam extraction is to have a window open and a fan on full blow behind the grainfather. This pretty much blows all the steam out the window.

Hope this helps.

Dave S
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Re: Grainfather first brew - bit of a disaster

Post by Dave S » Sat May 12, 2018 7:08 pm

chefgage wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 6:35 pm
A few answers to your questions. The sparge i find does take a while, half hour seems about right. I just do 2 litres at a time using the controller to log the amount of sparge water going in. I also just use cold water to sparge with. I find i hit all my targets and efficiency is good. I see no reason now to use hot sparge water.

When sparging just leave the controller on sparge. It will continue to heat the wort up to 96'c and then control around that temperature allowing you to continue and finish sparging.

Yes if you use the app sone if the values are wrong such as grain absorbtion etc.. I dont let this worry me. If i end up with a coupe of litres less in the fermenter then just up the grain bill next time to compensate.

As for you high OG im not sure about that. I use the grain father recipe tool to create the recipe and then the grainfather app to then control the brew. I always get within a couple of points of the OG.

I brew in the kitchen and my method of steam extraction is to have a window open and a fan on full blow behind the grainfather. This pretty much blows all the steam out the window.

Hope this helps.
His OG was high because his brew length was short, needing a 4L top up, and that was due, (more than likely) to GF's calculator being inaccurate.
Best wishes

Dave

Fil
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Re: Grainfather first brew - bit of a disaster

Post by Fil » Sat May 12, 2018 10:55 pm

sorry to read that the first brew with the g/f wasnt the best experience.. sounds like a case of 'culture shock' perhaps?
A slow drain through the grain tube of a grainfather is way faster than your average batch or even fly sparging session ;) so if coming from that direction its not registered as an issue.. ;)

If your present a violent stir in with a mash paddle or a spritz with a trigger mist bottle can break the surface tension in the initial foam up of a boil, but if your not there you will have some extra scrubbing to do..

The simple calculations/formula in the manual for volumes have always been spot on this end, and its a lot quicker to open a page than it is to sit at a puter/dig out a phone and browse to a page/start an app.. (Big rubber band holds the manual to the g/f in storage)

My very limited experience of under kitchen hood boiling (once) resulted in more steam condensing on the hood and dripping back into the brew (YUK!)
than getting sucked out the extractor!! i think a 5 gallon brew boil will generate way more vapour than your average cooker hood can accommodate..
however i have discovered a good through draught is sufficient to clear the vapour produced from an 80l boil with 6kw of input ;) so you can perhaps brew with an open door and window if needed using a fan to encourage steam to evacuate ;)

Cleaning,, well there is more bits n pieces involved with a g/f than with a biab pot grainbag and dunk bucket.. and again less than a 3v set up??
But unless you have a LARGE brewshed sink (I use a 90l plasterers mixing trub..) the patio and a hose pipe with a kitchen scrubby to remove stuborn overboil ;) is probably your best option, and speed and eficiency will soon come with experience.. Fwiw i leave my machine to drain on its rim overnight before i consider righting it and packing away.. to avoid/minimise capturing any moisture in the pump/pipework. (i also use silica desiccant in storage)


hopefully with teething issues resolved future brewdays will be more relaxed and less hassle
ist update for months n months..
Fermnting: not a lot..
Conditioning: nowt
Maturing: Challenger smash, and a kit lager
Drinking: dry one minikeg left in the store
Coming Soon Lots planned for the near future nowt for the immediate :(

chefgage
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Re: Grainfather first brew - bit of a disaster

Post by chefgage » Sun May 13, 2018 7:41 am

Dave S wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 7:08 pm
chefgage wrote:
Sat May 12, 2018 6:35 pm
A few answers to your questions. The sparge i find does take a while, half hour seems about right. I just do 2 litres at a time using the controller to log the amount of sparge water going in. I also just use cold water to sparge with. I find i hit all my targets and efficiency is good. I see no reason now to use hot sparge water.

When sparging just leave the controller on sparge. It will continue to heat the wort up to 96'c and then control around that temperature allowing you to continue and finish sparging.

Yes if you use the app sone if the values are wrong such as grain absorbtion etc.. I dont let this worry me. If i end up with a coupe of litres less in the fermenter then just up the grain bill next time to compensate.

As for you high OG im not sure about that. I use the grain father recipe tool to create the recipe and then the grainfather app to then control the brew. I always get within a couple of points of the OG.

I brew in the kitchen and my method of steam extraction is to have a window open and a fan on full blow behind the grainfather. This pretty much blows all the steam out the window.

Hope this helps.
His OG was high because his brew length was short, needing a 4L top up, and that was due, (more than likely) to GF's calculator being inaccurate.
Strange that. I always hit the OG (within a point or two) the grainfather recipe creator comes up with using the water volumes it tells me to use.

Dave S
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Re: Grainfather first brew - bit of a disaster

Post by Dave S » Sun May 13, 2018 9:54 am

If I use their figure for Sparge water, I will always be 2.5-3L short at the end. 0.8 as a grain retention figure is plainly wrong.
Best wishes

Dave

Robhaigh
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Re: Grainfather first brew - bit of a disaster

Post by Robhaigh » Sun May 13, 2018 10:07 am

Curious Dave.
Do you calculate the figure manually using the formula in the ibstructions or do you use the figure the app gives you?
Dave S wrote:If I use their figure for Sparge water, I will always be 2.5-3L short at the end. 0.8 as a grain retention figure is plainly wrong.
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Dave S
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Re: Grainfather first brew - bit of a disaster

Post by Dave S » Sun May 13, 2018 10:22 am

Robhaigh wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 10:07 am
Curious Dave.
Do you calculate the figure manually using the formula in the ibstructions or do you use the figure the app gives you?
Dave S wrote:If I use their figure for Sparge water, I will always be 2.5-3L short at the end. 0.8 as a grain retention figure is plainly wrong.
Sent from my Mi A1 using Tapatalk
The formula in the manual and that in the app are the same. I don't use either.
Best wishes

Dave

Robhaigh
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Re: Grainfather first brew - bit of a disaster

Post by Robhaigh » Sun May 13, 2018 10:52 am

Dave S wrote:
Robhaigh wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 10:07 am
Curious Dave.
Do you calculate the figure manually using the formula in the ibstructions or do you use the figure the app gives you?
Dave S wrote:If I use their figure for Sparge water, I will always be 2.5-3L short at the end. 0.8 as a grain retention figure is plainly wrong.
Sent from my Mi A1 using Tapatalk
The formula in the manual and that in the app are the same. I don't use either.
Cheers Dave.
Can't say I have noticed I am short when using the gf formula but, will definitely check on the next brew.

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chefgage
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Re: Grainfather first brew - bit of a disaster

Post by chefgage » Sun May 13, 2018 11:41 am

Dave S wrote:
Sun May 13, 2018 9:54 am
If I use their figure for Sparge water, I will always be 2.5-3L short at the end. 0.8 as a grain retention figure is plainly wrong.
I agree. I always achieve the OG but I am avout 2l short going into the fermenter. I just live with that or just up the grain bill so i end up using more water thus have more in the fermenter.

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