Recent problems with cloudy wort

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Recent problems with cloudy wort

Post by mike » 7 years ago

I've done about ten batches using BIAB and love it, but the last three batches I've had a problem. I'm getting a huge amount of particulate in my wort. Its not cold break or hop material but I think its very fine malt(like flour). I am using the same setting on my barley crusher that I have always used and I just replaced my piece of swiss voille that I use for my bag. I don't know what changed, but I was brewing good beer and the last three batches have had this extremely cloudy wort and the finished beer is very sweet. Any ideas about what may be my problem?

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Post by hashie » 7 years ago

If your beer is coming out sweet, it would suggest that you have been mashing at a higher temperature.

What' if anything else, did you change for your last 3 brews?

ie. new thermometer, different vessel...
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Post by mike » 7 years ago

I haven't changed anything else at all. One of these three batches is an american wheat that I have brewed numerous times with no problems until now. I think I may have to set the gap on my grain mill a little wider to reduce the amount of flour in my wort. I just don't understand what has changed to make my wort so much more cloudy than before. The sweetness in my beer seems to come from this cloudy wort. It never really clears comepletely even after lagered for several weeks.


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Post by crundle » 7 years ago

Hi Mike,

The fine crush shouldn't be doing anything to make the beer sweeter, as a finer crush is only making it easier for the enzymes to reach their targets to break down to simpler sugars, which will raise efficiency a bit, but is not a factor in wort sweetness.

I would think that perhaps the temperature of the mash is a bit high if you are ending up with more residual sugar in your brew, but it is hard to tell on the information you have provided.

It does seems strange that all of a sudden things are not working as they should if nothing has changed, which makes me wonder if something has changed but not by you or your methods. It could be possible that your thermometer is not reading properly, so it could be giving you incorrect readings as to mash temperature.

It might help someone work out what is happening if you can outline your typical brew day in a bit more detail. I am interested in what type of thermometer you are using, whether you are mashing out or not, and whether or not you are no chilling or not.

It get annoying when things suddenly go wrong with our brewing, but I normally find that something must have changed, and if it wasn't anything obvious to you, then perhaps it might be a piece of equipment that has suddenly stopped working correctly.

It might be prudent to check your thermometer at this point to see if it is reading accurately.

cheers,

Matt


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Post by mike » 7 years ago

First of all, I love you Aussies! What quick responses to my post. Thank you. I've calibrated my thermometer it is working properly. My theory is that I have very fine malt still in suspension after fermentation that is adding to the sweetness. I brewed today and could see a substantial amoount of very fine particulate in my wort as my bag was draining. I use an extremely fine mesh voille for my bag, but this particulate is very visible in the wort, both pre and post boil. I use an immersion chiller and able to chill quite quickly. Once the wort is chilled and I leave as much sediment in the brew pot as possible, I am still ending up woth at least 2 inches of sediment in my fermenters after everything has settled. Plus the beer never clears properly with age.

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Post by hashie » 7 years ago

There are still several questions that come to my mind regarding the "particulate"

Are you using the same grain as in previous brews that were clear? If not, it could just be a characteristic of the grain you have used in the last 3 batches

How long do you boil for? I find with a 90 minute boil my beers are all clear.

Do you use Irish Moss or any other fining agent at the end of your boil? These can help to flocculate all the particulates in your wort.

Do you whirlpool? Whirl pooling 10 minutes before racking from your kettle to your fermenter or cube will consolidate most of the break material into the centre of your kettle.

Do you crush your grain anywhere near your brew pot? Not that I have any dramas when I do this, but I have read that getting crush dust (flour) into your mash can make your beers hazy. Not from my experience though, I double crush with a barley crusher while my water is heating and while I don't brew for competitions, my beers are still clear.
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Post by mike » 7 years ago

Its the same grain I've had on hand for months. I do use whirlflock and do a 90 minute boil. I do not really whirlpool to any great extent. I stir with a spoon after the wort is cool and then let it stand about 15 minutes before I drain the kettle.I guess my problem is that I haven't changed anything at all but my finished product has. I will play around with my process and figure out the problem. I just thought maybe someone else had experienced the same thing.


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Post by PistolPatch » 7 years ago

These sort of problems are hard Mike. You've got me stumped.

The only two things I can think of are...

1.) You say you changed your bag material. I wonder if that has anything to do with it.

2.) Occupationally town water changes in its chemistry. I think this clutching at straws though.

3.) I would definitely skip the stirring with the spoon once the kettle is cooled. Just leave it.

Very strange indeed mike. Mmmmm,
Pat
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Post by Ralph » 7 years ago

Quite strange, that's for sure. Got any vital stats on a few batches mike? Some SGs would be good.

I'd be surprised if anything suspended could increase perceived sweetness, yeast are pretty thorough. I was thinking temperature, so maybe your thermometer, but seems that's not a problem. Go back to a finer crush perhaps? I know it sounds incongruous, but there are life's never- solved mysteries too! (Like where the TV remote went or your mobile phone... :) )

Your hops haven't changed either?

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Post by mike » 7 years ago

It is a strange problem. I'm going to play around with the size of my crush and do some experimental small scale boils to try to isolate the problem. I will post my results.


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Post by crundle » 7 years ago

I was just thinking about your problem Mike, and it seems strange still.

I still cannot explain the sweetness since you say your thermometer is working correctly, other than to guess that perhaps your crush has changed to give a noticeable increase in powder that is not being trapped by whirpooling or even during fermentation.

I had always thought that any such powder would not give extra sweetness to a beer, as wheat beers are notorious for being cloudy and I have never experienced extra sweetness from them, but I could be wrong.

I think you are on the right track by adjusting the crush to see what happens. It may be that the new bag you are using is somehow letting through more than the old one was, and this is somehow affecting the final beer you are making. I have no theory as to HOW it might be affecting the final product, but if the problem goes away when you make the crush coarser, then great, it would seem to be a matter of having your setup in balance.

Waiting eagerly to hear how the next brew goes!

Matt


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Post by mike » 7 years ago

I just finished doing a couple of one gallon batches using the usual crush size and one a little coarser. After everything cooled and settled out I don't see any of the weird stuff that I've had in my recent batches, just the cold break matter that is normal. This is going to sound dumb, but I did think of one thing I did differently on the three problem batches. I made a lid for my kettle out of plywood. I really don't see how this would create any problem but it is the only change and I did use it on the problem beers. I doubt it's the case but maybe the steam produced when the mash is resting could create some problem with the plywood sitting right above the mash. Another thing that I could change is the way I transfer my wort from the kettle to my carboy. I have a ball valve with a siphon tube attached inside the kettle. I might need to reposition the siphon tube so it does not pick up as much trub, or just go back to siphoning with a racking cane.


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Post by Ralph » 7 years ago

Mike, I see you mention the mash, but do you leave the plywood lid on the kettle (even partly) during the boil? If so, does condensation on the plywood run back into the wort?
Probably clutching at straws as the problem, but I place the lid partly covering my stockpot to reduce evaporation and also the amount of energy used, but condensation on the lid runs away and not into the boil (link, not the best example though as it isn't all that obvious...). Definitely want any condensate to run away and not back into the boil (contains icky DMS and precursors).
Last edited by Ralph on 20 Apr 2010, 09:21, edited 10 times in total.
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Post by crundle » 7 years ago

OK, next thing to try is to do a full batch without the lid and see what happens, and if that doesn't fix it, then try it without the lid and go back to the racking cane.

It is really hard at the beginning to work out what changes are making what effects, but by changing one thing at a time we can normally work out what is happening.

I have no idea why a plywood lid or not using a racking cane would affect your beer in such a way, but all that really matters is to get back to being able to make a consistently good beer, with repeatable results, so give it a try and we will be very interested to see which of the two changes has been causing you grief!

cheers,

Matt


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Post by Beachbum » 7 years ago

Do you use Irish Moss, Whirlfloc etc in the last 20 minutes of the boil? Might drag some of that cloudiness out of the wort as well as the hot break?


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Post by mike » 7 years ago

Beachbum, I do use whirlfloc for each batch. I'm going to try to brew this weekend and see if I can isolate the problem. I must be overlooking something in my process. I think after doing several batches that I've been very pleased with, I may have become complacent and maybe my problem has a simple solution.


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Post by crundle » 7 years ago

mike wrote:Beachbum, I do use whirlfloc for each batch. I'm going to try to brew this weekend and see if I can isolate the problem. I must be overlooking something in my process. I think after doing several batches that I've been very pleased with, I may have become complacent and maybe my problem has a simple solution.
Any luck Mike?

Matt
Last edited by crundle on 11 May 2010, 08:25, edited 10 times in total.


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Post by mike » 7 years ago

Matt, I haven't had time to brew lately. I'll be brewing sometime soon and will let everyone know how it goes.

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Post by LloydieP » 7 years ago

How do you use your yeast? New packets, re-pitching or slants?
Im a little biased towards yeast effects...
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Post by mike » 7 years ago

I use white labs yeast, new vials for each batch, and I make a starter.

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Post by LloydieP » 7 years ago

Hmmm sweet tasting suggests attenuation differences. Not sure how that fits with cloudiness/suspended particulates. Unless they're clumps of yeast that won't flocc. Don't happen to have lot/batch numbers do you? :lol:
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Post by mike » 7 years ago

It's been a long time since my original post but I just managed to find time to brew again yesterday. There was still alot of trub but I changed my technique and have solved the problem. I had been draining to the fermenter through a ball valve and I went back to siphoning. This allowed me to watch carefully until I got down to the trub and I was able to transfer extremely clear wort. I have figured out the sweetness problem as well. As some of you suggested, it was my thermometer. I thought it was reading accurately but I found out it was reading about 4 degrees low(F). I now know to check my equipment frequently and I think I have learned a few things in the process.

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Post by wizard78 » 7 years ago

Good to hear things have worked out for you mike
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Post by PistolPatch » 7 years ago

Thanks a heap for posting the above mike. It's even better to see the reasons for your answer above - good analysis. It's getting late here but I have a thought or two that I will try and write in the next few days.
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Post by mike » 7 years ago

Starch haze may have been a big factor in my problem too. I stir my mash every ten to fifteen minutes but I really don't do iodine test anymore. If I'm hitting my gravities, does that mean I have conversion but possibly not complete conversion?

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