It is both fun and terrifying any time we get a new piece of equipment to use in our brewing process. Of course we purchase these new items to solve a problem that has existed during previous brewing sessions. However, these items can also contribute to growing pains. Basically anything that we add to the process comes with its own complications that need to be worked through.
Case in point, our new RIMS (recirculating infusion mash system) has been a great inclusion to our brewing setup, as it helps keep the temperature in our mash at a set temperature. We couldn’t have foreseen the RIMS would be able to do too good of a job and was scorching a portion of our grains with liquid that was way too hot. This lead to our IPA hitting the expected original gravity (OG, is a measurement of the density of a liquid at the end of the boil), but didn’t include enough fermentables which caused our final gravity (FG, the measurement of density at the end of fermentation) to miss the intended mark. The result was an IPA that we were expecting to be about 6.5% ABV ending at a much lower 5.12% ABV.
We immediately figured out the cause of the problem a few weeks later when we moved onto the 2nd brewing session with the RIMS. We avoided on relying on the temperature sensor in the RIMS and made sure to keep tabs on temperature fluctuation using our tried and true analog temperature sensors. This allowed us to keep the mash temperature of our double IPA right where we wanted it. So how did we mess it up this time? We water logged our mash with too much water and didn’t get out all the sugars that were leaching out of the grains. This was partially due to over compensating for the water needed to fill the RIMS, and also because we aren’t very good at fly sparging our mash tun (we’ll get into the different mashing techniques on a later date). So what was the damage to this beer? It wasn’t a total loss, but our expected OG was 1.091 and our measured OG was 1.085 … which means we went from a 9% ABV to an 8% ABV. The solution for next time? Keep a tighter eye on all fluid measurements, and work out a more consistent way of extracting the sugars from the grains during mashing.
Until next time! Know that we got the IPA dry hopping with a different hop in each keg (Galaxy, Mosaic, & Comet), while the DIPA is fermenting on the yeast cake left over from the IPA. Even with the minor setbacks, these beers are going to taste great!