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Brewing Topics => Brewing Discussion => Topic started by: x3la on July 15, 2020, 10:03:53 AM

Title: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: x3la on July 15, 2020, 10:03:53 AM
I've brewed an English Bitter to the exact same recipe twice now. Both times, the estimated ABV was 3.6% in BeerSmith -- this matches the beer I'm 'cloning'. I have consistently hit 4.5% with both batches. I want to explore my options for the next batch, to bring it down to the desired 3.6%.

The yeast I'm using is Ringwood WPL005 from a home made slant. BeerSmith shows this as having a max attenuation of 74% and this indeed matches the characteristics listed on White Labs for this yeast: https://www.whitelabs.com/yeast-bank/wlp005-british-ale-yeast

Currently, in the Primary fermenter, 6 days into fermentation I have 85% attenuation.

Looking at my graph (attached) I see that I hit my target ABV 2 days ago when the attenuation was at 65%.

What should I do for my next batch to try and get the ABV to ~3.5% ?

Is the issue entirely with the high attenuation?

Should I reduce my grain bill?

Should I adjust the yeast in the tab so that the max attenuation is 85% ? In doing so, will the grain bill dynamically adjust to ensure 3.5% is hit?

If I transfer into Secondary when the ABV is close to 3.5% next time, will this slow the fermentation enough to stall it around my desired ABV?
Title: Re: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: Oginme on July 15, 2020, 11:25:07 AM
What is your grain bill?  It is hard to troubleshoot without all the information on the recipe. 

The published yeast attenuation max/min are really specification range for that yeast on a standard laboratory wort.  Actual apparent attenuation can be affected by mash temperature, type of malts used, simple sugars, fermentation temperatures, and yeast health along with other things. 

Transferring the wort to a secondary or trying to stop fermentation prematurely will result in having unfermented sugars in your bottles/kegs/packaging which could lead to bottle bombs, uncontrolled carbonation, and heavy foaming when trying to dispense.  IMHO, it is always better to let the yeast finish out so that packaging can be stable.

If you want us to look at your recipe, export it as a .bsmx file and post it here so we can see just how your recipe is constructed and your process surrounding it.

You can export a recipe by highlighting it in the file (do not open), clicking on 'file' > 'export selected' and then saving the file.
Title: Re: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: x3la on July 15, 2020, 11:45:33 AM
Thanks! Recipe attached
Title: Re: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: brewfun on July 15, 2020, 11:58:34 AM
The 90 minute mash at 152 left you with a very fermentable wort. In making low abv beer I used to find the body and flavor lacking when I went for fermentability and all malt grists. I've learned to use much higher mash temps and go for about 1% abv fermentability. The other 2.5% abv. come from an invert sugar addition. Sometime last year I heard a podcast with Ron Pattinson talking about post WWII cask ale where he confirmed that breweries were using this technique well into the 70's.
Title: Re: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: x3la on July 15, 2020, 02:04:56 PM
The 90 minute mash at 152 left you with a very fermentable wort. In making low abv beer I used to find the body and flavor lacking when I went for fermentability and all malt grists. I've learned to use much higher mash temps and go for about 1% abv fermentability. The other 2.5% abv. come from an invert sugar addition. Sometime last year I heard a podcast with Ron Pattinson talking about post WWII cask ale where he confirmed that breweries were using this technique well into the 70's.

Presumably the consequence of Rationing. I recently read one of his blogs which has a Grist chart from Fullers which shows the fermentable ingredient variations in Pride over the years. Quite interesting!

https://www.beeradvocate.com/articles/16373/fullers-london-pride-a-variable-veritable-classic/
Title: Re: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: x3la on July 15, 2020, 02:27:28 PM
The 90 minute mash at 152 left you with a very fermentable wort. In making low abv beer I used to find the body and flavor lacking when I went for fermentability and all malt grists. I've learned to use much higher mash temps and go for about 1% abv fermentability. The other 2.5% abv. come from an invert sugar addition. Sometime last year I heard a podcast with Ron Pattinson talking about post WWII cask ale where he confirmed that breweries were using this technique well into the 70's.

Isn't the effect of mash time factored into BeerSmith's calculations for estimated ABV? It presumably knows my 90 minute mash will have a higher wort fermentability than a 60 minute mash?
Title: Re: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: Oginme on July 15, 2020, 05:31:30 PM
BeerSmith models the affect of mash temperature but not time.  I can't remember seeing any mash fermentability models which take time into account, though I am sure that someone has taken a poke at it. 
Title: Re: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: x3la on July 15, 2020, 06:07:18 PM
BeerSmith models the affect of mash temperature but not time.  I can't remember seeing any mash fermentability models which take time into account, though I am sure that someone has taken a poke at it.

Should my next batch be an experiment with mash time then? 60 minutes rather than 90?
Title: Re: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: Oginme on July 15, 2020, 06:19:07 PM
If you are willing to do a series to determine just what your process will produce, that would be an excellent way to do it.  You can apply the learning to any recipes you try later. 
Title: Re: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: brewfun on July 16, 2020, 07:50:44 AM
Should my next batch be an experiment with mash time then? 60 minutes rather than 90?

If you do a search for mash conversion experiments, you'll find that it happens in 40 minutes or less. The major factors are water volume, calcium level and pH which when in synchronicity will convert in 15 to 20 minutes. After 40 minutes, there is continued breakdown of dextrine and protein, which will lead to lower FG. However, it's hardly linear and doesn't always warrant the time in styles that need more body.

The homebrew adherence to a long mash is due in part to pro techniques where 4 vessel systems are built around process times for consistency and efficiency, rather than "styles." Thus, the "style," or more likely house character, is flexible based on equipment and sales.

I've done a few time experiments on my brewhouses and each has its own sweet spot. The one I use the most makes its best wort at 150F for 50 minutes after dough in. A new fully automated 30 bbl brewhouse seems to be on rails at 156 for 30 minutes, but the mash is continuously stirred. In both cases, there's a mashout step. By contrast, a 5 bbl system I started using a couple of months ago needs multiple steps lasting 2 hours or else there's a very slow lauter.
Title: Re: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: x3la on July 16, 2020, 12:01:24 PM
This is an experiment to effectively try to decrease my mash efficiency by reducing the time.

It wouldn't be better to reduce the grain bill slightly and always strive for maximum mash efficiency?
Title: Re: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: x3la on July 16, 2020, 12:09:59 PM
The 90 minute mash at 152 left you with a very fermentable wort. In making low abv beer I used to find the body and flavor lacking when I went for fermentability and all malt grists. I've learned to use much higher mash temps and go for about 1% abv fermentability. The other 2.5% abv. come from an invert sugar addition. Sometime last year I heard a podcast with Ron Pattinson talking about post WWII cask ale where he confirmed that breweries were using this technique well into the 70's.

What mash temp do you target for English Ales?

https://byo.com/article/successful-mash-conversion-tips-from-the-pros/

"If your mash conversion temperature exceeds 153? F, a higher percentage of unfermentable sugars, called dextrins, will be produced. A higher level of dextrins occurs if your grain bill contains a good amount of caramel and caramalts, which are inherently high in these dextrins (14 percent to 18 percent). These dextrins are unfermentable and therefore will raise the final gravity and lower the alcohol percentage of the beer.

I like to use a slightly higher mash conversion temperature when producing maltier styles of beer to utilize the dextrins that add body and mouthfeel to the beer."
Title: Re: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: Oginme on July 16, 2020, 01:14:59 PM
It really depends upon the style.  For bitters, pale ales, golden ales, IPAs I am in the 152F range.  For milds, browns, porters I am anywhere from 152 to 160 depending upon the style and my goals for body and flavor.
Title: Re: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: x3la on July 16, 2020, 08:28:47 PM
If you are willing to do a series to determine just what your process will produce, that would be an excellent way to do it.  You can apply the learning to any recipes you try later.

What would my alternatives be? I know that the brewery that created what I'm trying to reproduce use a 90 min mash.
Title: Re: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: Oginme on July 17, 2020, 02:48:39 AM
Alternative would be to increase your mash temperature and stick with the 90 minute mash.

Note the advice that Brewfun gave, every process is a bit different.  For my systems, I switched a year ago from doing full volume BIAB to using an all-in-one Anvil Foundry.  Same crush, same grains, same basic process of full volume mash and my mash efficiency dropped about 8 points and my wort was less fermentable.  I changed my crush a bit and increased the mash time to gain back 6 of those points and achieved the same basic fermentability as I had previously.  I could increase my mash time more to get another point or two of efficiency, but would also produce a much more fermentable wort (tried it twice and it worked the same way both times).  So I backed down to where I felt comfortable in my results and what matched my brew day schedule. 

So if a brewery mashes for 90 minutes on a recipe I wanted to mimic, I would take a look at the results and adjust my mash temperature to get the same predicted final gravity (measure of fermentability) as the big brewery and keep my mash schedule as a constant.  It does not mean that keeping the mash temperature the same and adjusting the mash time is wrong. In fact it is just as valid, but just not how I chose to adapt the brewery practice to my system to achieve what I hope would be the same result.
Title: Re: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: x3la on July 17, 2020, 11:18:32 AM
What purpose does reducing the mash temperature over the 90 minutes from 160F to 148F serve?
Title: Re: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: Oginme on July 17, 2020, 12:07:45 PM
As I read that it would seem that 160F water is the strike temperature of the water before the grains are mixed in.  My interpretation is that once mixed with the grains, the mashing temperature is at 148F. 

There have been some people interested in or trying to do a reverse temperature mash: starting out at a temperature high in the fermentation zone which favors alpha amylase activity and then cooling the wort down to a rest in the lower range which favors beta amylase activity.  While this seems to be reasonable in thought, the higher rest temperature hastens the denaturing of the beta amylase enzyme which if left for too long at the higher temperature will leave less enzyme available when the rest temperature is lowered to the range for that enzyme to optimally operate.

Title: Re: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: x3la on July 18, 2020, 11:39:36 AM
If this is what the brewery did then I think this has to be my next experiment.

Ringwood was my local brewery in the UK, founded by Peter Austin. I grew up drinking their beers and am particularly fond of their Best Bitter. Now that I live in the US I'm trying to replicate the beers that I miss. 20 litre Polypins for now until I've honed each recipe.
Title: Re: Higher ABV than desired
Post by: brewfun on July 20, 2020, 09:21:43 AM
What mash temp do you target for English Ales?

Depends on the malt being used. US domestic malts handle a higher temperature (158 - 162 F), while heritage and import grains seem to work with lower temps (154 - 156 F). A lot has to do with protein levels and retained enzymes. Heritage grains like Maris Otter and Golden Promise have lower diastatic values than American or Canadian two row. At temperatures of 148 - 154, both categories can handle up to 50% adjunct and specialty malts, but heritage malts quickly fall off at higher temps.

Having seen some Peter Austin recipes, I'd wager that the mash was about 151 to 154, with up to 5% of light crystal (10 to 20 lov) and another 5% of flaked barley for body. Don't underestimate the contribution of yeast to low gravity cask ale. The Yorkshire Square (wlp037) is going to give fantastic flavor up to 4%, but falls off above that. The British Ale (wlp002) is going to be a lot drier and higher abv under the same conditions, so there's where the higher mash and additional sugar make the difference.

Peter Austin was fond of open fermentation and top cropping yeast and most of his installations included that. Peter Austin had Ringwood yeast he incorporated into many of his breweries. Interestingly, the current commercial strains of Ringwood are high flocculators, rather than true top cropping. So, I don't know the evolution of that strain or if it ever was top cropping.