Lets face it. Brewing beer is easy. Real easy. Once you find your groove you sometimes go on autopilot.
You know your basic flight path, take off and landing routines. And if something minor occurs you can quickly course adjust and get back on track.
But then there are days when autopilot mode goes off course, but because you have become so trusting, you dont see the problem until its too late to turn back.
This past weekend was one of those situations.
I was brewing my Russian Imperial. Not a regular brew of mine, but one I’ve done a few times, so I used my regular recipe. Everything seem was normal except that I got a new phone and didnt have my app installed yet. So I get the app loaded on the new phone and put in the details.
I take a quick glance compare old phone recipe to new one to make sure they match up, and they appear to do so. Well ok, they are off a few points, but nothing much.
Probably have a setting off a bit, but they are very very close, it will be ok. (first warning sign)
Read the recipe, heat the water, start the mash.. Blah blah blah.
Hmmm this mash seems pretty damn thin,, that must be where the setting is off.
(second warning sign)
But looks like it will even out.
Right here I knew something was wrong. And even when I was getting ready to start heating the sparge water, I looked again because the amounts just seemed off. (third warning) But I ran the water calcs thru my head and they did come out reasonably close. So,, keep going.
During sparge I emptied, and filled once and was done. Again right here I knew,, I KNEW,,, Something was not right. I actually said to my to myself that it seems weird that I’m not rinsing more. (fourth warning) But, I wrote it off as being a big beer, so might be a bit different.
But I keep on going. Starting to heat to boil. But AGAIN, my flight alarm is flashing, and I run the volumes thru calculation again because something in the back of my head is saying something is not right. (fifth warning)
But, I end up with the right amount. So with a good to go signal from the pre boil volume,, I continued on.
Boil. Chill. All good. As I’m draining into fermenter I literally say out loud to myself, “hey, I never took any readings” I better get one now.
WTF! I’m supposed to be about 1.105 and I’m sitting at 1.085! Holy hell,, thats a lot to be off. And not a whole lot I can do now.
Immediately, my brain says “the mash” I knew it. I KNEW IT! I knew when it was happening that I somehow got water volumes messed up.
It should been a thicker mash with less water upfront, leaving more water to rinse and sparge with, to get those loose sugars out.
And I knew that,, but I just left it go without thinking. Even after 5 warnings that something was wrong.
But you how I could have realized my mistake? Thats right. Checking my gravity.
If I had checked my pre boil gravity, I would have seen right then and there what was going on. Although the mash process was already messed up, I still could have taken action and fixed it,, or at least gotten closer.
I could have quickly heated some more sparge water did another sparge and took some more heavy wort off. Sure my volume would have been over, but a slightly longer boil fixes that too.
Brewing is easy,, but you still have to pay attention.
My mistake here wasn’t my entering the recipe into the app wrong so much as it was that I didn’t follow the simple procedures.
Check those numbers when you’re supposed to check those numbers. And don’t get complacent.