first ag with corn

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first ag with corn

Postby invisigoth » Sun Jul 21, 2019 11:53 pm

g'day all :)

due to a family member taking a liking to apple pie, i thought i'd make some more. figured i'd start off with a good base, so i thought to start off with a modification of mtnmoonshiner's "traditional appalachian (u.s.) sweet mash corn whiskey". not wanting to make a suger head, i thought i'd give ag a go. i scaled down his amounts for a 25l batch:

7 1/3kg cracked corn
3 2/3kg rye meal
1.93kg malted barley

then i thought "hmm... lets malt it up a bit and round things off". so i went with:

5kg cracked corn
2.5kg malted corn
4kg rye malt
2kg distillers malted barley

i've done a 5 gen bko before, but never dealt with corn in a mash before :shifty: . most of my beers are 5-15l, so i've never dealt with this much grain before! 8-}

i don't have a proper mash tun, but my beers have turned out just fine using a heater meant for bottling fuit. it's about the same size at a 30l commercial keg with an element inside, covered by a round stainless platform with holes for the bottles to sit on.. it acts a bit like the false bottom on a mash tun. it has a dial thermostat, a bit like an electric frying pan.

well.. first step, gelatinization of the unmalted corn. i soaked over night the 5kg with 17l of water, and used 3l to soak the malted corn to be used later in the mash.

i put the cracked corn into my vessel, added another 5l of water, then got the element going and slowly got the temp up to 90... it took several hours and i just kept stirring. eventually it got really thick and goopy and expanded a lot. i soon realised there was no way in heck i'm gonna get the rest of the grains in there!!!! ~x( . i took the goopy, globby mess out of the canning vessel (i had it inside a brew bag :handgestures-thumbupleft: ) and emptied it into a clean 20l bucket.. which it mostly filled. there was only one thing for it.. two mashes and dump them both into a single fermenter.

this was starting to get complicated 8-} . marked off the hight of grain in the bucket, measured it, worked out where half way was and scooped half out and dumped it back into the bottling vessel in a brew bag, and added another 2l (there was still 5l in the vessel). i waited till the temp had dropped to about 50C, then added half the malted corn, 2kg of rye malt and 1kg of malted barley. the mix was thickish, but movable enough to stir...slowly.

my aim (haha) was a stepped mash.
15mins @40C
30mins @50C
2h@60C
1h@69C

erm.. yeh, tell 'im he's dreamin :wtf:
it had dropped to 40 after i added the grains and stuff. took an hour to get up to 50C with stirring ever 10 mins and keeping an eye on the temp. another 2 hours after my 30 mins to get to 60C, and another hour or so after the 2hour rest to get to 69..ish :)) . i was taking refractometer readings along the way and could see it going up .. and finally getting thinner and easier to stir. i took my final reading, 23 brix, tapped off what fluid I could... all 10l :laughing-rolling: . some of that i put in a jar to check refractometer and hydrometer. next day refractometer reads 22.4 brix, hydrometer reads 1.080 temp corrected.

more or less the same for the second batch, but at one stage the temp went up to 84c, but not sure for how long. mixing dropped the temp and i persisted. the sugar readings were still going up so i guess i hadn't completely denatured the enzymes. final refractometer reading was 24 brix. it hadn't gotten as thin as the first batch. the sample jar the next day had 17 brix and a hydro reading of 1.070.

a reading of the two batched after combining was 1.080 and 20 brix. there was only 15l there, but i knew there was more fluid to be had amongst the grains. i'm fermenting on the grains so when i dumped the grain into the fermenter the whole lot takes up 40l. 35l of water went in, so i'm hoping to get 20-25l back out.

i threw in a couple of teaspoons of citric for good measure (my beer ph paper doesn't work any more, so i'm kinda flying blind). i threw a 50/50 mix or wort and water into a jar, chucked in a packet of still spirits distillers whisky yeast. once it was foaming up, i pitched.

a couple of hours later and the airlock is slowly bubbling away :handgestures-thumbupleft: .
invisigoth
 
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Re: first ag with corn

Postby Wobblyboot » Tue Jul 23, 2019 10:05 pm

Since the rye is low in enzymes, I used to use it as sacrificial malt and put it straight in at start with the corn. The enzymes stops the corn from becoming a solid mess :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: first ag with corn

Postby invisigoth » Wed Jul 24, 2019 3:15 am

Wobblyboot wrote:Since the rye is low in enzymes, I used to use it as sacrificial malt and put it straight in at start with the corn. The enzymes stops the corn from becoming a solid mess :handgestures-thumbupleft:

not quite sure what you mean :think: . are you suggesting a partial mash during the gelatinisation stage of the corn? i can see how that might work, but unless you have some super cheap source for your rye, there's a couple of reasons why i wouldn't do that. firstly, like i said.. my "mash tun" just doesn't have the volume to support both all the corn *and* the rye, which would mean doing two batches of gelatinaiszation as well as two batches of mashing. the second thing is that whilst it may not have the same power as barley, with a dp of 104, it has more than enough to convert itself and some of the corn. the corn needs all the help it can get, and denaturing the rye enzymes before it can do as much as i can get out of it is too costly. :scared-eek: .

it's bubbling away merrily, so that's a good sign :happy-partydance: . it's duelling airlocks with a banana wine i also have on the go... will be interesting to see which one finishes first!
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Re: first ag with corn

Postby invisigoth » Thu Aug 15, 2019 3:38 pm

and the adventure continues....

so, after a bit over 3 weeks it appears to be done. what followed next was... painfull 8-} . between the liquid and the grain there was a total of 40l of real estate taken up in the fermenter. i figured that it should be a lot thinner now with a lot of free liquid, so i put a brew bag into a 25l brew bucket, connected the tap outlet to the tap outlet of a 30l brew bucket, and started scooping. turns out the grain was still hanging on to a lot of fluid and not as much was draining into the other bucket as i was expecting. i tried hand pressing but i could see this was gonna be a long, painful process. there was still about 10l of grain left in the fermenter, so i grabbed my sparge bucket:

Image

threw in a brew bag, and started scooping the rest of the soggy grain into that :

Image

i hand pressed that as best i could and let the two to drip overnight. next day there wasn't a huge amount so i hand pressed both some more. i could see the liquid squish out, then get re-absorbed by the grain as soon as the pressure eased off, and there was no clear path for the liquid to follow to get back down to the tap. the sparge bucket was a bit more successful, but again the liquid could only go through the bottom, and the grains weren't a very free flowing filter bed ~x( . i had managed to get the volume of the grains in the 25l brew bucket down to about 10l, but it was still very soggy and i could see plenty of fluid squeezing out...and being re-absorbed. a bit frustrating, i could smell the alcohol! i made a trip to bunnings. enter sparge bucket mk2! :

Image

the bag in the 25l bucket was transferred into that. the 30l brew bucket had 21l in it. i hand pressed the two sparge buckets some more, but i could tell there was more to be had, and after the painfully long and drawn out process of mashing, i didn't wanna waste a drop. time for more pain :crying-blue: . i have a press....it's a very tiny press :shifty: :

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yeh... about 2l... and i have about 20l of soggy grain :scared-eek: . i grabbed some paint filter bags from bunnings, place that inside the press and start filling :

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after pressing:

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yeh, many, many pressing later i ended up with another 4l of fluid, plus another couple gained from the sparge buckets. total volume for the boiler: 27l. not too bad :handgestures-thumbupleft:

i took a fg after it had settled a bit overnight (it was very soupy). 1.012. sg:1.080, fg 1.012. as i work it, that equates to 27l @9.49% abv. based on what i got out of the 4 plates with the nanas, there's potential for 2.7l @89%.
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Re: first ag with corn

Postby bluc » Thu Aug 15, 2019 5:01 pm

Just to throw a spanner in the works thats about 46% effeciency. I regulqry get between 55 and 65 and hit 75 once....corn 8s a pita and I just dont think I like it enough to continue when bwko gen 7 has a stronger burbon flavour then last years all grain burbon..
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Re: first ag with corn

Postby invisigoth » Thu Aug 15, 2019 6:20 pm

bluc wrote:Just to throw a spanner in the works thats about 46% effeciency. I regulqry get between 55 and 65 and hit 75 once....corn 8s a pita and I just dont think I like it enough to continue when bwko gen 7 has a stronger burbon flavour then last years all grain burbon..


by efficiency do you mean sg or fg? if i was to do it again id mash in smaller batches with more water and use additional enzymes. the whole step mash was a bad idea, the density of grain was acting as an insulator so getting to target temps took too long. if i do this again i'll just stick to a single temp mash, biab style. it's worked for me with my beers and i've always hit my target og/volume. the corn definitely complicates things compared to a bwko , but i've only ever gone to 5 gens.
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Re: first ag with corn

Postby bluc » Thu Aug 15, 2019 6:34 pm

By effeciency it means total % available fermentables extracted from the mash. 75% effeciency would give you sg 1.117..i have been clawing my way up with all my grain brews effeciency but is a pita. Have tried biab rims recirc and with a raspberry pi pid..frustrates to no end. 75% is lowest of accepable mash. With people regulary hitting 85%... :angry-banghead:

People will say its feed corn you will get lower effeciency. Simply not true at 4:1 ratio 4l water to 1kg grain in the fermenter (10kg feed cracked corn 40l final volume)I have hit 75% not been able to do it since :twisted:

Thinking i may forget effeciency and keep adding grain till its an acceptable sg.. :handgestures-thumbupleft:
Last edited by bluc on Thu Aug 15, 2019 6:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: first ag with corn

Postby invisigoth » Thu Aug 15, 2019 7:46 pm

bluc wrote:People will say its feed corn you will get lower effeciency. Simply not true at 4:1 ratio 4l water to 1kg grain in the fermenter (10kg feed cracked corn 40l final volume)I have hit 75% not been able to do it since :twisted:


and *that's* where i fell down. *including* the water used for geletinization of the corn, i think my ratio was more like 2.6:1. just not enough fluidity for the enzymes to find the starch outside of their own grains, so most of the conversion was happening with the malts and not really getting at the cracked corn much. at least i managed to get some conversion :)) .I think from memory i had 1.100 as my target in mind. it was my first time with a corn mash, and the whole affair was a bit uncoordinated, so it's not a complete failure. live and learn i guess 8-} .
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Re: first ag with corn

Postby bluc » Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:07 pm

I mash in gelatinize at 4:1 40l water at 95c in insulated tun add 10kg corn.then you have grain absorbtion you luse 17ish l liquid that artifficially inflates gravity..you then sparge add more water to flush sugar out of grain wich then dilutes/lowers the gravity but gives you back the 4:1 ratio. 10kg corn 40l total volume. My average gravity has been 1.053 but last one really sucked at 1.046 :laughing-rolling:
Last edited by bluc on Thu Aug 15, 2019 8:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: first ag with corn

Postby invisigoth » Sat Aug 24, 2019 9:00 pm

turns out this efficiency thing has repercussions :wtf: .

i thought i'd have close to 27l of nearly 9.5% to run. bzzzt! what i ended up with was about 21l of 9.5ish% and 6l of sludge that wouldn't settle any more. this sludge i believe is unconverted corn starch :crying-blue: . it made getting those 21l a very painful process.

so, i go to run the 21l of clear beer i managed to extract. it fills about 2/3 of my boiler. you would think with 1/3 head space it would be no problem. bzzzt! once it got close to boil the foam started.. and got thicker, and thicker....then it slowly made it's way up my column. by the time it got to the 3rd plate i shut it down. tried again, same result. this foaming i believe is another consequence to poor conversion. after a look through ways to deal with this I seemed to have two options. option 1, antifoam, option 2, reduce the power. option 1 means a trip to the hbs, option 2, means a trip to bunnings for a 15a socket. there happens to be a bunnings on the way to the hsb, so i did both :handgestures-thumbupleft: . the reason for the 15a socket is that i have a 15a plug on my element, but a 10a socket on my power controller, which i just happened to have built to control the 2k element still spirits thought was a good idea to put in their *5l* (yes, 5, not 25) boiler.

so... i put the anti foam in and connected the element to the controller. turned it on and foam started forming, but it seemed not as much. by the time it got to a rolling boil and started reflux the foam was about 1cm thick, but didn't look to be getting thicker.....until it did. 10mins into full reflux it started to get higher and higher. i dropped it down to 1800w, and the foam started to collapse a bit, but was still building. dropped it some more and it settled. after it had settled for a while i tried to inch the power up... and it started foaming up again. in the end it's happy place was a bit over 1500w... not great. i found that the still was a lot more twitchy at lower power.

to add on to my misery it looked like one of my plates wasn't seated properly in it's seal. in full reflux, and slowly dropping off the fores all 4 plates were working. once the take off rate increased the reflux wasn't as much as the leak and i was down to 3 plates working ~x( . in the end i managed to get it done. because of the running conditions the heads and tails weren't as compressed as they usually are, so the yeild wasn't quite what i had hoped for. after blending drinkable cuts , final cut was 1.34l@89% abv. report cars says "must try harder" 8-} .
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