Is my mash ready?

Production methods from starch to sugars.

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Is my mash ready?

Postby Whitecap72 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:08 pm

Hi all. So I made up a 12 gallon sweet feed mash 8 days ago. I'm fermenting in a 20 gallon food grade garbage can. Been 60degrees in the garage pretty steady. When I pull the lid off and look at it, I can see it bubble every now and then, and there is a head of grain on top. What's the best way to tell if it's ready to distill? Never ran a feed mash before, only fruit washes.
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Re: Is my mash ready?

Postby Soft batch » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:26 pm

Hydrometer, a cheap necessary investment! Short of that, if it's bubbling the yeast is still working - wait until it stops bubbling and the wash clears - the cap will sink.
60 degrees is too cool for most yeast - if you have a yeast that works at that temp, it will be slow.
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Re: Is my mash ready?

Postby acfixer69 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:44 pm

Taste it if it's sour/dry it's done if it's sweet it's not. Fermenting at 60 F is sloooow even with ale yeast.

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Re: Is my mash ready?

Postby jon1163 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:47 pm

+1 on watching for the grain cap to sink and for sure get a hydrometer. This might sound kind of silly but I would get a cheap stethoscope and just listen to the side of the fermenter. You'll hear it bubbling away and you'll notice and marked difference when it stops. If you're not deaf you can put your ear to it as well. It's fun to listen to but maybe I'm just easily entertained.
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Re: Is my mash ready?

Postby Whitecap72 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:25 pm

I have a spirits hydrometer, and use it for proofing. What am i looking for to see if its done. I used bread yeast.
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Re: Is my mash ready?

Postby Soft batch » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:37 pm

You need a brewers (aka Mash) hydrometer, which measures sugar content (more or less).

See viewtopic.php?f=61&t=42746

A spirit hydrometer measures the alcohol content AFTER distilling
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Re: Is my mash ready?

Postby Whitecap72 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:40 pm

Ok, i have 1 of those too. I just took a reading with the spirits hydrometer and it was below the zero mark on the tralle lines. I tasted the mash too, and its not at all sweet..
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Re: Is my mash ready?

Postby Soft batch » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:47 pm

Bread yeast at 60 will take a couple months to ferment, if at all. It's optimum temp is low to mid 80's. You'll need to warm it up - aquarium heater, brew belt, heat lamp.
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Re: Is my mash ready?

Postby Soft batch » Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:49 pm

If it's below zero, it is ready to go!
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Re: Is my mash ready?

Postby Whitecap72 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:24 pm

It was below zero on the spirits hydrometer. You thinks it's ready? It didn't taste sweet, and smells like beer wart.
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Re: Is my mash ready?

Postby acfixer69 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:35 pm

Whitecap72 wrote:Ok, i have 1 of those too. I just took a reading with the spirits hydrometer and it was below the zero mark on the tralle lines. I tasted the mash too, and its not at all sweet..
s

I'd run it now.

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Re: Is my mash ready?

Postby still_stirrin » Sat Jan 13, 2018 3:57 pm

I think it wise to find your brewer’s hydrometer and check the gravity for real.

I think you’re not done really, especially if it smells like a beer wort. If it was close to finished it would smell sour, like lemonade. So check it before racking to the boiler. And warming it up will give the brewers yeast a “kick in the seat of the pants”.

Do it right...you’ll be rewarded in the end.
ss
Attention new distillers: Cranky's spoon feed info
What is a Proof & Traille hydrometer: Alcohol-meter
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Re: Is my mash ready?

Postby Soft batch » Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:00 pm

A spirit hydrometer is worthless in a wash, in an undistilled wash will always be below zero as it contains more than just alcohol and water.

Both hydrometers look similar but are completely different instruments. A spirit hydrometer is calibrated to measure the alcohol to water ratio in a solution with the assumption that the solution only contains water and alcohol (no sugars, starches, yeast, etc). A spirit hydrometer show a scale 0-100. Zero on a spirit hydrometer means it has no alcohol content.

A brewing hydrometer measures specific gravity (impurities) in relation to pure water - in our world, we are measuring sugar content. The scale on a brewing hydrometer is typically .990 to 1.200. 1.00 on brewing hydrometer means it is equal in density to pure water. A typical wash will actually go below zero when it's done fermenting due the solution containing water + alcohol(lighter than water) instead of water + sugars (heavier than water).

Technically the baseline 1.000 on the brewers and 0 on the spirit hydrometer are the same (pure H2O) - but are scaled in different directions.

Edited to correct baseline
Last edited by Soft batch on Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Is my mash ready?

Postby still_stirrin » Sat Jan 13, 2018 4:14 pm

Soft batch wrote:...Technically zero on both hydrometers are the same (pure H2O) - but are scaled in different directions.

Almost....water with a brewer’s hydrometer is 1.000 (or zero alcohol “potential”, I guess). But the point you’ve made is 100% correct. For the OP, a spirit hydrometer is the wrong tool to measure a ferment’s progress. A brewer’s hydrometer is the correct tool.

But to the OP, I really suspect you’re not done yet, so make sure you check the gravity with the right tool. You really can’t judge progress by the bubble activity, especially if you’re looking at the bubbles forming in the fermenter. If the wash is too cool to ferment, activity may slow down to a crawl. But you may still have more fermentable material in your wash and you don’t want to dump that down the drain because of a lack of patience.
ss
Attention new distillers: Cranky's spoon feed info
What is a Proof & Traille hydrometer: Alcohol-meter
Enzyme info: SebStar
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Re: Is my mash ready?

Postby Whitecap72 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:18 pm

Ok, so I found my brewers hydrometer. It came out at 1.021 is it ready to distill?
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Re: Is my mash ready?

Postby Soft batch » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:37 pm

NO - should be 1.000 or below. You still have a good amount of sugars to ferment.
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Re: Is my mash ready?

Postby Whitecap72 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:56 pm

Ok, thank you. I'll wait it out. Time for a heater, or move my fermenter into the kitchen.
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Re: Is my mash ready?

Postby still_stirrin » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:04 pm

Whitecap72 wrote:Ok, thank you. I'll wait it out. Time for a heater, or move my fermenter into the kitchen.

:clap: :clap: :clap:
Attention new distillers: Cranky's spoon feed info
What is a Proof & Traille hydrometer: Alcohol-meter
Enzyme info: SebStar
HD Google search info: HD Google-how to
All about mashing grains: Braukaiser
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Re: Is my mash ready?

Postby Whitecap72 » Sat Jan 13, 2018 6:42 pm

Moved my fermenter into the corner of the kitchen, yeast should be happy again.
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