My First On-Grain Fermentation

Many like to post about a first successful ferment (or first all grain mash), or first still built/bought or first good run of the still. Tell us about all of these great times here.
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My First On-Grain Fermentation

Postby gundog48 » Fri Aug 25, 2017 2:24 pm

I'm primarily a homebrewer and have made whiskeys using the UJSSM method as well as regular beer mashing techniques, usually combining both low wines and producing some decent stuff. I wanted to do some proper all grain whiskeys and threw together a mash of flaked barley and flaked corn to which I added enzymes for conversion. It was very... thick. After 7 days I run the wash through an apple press to do the separation, it was messy but went okay, the result was about 45L wash, unfortunately still sitting at 1.030, which is around 6% ABV. The mash tasted very acidic, almost vinegar like, but some good flavour there.

I don't have high hopes, and don't believe it was worth the effort. Now I've pressed it, I want to distill it ASAP otherwise it's going to get infected. I'll probably let it sit 24 hours, rack and strip. My plan is to take a hefty amount of backset, around 40%, and use it in a UJSSM wash, the aim being to maximise the flavour from the all grain wash and perhaps recover some of that residual sugar. So the proportion of the final product will be made up of low wines roughly 1/3 from the all grain and 2/3 from UJSSM.

I probably won't mess around with all grain whiskey again unless it's a 70+% malted barley recipe I can brew in my brewery and ferment normally, distill, and put away for a few years as something special. The ease of UJSSM along with the time I have available makes it a much more viable option for me!

So not a good first try, but that'll be mostly down to me!
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Re: My First On-Grain Fermentation

Postby Still Life » Sat Aug 26, 2017 6:00 am

I'm sorry yours didn't go well.
Go with a Tried & True and see if you have a better experience.
Thousands of distillers can't be wrong.

You're missing out on a world of good whiskey & bourbons by turning your back on all-grains.
Sure it's a fuggin mess, but the rewards are worth it.

You know what helps with the squeezin' and wheezin'?
This, and a mesh bag:

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Re: My First On-Grain Fermentation

Postby bilgriss » Sat Aug 26, 2017 9:41 am

+1 Still Life

Do some more reading on these issues. With a little advanced preparation and tuning of technique, your homebrewing experience is going to make this easy. If you don't like squeezing, you can always lauter just like with beer making. Also look into the actual mash temperature. With distilling, you want a fully fermentable mash, which requires different (lower) temperatures than homebrewing, where you want some residual sugars.
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Re: My First On-Grain Fermentation

Postby gundog48 » Sat Aug 26, 2017 2:37 pm

Definitely something I plan on revisiting, but something worth investing some time in, which I don't have at the moment. Once my shelves are fully stocked I can spend the time making my premium line! Lautering would definitely be simpler, and my equipment has taken a 60% corn mash before without breaking a sweat! The squeezing was actually pretty fun and din't throw up many problems once I got the hang of it, I guess the only issue is waiting for it to settle.

The real issue is tackling the fermentation health. It really should have been completed by that point, it's probably the result of the large batch size. I think I'll be more stringent on cell counts when I revisit this.

Looking forward to giving this another whirl, but I have rum to finish, a big neutral spirit run, and now some UJSM to strip and do a spirit run on. With only one good distilling day a week if I'm lucky, that ought to keep me occupied!
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Re: My First On-Grain Fermentation

Postby Truckinbutch » Sat Aug 26, 2017 7:01 pm

Wish you were close enough to mentor in our group . You are way overthinking and overworking yourself . Whisky mashes are much more forgiving than beer brews .
There are many threads here about that that can ease your pain .
Check 'SRD and I' . We are all doing 30 gallon AG ferments . With the right conditions they will ferment dry in 7 days and await our convenience to strain and distill for as much as 60 days .
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Re: My First On-Grain Fermentation

Postby Antler24 » Sun Sep 10, 2017 6:02 pm

Just thought I'd throw this out there, if your going through the trouble and added cost of all grain, I wouldn't blend it with the spirit with a sugar wash. That's gonna be much smoother to drink than a similar sugar batch, keep that for top shelf!!!
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Re: My First On-Grain Fermentation

Postby Truckinbutch » Sun Sep 10, 2017 7:20 pm

Antler24 wrote:Just thought I'd throw this out there, if your going through the trouble and added cost of all grain, I wouldn't blend it with the spirit with a sugar wash. That's gonna be much smoother to drink than a similar sugar batch, keep that for top shelf!!!

I'd have to take friendly issue with that 'extra costs and labor for all grain' . I spent more $ for 30 gallon sugarheads than I do for 30 gallon AG's by far . It's a labor of love rather than a commercial venture ? If so , the time spent doesn't count .
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Re: My First On-Grain Fermentation

Postby vqstatesman » Tue Sep 12, 2017 1:59 am

Not all store bought enzymes are equal. Give this lot a go, they are widely known as the best out there https://enzymash.biz/

If you have the money a bain marie boiler is the best option for all grain.
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Re: My First On-Grain Fermentation

Postby RandyMarshCT » Tue Sep 12, 2017 5:51 am

Hey Gundog, I know it's been a few weeks, but better late than never...


If the mash tasted acidic, it very likely was. That right there could easily be the reason you stalled at 1.030. What yeast are you using? US-05 can handle some serious acidity, I recommend that yeast. Check your Ph if you are able to. Anything under 4.5, I would buffer it up with calcium carbonate and pitch a hydrated (due to the existing alcohol) package of US-05. You might be able to squeeze the last little bit of sugar out. If you are under 4.5 Ph, your chances of infection are very low. You might get (or already have) a lacto in there, but that tastes pretty good in a corn mash.

If you already dumped it, maybe consider this next time. If you haven't, it's likely still fine to keep.
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Re: My First On-Grain Fermentation

Postby Antler24 » Wed Sep 13, 2017 4:30 pm

Truckinbutch wrote:
Antler24 wrote:Just thought I'd throw this out there, if your going through the trouble and added cost of all grain, I wouldn't blend it with the spirit with a sugar wash. That's gonna be much smoother to drink than a similar sugar batch, keep that for top shelf!!!

I'd have to take friendly issue with that 'extra costs and labor for all grain' . I spent more $ for 30 gallon sugarheads than I do for 30 gallon AG's by far . It's a labor of love rather than a commercial venture ? If so , the time spent doesn't count .


Yeah I guess your right, around here sugars about .40¢ a lb and grain is close to $3/lb, but that wasn't really my point. AG should yield a much better end product, I wouldn't be blending mine back into my sugar heads.
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