Mysterious indeed. I’ve been getting upwards of 80% efficiency lately. On Wednesday I got 66% total efficiency and then Friday I got 48%. Something was terribly wrong. Both batches were step mashed, meaning I should have yanked out plenty of sugars from my grain.
I racked my brain for answers. My first thought was that both batches were acquired at U Bottle It, my local homebrew store. They’ve just moved to a larger space and are using a new mill. Maybe its settings could use adjusting. I wanted to eliminate all other possibilities before I had that conversation though.
My next thought was I skipped my usual acid rest to get my mash pH down into a more favorable range. I wanted to wrap Friday’s batch up quickly because I was headed tubing for the weekend. That could definitely be it. I’ve done a couple batches in Vegas with no acid rest and been in the low 70’s for efficiency though.
Then I boiled some water to make sure my digital thermometer was on point. It was.
I’d recently read an article about Brew In A Bag brewers doing ‘thinner’ mashes and getting less efficiency. So I was scouring Homebrewtalk looking into that. Inconclusive.
Then I remembered I took my starting gravity measurement while the bucket was still in the ice bath in the tub. Maybe that threw the reading off. You never know. So I filled the bath to about the 3 gallon level on the bucket where it was on Friday and put the fermenter in to see if bathtub vs. dry land measuring had made the difference.
And that’s when my hydrometer sunk to below 1.000. Possible on a farmhouse ale that supposedly includes 2 strains of Brett, but HIGHLY unlikely 3 days after pitching my yeast. We’ve found the problem!
My hydrometer is off. Closer inspection showed a small crack, the paper scale inside slipping down, & the hydrometer even taking on a little beer. How did I not notice this!? How long have I been taking hilariously misguided gravity samples!? Dubious indeed. Maybe I should re-name this blogging effort ‘How Not To Homebrew.’ Let’s hope there were no nasties in there to infect Little Farmhouse of Mystery now too.
Anyway, good to have that problem tackled.
Then there’s Rufus the Chunky Farmhouse ale. This brewhouse will be world class any day now.
Anyway, I tried a sample of him today. He seemed to have a good amount of alcohol heat with a peppery finish. Odd for a beer that should be mid 5’s alcohol-wise. Maybe these large chunks will smooth him out a little. 😛
Time is about all I have with Rufus at this point. I found out about his current dilemma because I was going to add Brett B. Now I’m letting him be and letting this potential bit of wildness run its course. It’d be nice if the chunks decided to drop out at some point.
I’m still waiting on my English IPA ingredients from Brew Brothers. It appears they were out of the UK pale malt I ordered, so that slowed things down. I’ll likely be doing some bottling this week. 6/14 Dubbel, 6/23 Tripel, & 6/27 Nelson pale should all be quite enthusiastic to escape their plastic buckets.
Be well and prosper y’all.