Troubleshooting my homebrew: Volume into the fermentor

As you start brewing there are issues with your process that will pop up from time to time, and you’ll have to figure out ways around them, or how to better deal with them. I’m a tinkerer always looking for a more efficient way, or method to make it better. The biggest issue I’m facing right now, is too little wort making it into the fermentor.
This problem started when I went full volume boil. When you are doing partial boils it’s easy, pour, and top up the carboy to the 5g mark. However, the last two batches have been full volume boils, the
oatmeal stout and the alpha king clone (which I never wrote up) have had post boil volume issues. I ended up topping up the alpha king, but left the oatmeal stout at a higher gravity.
First step in fixing a problem it is identifying why it is this happening? First major issue is not knowing the volume in the boil kettle. Second issue is not knowing my boiloff rate. It’s hard to estimate w/out testing, and even harder to estimate w/out markings on your boil kettle. This part is simple, fix the first then I can calculate the second.

The second part of my volume off issue is trube losses before and after the boil kettle. I feel like I’ve been losing a lot of wort to hot and cold break and hop sludge. I’ve found it hard to whirlpool / chill and allow the beer to settle so I don’t leave a ton of wort behind. Currently I transfer wort using a ball valve w/out any filtration. If I’m not patient, and don’t whirlpool after cooling, a lot of this trube will come along during transfer to the fermenter. The alternate is worse, basically leaving all the trube and large quantities of wort behind.
So what am I doing to try to address the problems? First, I’ve purchased a stainless ruler, which will allow me to determine the volume of water in my kettle. A simple volume equation showed me that one inch =.76 gallons in my kettle. Now I can calculate volume, I can measure boil off, and should allow me to configure the proper profile in beer smith. In addition to this, I plan on scaling the recipe 20%, aka making it a 6 gallon wort recipe, with hopefully 5.5 making it into the fermentor.
To help stem trube losses, I’ve purchased a dip tube, when installed, this should allow me to pick up the wort well below the ball valve level, and prevent me from having to tip my kettle to get the remainder out. I’ve heard that you can use a chore boy at the end of the dip tube, to provide a corse filter as well. Alternately, I am considering picking up a bazooka tube, if the dip tube doesn’t work out.
I will update when I brew my next batch, if the correctly measured additional volume, and the dip tube works out. Then we can move on to other problems like, floaties after dry hopping, or finding more time to brew.

PS. I unfortunately don’t have any photos of the trube, either in the fermentor, or bottle of the kettle, perhaps because I’m too annoyed to take one, but trust me, it’s there.

About Aaron

Homebrewer, Cyclist, locavore, Craft Beer lover, husband, father, blogger, photographer, alpaca farmer, New England sports fan, all around Geek.

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