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Old 05-29-2007, 06:30 PM   #1
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Default 3 Gallon AG

I’m thinking about trying some 3G AG batches after reading brewman’s thread “My 2 cents for newbies…”. I’m not trying to be redundant but starting a new thread with a similar topic but I didn’t want to hijack his thread with my questions.

Here goes….

- I have a 4G stock pot that I currently use for brewing, will that be big enough to brew a 3G (final volume) AG batch? Obviously I wouldn’t want to bring that pot to a boil with 4G of liquid in it but 3.5 could be doable. Perhaps a better question would be how big of a boil do you usually start with for a 3G batch…3.5G? 4G? 4.5G?

- I have 3 5G carboys. I’m assuming I can use those with 3G batches but I wanted to confirm that the extra headroom won’t be an issue.

- I’ve never done AG but I have read up on it. I understand that for larger batches most guys will use a cooler with a custom built manifold in the bottom. Is that necessary in this case or is there a cheaper/easier work around?

- Along the lines of the above question, in brewman’s thread someone mentioned using a mesh bag, how effective is that? Do you just pour the grains into the bad and lay it in the bottom of the cooler?

That’s all I have for now, thanks in advance for the assistance.

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Old 05-29-2007, 06:38 PM   #2
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I don't think a 4 gallon pot is going to be big enough. For a three-gallon batch, you're going to start with pretty close to four gallons of wort (at least 3.75), and you're going to boil over. My experience has been that AG brews are more apt to boilover than extract, as none of the break material has been removed yet. It's going to be a mess.

Personally, AG is so much work (even though it's fun work) that I wouldn't want to only get three gallons out of it, even if I had a big enough pot.

What about doing partial mashes? Mash like five or six pounds of grain for freshness and variety, and supplement with extract late in the boil? No reason you couldn't do a 4-gallon partial-mash batch with the carboys (probably 4.5 if you use blowoff tubes, or full batches if you buy a regular "ale pail" bucket). That's what I would do, personally - just sub out some of the base malt in AG batches for light DME, which you add late in the boil so that your hops utilization stays pretty high.

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Old 05-29-2007, 07:16 PM   #3
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I have done 2 or 3 small batches of all grain brews when I was learning the process. I would definitely advocate it. Although Bird makes a good point about the time investment:beer production ratio, I simply viewed the small AG batches as something fun to do. So if it is enjoyable to you instead of work, then small AG batches are definitely a good idea. I have a 10 gal AG system now, but I suspect I will do mostly 5 gal batches, with the occasional 3 gal batch and the occasional 10 gal batch.

I used a 5 gal SS pot for my small AG batches, and it was about right. A 4 gal pot will be too small to achieve a good rolling boil. I got my SS pot for $16, and admittedly it is a bit thin so I had to be careful on the boil.

The 5 gal carboys are fine for 3 gal batches. Just be careful racking if you go to a secondary, and the 02 should get pushed out of the headspace just fine.

Regarding the grainbag, that worked well for me too. Although I added one of those collapsible stainless steel vegetable steamers to the bottom of my cooler below the grainbag to help with the lautering. The one problem I had with the grainbag is that only a narrow area of the bag right at the spigot was straining the wort, and I got a few stuck sparges. After using the vegetable steamer, the whole grainbag sits off the bottom of the cooler a wee bit and I can drain much faster with no fear of a stuck sparge. I even crushed my malt extra fine once (just as a trial) and got 85% efficiency with the grainbag (better than I have achieved yet on my bigger system).

Hope that helps.

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Old 05-29-2007, 08:50 PM   #4
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The brew pot was the really critical issue as to when I would be going AG. Since it sounds like I’m going to have to buy a new one to go AG of any size I’m just going to spend the money and get a good 7.5G or greater pot. I don’t plan to ever do greater than a 5G batch so I’m assuming 7.5G would be sufficient, correct?

Trying PM is something I’ve considered as well. I did have a question though on converting an AG recipe to PM. From what I understand you usually sparge with @ 2 quarts of water per pound of grain in the grist, correct? Given that I don’t want a boil larger than say 2.5-3G for my current pot that would mean I could mash roughly 5lbs. of grain. I have a recipe for a tripel that calls for 10lbs. of pilsner and 2lbs. of munich so I could mash the munich and 3lbs. of the pilsner but is there a rule of thumb for how much DME or LME would equal 7lbs. of grain?

With that converted I assume I’d mash and sparge into my brew pot and then start the boil with my bittering hops. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that I’d boil for 30 minutes, add the DME or LME and then boil for another 30 minutes while making any other hop or flavor additions as usual. When I’m done I’d add it to a carboy with enough water to make 5G. Sound about right or am I way off?

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Old 05-29-2007, 08:55 PM   #5
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7.5 Is still cutting it close on a 5 gallon brew. Go 8 or better 9 so you don't have to worry about boil overs and can do boil downs for big beer. I used a program to calculate all the other stuff, but you have the idea for a PM.

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Old 05-30-2007, 03:58 PM   #6
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I've begun doing AG batches, and my brew kettle is only 5.5 Gal. I've made two 3-gallon batches so far, and they're almost to the top of the kettle when I begin. I don't mind the extra trouble for the small batch size. For one thing, I can experiment a little more, and if it's terrible, it's a smaller loss.

One problem I have with boiling 5 Gal of liquid on my stove is that my burners can't quite handle the volume. My solution this past time was to straddle the pot over 2 burners. It significantly improved the boil time.

So far so good, and I don't mind the work for the 'small' return.

On top of it all, I'm considering a move to NYC in the upcoming months (maybe) and that would force me to downsize in some way regardless.

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Old 05-30-2007, 09:03 PM   #7
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I've done it. I have an el-cheapo 5 gallon cooler with a toilet hose braid for my 'experimental' micro batches.

It's fine in a 5g carboy.

It's no less work than a full batch, but since space and money is a concern, you could do it they way you want. There's always the bucket in a bucket MLT idea if you're on the ultra cheap and dont' want to waste a good cooler. I haven't tried it, but I hear it works just fine.

Make the investment on a good pot for the long term. Buckets and carboys get replaced, but that darn pot is used the hardest. If you're skimping on other things, don't skimp on a quality pot.

Also, can can buy a turkey fryer with a 44qt pot at walmart and the like. It solves some of the boil issues, and gives you a big pot.

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Old 05-31-2007, 02:14 AM   #8
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I saw one of those turkey fryers at Wal-Mart this past weekend, didn't look at it very close though so I'll have to head back there. In checking online they advertise one with a 7.5G pot for $75. Do you know if that pot's any good? As in is it nice and heavy so it will hold the heat really well?

You guys know anyone that's shelled out the cash for a PolarWare pot? I was drooling over those the other day but $250 for a 10G pot seems a bit extreme. Anyone ever used one and know if they're worth the money?

Sounds like I'm definitely going 10G+ for my pot so that I'll have the room to make some really big beers in 5G batches.

I was looking at FlyGuy's instructions for a MLT and that sounds like a winner to me. I think my plan for now, until I have the money for a good pot, will be to assemble his MLT and start with some PM batches. Still looking online for a good shorthand method for taking an AG recipe to PM but not having much luck. Anyone have any suggestions? I'd prefer something basic since most of the time I go to the LHBS not knowing what I'm going to make and after chit chatting with the owners for a while finally figure it out and buy my ingredients.

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Old 05-31-2007, 02:23 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roterdrache
Still looking online for a good shorthand method for taking an AG recipe to PM but not having much luck. Anyone have any suggestions? I'd prefer something basic since most of the time I go to the LHBS not knowing what I'm going to make and after chit chatting with the owners for a while finally figure it out and buy my ingredients.
Try this

Go to: http://hbd.org/cgi-bin/recipator/recipator

Plug in the AG recipe you are considering then replace base malt with extract maintaining your OG and keep in mind that your base malt needs to be sufficient to convert your specialty grains and adjuncts and that the total amount of grain will fit in your PM system.
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Old 05-31-2007, 06:39 PM   #10
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I do 3 gallon batches all the time. I do my boiling on the kitchen stove and this is the most I can do indoors. I others have said I also like the fact that I can try different beers. And if I don't like one I haven't lost that much.

As for the 5 gal carboys you will be fine I use 3 BB and have had no problems. The pot is another thing, I started with a 6 gal pot and while it worked I didn't like the fact that the wort was that close to the top. I went ahead an got a 7.5 gal and it works alot better.

Take your time and everything should come out fine for you.

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