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Old 10-18-2007, 06:30 PM   #1
DarinB
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Default AG technique(s)?

I've been doing some ponderation over whether or not to make the switch from my current (and very successful I might add) extract/steeping grains method of brewing. I've come to a few conclusions...

1. I am pretty happy with the beer I'm making now (it even has a few fans who don't love me...) so apparently the current method is working just fine.

2. I am a 'gadget guy', meaning I like hands on stuff, so even though my current methods are successful, I still can't shake my interest in getting more involved.

3. I have decided that brewing 5 gallons at a time is enough for me - I'm able to keep up with demand fairly well, and at this point, thats what my equipment dictates.

4. While I do have a turkey fryer (aka propane burner), I don't necessarily want to sit out in my garage, or in the basement, boiling wort - I like my stove, and would prefer to stick with it.

5. Still can't shake out the feeling of wanting to do this all grain stuff. dammit...

6. Due to my desire to keep using my stove, my boil volumes need to stay around 3 gallons or less. Currently, I do that, then add whatever I need in cold water to the carboy - works fine, lasts a long time, no worries...

7. After spending around 43 bucks for the batch of IPA I recently brewed, I'm getting more and more interested in saving a few bucks here and there...I'm hoping to come up with a method of AG that would help in that quest.


So I broke down and did some reading;here's what I'm wondering...

I've been reading that you can make up for p*sspoor sparging by adjusting up the grain quantities (the method I read suggested up by 10 to 15%). That got me thinking what if you were to adjust up a bit more, say 25% more grain than you would buy for a 5 gallon batch, mash, sparge (I've got a 5 gallon water cooler with nuthin' to do I could modify), and wind up with 2 1/2 to 3 gallons of a more concentrated product that you could then boil off, hop, etc. and add to the plain water - then pitch yeast and from there everything would be business as usual for me.

Does this make any sense at all? Am I nuts/dumber 'n a box of rocks? Am I reallllly reaching? Should I not screw with a good thing?

or...would this maybe work?

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Old 10-18-2007, 06:34 PM   #2
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You could go half way and do partial mashes which it sounds like you are kind of describing. Then you could keep you boil volumes down still.

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Old 10-18-2007, 06:47 PM   #3
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With a partial mash, you would still need to add LME or DME, right? That's what I *think* I want to avoid (I should have explained that better...sorry!)

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Old 10-18-2007, 07:23 PM   #4
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At a 3 gallon boil on your stove you could do a partial mash with 5 lbs of grain and then use another 3-4 lbs of DME to make up the rest of the fermentables. This is what I did when I wanted to get more involved in my brewing since I am totally constrained to my kitchen.

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Old 10-18-2007, 07:27 PM   #5
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When I first went AG, I split my boil. 3.5 gallons in one pot, 3.5 in the other, dividing the hops between. If you have two big burners, maybe you could do that. After I started using one big pot, I only needed to start with 6.25 gallons, but since two pots boil off more (more surface area), you need to start with more. My efficiency was actually pretty good doing it this way.

I bought a turkey fryer, but never used it. I LIKE brewing in my kitchen and will continue to do that. My stove, though, has no problem bringing that much wort up to a boil. I do start the boil as soon as I put the first runnings in and add the sparge runnings to it and I think that helps.

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Old 10-18-2007, 07:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DarinB
With a partial mash, you would still need to add LME or DME, right? That's what I *think* I want to avoid (I should have explained that better...sorry!)
partial mashes (even done half-assed, like mine right now) will make a great improvement in your beer, even though you're still using extract. it's a great stepping stone too. i'm going to be all-grain very soon.
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:13 PM   #7
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Well, the thing is, if you do like you say you want to do and up the grain amounts by a whole bunch in order to make up for little or no sparging, then you're kind of defeating the purpose of saving money by going AG. IIWY, I'd choose one of these options:

  1. Go AG and give up your attachment to kitchen brewing. Personally, I'd rather be brewing outside...
  2. Do like Lorena said and go with two kettles.
  3. Go PM. Yes, you'll be adding extract, but my biggest jump in quality was when I went PM. I have and still do make great ber using some extract in my recipe...in fact, many of my all-star beers have been PM.
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:24 PM   #8
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Quote:
When I first went AG, I split my boil. 3.5 gallons in one pot, 3.5 in the other, dividing the hops between.
This is what I do so I can still use the kitchen stove and do full AG brewing. I have a 7 gallon cooler for a mash tun so the gravity of the beer I do is somewhat limited.

The only thing that would force me to brew outside is if my wife continues to complain about the smell of the hops when they go into the boil for 60 minutes. Then I would get a burner and a 10 gallon pot.
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Old 10-18-2007, 09:18 PM   #9
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You're really going to have to give up on the kitchen unless you have one hell of a stove.

$43 for an IPA wow! I did my IPA for $15 last week.

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Old 10-18-2007, 10:19 PM   #10
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You're are kind of in the same place I am - wanting to work closer to the grain but not have resources (cash/space/desire) to do the full all-grain set up. My solution is to try smaller batches, but that may not work for you.

So let's think about it from a gravity-point perspective. To do five gallons of 1.050 OG beer, you need to get 250 points (50 x 5) of fermentables in your kettle. If you can do a 3 gal boil, you will need 3 gals of 1.084 wort (250/3). A four gallon boil will get you down to 1.063.

So lets ask the more experienced all-grainers - what kind of gravity numbers can you get from the first 3 or 4 gallons of runnings? If you get something close to those numbers, then you are golden. If not, then you may need to do smaller beers, bigger boils, use some extract, or some combination of these.

Also, I don't know if just doing a bigger mash will work. You mash grains and water at given ratio - so making the mash bigger won't increase the running's gravity, just give you more volume, right?

You might have to do two smaller mashes that total to more grain and then collect just the first, sweetest, wort you can off of both.

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