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Old 05-19-2013, 11:56 PM   #1
mwill07
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Default reduce duration of brewing?

I just finished my second AG batch (after about 4 years of extract brewing). Brewday took too long - it was about 8 hours for me, start to end of clean-up. I had a few hiccups along the way, but in general, the process took too long.

Issues:
1. This was a fairly big beer for a 5G mash tun. 11 lbs of grain, target OG = 1.066, which pushes the limits of my tun. To make sure my efficiency was as high as I needed it to be, I did 2 sparges.

2. for some reason, the infusion temp was dropping faster than I expected. I was losing about a degree every 20 minutes. To ensure full conversion, I let it sit 15-20 minutes extra long to make sure everything had enough time to do it's stuff.

3. I ended up with 7 gallons in the pot. This took a long time to heat up, and then it seemed to take forever to boil down to 5 gallons. I was supposed to do a 90 minute boil, but it ended up around 115 minutes until flame off.

If I'm going to keep doing AG, I've got to figure out how to make this process work faster. What do you do to make brew day move faster?

Couple things I'm pondering:
1. get a bigger tun so I can hit my full 6.5 gallon volume with one sparge.

2. use my current 5 gal tun as a HLT so I can get my sparge water to temp and hold it there during the initial infusion hold.

3. fly sparging - any benefit in terms of time? a HLT would tie in nicely with fly sparging.

4. cooling - I got down to pitching temp in about 30 minutes or so using a standard immersion chiller. How can this be improved?

What else do you do to speed things up? What's a reasonable amount of time for a full 5G AG brew day?

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Old 05-20-2013, 12:02 AM   #2
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If time is an issue maybe extract brewing is a better way for you to brew. Your all grain brew day will get shorter with some practice. I think your still going to be looking at 5 hours.

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Old 05-20-2013, 12:43 AM   #3
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ok, reading How do folks reduce their brewing time, I think I've got some ideas...

1. reduce mash time - I'm reading claims that they get only a couple point efficiency reduction with a 20 minute mash. Something to consider.
2. begin heating wort as soon as it comes out of tun. This makes perfect sense, and would be a great head start on getting up to boil temp.

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Old 05-20-2013, 12:50 AM   #4
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Where are you doing your kettle? Do you have a large outdoor burner? That'll reduce boil times by a lot. I still do mine stove top and just accept that it takes a long time to reach a boil.

Also, I find that doing things in parallel helps. I do all of my cleaning/sanitizing and prep work during the mash and then the boil.

Reducing mash or boil time is a shortcut that I don't take.

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Old 05-20-2013, 12:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zacster View Post
Where are you doing your kettle? Do you have a large outdoor burner? That'll reduce boil times by a lot. I still do mine stove top and just accept that it takes a long time to reach a boil.

Also, I find that doing things in parallel helps. I do all of my cleaning/sanitizing and prep work during the mash and then the boil.

Reducing mash or boil time is a shortcut that I don't take.
I boil on a turkey fryer outside. Perhaps a larger burner might help.

I can't even do a partial boil on my stove top - found that out on day one of my extract/partial boil days.
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Old 05-20-2013, 01:00 AM   #6
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Fill your kettles with water the night before.

Buy a better burner? I also wrap tin foil around the bottom stand to act as a wind shield.

Batch sparge.

Clean the tun and equipment as your wort is coming to boil. Don't wait until everything is done.

I place my kettle into a large tub of ice water. I also stir while my copper wort chiller is working. I can get down to about 80-90 degrees in 20 minutes. Then I pour the wort into the fermenter, bring it inside and put it in the fermentation cooler with water that is ~60 degrees. Then pitch in the yeast.

My day takes 4-5 hours.

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Old 05-20-2013, 01:15 AM   #7
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I do 15 gallons brews and I'm 6 hours from starting to carry my gear out to having it all packed back up. A big key is to use your down time. While you are waiting on the mash get all your hops lined up. While the boil is going, clean all your mash gear. Anytime you are waiting ask yourself why. My big hang ups are around heating up my water. So the first thing I get going is heating up my sparge water. Our burner is pretty good but we also have a heat stick that we throw in. Good luck!

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Old 05-20-2013, 02:06 AM   #8
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Look at BIAB. Its all in the same brew kettle and could help reduce the mashing/sparging time. Its not hard to do and results in good beer. I did BIAB for 1 year before I built a MT a few weeks ago. It is harder to regulate mash temps. I found a good deal on a couple of coolers on CL and made MLT and HLT with those to help with the mashing.

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Old 05-20-2013, 02:10 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mwill07

4. cooling - I got down to pitching temp in about 30 minutes or so using a standard immersion chiller. How can this be improved?
You can set the kettle into the ice water as suggested above, or I use a Blichman Therminator plate chiller. It's pricey, but never clogs up on me and will cool the wort as fast as I can gravity drain my kettle. Takes normally 5-10 mins depending on my batch size. I don't like trying to move 5 or 10 gallons of boiling wort to set it in an ice bath.

Also, if you are looking to reduce your total time you should check into BIAB. You can normally get about the same results as traditional AG methods, but it is quicker once you get it worked out.
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Old 05-20-2013, 02:24 AM   #10
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Get everything ready the day before? Start heating your strike water as you are filling the pot. Clean stuff while the mash is resting. Start heating the boil after first runnings. Do only a single batch sparge, I have heard that one does almost as much as a double sparge, I still do a double. Make sure you are not collecting too much wort. I go for a little under 7 gallons to end up with just over 5 gallons after a 60 minute boil. Clean as much as possible during the boil. Clean more during the chilling. I'm down to about 5 hours. If that is too long you will have to stick with extracts. As far as Biab goes: I do it when it fits, but I find it a PITA!

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