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DRoyLenz 10-20-2009 09:03 PM

All-Grain Brewing with Extract Brewing Equipment (pics)

This weekend was my first adventure in to All-Grain brewing. I don't, however, have the money to secure any AG equipment, so I was forced to use a method that would work with only the equipment available in your basic extract starter kit. This is a GREAT way for a beginning brewer to start AG brewing, and to learn and practice the fundamentals. They can then spend the money down the line on more advanced equipment to make larger, more efficient batches.

Before I go any further, I wanted to give due credit to two other members. DeathBrewer's Easy Stovetop AG Brewing Method was really where I adapted all of my procedures from. Almost every step described below comes directly from his process. I just made a few minor changes. Also, the recipe I used in this example is a variation on BierMuncher's Belgian Wit. I learned a lot, not only from these two threads, but from asking both DeathBrewer and BierMuncher a lot of questions, and they were very helpful. Thanks guys!

Now for the good stuff.

To start off, it's important to point out that, without a 6.5 gallon kettle, you really won't be able to do a full-boil, which means you really will not be getting the efficiency you need for a good brew. I don't have a 6.5 kettle yet, so the example below is using a 5 gallon, stainless steel economy brew kettle, and I'm making 2.5 gallon batches. I actually made one 2.5 gallon batch on Sunday, then another on Monday, then combined the two. Everything else needed for this method that would not come in a basic starter kit can be purchased for a few bucks.

Equipment Needed for < 3 Gallon All-Grain Batch
-5 Gallon Kettle w/ lid
-Stock pot or Dutch Ovens capable of holding 10 quarts (you can use multiple pots if none of them are big enough, this will be used to heat the sparge water while the mash finishes)
-Stirring Rod (I will be using a 24 inch mash paddle)
-Dial Thermometer
-Paint Strainer bags (5 Gallon) (Can be purchased at Home Depot)
-Clean bucket (Ale Pale works) to hold wort while sparging
-Canister to dispose of spent grains (in other words, trash)
-Pan, pot, baking sheet or drip tray to collect drippings from grain bag (I'm using a tin foil pan, which can be bought from any grocery store)

For this, I will be brewing up a Belgian Wit recipe. I will post my exact recipe at the bottom, but if you're interested, I suggest you check out BierMuncher's Belgian Wit.


1. Calculate how much strike water will be required. In my example, I was using 4.75 lbs of grain for my 2.5 gallon batch. I decided to go with 2 gallons of strike water, for a water to grist ratio of 1.68 qts/lb.

2. Heat your strike water in your 5 gallon kettle.


3. Calculate your desired strike water temperature with the following formula:

Tw = (0.2/R)(T2-T1) + T2
Tw Temperature of infusion water
T2 Target Mash Temperature (this will be defined based on the recipe and grains you are using)
T1 Initial Temperature of mash (assumed to be 65F, ambient temperature of my kitchen)
R - Water to grist ratio

Tw = (0.2/1.68)(155F-65F) + 155F
Tw = 165.5F (This will change for your recipe and process, so make sure to run your own calculations.)

4. When you reach your strike temperature, turn off the burner, double bag paint strainer bags in boil kettle. Wrap edges of bag over the sides of the kettle if possible to hold the bags in place and to keep the grains from falling out of the bag. Add grains to the strainer bags. Pour the grains in slowly, and while stirring, to make sure that you are evenly distributing the grains in the strike water.


5. Once you are doughed in, you should be pretty close to your target mash temperature. If you are more than a couple degrees off, add a little hot water to heat it up, or add a little cool water to cool it down, until you're within a few degrees of your target temp.

6. Because I have an economy kettle, the stainless steel is very thin, and I imagine that a lot of heat will be lost. So I decided to wrap my kettle in a big beach towel to insulate it throughout the mashing process. This is an experimental step, and is by no means necessary. Cover your pot and let sit.

EDIT: In brewing another batch with this process, I found another method for maintaining mash temperatures that proved very effective. I preheated my oven for my approximate mash temperature and put the kettle in there for the duration of the process. It was a bit of a PIA to take out and put back to stir, but my mash temperature did not fluctuate a single degree in the entire hour. Remember, if you do this, take the racks out of your oven before you preheat it, I don't want you to burn yourself, or a pet. :cross:


7. It is recommended by some people to stir the mash every once in awhile to increase efficiency. I plan to do this every 10-20 minutes. The downside to this is that the wort will lose heat every time the kettle is opened to stir. It may be necessary to add hot water to the wort if the temperature drops significantly below the mash temperature.

8. Now would be a good time to enjoy a good homebrew. I prepared ahead of time and decided to try a new craft brew I had never had. Bell's Expedition Imperial Stout, it was delicious.


SporkD2 10-20-2009 09:29 PM

Nice pics, i wanna see the final product too :)

DRoyLenz 10-20-2009 09:32 PM

9. Around 30 minutes in to the mash, begin to heat up the sparge water in the stock pots/dutch ovens.

If I can assume that my grains will absorb ~.5 gallon of water, and I will lose ~.5 gallon of water to my boil, and I started with 2 gallons of strike water, I will want 1.5 gallons (6 quarts) of sparge water. If you have a larger kettle and can boil more water, do so, you’ll get better efficiency. You want the temperature of the sparge to be ~170F once the grains are added, but not over. Heat sparge water to approximately 175F - 180F, then turn off heat.

10.Lift the bag, with grains, out of the mash and drain. This is pretty heavy, and we'll be putting it in a drip tray anyways, so I wasn't too worried about draining it all out.


11. Put bag aside temporarily, perhaps in a bucket, baking sheet, or drip pan, just to catch the remaining drain off while you perform the next step.


12. Pour the wort from your mash in to your clean bucket. I'm using a Home Depot HOMER bucket. This is just a temporary vessel to hold your wort while you sparge. Pour as gently as possible. If you have an extra set of hands, pour the wort down the side of the bucket to minimize the amount of oxygen you mix in during this step. This is to prevent hot-side aeration.

13. Pour the wort from your drip pan to your original mash wort.

14. Put your grain bag back in to the kettle, and begin to slowly pour your sparge water over the grains. Do this a little water at a time (I used about a quart at a time) while stirring.


15. Let that sit for 10 minutes, while stirring every once in awhile.

16. Remove your grain bag from sparge water and let drain again.

17. Place your grain bag back in your drip tray again, no use wasting any available sugars.

18. Add the wort from your original mash to your sparge water. Just pour it right in there. Again, try and do this gently to avoid HSA.


DRoyLenz 10-20-2009 10:07 PM

19. Bring your wort up to a nice gentle, but rolling boil. At this point, you would just go ahead and boil as you normally would. Because it was a fun brew day, and because I documented it, I'll share the final brew process for this particular recipe.

I added my hops in for a full 60 minute boil.

20. While the boil is happening I took the opportunity to clean up my kitchen a bit, and to clean some bottles. I also prepared the rest of my ingredients.


21. It was around this time that a friend of mine (closest thing I have to a SWMBO) came over and she had brought me a gift. So I gave her a homebrew, asked her to smile pretty and hold up her gift for me. What a nice gift, eh?


22. After the 60 minute boil, I added all of the spices to my hop bag at flameout, and threw the kettle in to my ice bath. It took about 45 minutes to cool down to pitching temperatures. I aerated the wort by pouring it back and forth between the bucket and kettle, then pitched the yeast and put the bucket in to my fermentation chiller. The next morning, it was bubbling away like a school girl (I know the simile doesn't make sense, but I like it).

Now for the recipe:

2 lbs 2 Row
2.25 lbs Flaked Wheat
.5 lbs White Wheat

.5 oz Saaz Pellet Hops (60 Minutes)

Wyeast Belgian Witbier 3944 (1.33 liter starter)

Spices/Additional Flavors
1/4 ounce of freshly crushed (pulverized) coriander flameout
.5 Tbsp of crushed Grains of Paradise flameout
.1 oz freshly crushed Star Anise flameout

2.35 ounces fresh naval orange zest (2 large oranges) flameout
0.85 ounces fresh lemon zest (2 lemons) - flameout
3 chamomile tea bags flameout

Mash Schedule
Single Infusion Mash - 155F for 60 Minutes

Calculated Original Gravity - 1.048
Measured Original Gravity - 1.046

I have not calculated the efficiency of this method yet, but I will post back when I do. But it is worth noting that I did come relatively close to the expected Original Gravity. I'm sure there are things I can do to increase my efficiency, but not too bad for my first AG, especially using an experimental method.

Here is my ordered grain bill from Austin Home Brew. Note that there is enough grain in here for a 5 gallon batch. Like I said at the beginning, I just cut my recipe in half, and did two separate brews of 2.5 gallon batches.


And because I still have one more picture available to post in this thread, I'd figure I'd show you all my Brewspace.


I'll make sure to post back pictures of the final product when it's done, plus an evaluation as to how well it came out.

Let me know if you guys have any questions or comments. And if you can think of ways to increase efficiency with this method, let me know!

Thanks, and Happy Brewing! :mug:

Craigster 10-20-2009 11:08 PM

Nice work.. great tutorial, and love the pics.. :)

SporkD2 10-20-2009 11:48 PM

Where did you get that sign??? I want one

DavidSteel 10-21-2009 12:06 AM

Wow, I'd like an all-grain brewer to try the finish product and compare. lol I guess that would be hard to do with the kind of beer you made. Still, I wonder how efficient this is. Seems like it would work well.

sp1365 10-21-2009 12:33 AM

I basically do the same exact thing, doing 2.5-3 gallon batches. I got 74.1% efficiency for my last brew.

DRoyLenz 10-21-2009 01:26 PM


Originally Posted by SporkD2 (Post 1622321)
Where did you get that sign??? I want one

I think she said she got it at HomeGoods, which if you didn't know, is like a Marshall's or TJ Max for Home Furnishings, very cool store.

As far as my efficiency, I'm calculating 72% efficiency. I can't see any reason why this method would produce any higher or lower quality of wort than using more advanced equipment (assuming 72% efficiency).

EDIT: I asked her this weekend, she got it at Target. What doesn't that store have?

corvax13 10-21-2009 05:43 PM

This is exactly what I was looking for!

I desperately wanted to try my hand at all-grain, but I dont have the room or money for any additional equipment. I will be trying this on my very next brew.

One question - If I were to buy an all-grain kit for AHS, that is intended for a final 5g, how can I calculate appropriate measurement for a partial boil? My small electric stove can't handle much, so I was hoping to somehow do a 2g all-grain partial boil and top it off.

Thanks in advance, and thanks for an awesome tutorial!

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