Originally Posted by wilserbrewer
For the first couple batches, aim a few degrees high on the temperature, it is much easier to cool down a little bit w/ cool water or a couple ice cubes than it is to add heat. Preheat the cooler MT by adding mash water 10-15 degrees hotter than strike temp and let the cooler absorb heat for 10-15 minutes, then either stir to cool or add a touch of cool water to hit strike temp. After stirring in the grains, wait a few minutes for the mash temp to stabilize, immediately after doughing in the temp will be falsely high as the grain has not fully absorbed all the heat yet.
All of this I can't stress enough.
Also, take a pre-boil gravity reading ASAP and if you have to adjust for temp, do so. Best to know where you are before you start the boil, hop additions, etc. If your preboil is low (your software should tell you where it needs to be) add extract later in the boil (last 30 mins.)
Also keep an eye on volumes. Mark your mash paddle/spoon to measure volumes in the kettle on the fly. If you're low going into the boil, run some more sparge water thru the grains but not too hot (160ish) until you get up to volume. Then check gravity and decide if you need extract or are fine with it.
Also, check your crush and plan efficiency to be low (high 60's to 70%). If you overshoot you can water it down and have more beer...or just have a bigger beer.