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Old 03-09-2009, 05:12 PM   #1
theganda
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Default AG confusions

I'm thinking about making the switch to AG but have a few quesitons.

1. After you drain the wort after the sparge, how do you consistently get the right volume of liquid for the boil? So if you're doing a 5 gallon batch, and after sparging get 4 gallons of wort (or 6) do you add more water or (or boil it down sufficiently) until you hit your boil gravity?

2. Do you use grains that you would normally have to steep for an extract brew in AG? Would you just incorporate them in the mash or steep them in the wort once its been extracted?

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Old 03-09-2009, 05:45 PM   #2
SpanishCastleAle
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The way I do it is to estimate losses and then add those losses to my batch volume. That gives me the total water required...then I decide how to split up that water between strike water, infusion water (sometimes more than one infusion), and sparge water.

The biggest losses you're likely to encounter are the water absorbed by the grain and water lost to evaporation during the boil. There also might be some dead spaces in your equipment where you leave some wort...like there is a small dead space below the valve in my lauter tun but it's less than 2 cups. These losses vary so you need to measure things and find out how much you lose.

Take as accurate measurements as you can. You're gonna need to be able to measure wort volume when it's in the boil kettle and when it's in the fermenter so make sure you have a way to do that before you start. I use a long bamboo skewer marked off in gallons and just stick it down in the pot. I mark off gallons on the outside my glass carboys. You want both measurements to agree...i.e. you want 5 gallons measured in your pot to exactly equal 5 gallons measured in your fermenter. Hot water expands so make sure you account for that when measuring volumes.

You should probably measure your gravity and volume pre-boil...that way you'll know what your gravity will be once you've boiled it down to your intended batch volume and you can adjust if needed. Add DME if you're too low and add water if you're too high. If you add water you're gonna have some leftover wort...just freeze it and use it for starters...boiled of course.

I throw all the grains in the mash together...most people do.

This and everything else involved may seem like a lot at first but it's really not. It may help to actually write down the process and mentally go through it first.

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Last edited by SpanishCastleAle; 03-09-2009 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 03-09-2009, 05:56 PM   #3
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thanks for the tips, great call on the checklist. I was planning on writing it all down so I don't screw it up because of some stupid mistakes.

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Old 03-09-2009, 06:27 PM   #4
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As far as figuring out how much water, etc. you have to guesstimate at first. Once you have your process tuned up, you can plug your efficiency numbers into beersmith (or any other software) and it will tell you how much grain etc. to use very accurately.

Until then, you can add water or extract to get the gravity you want, or boil down to get higher gravity if you want instead of adding extract (although you will lose volume that way too.)

Don't worry, I was worried about AG too, but this weekend I did my first and it well VERY well, even though my preparations consisted of running to the hardware and back to work (machine shop) to tweak my equipment.

The actual mashing etc. was NOT hard. Wish I'd spent a bit of money on going AG a long time ago!

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