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Old 05-03-2012, 06:58 PM   #1
EdMerican
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Default Am I doing something wrong?

I have been brewing for about a year and a half, and the last year or so doing all grain. I keep hearing/reading lots of extract and PM folks talk about how much work they think AG is and how much longer it takes than extract. Granted, it IS a little bit more work, and a little more time; but it really doesn't seem all that bad to me. Let me run down my equipment and typical process... times are approximate, but fairly consistent.

5 Gallon economy pot for strike and sparge
8 gallon alumaclad bottom boil kettle
5 Gallon round Igloo mash tun

60 minute single infusion mashe, 2 batch sparges due to equipment restraints. And 60 minute boil.

11:00 AM - Get strike water on the stove to heat, about 2.5-3 gallons depending on grain bill. Fill a bucket with sanitizer and all things to be sanitized for the day. Weigh grain and hops, crush grain.

11:30 AM - Dough in. Add half of required sparge water to 5 G pot. If a fermenter needs to be cleaned this is the time I do it (though it is usually already clean).

12:00 PM - Heat first sparge.

12:30 PM - Vorlauf and collect first runnings. When its done running I sometimes throw it on the stove on medium heat so as to shave boil up time. Dump first batch spage in, stir, cover and wait 15 minutes. Fill 5 G pot with reminder of sparge water and heat on high on stove.

12:45-1:00 PM - vorlauf and collect second runnings. Add second sparge, stir and cover, wait 15 minutes.

1:30ish PM - Vorlauf and collect final runnings. Get kettle on stove heat high heat until it boils, usually takes a half hour or a little more to get there. While waiting for boil I usually empty and clean out the MLT.

2:00-2:15 PM - Add first boil addition, set boil timers and add hops as necessary. Add IC at last 15 minutes.

3:00-3:30 PM - flame out, kick on chiller, usually takes 10-20 minutes to chill depending on season (ONLY reason I like winter is for the cold tap water)

By 4:00 I have cooled wort in the fermenter, pitched and airlocked, equipment cleaned and draining and all peripherals put away. And 4:00 is if I slow heat water to make sure I don't go over temp or have any kind of "issues".

I don't really think 5 hours is a long time for a good AG brew with problems, and I regularly knock it out in 4-4.5 hours. And almost always I am running around doing other things while waiting for strike to heat, waiting for mash to finish, waiting for kettle to boil... I have 3 kids, so there is no such thing as a dedicated brew day. Making lunches, starting dinner, sometimes grilling during the brew. Am I doing something wrong, or is this typical? Or is my kitchen just magic? Seems all too simple to me.

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Old 05-03-2012, 07:21 PM   #2
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Looks good to me! My experience is similar. My first few times required 100% attention the whole time, but now I just set some timers and let the beer make itself.

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...there is no such thing as a dedicated brew day...
+1 to this.
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:28 PM   #3
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I brewed an IPA (2.5 gallon) on Monday that took 3.5 hours from start to finish. Felt like nothing considering I just sat on my deck and drank beer the whole time.

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Old 05-03-2012, 07:31 PM   #4
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Well said Ed, I made the switch 3 months ago and went straight to a 10 gallon setup. After the first 2 drew days, I wondered why I waited so long to go AG. It is a bit longer, I have to double batch sparge, so it adds an extra 20 mins, but I'm still within the 4.5-5 hour range.

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Old 05-03-2012, 08:00 PM   #5
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I also recently switched to AG and experience the same time requirements. I think the people who say it is too much work or takes too long haven't experienced it and are intimidated.

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Old 05-03-2012, 08:17 PM   #6
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I say basically the same thing all the time to my local club. Ag adds about 45 min for me, the larger scale (full boil) is where the extra time is...

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Old 05-03-2012, 08:48 PM   #7
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I went AG after my 3rd batch and now have everything, with full cleaning time down to about 5 hrs. Every once in a while, I'm mildly tempted to do a PM batch, but the loss of control of all of the ingredients just isn't worth the slight reduction in time. And I feel more "connected" to the final product.

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Old 05-03-2012, 09:09 PM   #8
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I did one extract batch and ever since have done AG. I don't let my sparge additions rest...that would shave even more time off your day. There is negligible if any returns from letting it rest anyways.

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Old 05-03-2012, 09:28 PM   #9
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To the OP, are you doing 5 gallon batches? If so your grist is pretty thick....Your time frame sounds about right. I have a friend who brews running around chasing kids half the time. He's botched quite a few batches over the years becasue of it. I'd try to brew at night so I could focus on the craft at hand. Multi tasking usually means both tasks suffer.

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Old 05-03-2012, 09:33 PM   #10
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When I went AG it would take me like 6 hours as I was like a chicken with my head cut off, but after a few brews under my belt, its easy. Today I went to start and set up everything at 12:30, mashed in by 1:15 and by 5 pm, everything was washed, rinsed and put away. The wort was in the fermenter with yeast happily munching away. So 4-4.5 hours is average. And Id say about 2 hours of that I am inside doing other things.

The only thing I found to brew faster was mead, but that consisted of adding water and honey and yeast into a 5 gallon fermenter and letting it go. LOL

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