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Old 01-09-2011, 01:11 AM   #1
rpetrello
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Default Analyzing My First All Grain

First all grain today. Went great (I think )!

After a few months of slowly acquiring equipment, I've moved my brewing entirely outdoors, and have moved from extract and partial-grain to an all-grain batch. As far as I can tell, it went pretty well. I took careful notes throughout the process in case anybody else is staring down moving to all-grain and in case anybody sees problem spots or has suggestions for improvement in my process:

East Coast Indian Brown Ale (My LHBS' Recipe)
5 Gallon Batch
OG 1.065
FG 1.014
Alc 6.7%
IBU 58
---

7.9lb US 2 Row
3.2lb Maris Otter
11oz US Crystal 40L
3.5oz US Crystal 120L
3oz German CaraFa II Special

1 oz Simcoe 12% (12AAU) @ 60 mins
1 oz Centennial @ 10 mins
Irish Moss/Whirfloc @ 10 mins
1 oz Centennial @ 0 mins

Wyeast 1450 "Denny's Fav 50"

Mash Target: 151dF
Boil Time: 75 mins

---

My process:

1. I used the spreadsheet at http://www.brew365.com/mash_sparge_water_calculator.php to calculate my strike temperature and volume.
2. I heated 3.8 gallons of water to 180dF
3. I have a converted rectangular cooler which I poured the 180dF water into. I stirred and closed up for a few minutes, hoping the cooler would absorb enough heat and land me at my target strike temperature. After 5 or so minutes, the water reached 168dF. I opened the lid to let some heat escape, and after a minute or so, landed at ~163dF. I doughed-in and stirred.
4. After measuring temp, I was reading around 150-151dF (man, now I'm really eyeing those thermapens - your mind starts playing tricks on you with those dial thermometers). Closed the lid, covered the cooler with a heavy blanket (my cooler's lid is hollow).
5. After ~30 minutes, I opened the mash tun to check temp and stir. Measured around 149dF. Debated pouring in some boiling water. Just closed the lid and went with it. Started heating ~6 gallons of sparge water.
6. At 60 minutes, I opened the lid and found that the temperature was still around 149-150dF, so heat held pretty solid for an hour.
7. Opened valve slowly, vorlaufed a liter or so (until clear), opened the valve and collected just under 2 gallons of sweet, delicious wort into a bottling bucket.
8. Transferred about 5 gallons of 180dF water onto the grain bed, stirring. Closed the lid, let rest for 10 minutes.
9. Opened the valve slowly, vorlaufed, collected an additional ~5 gallons of wort from the sparge.
10. At this point, I'd collected 7 gallons on the nose, so I took a hydrometer reading. Corrected for temperature, I got 1.053. Used http://www.brewersfriend.com/brewhouse-efficiency/ to calculate my efficiency. Looks like I got around 82%.
11. Boil time. Got from ~130dF to boiling in a little under 45 minutes. Boiled for 75 minutes. Added hops to a mesh bag at specified intervals.
12. After boil, chilled w/ a copper immersion chiller. Got from boiling to <60dF in just under 20 minutes (ground water was around 50dF).
13. Transfered about 4.5 gallons to fermenter. Measured w/ a hydrometer and got 1.070. As this was higher than the target and I also only had 4.5 gallons (a good amount of trub, too), I topped off to ~5 gallons w/ tap water.
14. Shake, shake, shake. Added yeast and a blowoff tube. Currently waiting for bubbles...

Thoughts taken away from my first session:

- I know I had a great hot break, but with the absurd amount of steam coming out of my converted keg, I honestly couldn't even see the boil. Is there any way to get a glimpse past the steam? Am I maybe boiling too hard? Had I been in danger of boiling over, I wouldn't have known it until it was far too late.

- I need to invest in a quality thermometer. Most of the time, I had only a vague idea of what temperatures looked like. Even with two cheap thermometers on hand, I was constantly second guessing readings. Not fun.

- It seems like I needed to sparge with more water and collect more runnings. This is my first time w/ most of this equipment - in the future, for a ~5 gallons batch, I probably need to start with closer to 8 gallons, rather than 7. I *gravely* underestimated the huge amount of wort that would be soaked up by the leaf hops. Like, an astounding amount.

- After I chilled, I was in a rush to get things into the fermenter.
I wish I had waited 10-15 minutes and let all of that cold break settle a bit. There's a considerable amount of gunk in the bottom of my fermenter (more so than w/ extract). Perhaps this is just part of brewing all-grain.

Feedback is obviously welcome. For a first run on my equipment, I'd call this a success.

Hurray for beer.



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Old 01-09-2011, 01:32 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rpetrello View Post
First all grain today. Went great (I think )!

OG 1.065
Mash Target: 151dF
Boil Time: 75 mins

---

My process:

1. I used the spreadsheet at http://www.brew365.com/mash_sparge_water_calculator.php to calculate my strike temperature and volume.
2. I heated 3.8 gallons of water to 180dF
3. I have a converted rectangular cooler which I poured the 180dF water into. I stirred and closed up for a few minutes, hoping the cooler would absorb enough heat and land me at my target strike temperature. After 5 or so minutes, the water reached 168dF. I opened the lid to let some heat escape, and after a minute or so, landed at ~163dF. I doughed-in and stirred.
4. After measuring temp, I was reading around 150-151dF (man, now I'm really eyeing those thermapens - your mind starts playing tricks on you with those dial thermometers). Closed the lid, covered the cooler with a heavy blanket (my cooler's lid is hollow).
5. After ~30 minutes, I opened the mash tun to check temp and stir. Measured around 149dF. Debated pouring in some boiling water. Just closed the lid and went with it. Started heating ~6 gallons of sparge water.
6. At 60 minutes, I opened the lid and found that the temperature was still around 149-150dF, so heat held pretty solid for an hour.
7. Opened valve slowly, vorlaufed a liter or so (until clear), opened the valve and collected just under 2 gallons of sweet, delicious wort into a bottling bucket.
8. Transferred about 5 gallons of 180dF water onto the grain bed, stirring. Closed the lid, let rest for 10 minutes.
9. Opened the valve slowly, vorlaufed, collected an additional ~5 gallons of wort from the sparge.
10. At this point, I'd collected 7 gallons on the nose, so I took a hydrometer reading. Corrected for temperature, I got 1.053. Used http://www.brewersfriend.com/brewhouse-efficiency/ to calculate my efficiency. Looks like I got around 82%.
11. Boil time. Got from ~130dF to boiling in a little under 45 minutes. Boiled for 75 minutes. Added hops to a mesh bag at specified intervals.
12. After boil, chilled w/ a copper immersion chiller. Got from boiling to <60dF in just under 20 minutes (ground water was around 50dF).
13. Transfered about 4.5 gallons to fermenter. Measured w/ a hydrometer and got 1.070. As this was higher than the target and I also only had 4.5 gallons (a good amount of trub, too), I topped off to ~5 gallons w/ tap water.
14. Shake, shake, shake. Added yeast and a blowoff tube. Currently waiting for bubbles...

Thoughts taken away from my first session:

- I know I had a great hot break, but with the absurd amount of steam coming out of my converted keg, I honestly couldn't even see the boil. Is there any way to get a glimpse past the steam? Am I maybe boiling too hard? Had I been in danger of boiling over, I wouldn't have known it until it was far too late.

- I need to invest in a quality thermometer. Most of the time, I had only a vague idea of what temperatures looked like. Even with two cheap thermometers on hand, I was constantly second guessing readings. Not fun.

- It seems like I needed to sparge with more water and collect more runnings. This is my first time w/ most of this equipment - in the future, for a ~5 gallons batch, I probably need to start with closer to 8 gallons, rather than 7. I *gravely* underestimated the huge amount of wort that would be soaked up by the leaf hops. Like, an astounding amount.

- After I chilled, I was in a rush to get things into the fermenter.
I wish I had waited 10-15 minutes and let all of that cold break settle a bit. There's a considerable amount of gunk in the bottom of my fermenter (more so than w/ extract). Perhaps this is just part of brewing all-grain.

Feedback is obviously welcome. For a first run on my equipment, I'd call this a success.

Hurray for beer.
1) Sounds like you did an AWESOME job for your first time around!!! Congrats

2) BeerSmith is DEFINITELY worth the $20, and you can try it for free to convince yourself...I've never run out of sparge water with it.

3) You can go WAY cheaper than a Thermapen...I use a $15 Taylor waterproof instant read thermometer and it works great

4) Plan on 5.5 gal batches...it will help account for loss to hops, trub, racking, cooling, etc. and still get you 5 gal in the bottle or keg. Beersmith helps w/ these calculations too.

5) I use a cheap 5 gal nylon paint strainer to remove the break when I transfer to my fermenter...that will significantly reduce trub from the hot and cold breaks

6) 75 min boil prob cost you some volume. Unless you are looking for increased carmelization from an extended boil, 60 min is usually enough (but Beersmith will help account for THAT too...though you need to figure out your boil off rate with your system to plug in)

7) Beersmith wil also (I am in no way affiliated, just happy!) give you pre-boil volume and SG

8) You REALLY did great with the detailed notes and you obviously did your homework before getting started. Too many people post help me threads but don't provide info. You don't really NEED help because you know what you are doing and took the notes needed to tweak your process.

Welcome to your new obsession


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Old 01-09-2011, 01:44 AM   #3
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Wow man, great job! You're well on your way...

It took me a few tries with my equipment to dial in my water volumes. Sounds like a dead space issue. Hops don't absorb nearly as much as the grain does. Try this: http://www.brewersfriend.com/2010/06/12/water-volume-management-in-all-grain-brewing/

Sounds like you could turn down the gas flow and achieve a more gentle boil. I try to conserve propane that way.

Ditto on getting at least one, preferably two thermometers, don't forget to calibrate them.

The amount of trub you mention could be due to your crush gap setting being too narrow? I don't get that much settling out in the carboy, but I do get the wort into the carboy ASAP so I can introduce it to the yeast and keep the germs from taking hold.

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Old 01-09-2011, 01:50 AM   #4
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Agreed on all counts.

I *also* have two ~$20 Taylor waterproof instant read thermometers. Neither give the same reading, and both seem only moderately reliable to me. Meh. I also do a lot of grilling/smoking, and have been considering a really nice thermometer for awhile.

I'd also imagined that 7 gallons would boil down to ~5, but I'm sure the additional 15 minutes of boiling and the 3 ounces of leaf hops stole away a lot more of my beer than anticipated. I think that next time, I'll just make a point to not boil with anything less than 8 gallons (I still had at least a gallon left to sparge with if I'd wanted - I just figured 7 was enough).

I'd love to give Beersmith a shot, but unfortunately it's Windows only (I'm on a Mac). I'm currently tinkering w/ the BeerAlchemy trial and so far, and I like what I see.

I boiled for 75 minutes because my LHBS insisted I do so for this recipe. I asked why. They said "just trust us". I'm still new to this, so good enough for me.

Oddly enough, I also actually *did* use a 5 gallon nylon paint strainer for the hops. I did a great job keeping hop parts out of the beer. I probably got my boil down to <140dF in 2 minutes flat, but it brought along an astounding amount of cold break. Seriously, there's maybe an inch of gunk sitting at the bottle of my fermenter at the moment.

And yes, it's become my new obsession. If my wife could read this, she'd be rolling her eyes.

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Old 01-09-2011, 02:31 AM   #5
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Cold break won't hurt a thing.... All the plate chiller-to-fermenter rigs dump all the cold break into the fermenter. There are post talking about the benefits of cold break to yeast.

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Old 01-09-2011, 02:34 AM   #6
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Fair enough (and reassuring). From my experience w/ partial boil extract brewing (when I cooled ~2.5 gallons in a sink over 30 minutes), I've just never experienced *so much* break material.

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Old 01-09-2011, 02:54 AM   #7
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I wish my first AG went this well. When you get your instant read thermometer don't drop it in the mlt and try and grab it quick out instinct. It hurts.
From my limited attempts it seems like you did a great job. I boil for 75 min as well to reduce any chance of DMS flavor, I may be wasting gas…

Let us know how it turns out!

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Old 01-09-2011, 03:01 AM   #8
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Yea, while vorlaufing, I dropped my pitcher and made the mistake of reaching into too quickly to yank it out. 170dF water and hands do not mix.

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Old 01-09-2011, 03:33 AM   #9
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Yea, while vorlaufing, I dropped my pitcher and made the mistake of reaching into too quickly to yank it out. 170dF water and hands do not mix.
Ah yes, the self inflicted burn. Done that one too.

It is where the saying 'rule of thumb' comes from - brewers of old dipping their thumb in the wort to see how hot it was. They got burned a lot.
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Old 01-09-2011, 03:34 AM   #10
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Yikes. I'll stick with the semi-reliable thermometers.



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