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Old 01-08-2008, 03:03 AM   #1
jfrizzell
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Default Beginners luck or skilled execution? :)

some time ago, I decided I was going to make the leap to all grain. I purchased a cooler and converted it to a mash tun, I bought a burner and picked up a large brewpot. With the help of my machinist brother-in-law, I even built my own grain mill - basically a Crankenstein clone.

Saturday night, I decided to brew my first all grain batch. I got started a little later than I planned, but wasn't too worried about it. I started crushing my grain and realized I had to open up the gap a bit as it was doing too good of a job with the crush. Once I got a good crush going, I realized there were bugs crawling around in my grain! I've had the grain for about 3 months and it was still in the sealed bags from the HBS and has been stored in a sealed rubbermaid container so the bugs came at no charge from the HBS. I'm going to have to have a chat with them about that! Luckily I had another batch of grain I bought from another place so I still had enough grain to brew. The rest of the crush went without a hitch.

Heated up my strike water and hit my mash temperature spot on - 152 degrees. I mashed for an hour and then collected, meanwhile heating up the sparge water. I did a split batch sparge. Did a 60 minute full boil and then started my cooldown. I don't have a wort chiller yet so I just stuck the pot in a snowbank and stirred occasionally. That worked fine but took a while.

Siphoning to the fermenter, I used a fine mesh grain bag to filter out the hops and the break. That slowed things down a bit, but it worked fine. Once I got it all into the fermenter, I realized that I underestimated the boil off and loss to break/hops and had to top off with about 1 gallon. After topping off, my gravity was dead on so I got about 75% efficiency.

All in all, I think I did fairly well for my first time. Next time, I'll be sure to collect more wort and I'll be making a immersion chiller.

I'm no longer an all-grain virgin!

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Old 01-08-2008, 03:26 AM   #2
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75's real good for your first go. Also, keep in mind that more than likely the shop got the bugs free of charge in that grain...then had to deal with making sure they didn't spread into other stuff. It is not uncommon at all for malt companies to send stuff out with weavils in it...especially imported grains.

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Old 01-08-2008, 11:46 AM   #3
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Sounds like you did an excellent job... congrats!

If the worst thing to happen was you had to top off with some water, I'd call that success.

My first batch was undrinkable.... made far too many errors. So it sounds like you did your homework and had success.

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Old 01-08-2008, 01:46 PM   #4
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Thank guys, I was very pleased with the results for my first time out. I have some things to work on but all in all it went very well. One other thing I shoud have done was make a starter for my White Labs pitchable. I didn't notice until I was ready to brew that it was a few months past its prime, which means it would have been only a month away when I received it...not real happy about getting nearly expired yeast from the HBS. I had about a 30 hour lag before fermentation started, but I've heard of worse.

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Old 01-08-2008, 01:51 PM   #5
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Congratulations! I doubt it's just beginner's luck. All grain brewing isn't so difficult to need that kind of luck. Rather, it just takes some knowledge, applied with thought, care, and diligence. It sounds like you did just that. Nice brewing!

And, like Brett said, those weevils came with the grain. Any grain you get will have weevil eggs on it. It's just a matter of when those eggs will hatch, and three months isn't TOO bad. The only thing you and the LHBS can do is make sure you control any weevils in the locale. It's worth letting them know you got weevils, though, just to remind them to take a look around their shop and make sure it's all under control.


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Old 01-08-2008, 01:56 PM   #6
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Yes, there was definitely a lot of research and planning involved so it wasn't exactly luck. As my wife says, those hundreds of hours I've spent on HBT paid off.

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Old 01-08-2008, 03:24 PM   #7
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I had some bugs in some wheat malt last year. I'm pretty sure they died in the boil, if not the mash.
I'm over it already!

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