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Old 07-24-2012, 02:10 AM   #1
Billy-Ray
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Default First AG beer - First Post

Hello everyone,

I have been a long time lurker and have learned a great deal from HBT. I finally was ready to share some experience, with the hopes of helping out (sorry for the long post).

Based on what I learned on HBT and youtube, I ordered AG equipment, made a brew plan (very important) and then tracked everything I could think of. Overall, my brew day went very well, with only a couple issues, that I don't think will affect the final product.

Yesterday I brewed my first AG batch of beer, a Pale Ale with the following recipe:
7-lbs British pale malt
0.5-lbs crystal 60L
0.5-lbs amber malt
0.5-lbs Munich malt
1-oz Northern Brewer for 60 minutes
0.5 oz Cascade for 30, 5 and 1 minutes
I will also dry hop some cascade in the secondary

5:48 - Woke up before alarm, excited to get going, I don't usually wake up this early, must mean I really like beer
6:00 Started heating 4.25 gallons for the mash (2 quarts per lb)
6:27 - Overshot temp slightly, let cool
6:40 - Prewarmed mash tun with hot water
7:00 - Dough-in (I did forget to add Ph stabilizer, doh)
7:04 - Mash temp = 155, target was 154. Little do I know that the temp had not fully settled, so I stir it for a minute or two with hopes of nailing it dead nuts (should have left well enough alone).
7:15 - Mash temp has fallen to 152
7:30 - Mash temp down to 151, I start heating up my sparge water another 4.25 gallons
7:45 - Mash temp holding at 151
8:00 - Mash temp down to 150
8:05 - Time to vorlauf (awesome word) temp at 149. Overall temperature loss of 3 - 4 degrees, because I don't think 154 was really a good measurement, I will certainly account for this in my next batch. I get a total of 2.8 gallons for my first runnings.
I add sparge water and lauter, done at 8:43
8:50 - I take a temp and gravity reading 142 degrees with a specific gravity (corrected) of 1.037 for approximately 7.3 gallons, it seemed like too much wort, but it all worked out in the end
9:22 - I finally achieve a boil and add the northern brewer hops
9:52 - Add first cascade hop addition
10:07 - Add irish moss
10:12 - Put in immersion chiller for sanitation, I did lose my boil for a couple minutes, so I added 5 minutes to the boil
10:17 - Add second cascade addition
10:27 - Last hop addition
10:28 - Kill gas, start water flow on immersion chiller
10:33 - Temp down to 150, 10:39 - Temp down to 122
10:46 - Wort racked to primary, 5.1 gallons @ 98 degrees OG of 1.042 (corrected)
10:57 - All done waiting to pitch yeast in the 70s
Total time = 5 hours

I am having some trouble figuring out my efficiency, I think it was about 67%, I tried a couple different calculators and got conflicting results. Any help on that would be helpful. Next time I will try to be a degree or two higher on the mash and add some more stirring to try to get up to 70%. I would also do less cleanup during the brew and do it all at the end (although that may not go over well here). I think next time I can cut about 30 minutes and add a couple points of efficiency. Already setup to brew again this coming weekend.

Thank you for everyone's advice,
Billy Ray Valentine

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Old 07-24-2012, 03:23 AM   #2
hoppedupbrewer
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A few notes: Unless you have a reason to mash thin, you might consider mashing with 1.25 quarts per lb of grain. Thicker mashes tend to hold temp a bit better.

It looks like you did well on your volumes. You had a big pre-boil volume, but you came out close to 5 gallons (I'll asume 5g was your target), so kudos on that. I have a high boiloff rate as well in my system, and one thing I like to do is split my batch sparge volume. So, if your first runnings were 2.8 gallons, and your target pre-boil volume is 7.3, you know you need to sparge with 4.5 gallons to get your remaining volume, since all the dead space and grain absorption is taken care of at this point. So I split that volume, maybe 2.5 gallons for another batch sparge, and then finally 2 gallons, or 2.25 and 2.25. Many people find splitting the sparge water helps bring efficiency up a bit.

As for your mash temps, you could've actually just dumped in your too-warm strike water to preheat your mash vessel, but that's mostly personal preference. I heat my strike water about 10° above my strike temp, dump that in the cooler, close it up and let it sit for 10 minutes. Then I open it up and let it cool to my strike temp and dough-in. I've had better luck hitting targets that way than, and usually end up a degree or two high. I figure it's easier to stir the mash for a couple minutes while it cools and becomes more uniform in temp than try to dump in boiling water and warm the whole mash to the desired temp if you undershoot.

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I would also do less cleanup during the brew and do it all at the end (although that may not go over well here)
Do what you're comfortable with. I find I have time to mow my lawn and clean/sanitize a fermenter while my mash is going, and I clean my mash tun while the boil is running (or clean it with the chiller water if I'm lazy). I remember my first few batches of all-grain were a bit stressful, but you'll get more comfortable as you get more batches under your belt and be able to squeeze in other tasks here & there. 5 hours is not bad for your first AG at all. I think mine was almost 6 and a half
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Old 07-24-2012, 03:31 AM   #3
Sippin37
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Well done sir for your first batch! Any reason you decided to rack to the primary while the wort was still that warm? I always find it easier to let the immersion chiller do it's job down to 70F then have to wait for the primary cool down before pitching. But I know everyone's system is different....

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Old 07-24-2012, 04:15 AM   #4
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Congrats Sippin37 and welcome to a very addicting hobby. I enjoy sharing my end results as much as drinking them.

Enjoy and have fun
Toy4Rick

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Old 07-25-2012, 12:43 AM   #5
Billy-Ray
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5 gallons was my target, but after reviewing, I think I must have been off on my measuring my volumes as 2.8 + 4.25 would not have gotten me to 7.3, so maybe my boil off was not as high as it seems. Secondly, I would have liked to cool my wort further but I live in Georgia and the ic was not cooling nearly as efficiently anymore, so I decided to pull it out. I will likely put a DIY prechiller (run the hose through a cooler filled with ice) next time to improve chilling efficiency).

I like the idea of splitting the sparge into two additions to better estimate preboil volume. Does anyone have any other thoughts on efficiency? Is my calculation of 68% correct?

Thanks again,
Billy Ray

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