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Old 02-23-2013, 07:51 PM   #1
NastyN8
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Default First AG brew tomorrow!! A few more tips could make me a happy brewer.

After brewing for the past three months I feel that it's time for me to save money and go AG. I've been researching everything I can and getting info that would make a normal person's head spin. I know most of you get tons of questions all the time here, and I hate to make another thread, but I feel like there's a few questions that haven't been answered yet.

First off, I'm brewing a honey hefe (7lbs two row american malt, 5lbs white american wheat) with some orange. This seems like a very simple recipe to start with, so that's why I'm using it. Keep it simple, right?

A few questions I have is: I'm using a 10 gallon rubbermaid drink cooler as my mash tun, seems like the best thing to use. I've asked everyone and they suggest using a hose screen rather than a false bottom, that's what I'm going with. I have a big enough brew kettle, so I'm not too worried about brew size. Does anyone suggest anything different for the filter system?

Also, I'm getting a ton of different info about batch sparging and getting good conversion. Most people say use the same amount of sparge water as you would with strike water. Some folks say that you can up your sparge water and boil down the wort to get the right volume, would that help out? Some folks say use less sparge water, but that seems counter intuitive. Am I wrong in thinking that using a far larger volume of water would actually get more sugars out of the grains and then you can just boil down the wort to get your proper volume? Does it matter how long I boil down my wort to reach the volume I'm looking for?

I haven't started building my mash tun yet, I'm still looking for the best setup I can. If any of you awesome brewers have a 10 gallon drink cooler setup they'd like to link me to, that would be much appreciated.

Cheers guys!

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Old 02-23-2013, 10:22 PM   #2
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Your tun and filter really don't have much/any impact on the final beer. A braid is fine. A false bottom is fine. The grain bed is actually doing the filtering.

You should grab some rice hulls for this batch. Wheat has a tendency to turn to something that looks like oatmeal and has issues draining.

For volumes, use one of the many online calculators. The process is pretty forgiving as long as you collect the total amount of wort your recipe calls for. You don't just want to collect a ton of wort and boil forever (at least as a general rule). Lengthy boils darken the wort and cause some flavor changes. Those are appropriate, and often desirable, in something like a barleywine, but not a simple wheat beer.

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Old 02-23-2013, 10:54 PM   #3
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Crushed corriander seeds will give you more orange flavor than the orange itself. Use both.

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Old 02-23-2013, 11:01 PM   #4
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For figuring volumes, it's easier to figure how much wort you need preboil, and work backwards.

For example, if you want 6.5 gallons of wort to start the boil (a good place to start), you mash as usual. You normally can't go wrong with 1.5 quarts of water per pound of grain for the mash. Have a couple of quarts of boiling water on hand, and a few ice cubes on hand in case you miss your temperature too high or too low. But stir very well first, so that you give it time to equalize first. Otherwise, people add boiling water, then ice, the boiling, etc as they try to hit the temperature. Give it a good 5-10 minutes, with stirring, before adjusting the temperature.

You can generally expect 10 pounds of grain in the mash to absorb one gallon of liquid, so keep that in mind.

When you draw out your first runnings, measure them. And then use the difference between your boil volume and those runnings for the sparge volume.

For example, using a 10 pound grain bill:

Mash in with 15 quarts (4.25 gallons).

You'll get out 3.25 gallons.

If you want 6.5 gallons for the boil volume, use 3.25 gallons for the sparge.

It's pretty easy once you get familiar with your equipment and deadspace and such.

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Old 02-23-2013, 11:04 PM   #5
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This one will tell, you all you need to know:

http://onebeer.net/batchspargecalc.shtml

I input usually 1.5gal over my desired batch volume for boil off as that's what my system seems to boil off. Apart from temps for strike, that calculator has been dead on accurate for me since I started batch sparging a few years back.

And I did exactly this build and have had flawless run offs with zero issues. Fight the urge to "make it better" with ball valves and all the other homebrewer have-to's (nothing against that, but this setup is less is more all the way).

http://www.donosborn.com/homebrew/mashtun.htm

Enjoy your first batch. I know I did.

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Old 02-23-2013, 11:06 PM   #6
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This is just the way I do it but it works for me.

If I have 10 pounds of grain I will mash in with about 3 gallons
On my system I lose about 1 gallon per 10 pounds.
With 10 pounds and 3 gallons my first runnings would be about 2 gallons.
Since the grain is now wet it won't retain anymore wort so just sparge with however many gallons needed to be added to your first runnings to get your boil volume.
I usually do a 6.5 gallon boil for a 5 gallon batch so for this example I would sparge with 4.5 gallons.
Pretty much all brews call for at least a 60 minute boil. I would say this is the standard and minimum for all grain for a bunch of reasons.
Definitely through some rice hulls in there. Wheat can make sparges hell.
Good luck and have fun!

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Old 02-23-2013, 11:35 PM   #7
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I do what Yooper does for determining sparge volume. I also try to use 6.5 gallon pre boil volumes. Keeps it very simple.

I recently made a very similar beer. As Rm MN suggested, corriander adds a lot.

And I also want to chim in about rice hulls. They're cheap and easy to use.

Most importantly, take your time, take good notes, and enjoy yourself. I recently switched to AG and was pleasantly suprised how straightforward the process is, and a lot more fun the making extract kits.

Enjoy!

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Old 02-24-2013, 12:47 AM   #8
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Thanks guys!! I really like all this advice.

Another question I have is that I usually us an ice system to cool my wort and didn't like to use the wort chiller I had made. I basically scrapped it for the ice method as it cools my wort fast. Now that I'm going all grain, I was wondering about boiling down the volume to add my usual ice volume. I know it's a lot more time consuming, but I've always liked the ice. Should I go back to my counterflow chiller system? Does anyone have experience with that?

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Old 02-24-2013, 01:02 AM   #9
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There are endless methods of chilling the wort. I would stick with an ice bath. Put the kettle in your sink or bathtub and fill with water and ice. As the ice melts, add more. I can cool 5 gallons in about 30 minutes with this method. Although I just use my coil chiller.

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Old 02-24-2013, 01:51 AM   #10
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I actually throw ice into the wort when I chill. I boil water and then seal it and freeze it.

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