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Old 10-01-2012, 02:43 PM   #1
MacF
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Default First all grain batch planned, tips welcome

I am going to be making my first all grain batch. I am going to start with the blonde ale milled grain kit from Morebeer.com because it was cheap and seemed like a good way to start while just trying to figure out technique. So all ingredients will be from there.

I have a five gallon igloo water cooler I am going to use for mashing. I made a cheap plexiglass false bottom with drilled 1/8 inch holes. I plan on boiling 3 gallons of water about to 166 (read somewhere to go ten degrees over desired mashing temp) and then combining grains and water in the cooler for about 90 minutes, mixing every twenty minutes or so. After that I will drain and sparge with the remaining 2 gallons to complete the wort and then boil per kit instructions to reach the style.

Any tips, set up improvements or pointing out of blatant mistakes would be welcome. I am excited to try all grain but feel a bit like a babe in the wilderness.

Thanks in advance!

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Old 10-01-2012, 02:56 PM   #2
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Make sure you Recirculate or Vorlauf your first and second runnings.

Always drain your mash tun SLOWLY. This helps extract more sugar from the grain.

to help with efficiency make sure your sparge water is hot enough to bring the mash temp up to 168-170.

Since it's your first AG I would only mash for 60 min.

I also cover my mash tun with blankets to help maintain the mash temp.

There is calculators online to help you determine your strike water temp. It all depends on the grain to water ratio, grain temp, and how many pounds of grain you're using.

Good luck!

EDIT: I also just saw you are only using 5 gal of water. You will need a lot more than that. I use almost 8 gal for a five gallon batch on my system. This is due to equipment loss and boil off. Again, look online for a sparge calculator. It will give you proper temps and roughly how much water to use. It's very helpful.

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Old 10-01-2012, 03:00 PM   #3
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Sounds like a good plan for a first all grain batch. Simple grain/hop bill. You should be good with a 60 minute mash. I only stir when I mash in, thoroughly to ensure that all grain gets wet. I don't think it's recommended that you stir every 20 minutes. You will lose heat when doing so, which will effect conversion. Just mash in, stir thoroughly, and wait.

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Old 10-01-2012, 03:09 PM   #4
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I like your idea of doing a "simple" recipe for your first recipe...figure out your setup before going crazy, but that's just me.

As for your mash volume, I use 1.25-1.33 quarts of water per pound of grain. Not sure what your grain bill is for your blonde, but 3 gallons of mash water sounds good for about 9-9.6 pounds of grain.

As for sparge water, I heat a volume of my target pre-boil volume plus 20%.

As for your boil volume, you're going to need more than 5 gallons at the start of the boil. Depending on your kettle, you'll have to compensate for volume loss during your boil. My kettle, for example, loses ~1.75 gal during a 60 minute boil, so I have to start with 6.75 gallons of wort for a 5 gallon batch.

Good luck on the first batch...let us know how it goes!

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Old 10-01-2012, 03:25 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MacF View Post
I am going to be making my first all grain batch. I am going to start with the blonde ale milled grain kit from Morebeer.com because it was cheap and seemed like a good way to start while just trying to figure out technique. So all ingredients will be from there.

I have a five gallon igloo water cooler I am going to use for mashing. I made a cheap plexiglass false bottom with drilled 1/8 inch holes. I plan on boiling 3 gallons of water about to 166 (read somewhere to go ten degrees over desired mashing temp) and then combining grains and water in the cooler for about 90 minutes, mixing every twenty minutes or so. After that I will drain and sparge with the remaining 2 gallons to complete the wort and then boil per kit instructions to reach the style.

Any tips, set up improvements or pointing out of blatant mistakes would be welcome. I am excited to try all grain but feel a bit like a babe in the wilderness.

Thanks in advance!
Sounds great! A couple of tips- you'll need more than 2 gallons to sparge, you will be "batch sparging", so nake sure you stir the sparge water in well.

The amount of water you use in the mash is figured by the amount of grain. Say you have 10 pounds. A good amount of water to use is 1.25-1.5 quarts of water per pound of grain. So, if you have 10 pounds of grain, you'll use 15 quarts. An 11 degree difference should be good between desired mash temp/and strike temp. Preheat your cooler first! Put 180 degree water in the cooler (no hotter or the cooler will warp/crack), and let it drop to 164. Then stir in your grain. Stir very well. After that, check the temperature in a couple of places, and stir until they are the same. Then cover it and walk away for 60 minutes. Don't open it and stir all the time- it'll drop temperature that way. You don't need a 90 minute mash- a 60 minute mash is adequate for that beer.

Since you'll "lose" about 1.25 gallons of water in absorption, when you vorlauf and drain, you'll get out 2.5 gallons of first runnings. Then you'll sparge with 4 gallons if your boil volume is 6.5 gallons.

What I would do is boil 6 gallons of water for an hour, and see what you boil off. Do that in advance of brewday. That really helps with figuring your boil volume!

Anyway, when you sparge, add your sparge water to the mashtun and stir like it owes you money. Then stir some more. And then again. The key to batch sparging is the stirring- it "knocks" the sugars into the liquid. Then vorlauf and drain. That's it! You can drains as fast as your MLT will drain. There is no advantage to going slow with this method.

Then, mix up the first runnings and second runnings well, cool the sample and check the SG with a hydrometer. You should also know your volume- either mark a stick/spoon at each gallon level, or mark your pot. That's really important too!

Once you cool your preboil SG sample, you can make sure that you're on track for the postboil SG. Have some DME handy in case you miss by a lot- that happens sometimes on the first few tries. You can add DME and fix it right away.

We can help you on brewday, by walking through it with you if you have your computer handy and post any questions or issues that come up.

For more info on batch sparging, check out Dennybrew.com- Denny is the resident batch sparging guru who literally wrote the book on the technique. He'd be a far better resource than me!
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Old 10-01-2012, 03:29 PM   #6
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Excellent info from everyone and a lot of things I was oblivious to. Thank you for all the input, I think I would have missed a lot without it.

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Old 10-01-2012, 03:29 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beer_me_plz View Post
Always drain your mash tun SLOWLY. This helps extract more sugar from the grain.
This doesn't apply for batch sparging though. Once you set the grain you can let 'er rip. I've always batched sparged and draining slowly just wastes time and does not help efficiency from what I've noticed in my experience. Fly sparging is a complete different story. The Godfather aka. Denny Conn explains it better than me haha.
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Old 10-02-2012, 12:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmiyc

This doesn't apply for batch sparging though. Once you set the grain you can let 'er rip. I've always batched sparged and draining slowly just wastes time and does not help efficiency from what I've noticed in my experience. Fly sparging is a complete different story. The Godfather aka. Denny Conn explains it better than me haha.
This just shaved about 30-45mins off my brew day.
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Old 10-02-2012, 01:16 PM   #9
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I brewed my second AG yesterday and my numbers were way low. only achieved 1.035 as opposed to the desired 1.057. I suspected the grain to be the issue initially, as I felt like the mill at the homebrew shop didnt do too well of a job, but now after reading about how much to stir the sparge, I think thats where my mistake came in. I basically added and stirred gently and then drained. Oh well. Just gotta brew again next week now.

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Old 10-02-2012, 01:35 PM   #10
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Do you have a large enough pot to do a full boil (at least 8 gallon)?

I also found out that my stove top does not provide enough heat to get a good boil on my 10 gallon pot and needed to go to a propane burner outside.

Wife was happy, too.

For a blonde, I'd shoot for about 152 mash temp. 5 gallons blondes are usually around 10 pounds of grain. Take 3.5 gallons of water an heat to 166 deg F and then dump into the cooler and cover for 5 minutes. This will preheat the cooler and the temp should drop to about 163 deg F. Add you grains, stir and your temperature should be about 152 deg F. If you within a degree or two dont worry about it. Let it sit for 60 minutes.

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