Originally Posted by MacF
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!