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Old 03-15-2013, 04:08 AM   #1
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Default First all grain - a reasonable success

Hi folks

I've just finished washing up after my first all-grain brew and thought I'd hash out my evening to anyone who cares to listen.

I built a mash tun from a 10g Lowes/Igloo cooler, along with the cooler conversion kit that Northern Brewer sell and a boil/mash screen from them too. First niggle was that the valve kit didn't seal up properly, but I added one of the washers from the original spigot and it works well enough. It leaks if I fill it up over about 6 gallons, but I'll sort that later.

On with the brew. I picked the Irish Red kit that Midwest do as I got it when they had 10% off and I was ordering some other stuff at the time.

The kit has 9lbs of 2-row, 12oz Crystal 40L, 4oz special B and 4oz roasted barley. I heated 4 gallons of strike water to 170F and put about 10 quarts into the tun. Temp before mash in read 166F, after mash in and a damn good stir of the whole lot it read 147F. I pulled out about 2 quarts of the liquid from above the grain bed, dumped it into a second pot and heated it back to 170F, put it back in the tun and stirred to stabilise everything. After doing this twice I hit my mash temperature of 152F, so I stuck the lid on and walked away.

I returned an hour later to find my sparge water had heated to 200F, so I mixed it with some cold water to get it to 175F. Started to vorlauf slowly, recycled the wort until it ran clear, then started running out into my kettle. I threw the bittering hops in at this point, the instructions recommend 1oz Cascade for this, but I chose the Fuggles to go in at this point. I batch sparged twice with 2 gallons of water each time, after the sparge the palatable sweetness had gone from the grains and I had about 6 gallons in my kettle, so on with the boil.

Got it rolling away reasonably fast (I have one of the turkey fryer bundles from Target) and after beating back the hot break I left it alone for a while. Added a whirlfloc tablet at 15 minutes remaining along with my immersion chiller, and the 1oz Cascade at 5 minutes.

At flame out, I cranked up the water to the chiller and stirred for about five minutes which got me down to 70F. Autosiphoned the wort into my fermenter, along with most of the break material and hops it seems. I tried out the double mesh strainer from NB, but I knocked it after transferring around 3.5 gallons and I think most of the crud fell through. At this point it was pretty late so I didn't have the patience to whirlpool and stand.

All said and done, I ended up with 5 gallons of wort into the fermenter, and my SG came out at 1.050 at 65F. Midwest reckon the SG should be between 1.042-1.046, so that seems pretty good to me. I pitched a rehydrated sachet of Munton's ale yeast (the cheapest and most cheerful option), stuck the lid on the fermenter and jammed an airlock in it.

A brief sip pre-pitch tasted pretty good, it's got a fairly notable dark bitterness from the Fuggles, but you can pick up the citrus side of the Cascade too. Hard to make much of the colour just yet as there's all manner of floating crud in it, but I hope that once it settles out it'll have a nice red hue. I've got some custom caps coming from BottleMark for this one, so hopefully it'll turn out drinkable.

Now for the hard part, the waiting...

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Old 03-15-2013, 04:54 AM   #2
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Sounds like a great brew day. Much better than my first all grain disaster! My only critique is the first hop addition. It looks like you added it to the mash. Ive never seen that,but I'm still a noob. I would have thought to add the bittering hops to the boil. That's how I've always seen it. Let us know how it turns out!

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Old 03-15-2013, 01:20 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dolupoluv
Sounds like a great brew day. Much better than my first all grain disaster! My only critique is the first hop addition. It looks like you added it to the mash. Ive never seen that,but I'm still a noob. I would have thought to add the bittering hops to the boil. That's how I've always seen it. Let us know how it turns out!
Re read the op, you are good on hop addition. I see you added to the kettle before it boiled. My mistake.
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Old 03-15-2013, 01:28 PM   #4
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Congrats on your first all grain brew! I just did my first AG last week and it is bubbling away down in my garage. It sounds like you did a better job of hitting your target gravity than I did. Cheers!

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Old 03-15-2013, 01:41 PM   #5
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Great job on your first all grain. When I started I had no idea that you could use extract and went all grain the first batch. I had no clue as to what I was doing and it was a nightmare to say the least. I remember the second batch standing there with the grain thinking man if I dump this in the tun I am committed to the nightmare of brewing again.

Cool stuff you guys doing it right the first time around

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Old 03-15-2013, 01:55 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Varmintman View Post
Great job on your first all grain. When I started I had no idea that you could use extract and went all grain the first batch. I had no clue as to what I was doing and it was a nightmare to say the least. I remember the second batch standing there with the grain thinking man if I dump this in the tun I am committed to the nightmare of brewing again.
I have a friend who has been takling about getting into homebrewing, and he is adamant about starting with all-grain. I'll pass this on to him to try and set him straight about that.

OTOH, I am reminded of the chapter in Making Beer about the first time Will Mares tried to brew an all-grain batch: he called it 'The Great Grain Wreck". Of course, this was around 1978 or so, when the only reference he had for mashing was a single chapter in an older British book (the first ed. of Burch's Brewing Quality Beers, IIRC). He didn't have any of the advantages we do today, or even those I 'enjoyed' in 1993.
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Old 03-15-2013, 10:19 PM   #7
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Well I just got home and went and checked the fermenter, the airlock is bubbling away and the room is sitting at around 62F so I'm pretty pleased with that. The heat is off after we emptied 250g of oil in 6 weeks so I'd been a bit worried that it might have gotten too cold after last nights freezing temps, but nothing doing thankfully.

Some things I'd recommend: have a couple of 1 quart pitchers to hand. I did and they came in very helpful for transferring mash water and the like. Also used during vorlauf.

I'd say make sure you have a mash paddle as well as a spoon, I've watched a few vids on YouTube of people mashing in with a spoon and it seems to take them a lot more effort to break up dough balls and the like. My paddle just cut straight through them.

I'd say you definitely could start brewing with all-grain, but it's a lot more investment and a lot more points where you can screw up, but plenty of reading (and a mate standing by) should make it doable.

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Old 03-16-2013, 01:44 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dolupoluv
Sounds like a great brew day. Much better than my first all grain disaster! My only critique is the first hop addition. It looks like you added it to the mash. Ive never seen that,but I'm still a noob. I would have thought to add the bittering hops to the boil. That's how I've always seen it. Let us know how it turns out!
I read through the thread to make sure it had not been answered. I am a 6 month noob and this sounded a lot like my first AG, coincidentally a red as well.
Your brew day even felt like I was reliving mine (I hit my BeerSmith OG on the nose.)
To help the quotee:
Adding hops before the boil, technically added into the first runnings before sparging, is called first wort hopping FWH.
Strangely enough, I had read about it on this forum a couple if days before my first AG, so I decided to do it with my brew.
Search it for an in depth understanding, but basically it adds a flavor without the bitterness.
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Old 03-16-2013, 03:00 AM   #9
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I started with ag as well. Now I'm on my sixth brew and all had been well. I did have a friend walk me through the first one though. I feel like extract is cheating, as though I didn't really make it. Just my opinion though. Happy brewing.

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Old 03-16-2013, 03:03 AM   #10
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My understanding is that you get the same bitterness in terms of IBUs, so you should still achieve the same malt/hops balance, but it's less of a harsh bitterness so should taste smoother.

My last extract brew was bittered with Fuggles and that has a very particular bitter character which has melded very well after some bottle conditioning. I was aiming to help this one on its way with a FWH rather than a 60 minute addition, and was also hoping to let the Cascade come through somewhat hence the late addition. We'll see how it turns out, the sample going into the fermenter had a strong Fuggles flavour, so I might even dry hop this with an ounce or two or Cascade, but we shall see.

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