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Old 08-29-2010, 03:03 PM   #1
sundaybrewingco
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Default First All-Grain (Semi-FAIL)

I completed my first all-grain brew yesterday. It was for a Ordinary Bitter recipe I created with BeerTools. As expected, it didn't go as smoothly as I have planned it. I think I know why and learned from my mistakes..maybe some of the seasoned all-grain brewers can chime in..

I couldn't hit my strike mash temperature. I was expecting to mash around 154F and could only get it to 150F. I had to add more water to get it to a steady 150F. I did pre-heat my mash tun, but it didn't help. I think the problem was because I was mashing in a 15 gallon SS kettle for a 5 gallon batch I'm guessing the head space was too large for a 5 gallon mash which caused all the heat loss? Is this too big?

Secondly, I couldn't hit my sparge temperature either.. seeing how much was lost from the strike temps, I heated the sparge water to 190F and batch sparged. I could only get the temperature of the mash to 160F

I do have a 10 gallon cooler set up that I can use to mash in next time.. I just wanted to use my 15 gallon blichmann w/ false bottom.. however, everything else went rather smoothly (after 2 broken pint glasses and a warped water holder). It was a great time and a good learning experience, I just would of hoped it went more smoothly with hitting my temps.

Cheers!

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Old 08-29-2010, 03:10 PM   #2
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Are you insulating that kettle? You shouldn't have a problem adding boiling water and getting up to your target mash temp for just four degrees. I use Rubbermaid coolers and I still put an insulating blanket on top of the closed cooler to maintain the temp.

You should not have to use sparge water over 170ish degrees. You should be mashing out with near boiling water to get the grain bed up to 168 which will stop the conversion process, then sparge with 170 degree water which will maintain the grain bed around 168. You are losing way too much heat and I worry about the impact of sparge water that hot to the grains and possibly extracting flavors you don't want.

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Last edited by joety; 08-29-2010 at 03:12 PM. Reason: added another paragraph
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Old 08-29-2010, 03:10 PM   #3
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First AG w/ a Blichmann

You did well, while I'm sure that's a great pot, it would be a little tricky for a first AG w/ a smallish grain bill. Your cooler might be a little easier to learn on.

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Old 08-29-2010, 03:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joety View Post
Are you insulating that kettle? You shouldn't have a problem adding boiling water and getting up to your target mash temp for just four degrees. I use Rubbermaid coolers and I still put an insulating blanket on top of the closed cooler to maintain the temp.

You should not have to use sparge water over 170ish degrees. You should be mashing out with near boiling water to get the grain bed up to 168 which will stop the conversion process, then sparge with 170 degree water which will maintain the grain bed around 168. You are losing way too much heat and I worry about the impact of sparge water that hot to the grains and possibly extracting flavors you don't want.
Hmm, yeah I guess I didn't have all my facts straight before AG. I have some questions for you:
1.) After mashing for 60 mins, I need to add near boiling water to my grain for mashout so it's near 168F. How much of the near boiling water is needed for mashout?
2.) After mashout, I drain and collect the first runnings, then sparge with 170F degree water? (My problem here was if I added 170F sparge water, and mixed and let sit for 10 mins, my mash temp was around 150 and not 168).

Thank you for your help!
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Old 08-29-2010, 03:32 PM   #5
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I would suggest reading or re-reading Charlie Papazian's section on mashing. He has nice tables so you can figure out roughly how much water at what temp you need. Then you will have to dial it in on your own system. Luck!

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Old 08-29-2010, 03:35 PM   #6
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I would suggest reading or re-reading Charlie Papazian's section on mashing. He has nice tables so you can figure out roughly how much water at what temp you need. Then you will have to dial it in on your own system. Luck!
Yeah I think i'll just chalk this one up to a FAIL. Now to formulate another recipe to try again..
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Old 08-29-2010, 03:42 PM   #7
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I disagree, It is not a fail. Your temps were just a bit off. I am sure you made good beer and that was the objective. So I would chalk this up as a success. I don't think anyone can expect to get things perfect the first time.

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Old 08-29-2010, 03:54 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sundaybrewingco View Post
Hmm, yeah I guess I didn't have all my facts straight before AG. I have some questions for you:
1.) After mashing for 60 mins, I need to add near boiling water to my grain for mashout so it's near 168F. How much of the near boiling water is needed for mashout?
2.) After mashout, I drain and collect the first runnings, then sparge with 170F degree water? (My problem here was if I added 170F sparge water, and mixed and let sit for 10 mins, my mash temp was around 150 and not 168).

Thank you for your help!
Right, the 170 degree sparge water itself won't really raise the bed temp, just maintain it. The mash-out near boiling water will be about 2 to 2.5 gallons, depending on your mash temp and amount of grain, etc. Stir it in and let it sit ten minutes before sparging. Again, Beersmith will do the math for you. For insulating stainless steel tuns, a lot of people on here have luck with the foil backed stuff they use in engine compartments. They sell it at most auto parts stores and it can take just about any amount of abuse. Make a sleeve out of it and you can just slide it on/off when you need it. For the top, I use a moving blanket.
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Old 08-29-2010, 03:58 PM   #9
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BTW: I agree this was not a fail. Your beer will likely attenuate more than the recipe intended, and thus be less malty/drier, but I wouldn't lose any sleep over that.

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Old 08-29-2010, 04:24 PM   #10
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Thanks for your help with this. I plan on trying again soon, I may try the cooler mlt next time and see how that goes.

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