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Old 06-12-2010, 07:02 AM   #1
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Default First time AG set of newbie questions

OK - I am all set (I think) to do my first all grain brew tomorrow. I have all the stuff - 10 gallon MLT made from home depot cooler with stainless braid, 11.5 lbs of grains, hops and yeast. The recipe is a sweet stout and calls for one step infusion at 150 degrees for 1 hour 15 minutes. It also calls for a "boil volume" of 7 gallons for a 5 gallon batch. It seems like a lot of steam to lose in only 60 minutes. Perhaps the extra water will be absorbed by the grains (I know some will).

I have made a few batches using extract and they tasted pretty good. I have been searching the forums for a step by step guide and I think this is what I should do:

1. Pre-heat MLT
2. Heat 7 gallons of water to 164 degrees strike temp using my turkey fryer
3. Empty the pre-heat water from the MLT and add the 7 gallons
4. After water temp goes to 150 degrees, slowly while stirring, add the grains, while trying to avoid it "clumping up"
5. Let it sit for 75 minutes (per recipe)
6. Drain into boil kettle and start boiling
7. Once boils starts, add hops and other ingredients per recipe (this part I get)

My real confusion is in step 5. Should I be draining it and pouring the stuff I drain on the top of the cooler (sort of recirculating it)? Do I have the water amounts in the right place - I've read on some calculators that I should be using 3.6 gallons of mash water for 11.5 lbs of grain. I guess this is the difference between mash water and sparge water. I'm not sure I understand this completly. If I go this route how do I get to the 7 gallons the recipe calls for?

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Old 06-12-2010, 07:36 AM   #2
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Congrats...it's your first AG batch so just know you it will take tiem and experience before you get your system down.

Have you made a yeast starter or bought two yeast packs? With a stout you'll need to pitch a loty of yeast due to the high s. gravity

I recommend watching Chris Knighyts all grain video series on YTouTube, here is part one

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Old 06-12-2010, 07:38 AM   #3
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You would put the 3.6 gallons in (or whatever amount you want to mash with), make sure you hit your mash temp, put the lid on and let it sit for the length of the mash (in this case 75 minutes). You can stir it every so often, but that's optional.

A little tip FWIW: I leave some water still cold and also keep a smaller pot handy in case I don't hit my mash temp. This way I can adjust with the cold or quickly heat a smaller amount of water if I need to do a last minute adjustment.

After soaking the grains 75 minutes then drain the wort.

Then close the valve, put the rest of your water in (if it fits) and mix it up with the grain. It can be hotter this time, maybe 170 (not that important though). It's ok if the grain gets hotter than 150 because your sugars are already converted. Just don't let the grain temp get to hot -- a good limit would be max 165.

Let it sit for 15-20 minutes, give it a little stir, and drain it again. This is a batch sparge.

If all the water didn't fit (depending on your mash tun size) you can do a second sparge. This would be a double batch sparge.

Have fun! It sounds like you're off to a great start!

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Old 06-12-2010, 02:12 PM   #4
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It sounds like you're planning a "no-sparge" technique that I'm not really familiar with.

I would recommend doing a "batch sparge" technique. That would ensure that you get the proper amount of enzymes in the mash, and not be too thin.

I like to use 1.25- 1.5 quarts of water per pound of grain for the mash. So, for an 11.5 pound batch, I'd use 14.5 quarts of water (14.38 rounded up a bit). That's 3.63 gallons. Heat that up to about 15-20 degrees warmer than your desired mash temperature. Then add it to your cooler and cover it. That preheats your cooler, so you don't lose much heat over the hour mash time. When the temperature drops to 162ish, add your grains. Stir very well, breaking up any doughballs and making sure the grain is thoroughly mixed and wetted as you stir. Cover, and let sit for the 75 minutes.

If you don't want to add all of the water to your cooler first, at least preheat the cooler for 15 minutes with water and then drain. Either way is fine.

Be sure to have some extra cold and extra boiling water, in case you need to adjust the temperature. Check it throughout the mash, to avoid hot spots or cold spots. If you do have to adjust, give it some time. Otherwise, you're adding hot, then cold, then hot, etc. Add some boiling water to get it warmer, stir it well, wait a couple of minutes to equalize and then check it.

While the mash is going on, heat up your sparge water, about 6 gallons, to 180. That's the next addition of water, to "rinse" the grains. After your mash time is over, drain off the runnings from the mash. That's the "first runnings". Measure this amount- you should have about 2.5 gallons. That will tell you how much sparge water you need. Once you know your system, you'll know the amount in advance but for the first time you should measure. The amount of sparge water you need will be the difference between your boil volume and these runnings. In this case, if you want to start with 7 gallons (I'd start with 6.5 or so, since I only boil off about a gallon an hour) you just subtract the runnings you already have from the amount you need. So, 7 gallons- 2.5 gallons = 4.5 gallons.

Since you'll need another 4.5 gallons of wort, take the sparge water you've heated up and add half of the 4.5 gallons needed. Stir very well, then drain. Check the grainbed temperature- you want to get it up to 168 if possible, but don't sweat it too much if you're low. After you drain, add the second round of sparge water (again half of the total amount), stir well and drain.

That should get you to your boil volume. Check the OG (the runnings are hot so stir it well, and then cool it before checking) and proceed just like an extract batch.

It's not at all hard, and I recommend watching Bobby_M's youtube videos on this. He explains things well, and seeing it done makes it so much easier for people like me to learn.

Let us know if you have any questions!

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Old 06-12-2010, 02:15 PM   #5
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Damn, I'm jealous. I am a brewpot away from doing all grain and my wife just lost her job. Gotta wait another couple months before I could get the one I want. Good luck!

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Old 06-12-2010, 02:51 PM   #6
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Damn, I'm jealous. I am a brewpot away from doing all grain and my wife just lost her job. Gotta wait another couple months before I could get the one I want. Good luck!
Scour the yard sales and thrift stores. Maybe you'll get lucky.
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Old 06-12-2010, 03:23 PM   #7
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Great explanation Yooper, I wish I had that before I did my first AG.

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Old 06-12-2010, 04:22 PM   #8
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I only have one yeast pack - white labs english ale in a glass tube. I've only used the wyeast smack packs before and only one pack per batch. I so far have made a hefe/kolsch and a aventinus sort of clone.

One thing mentioned in the video is rice hulls - I don't have any - do I need some? I have a stainless steel braid. Will it clog up without rice hulls?

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Old 06-12-2010, 05:25 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patirck View Post
I only have one yeast pack - white labs english ale in a glass tube. I've only used the wyeast smack packs before and only one pack per batch. I so far have made a hefe/kolsch and a aventinus sort of clone.

One thing mentioned in the video is rice hulls - I don't have any - do I need some? I have a stainless steel braid. Will it clog up without rice hulls?
No, I have only used them for high concentrations of wheat or when putting pumpkin in the mash. You will be fine, just drain slowly and be patient.

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Old 06-14-2010, 07:18 PM   #10
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Ok - I did it and it worked (I think). I did a batch sparge with 3.6 gallons going in for 75 minutes and then another 4 gallons at 170 going in for 10 minutes.

After the first 3.6 Gallons and 75 minutes, I vorlaufed (read slowly took out a bit less than a gallon and slowly poured it back in the top trying not to disturb the grain bed). I did this three times and then pulled out all the wort from this - it was about 2.25 gallons.

I then added 4 gallons of 170 degree water, stirred it up a bit and put the cover on for another 10 minutes. I then drained off a shade less than 4 gallons.

A few notes:

The vorlauf (sp?) process was not what I thought it would be. I was unable to see any chunks or particles - perhaps it is becuase it was so black (it is a stout) It was like pouring oil - not translucent at all. I did it anyways for good measure but I'm not sure if it accomplished anything.

The batch sparge (read putting more water in the grains after you dump out the initial batch) seems to work well. Perhaps I could have let it go a bit longer - is there some way to calculate how long the batch should stay in?

I noticed while the batch was cooling down, there were a few grain husks floating around (like maybe 10 or 12). I'm not sure if this is par for the course or if I need to do a better job filtering the wort. I used my stainless steel braid for the first time so I'm not sure where to improve the process except perhaps using the paint filter trick mention in other threads.


Overall, I got 72.9% efficiency according to the brewhead calculator so I'm pretty happy with the mash process. Unfortunatly, I had a very difficult time getting the batch cooled down (did not have enough ice and was unable to get more) I gave it two hours but it was still at 78 degrees when I pitched the yeast. I asked about this in another topic on the yeast forum and was told it should be fine. I am about 15 hours post pitch and still no bubbling.

Thanks for all the advice from everyone - now it's time for a blue moon clone or some sort of Saison.

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