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Old 12-29-2010, 04:30 AM   #1
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Default First time all grain - big beer or not?

Hi all, I'm really leaning towards going all grain soon... I'm in the process of acquiring the stuff for my 10gal MLT now and received a 30qt turkey fryer for christmas (fermcap-S is on the way). I started brewing about a month ago and I'm prepping for my fourth batch in about two weeks (not counting the apfelwine I'll be making this weekend). So far I have a pale ale bottled (came out pretty damn good) an Amber that is going to the bottle this weekend, and a hef that I just started last weekend. I really want to do a chocolate oatmeal stout, but I also want to start doing all grain. Would it be ill advised to take on a big beer for my first all grain batch or should I make it with extract? I have a good recipe for the extract version. So ultimately, Big beer or go for something a little bit more simple for my first AG?

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Old 12-29-2010, 04:44 AM   #2
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Go big...my second All Grain brew was an oatmeal stout, then followed that with another oatmeal stout with some chocolate malt!!

Tasty

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Old 12-29-2010, 05:12 AM   #3
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If you're comfortable with the processes involved in going AG, then just do it. Figure out your recipe as AG and go for it. I've made three extract (plus specialty grains) brews, one PM and will be making my first AG this weekend. I tend to go on the big-brew side, so that's what my first AG is going to be (it's either a really strong pale ale, or lower end English Barleywine, around 9% ABV)... I've just pitched my yeast into the starter for this brew (tonight)...

If you're not already using software to help figure out your recipe's, I would. I'm using Beer Smith and it's helping me to figure out what (exactly) I want to put into my brews, and how much I need to hit my target.

I would plan to have some DME on hand, just in case you really miss your target OG... At least until you've dialed-in your gear.

My own 70 quart cooler is almost ready to be my mash tun (using the BIAB method)... I just need to get a different pipe fitting to pass through the side wall of the cooler (where the plug was before) and I'll be good to go.

If your turkey fryer is aluminum, just remember to condition it before you use it. I'll be doing mine before brew day (will just fit into the oven, so I'll be using that method).

I'm already planning on my next two brews (also AG) and love how the cost keeps going down. It helps that I plan to start washing my yeast too. I expect that come spring, I'll be picking up a grain mill and 55 pound sacks of grain (2 row and MO)... I might even pick up some specialty grains (probably 10 pound bags of those) to have on hand. Or at least the stuff that I'm tending to use more of. Having all this on hand, means that you can almost brew on the sperm of the moment.

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Old 12-29-2010, 05:17 AM   #4
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ha, I'm sure since I'm not making this for two more weeks that I'll have plenty of time to continue researching and build my tun. Honestly, who can have a brand new shiny toy (MLT) and not want to use it? I think I'm going to give it a crack and hope for the best.

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Old 12-29-2010, 06:11 AM   #5
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BIAB method makes it a lot easier on you... Less cleanup, less complicated mash tun, etc...

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Old 12-29-2010, 06:36 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golddiggie View Post
BIAB method makes it a lot easier on you... Less cleanup, less complicated mash tun, etc...
No offense, I don't really see how this would necessarily be easier. I understand it makes doing all grain possible without an MLT, but it seems to me that its nearly the same process with less equipment and having to lug around and drain a 10-15 lb bag of grain. If I have my MLT built, wouldn't it make more sense to use it?

Correct me if I'm wrong, but in a very simple process all grain w/ batch sparging is the following.

Preheat MLT
Add strike water
dough in
mash for however long while heating sparge water
drain first runnings
sparge/lauter
sparge/lauter
profit

This is how I understand how the BIAB process works

Heat strike water
Dough in
Watch your temp like a hawk, fire if necessary
in a separate kettle heat sparge water
move grains to sparge kettle and sparge
mix first runnings and sparge water
boil

If my understanding of both these processes is correct, in my opinion it would seem that using the MLT would almost be easier. If I'm mistaken please feel free to correct me.
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Old 12-29-2010, 06:36 AM   #7
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i say go big. imo, there is a little more wiggle room for error in big beers. the lighter crisp beers take a little more finesse because there is much less tolerance for off flavors. the main thing to be concerned about is your mash temp. with a high OG beer; too high of a temp and you can have an excessively sweet and unbalanced beer, too low and your beer might be entirely too alcoholic and lack the required body. obviously this is super simplified. i'm just talking from my own experience in going from extract to AG--all of my mistakes were in the mash temp.

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Old 12-29-2010, 06:44 AM   #8
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I don't think it matters doing a big beer or small beer as your first all grain. You should understand that you might not get as good of efficiency on a bigger beer than you would doing a normal gravity.
As far as doing a bigger beer, the first question that popped into my head while reading your post was in regards to yeast knowledge. If you have sufficient knowledge of pitching rates, then have at it. Pitching, temp control and mash temp are going to be the bigger factors in doing a big beer. Good luck and have fun.

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Old 12-29-2010, 06:45 AM   #9
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That's one question that I've been trying to figure out is exactly what mash temp to shoot for. I'm assuming software would help me figure that out? I'm debating about buying promash or beersmith, any thoughts?

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Old 12-29-2010, 06:49 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by veritas524 View Post
That's one question that I've been trying to figure out is exactly what mash temp to shoot for. I'm assuming software would help me figure that out? I'm debating about buying promash or beersmith, any thoughts?
You're not really giving us much to go on. Your idea of big and my idea of big are probably different. What OG are you shooting for and posting a recipe would probably help. When i brew my RIS, I usually mash at about 149 for 60 minutes and then bring it up to 158ish, then mashout. By the time all of that is done I have a pretty fermentable wort that usually ends around 1.015. That is where i prefer it to end, but that's too dry for some.
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