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Old 06-20-2007, 07:55 PM   #1
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Default Going to PM

I’ve been debating for some time about how to make the transition to AG. Part of me wants to just go whole hog, get two 10 gallon coolers, a 10 gallon SS pot, turkey fryer, etc. and just do it. Part of me is scared that by going “whole hog” I might be getting in over my head so I should start with PM and go from there.

After several weeks of weighing the pros and cons and reading quite a bit, both on this forum and elsewhere, I’ve decided to go with the slower, PM approach. My reasoning is that I’ve heard from several people that going from pure extract or extract with steeping grains to PM provides the biggest bang for the buck in terms of quality. The move from PM to AG is still an improvement but not as great as extract to PM. Plus, I can go to PM fairly easily, I think. This is where I need some assistance.

Here’s what I had in mind, let me know what I’m lacking or where I can improve.

-I’m going to buy a 5 gallon round cooler to use as my MLT. I’m planning to build the SS braid manifold for it.

-My current brew pot is 4 gallons SS. With that I figure I can do mashes up to 6 lbs (6 lbs. of grain x 1/2 gallon sparge water per lb. = 3 gallon boil). I might be able to push that up slightly but not much. Does this sound reasonable?

Have a question on batch sparging. I have two ways I can do it.

1) I have a 2-3 gallon stock pot that I can heat my sparge water with. I figure I can heat 1.5 gallons, pour that in and stir and then while that’s settling get hot water from the tap, mine’s about 120-125F, and get that on the stove and heated to 170F. While it’s heating, recirculate and drain the MLT. My concern here is I won’t be able to heat the water fast enough and there will be a long delay between the first batch and second.

2) I could us my brew pot, heat all 3 gallons at once and do a one-batch batch sparge. Or I could pour in half, drain into some other container and then pour in the other half. The one-batch sparge worries me that I might not get a good efficiency. I’m not sure what concerns there might be if I drain into one container and then pour that into my brew pot, maybe none.

Finally, there’s the question of recipe conversion. Say I had this recipe:

1.5 lb. Vienna malt
1.5 lb. Wheat malt
5.25 lb. Wheat DME

How would I convert that to PM? I’m assuming the Vienna and wheat would just go straight into the grist but I still have 3 lbs. of grain I could mash. Is it a straight 1 to 1? In that case my recipe for PM would look like this:

1.5 lb. Vienna malt
4.5 lb. Wheat malt
2.25 lb. Wheat DME

I think that’s it for now, I’m sure I’ll have more.

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Old 06-20-2007, 08:35 PM   #2
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check this out for more info http://www.byo.com/feature/986.html ,, also a full boil and extract late method will inprove your pm.

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Old 06-20-2007, 10:05 PM   #3
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I like your proposed system. A 5 gallon cooler with a braid is an excellent way to start. Those round beverage coolers are tall enough that you can easily do a PM in it, plus you can do all grain batches, too (at least up to SG of 1.060 = about 12 lbs of grain). That's the way I wish I had gone (instead I have a 3 gal for PM, then bought two 10 gal for AG).

If you do pursue AG brewing, then just add a 10 gal cooler (or 48 qt rect. cooler) to mash bigger brews in (i.e., SG > 1.060). Then you use one cooler for the mash (pick the best size depending on the SG) and the other for the hot liquor tank. This would then solve you problem of needing two big pots.

If you can swing it, try to get at least an 8 - 10 gallon pot soon. For extract brews with a PM, you can use the 4 gal pot and top up with water in the fermener, but this doesn't work well for all beers (e.g., can't do big hoppy IPA's because there isn't enough water in the boil to get good hop utilization).

Regarding batch sparging, why don't you reserve the kettle for heating the sparge water and use a plastic bucket (you must have one, right?) for collecting your first runnings. The wort doesn't stay in there long, because as soon as you have lautered your mash into the bucket, then you immediately dump the water from the pot into the mash tun. You can then transfer the wort into the now empty pot to boil it up.

Finally, here is a good link on converting AG recipes to PM recipes:
http://home.elp.rr.com/brewbeer/extract/pres.pdf

Or, use a piece of software to do it, like ProMash or Beersmith or BeerTools.

Hope that helps.

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Old 06-21-2007, 01:20 AM   #4
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Flyguy, thanks for the link, that .pdf looks like it will be really helpful.

Couple more questions:

-In that document he calls for sparging with the same amount of water you mashed with but I've usually read that you should mash with about 1 quart per pound of grain and sparge with 1/2 gallon per pound. I know these numbers aren't set in stone and will vary from recipe to recipe but that's the baseline I've been planning on using. Which is the better way to go, same as the mash volume or 1/2 gallon per pound? I don't want to over-sparge and pull in the tannins.

-Say I collect 3 gallons from the lauter, should I boil that for a time and then add my extracts or just add the extracts right away and bring to a boil?

A 10 gallon SS brew pot is in my near future but it will probably be a couple months yet.

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Old 06-21-2007, 02:00 AM   #5
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There is a lot of variation in recommendations for batch sparging. The method that works for me for most beers is to use 1.25 qt/lb for the mash and about 1.5 - 2 qt/lb for the sparge. But if it is a big beer (i.e., many pounds of grain), I will go to the light side of sparge water so that all the runnings aren't so big a volume that I will be boiling for more than 90 minutes. But this comes at the cost of reduced extraction efficiency, so you may have to add a bit of grain to compensate.

For a PM, there is less worry about efficiency because the bulk of your fermentables are coming from extract. So you can be flexible. I suggest using a mash ratio of 1.5 - 2 qt/lb of grain, and use the same amount again to sparge with. That will keep it simple and replicable.

Also, I think most here (myself included) have had best success with adding extracts in the last 15 mins of the boil. But just remember that this will increase your hop utilization, so you may have to adjust the bittering hop amounts in your recipe. Having a program like ProMash or Beersmith makes this really easy.

Cheers!

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