So, yesterday I did my first all-grain brew, and that was my second brew overall. I have a 9gallon kettle, turkey burner, 10gallon home depot mash tun with ss braid, and ale pail style fermenter. My biggest "problem" was low efficiency(63%). It was a rather large grain bill, 17bs for a 5gal batch. I followed beersmith's batch sparging directions without any problems and ended up with just the right volume. My big issue was that beersmith told me to sparge with 168F water for a single sparge and I did just that. I think that only got the grain up to 150F or so. Would that bring down my efficiency much or should I search elsewhere in my methods? I always read about proper milling having a big impact but I ordered my grain from austin homebrew and I assume they know how to properly crush their grain. I think I will still get the beer I wanted since I threw a couple pounds of DME in to the boil and ended up with the OG that I was shooting for.
My other problem is that I forgot to make a starter with my liquid yeast the day before. Unfortunately I only had one vial of yeast, so i pitched that. I plan to stop at the store and grab another one or most likely two vials to pitch this afternoon. Does that sound like it will work ok? I plan to start washing yeast from now on and doing proper starters.
I quickly realized that I am going to need a better thermometer or two. I got by yesterday using my floating thermometer that seems pretty accurate. Anyone have a good suggestion for a good thermometer that won't break the bank?