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Old 02-03-2013, 03:22 AM   #1
BigFloyd
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Default Made the jump to AG today - zounds!

It's kind of like I went from 0-60 in 3.8 seconds. My only other hobby that does that is fast motorcycles.

My son and his fiance' bought me a Mr. Beer kit as a gift. The two pre-hopped extracts that came with it were for styles not to my tastes, so I started looking into and asking about steeping grains, hop additions, adding DME, etc.. That got me interested in trying to gain some insight into what makes certain styles of beer taste as they do. I also got motivated to carefully control fermentation temps using freezers (now I have two) regulated by STC-1000 controllers.

Brewing those few batches using the Mr. Beer stuff (modified) and then designing my own recipe based around a 3.3lb can of Briess Munich LME (just bottled it yesterday, nice nut brown flavor) made for a nice, easy start and a beginning familiarity with the basics.

With the encouragement of some fellow local brewers that I've known (apart from brewing) for several years, I started slowly gathering the gear to move up to 5-gallon batches. One of the guys does AG and he invited me over to his house on a brew day. He explained to me the various steps as we went and the purpose for each. I was hooked. Within a week, I had built a mash/lauter tun, was piecing together a DIY stirplate and, above all, thinking about this way too much. I even asked my wife for a brew kettle as an early Valentine's present (and got it).

Today was AG batch No. 1, a Northern English Brown. I wanted something pretty simple and idiot-proof for the first go at this. Fortunately, my AG mentor was free today and can over to help and oversee the process. That helped a lot in making me more comfortable and confident doing all this new stuff.

After reading lots of posts around here, I decided to use a double batch sparge method even though I had built the stuff to do a fly sparge. It all went pretty much like I had hoped as far as hitting temps and getting pretty close to the correct pre-boil volume. I only got a 68% "brewhouse efficiency", but I ended up with 5 gallons of wort at an OG of 1.052 (high end of the style range). Pitched it @ 65*F with rehydrated Windsor and it's showing noticeable signs of life 4 hours later.

Thanks to all here for sharing your insights and experience. This is a great place to come and find so many good answers from folks who have been there and done that.
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