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Old 11-12-2012, 03:24 PM   #1
Jayhem
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Default Making an All-Grain "Big Beer". What I learned today

So my first attempt at a "Big Beer" using all-grain had a couple unexpected twists.

1. I needed 26.5 lbs of total grain for this 10 gal batch with a target OG of 1.066 at an expected 70% efficiency

2. My mash tun is a 52 qt cooler with cpvc manifold collection.

Well, as soon as I went to dough in my mash I learned quickly that 26.5 lbs of grain and 8.6 gallons of strike water will NOT fit in a 52qt mash tun!

I ended up mashing about 20 lbs at a 1.5qt/lb ratio and mashing the other 6.5 lbs in a 5 gallon kettle in my grain bag. Doh!

Next I miscalculated how much to sparge and ended up with 14.5 gallons of wort, pre-boil! In order to get down to 10.4 gallons post boil I had to boil for almost 2.5 hours! the bittering hops went in with 90 minutes left on the boil and finishing hops went in at the correct times.

Somehow my mash was SUPER efficient and I ended up with a final OG of 1.074! 8 points higher than recipe target.


So from these lessons I have decided that an AG big beer is NOT worth it! Next time I am shooting for a beer over 1.055 I will mash at most 20 lbs of grain and make up the difference with extract.

Because of sparging volume needed to get decent efficiency, I see no way to make an AG "big beer" without boiling MUCH longer than 1 hour or being content to waste grain by getting poor efficiency out of the mash. Is this correct or am I doing it wrong?

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Old 11-12-2012, 03:25 PM   #2
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Bigger equipment. Keggle mash tun FTW.

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Old 11-12-2012, 03:31 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by passedpawn View Post
Bigger equipment. Keggle mash tun FTW.
That fixes the volume problem but still doesn't address the efficiency issue. I don't see how it's possible to make an AG beer over 1.065 without either 1. boiling much longer than 1 hour to get the volume down or 2. Get poor efficiency (<70%) which wastes grain.
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Old 11-12-2012, 03:39 PM   #4
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Try adding Promash to get your mash pH correct and add 20 miuntes to your mash time to get better efficiency. I have no problems getting over 1.065 with a ten gal mash tun which can hold close to 30 lbs of grain at a rate of 1.25 qt/lb of grain.

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Old 11-12-2012, 03:42 PM   #5
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Also, check the grind of your grains. If they aren't cracked correctly, it's harder to get all the sugars out.

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Old 11-12-2012, 04:02 PM   #6
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I did get a surprising 79% mash efficiency on this beer but I sparged with about 2 gallons too much so I had to boil longer to get down to my final volume. In hindsight if I had sparged with 2 less gallons I still may have had 75% efficiency which I'm fine with.

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