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Old 11-09-2011, 12:51 AM   #1
Pilotpip
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Default Making the switch

I'm on my fourth extract batch and already planning on moving to all grain. Don't really want to call it an "upgrade" because I've made a couple really good extract batches and I'm sure I'll have some teething problems as I make the switch. My plan thus far is to convert a cooler with a home made manifold. I don't know if I'll do a hot liquor tank too or not.

What were some of the things you guys did when you made the switch that helped? Mistakes that were made that you learned from? Etc.

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Old 11-09-2011, 01:14 AM   #2
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I made a pretty fast switch as well. I only made 2 partial mash brews and then went straight to all grain. Here are a few things that I did which really improved my second experience from my first.

1) Understand the processes and write down exactly what you are going to do at what time in what order. When you make the switch it is easy to forget a step and the steps you forget are usually pretty dumb. (Ie. take the yeast out of the fridge ... or what to sanitize).

2) Plan how you are going to do each step. When doing partial mash, I was only using 2 to 3 gallons which is pretty easy to move. Pouring 6 or 7 gallons of water from hot kettle to your mash tun can be tricky.

3) keep a wood bench / chair handy. You'd be amazed how often this comes in useful be it pouring liquid or what not.

4) Especially with a smaller / normal grain bill and a cooler with more space, its easier to cool down your mash than it is to heat it up. Overshoot your strike temp by a degree or two, pour it into your tun to preheat it, then add the grain when the temp is right. A water proof digital thermometer is very useful in hitting mash temps.

5) Take good notes and remember what you did. It doesn't have to be perfect (and won't be) the first time. TBH, you'll probably just have to make the mistakes ... Since there will be some and it won't be perfect, I would also let your beer sit longer in the fermenter / bottles. Six week minimum IMO. It really polishes off the beer.

6) Grab a buddy and sample the style you are making while brewing. I find it helps when/if things do go bad.

Best of luck and let us know how it goes.

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Old 11-09-2011, 01:14 AM   #3
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I went from extract to partial grain, or did half AG batches using a small 4 gallon cooler with a stainless braid. Much to be learned without risking 12lbs of grain. It can also be done on the stove for simplicity, no official HLT needed. Slowly grow as you see fit: HLT, HERMS, fly sparging....

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Old 11-09-2011, 03:40 AM   #4
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Guess I should specify I've been doing full boils from the start. I was lucky enough to get a basically unused 20 year old turkey fryer with a huge kettle for free.

Thanks all.

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Old 11-09-2011, 03:57 AM   #5
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When building your mash tun, look into making a copper pipe manifold instead of a braided hose. I've had to replace my braided hose already, and it's already fraying again. They can take a beating from your paddle, so a copper pipe might be nice to have. I wish I had known about it before. Just requires some basic soldering skills and taking either a hack saw or <1/8" drill bit to make some slits/holes to drain.
Also, for the cost, consider building a hop spider. Only $10 and makes the process cleaner for you!

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Old 11-09-2011, 01:16 PM   #6
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I moved from a crappily-made copper manifold to a 1/2" PVC. Cheap to build and easy to change around if you don't seal the joints. You can mess around with slots, holes, etc until you find the efficiency that suits you. Just thinking of ways to ease into each step.

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Old 11-09-2011, 01:20 PM   #7
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Two words: brewing software.

I would NEVER brew without pro mash or beer smith to back me up on temps and volumes.

Don't cheap out. Invest the $20 on Beersmith. the best money I've spent since my brew pot.

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Old 11-09-2011, 01:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muthafuggle View Post
Two words: brewing software.

I would NEVER brew without pro mash or beer smith to back me up on temps and volumes.

Don't cheap out. Invest the $20 on Beersmith. the best money I've spent since my brew pot.
I have to agree with this. I'll be doing my first all grain this weekend after doing 30 gallons or so of extract over the last 4 months. I have a good understanding of the process, water chemistry etc. but water volumes were really throwing me for a loop. After purchasing beermith and messing with it for a few days I feel MUCH more comfortable that I'll be able to hit my temps and volumes with no problem. And there is SO much more to beersmith, but the ability to have software that helps you hit those numbers is more than worth the $20.
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