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Old 08-30-2010, 12:46 PM   #1
johnodon
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Default My first AG brew and need some guidance

OK...I was pretty confident that I would be able to pull off my first AG brew without much complication. Well, the rest of my equipment arrives today. As the time gets closer and closer...I am getting more and more nervous. Can you guys please help me?

I'm comfortable with the whole process and timing (batch sparge). The thing I am not comfortable with is the amount of water. What's even worse is the fact that promash is a complete mystery to me (and I am an IT guy)! I have absolutely no idea how much water I should be using for the mash and the sparge. I am also a little fuzzy about my strike and mash out temps. I think I have a general idea where I should be with all of these things but I know that the more exact you can be the better off you will be.

To keep my first brew simple, I went to my LHBS and we pieced together a recipe for a 5 gallon batch of a nice, lite ESB. Here are the ingredients we came up with:

8 lbs. Brewers Malt - Briess 2-row
.5 lbs. Briess Caramel Malt 60L
1 oz. Briess Black Patent Malt
1 oz. Fuggles hop pellets (4.5 alpha acid)
1 1/8 ozs. E.K. Goldings hop pellets (4.6 alpha acid)
1/8 oz. Northern Brewer hop pellets (7.6 alpha acid)
Wyeast #1968 Special London Ale
As I said, I plan on doing a batch sparge in my homemade 52 qt. Coleman Xtreme. How much water do I need for the mash and what strike temp? How much water for the sparge (which I believe should be 170 F)?

I know people ask these kind of questions all the time. I want to thank you in advance for having patience with me and providing any assitance you can. If my wife finds out that my first attempt was an utter failure and waste of $$$, my brewing days may be over! LOL

John
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Old 08-30-2010, 01:03 PM   #2
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I feel your pain as I was lost throughout my first couple of AG batches, but here is how I and a lot of others do it. As a general rule for the amount of strike water, use 1.25 quarts/lb of grain. As far as the temperature goes, that depends on the grain temperature and thermal mass of your cooler. Beersmith (the software I use and trust,) is telling me that for a mash of 152* F, you need a strike amount and temperature of 10.63 quarts @ 164*F when the grain is 70*F. Now in order to preheat your mash tun, I'd add the 10.63 quarts of water to the tun at around 180*F and let it cool down to the 164*F that you need. Now for sparging, this is where all of this gets difficult. The reason being is because there are a lot of different factors when dealing with boil off, but most people sparge with as much water as it takes to get around 6.5-7gallons of pre-boil wort. Personally, for a 60 minute boil, I sparge to get 7 gallons into my keggle when using my banjo burner. So this is what you do: When you mash out/vorlauf, do it into an ale pale that has the gallon markings. You will get around 1.5-2 gallons ( you will lose some wort to grain absorption,) that means you need around 5-6 gallons of sparge water. So, heat 5 gallons of water in your kettle to 170* F and do two batch sparges each 2.5 gallons. If done correctly, you will end up with around 6.5-7 gallons of pre-boil wort in your kettle.

Alright, so here it is again.

Strike water--1.25 qts/lb of grain. (10.63 qts @ 164*F), but remember to add it to the tun around 15*F hotter than you need to pre-heat the cooler and let it come down to the temp you need.

Sparge water--Drain your strike water after your mash into an ale pale that has gallon markings. Remember that you will probably need 6.5-7 gallons of pre-boil wort in your kettle, so subtract the first runnings from the 6.5-7 gallons and that's how much sparge water you need. Heat that amount in the kettle to 170*F and do TWO batch sparges of equal amounts.


I know that's a lot of info, but if you have questions, let me know.

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Old 08-30-2010, 01:07 PM   #3
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From what I've read is that you want to have between 1 and 1.5 qt of mash water per 1 lb of grain. It's better to have a bit of room for extra water in case you come in low on your mash temperature, then you can boil some more water and top it up to increase the temperature.

I'd say 1.25 qt/1lb grain would be money. So with about 8.5 lb of grain that would be 10.63 qt (2.6 gallons). Then use however much sparge water you need to bring the total volume up to where you need for the batch size. Probably around 7.5 gallons total (more on how to get this number below). So I'd do two batch sparges of 2.5 gallons each. 2.5 + 2.5 + 2.6 = 7.6 gallons total. Just measure it out roughly so your about where you want to be and if necessary top up with water after your done sparging. If you have a little to much boil for a extra while longer. Just adjust your timing so you don't mess the hops schedule up.

It's important to know your boil off rate. I'd do a test boil with water the day before. Measure the depth of your pot. Then measure in about 5 gallons and measure from the top of the pot down to your liquid. Then you know the (height of the liquid) = (total pot height) - (distance from top of pot). Once you have a rolling boil time it for 1 hr. Measure out the new height of the liquid again. Figure out your boil off rate in (%/hr) and put that into BeerSmith so you know how much total water you need to start with.

Oh and I have a 52 qt Igloo Cooler, similar to yours. I figure Sparge losses are around 1 to 1.25 gallons.

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Old 08-30-2010, 01:11 PM   #4
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WOW! You guys certainly are on the same page!

Tahnk you soooo much for the info and taking teh time to write it down for me. I greatly appreciate it! I am feeling much more comfotable right now and have you guys to thank.

That being said, I would love to keep this an open discussion and welcome more suggestions/info.

Thanks again!

John

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Old 08-30-2010, 01:13 PM   #5
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One other thing I should mention...tun deadspace.

I figured the easiest way to calculate this was just to fill up the cooler with a few gallons of water and let it drain. What was left over is the "deadspace" right? If so, I only have about a 1/4 cup (in the resevoir at the botto). Does that sound low to you guys?

John

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Old 08-30-2010, 01:14 PM   #6
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IMO, Nomad is right about most of that (especially calculating your boil off rate), but where I'd differ from him is I'd start with the boil at around 6.5 gallons. The reason being is because in my past experiences, it's better to have a bigger beer than you originally estimated than have a watered down, under-hopped one. Remember, you can always top your fermenter off with a gallon of spring water if need be.

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Old 08-30-2010, 01:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnodon View Post
One other thing I should mention...tun deadspace.

I figured the easiest way to calculate this was just to fill up the cooler with a few gallons of water and let it drain. What was left over is the "deadspace" right? If so, I only have about a 1/4 cup (in the resevoir at the botto). Does that sound low to you guys?

John
I wouldn't worry about that so much b/c after your initial mash, that space will be filled and you will already know how much water you need to sparge with.

Also, it's very important to sparge multiple times and to stir the mash very well after pouring in your sparge water. After you pour in/stir the sparge, let the grain bed settle for a few minutes before you vorlauf and drain.
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Old 08-30-2010, 01:21 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HalfPint View Post
I wouldn't worry about that so much b/c after your initial mash, that space will be filled and you will already know how much water you need to sparge with.

Also, it's very important to sparge multiple times and to stir the mash very well after pouring in your sparge water. After you pour in/stir the sparge, let the grain bed settle for a few minutes before you vorlauf and drain.
Got it covered. I made my DIY mash paddle yesterday.

Thx Halfpint.
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Old 08-30-2010, 01:23 PM   #9
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HalfPint is right about the start boil volume, although it depends on your boil off rate. I should say that was for a 5.5 gallon batch though. I put 5.5 gallons in a glass carboy with a blowoff tube. BTW I'd get a blowoff tube, it's cheap insurance against destroyed ceiling/carpet/walls.

I'm also a newb and my last beer came in .005 under which was a bit annoying. I just topped it up with some DME. Spring water is easier and less expensive (DME is $8/lb in Canada).

And the reason I came in .005 was I didn't calculate my boil off rate! It's important.

1/4 cup sparge losses do seem low to me. The grain will soak up some of the water. As a rough guess I'd say the grain will soak up 0.5 gallons and then you have a 1/4 cup of deadspace. Add those together for your sparge losses.

Maybe some others can give some input in on 52 qt Coleman sparge losses, popular cooler.

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Old 08-30-2010, 01:26 PM   #10
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No prob man. I hope that helps. I know one thing that revolutionized my brewing process is making a dip stick to measure how much wort I had in my kettle. All I did was buy a piece of plumbing pvc from lowes and add gallon after gallon into my kettle notching that piece of pvc at each gallon. It's really the most affordable way to accurately measure how much wort you have in your kettle if you're cheap like me and don't want to install a sight glass.

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