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Old 11-22-2012, 02:43 PM   #11
jsv1204
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What is your brew setup? Cooler or direct fire or? How are planning on sparging?

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Old 11-22-2012, 05:11 PM   #12
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I just built a mash tun using a Rubbermaid cooler and will be batch sparging

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Old 11-23-2012, 07:50 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Luke_M
I just built a mash tun using a Rubbermaid cooler and will be batch sparging
Sounds like my set up. Here's my suggestion - I am sure there are better ways, but most of my brew days are a variation on this:

Heat around 5-6 gallons of strike water to 170 deg F. At 170, put dough-in water in your cooler. Put in 1 quart for each pound of grain. Don't put the grain in yet... Let the hot water pre-heat your cooler for you. When water reaches 155-160 deg F, put in all of your grain. You should end up with mash around 130-135. Let this rest until the balance of your strike water is boiling.

Once strike water is boiling, add enough to get your mash to desired saccharification temp. Be careful to not overshoot and be patient. You should end up with liquor to grist ratio of 1.5 to 2.0. Don't worry about ratio - worry about the temp if anything. If its too cold, add more boiling water. If too hot, leave the lid of you cooler open and stir gently.

After sacc rest is done (60 min? Use iodine test if you aren't sure about this), you add the make-up water. I start heating it so that make up water is boiling right about when sacc rest is complete - you'll want about 4 gallons ready to use if necessary. Now the tricky part - you want to add enough water to get the gravity of the sweet wort to your desired pre-boil gravity.

Your wort will concentrate during the boil (as water evaporates away). If you have a feel for what that might be, you can calculate this a bit more exactly. I would suggest using something like 15% as a starting point. You want your pre-boil gravity to be around 15% lower than your target gravity. So... Now you start this cycle of adding boiling water, stirring gently, and check gravity until you hit your desired pre-boil gravity. A refractometer is a very handy tool to have at this stage.

You don't want to get your mash over 170 here, but my experience is that it's just about impossible to make that happen unless your making a lower gravity beer (like <1.040).

All done! Let your mash rest a bit then vorlauf for 10+ minutes before you start lautering into your kettle. Now use the length of your boil to hit the target gravity. Biggest risk is that you don't use enough make up water and you hit your target gravity too early in the boil. If that happens add more water directly to the boil. No problem!

You might find that your ending volume is a little low. I would guess that will be the case because of you are using a kit and your (our!) method is not the most efficient. I usually spend a few extra $'s on base malt to scale up the grist a little bit to make sure I get enough sugars into the wort to get both a full volume and the target gravity. No sweat, though - I would not add water to hit the volume you want and end up with a lower gravity. I usually have some light dry malt on hand in case I really mess it up and under-shoot the gravity substantially, but this should not be that case if you follow the method above.

There's probably plenty of folks smarter than me who will point out the flaws in my method. Maybe you and I will both get some good pointers!

Cheers!
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Old 11-24-2012, 02:14 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsv1204

Sounds like my set up. Here's my suggestion - I am sure there are better ways, but most of my brew days are a variation on this:

Heat around 5-6 gallons of strike water to 170 deg F. At 170, put dough-in water in your cooler. Put in 1 quart for each pound of grain. Don't put the grain in yet... Let the hot water pre-heat your cooler for you. When water reaches 155-160 deg F, put in all of your grain. You should end up with mash around 130-135. Let this rest until the balance of your strike water is boiling.

Once strike water is boiling, add enough to get your mash to desired saccharification temp. Be careful to not overshoot and be patient. You should end up with liquor to grist ratio of 1.5 to 2.0. Don't worry about ratio - worry about the temp if anything. If its too cold, add more boiling water. If too hot, leave the lid of you cooler open and stir gently.

After sacc rest is done (60 min? Use iodine test if you aren't sure about this), you add the make-up water. I start heating it so that make up water is boiling right about when sacc rest is complete - you'll want about 4 gallons ready to use if necessary. Now the tricky part - you want to add enough water to get the gravity of the sweet wort to your desired pre-boil gravity.

Your wort will concentrate during the boil (as water evaporates away). If you have a feel for what that might be, you can calculate this a bit more exactly. I would suggest using something like 15% as a starting point. You want your pre-boil gravity to be around 15% lower than your target gravity. So... Now you start this cycle of adding boiling water, stirring gently, and check gravity until you hit your desired pre-boil gravity. A refractometer is a very handy tool to have at this stage.

You don't want to get your mash over 170 here, but my experience is that it's just about impossible to make that happen unless your making a lower gravity beer (like <1.040).

All done! Let your mash rest a bit then vorlauf for 10+ minutes before you start lautering into your kettle. Now use the length of your boil to hit the target gravity. Biggest risk is that you don't use enough make up water and you hit your target gravity too early in the boil. If that happens add more water directly to the boil. No problem!

You might find that your ending volume is a little low. I would guess that will be the case because of you are using a kit and your (our!) method is not the most efficient. I usually spend a few extra $'s on base malt to scale up the grist a little bit to make sure I get enough sugars into the wort to get both a full volume and the target gravity. No sweat, though - I would not add water to hit the volume you want and end up with a lower gravity. I usually have some light dry malt on hand in case I really mess it up and under-shoot the gravity substantially, but this should not be that case if you follow the method above.

There's probably plenty of folks smarter than me who will point out the flaws in my method. Maybe you and I will both get some good pointers!

Cheers!
Why are you dropping your temp to 130? I assume a protein rest, but that's about 10 degrees high for the rest. Also, protein rest isn't needed. I've never used it, and don't see any benefit.

For his first time out he'd be best to skip the protein rest worry about holding his mash temp for the hour. Keep the un needed parts out for now. That way he can work with a set water/grain ratio and keep his process consistent.
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Old 11-24-2012, 07:01 AM   #15
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It never drops to 130. It steps from 130 to sacc temp. Mostly because it helps me get the mash to a point where enzyme activity starts quickly and let's me sneak up on the desired sacc temp without having to trust in a perfect calculation of a precise single infusion of strike water to hit my optimum temp and liquor to grist ratio. It also assumes the preheat step (which helps maintain a more consistent temp through the mash). With out the preheat, a single infusion would be easier to calculate but (for me) usually ends with supplemental strike water to maintain temp and then having a higher liquor to grist ratio than I wanted.

As you point out, it would work for a protein rest. Let the temp drop more in preheat mode and shoot for 131. Let rest longer - say 20-30 mins. Work well for a stout (with rolled oats) that I made a few months ago.

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Old 12-04-2012, 01:24 PM   #16
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Just wanted to let everyone know that my first all grain went really well this past weekend. I was able to use a trial version of BeerSmith to calculate my sparge volume. My only hiccups were a small boil over and a slightly lower SG than expected. I also ended up with around 5.5 gallons final volume rather than 5; which I assume is the reason for a lower SG. Thanks to everyone for all the tips and advice.
Happy Brewing!

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Old 12-04-2012, 11:04 PM   #17
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Yep the bigger volume will play with your og! Glad everything else came out good. If you took good notes you'll be able to dial back your volumes and hit your post boil volumes, takes a batch or two to dial in.

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