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Old 08-25-2012, 07:28 PM   #1
InHopsWeTrust
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Default Please help out a Noob with all grain

I'm hoping you experienced all-grain brewers can help me out a bit. I have been brewing with extract for years. I have recently ventured out into all-grain. I'm about to start my 3rd batch. My first batch was a pale ale, and I know what I did wrong there. I didn't pre-heat my mash tun and it I didn't quite get the temp right, which resulted in a poor conversion. It still ended up being drinkable, but I wasn't thrilled with it.
My second batch was an Irish Red Ale. I get all of my ingredients in kits still. I use midwest supplies. This time, I had great conversion. I was ecstatic with that result. However, both with this batch and the Pale Ale before, I am not ending up with 5 gallons of wort. I follow the directions to the "t". Here are the water volumes for the Irish Red I did a couple of months ago.

Mash in: 1.25 quarts per pound of grain.
This recipe has 10 pounds total grain. So, 1.25 x 10 is 12.5 quarts. 4 quarts to a gallon, so 12.5 / 4 is 3.125 gallons of water for mashing.
Again, conversion was excellent. Now, the sparge.
Instruction say 1/2 gallon per pound of grain. Okay, that's 5 gallons. All went well. I ended up with just over 7 gallons of wort.
After the 1 hour boil, cool down, and pour into fermenter, I'm ending up with 4 gallons. I am not understanding it. I have always used about 6 gallons when doing extract to start out with, and I've always ended up with a 5 gallon batch. The laws of physics don't seem to apply in my garage when I'm doing all-grain. haha. I'm at a loss.
Should I sparge with more water and end up with 8 gallons? Will this dilute the end result? I'm not sure what to do here. I haven't tried my irish red ale yet. Just put a bottle in the fridge last night to test out. It's been in the bottle for 2 weeks. It tasted very promising when I took a taste during bottling, but it was still only 4 gallons. Any help will be greatly appreciated. I want to start a batch today of all-grain, and really want to end up with 5 gallons in the fermenter. Thanks so much.

Edit: Maybe I'm crazy in thinking I have ended up with 7 gallons? I have a 15 gallon brew pot. Surely, I'm not losing 2 gallons during boil? I'm going to measure out one gallon at a time for the brewpot, and maybe mark a stick or something at one gallon intervals. Maybe it is less than 7 gallons and I'm going crazy. It doesn't change the fact, however that I am following the directions perfectly, and coming up short.

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Old 08-25-2012, 07:36 PM   #2
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what were the og of the two recipes where they on the mark or higher then they should have been. i have done 3 all grains and latly my evap has been about 1.5 gal my first one was 1 gal so it would seen it depends on how rigourious a boil you have

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Old 08-25-2012, 07:39 PM   #3
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Are you using the same kettle for your all grain batches that you use for your extract recipes? If you are, and you are boiling with approximately the same vigor, I would expect that you'd boil off the same amount of water in both cases. There shouldn't be anything specific that I can think of with the all grain approach that would require you to start with more wort in your kettle than you do with extract.

Each system will be a little different, but I lose about 1 gallon in an hour on my system. I start with 6.5 gallons, end with 5.5 gallons in the kettle and transfer 5 gallons to my fermenter leaving about 0.5 gal of trub behind. I would be a bit surprised if you would need to start with 8 gallons to end up with 5 gallons post boil. That sounds like a lot of boil off to me.

I know this sounds simple, but have you double checked your volume measurements using water and a pitcher or container that you believe to be accurate? I wouldn't necessarily believe that all containers used for homebrewing are marked accurately, so you might want to double-check everything.

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Old 08-25-2012, 07:48 PM   #4
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Thank you both. To answer the SG, it was right on target for the Irish Red. I'm using all the same equipment. And you're right, there's no way I should be losing that much in a boil. Like I said, my measurements could be off with what I end up with, but I still go by the book with the amounts, so it should come out closer than what I'm getting, even if I don't check to see what I ended up with. At least, that's how I'm thinking of it. Doing extract, I too would start with 6.5 gallons, and end up with about 5.5. I use 5 gallon jugs of water to do this. Even then with the extract, so it was pretty simple to start myself off with 6 gallons in the pot just from eyeballing. Pour the entire 5 gallon jug in, and eyeball 1 gallon from a second 5 gallon jug. All grain, obviously is different because I have to use a certain amount in 2 different steps. Maybe I'm messing up there. I was certainly quite confident with my measurements this last time. The 3.125 gallons for mash, and then the 5 gallons for sparge. To me, going by the directions (assuming I did good with the 3.125 measurement) it should have ended up with the correct amount.
I still use the same 5 gallon jugs of water. Any tricks for volume amounts? Maybe mark a stick at 1 gallon intervals? My mash tun is a typical rubbermade 10 gallon thermos, and it has gallon marks on the inside. I really want this next batch I will be doing today/tonight to end up with 5 gallons of beer. Something I should look for?

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Old 08-25-2012, 07:54 PM   #5
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I appreciate all of your help. Thank you again. I have another question. Sorry. I am going to double check all of my measurements, and be certain this time exactly what I end up with prior to boiling. At the moment, I'm going to get a stick, and mark it at every gallon. But, I was just thinking...Is there a way that you can mark the inside of your brewpot? Has anyone ever done this?

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Old 08-25-2012, 07:54 PM   #6
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I made a piece of CPVC with markings at each half gallon for both my HLT and my boil kettle.

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Old 08-25-2012, 08:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MississippiSlim View Post
I made a piece of CPVC with markings at each half gallon for both my HLT and my boil kettle.
I think this is the route I'm going with. I have a long plastic spoon. The one with the little spoon on one end, and a big spoon on the other. Got for making wine when you have to stir inside the carboy. I'm going to try that. Does just a sharpie get the job done?
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Old 08-25-2012, 08:31 PM   #8
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No sharpie.. You don't want the ink in your brew... Just take a knife and make markings... You are prob getting more grain absorption then you are expecting.. Do a second sparge with the extra gallon that you need..

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Old 08-25-2012, 10:12 PM   #9
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Thank you again all. I will be doing my next batch later on today. I will let you know how it went. Hoping my 3rd time is a charm.

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Old 08-25-2012, 10:50 PM   #10
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How much water are you leaving in your mash turn, is there dead space under a false bottom? Also doesn't grain absorb .1 gallons a pound so with 10 pounds you would loose a gallon of water to the grain. So if you add 8 gallons, loose one to the grain and then another couple of quarts to dead space you may only be adding 6.5 gallons to the kettle. A hard boil on a dry windy day and you could loose 1.5 gallons. Like you said, you need to measure the water in the kettle before you start your boil.

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