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Old 12-23-2006, 07:55 AM   #1
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Default Qs about AG brew

Better get these things off my chest and out of my head before tomorrow....

So my buddy and I are going to do a compilation brew. I've never done an AG brew, and he says it's the only way he'll ever go. I asked him if it were much more difficult than extract brewing, and he said it was easy, just steep/mash the grains until the water gets hot and use that for the wort. He never mentioned sparging. He also complains that he sometimes gets a "thin" tasting beer. Could this be because of not sparging?

I guess the question is this: is sparging critical? If it is, is specific gear really required? Could a sparging setup be jerry-rigged? What would be the effect of not sparging?

I was thinking just heat water to the right temp and strain it through the steeped grains using a strainer. Doing it in parts would keep the strainer from getting too clogged and it would take a while, but would this work?

One last question, which I'm sure will completely expose me a rookie if I haven't already: Do we need to mill the grains before mashing?

it's a lot to throw at ya'll, but hopefully you can help us out before we decide what to do. Thanks.

Scout

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Old 12-23-2006, 08:20 AM   #2
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Most important.

The grain must be milled!!!!!!!

Second if you just mash and use the wort you'll have a high gravity beer for a full bodied strong beer IF you use the correct amount of water. which is around 2.6l/k so 5kg of grain will need 13l of water. the grain will soak a load up so you may only get 8L of water out, when you boil this'll go down to 7l.

So you'll end up with just over a gallon of very strong beer.

This is why you need to sparge with around another 20+ litres of water.

I brew in 23l (6.5g) batches and put around 30l of water in my kettle. So I start with around 37L of water for Mashing and Sparging.


I have a feeling that you need to do a partial mash and then have plenty of malt extract to the wort.

Do you have an hydrometer?

I'd also spend a good few hours reading up.

www.howtobrew.com.

take a look at my links.

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Old 12-23-2006, 12:01 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orfy
I'd also spend a good few hours reading up.

www.howtobrew.com.

take a look at my links.
Yes! Do this before you brew. There is a lot more to AG than what your friend suggested. I'm not saying it is hard to do but it is definitely more complicated than steeping grains until the water gets hot.
Read through the web site that Orfy provided then ask us questions about anything you don't understand.
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Old 12-23-2006, 12:05 PM   #4
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Definitely do some more reading unless you don't mind wasting a little money and learning things the hard way (and I'm not implying there's anything wrong with that...happens to me all the time!). I think orfy has a great suggestion with trying a partial mash first and RichBrewer links an excellent resource.

When I went to AG (relatively early, like you) I found the site most invaluable to me to be: http://cruisenews.net/brewing/infusion/. Seems to lay it out pretty well and shows how a minimum of equipment/extras can be used effectively.

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Old 12-23-2006, 01:04 PM   #5
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If you have a(n) hydrometer, take a reading of your pre-boil wort. Make sure to correct the reading for temp. Make sure you have a few pounds of DME around so you can toss it into your boil if your reading is too low. That's my way of saying to be prepared for a partial mash if needed.

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Old 12-23-2006, 03:33 PM   #6
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[QUOTE=Baron von BeeGee]Definitely do some more reading unless you don't mind wasting a little money and learning things the hard way (and I'm not implying there's anything wrong with that...happens to me all the time!). I think orfy has a great suggestion with trying a partial mash first and RichBrewer links an excellent resource.


I absolutely second the motion on reading up. "How to Brew" by Palmer is an outstanding book and one you'll always hold onto. It sounds like your buddy should think about picking this one up himself.

If your friend is not sparging and then adding water to the brew kettle to achieve boil volume, the "thin" quality of his brews might be a direct result of failing to sparge. Essentially by failing to sparge, you're not extracting enough fermentables and the added water is now just diluting the concentration.

You also failed to mention temperature monitoring other than "till the water gets hot". Water at 120 degrees is "hot"; but its not hot enough to really activate the enzymes which in turn break down your starches into fermentable sugars. If your not mashing in the 140 to 153 degree range, you're missing the mark. This too can account for the "thin" quality in your buddy's brews.

Hands down - "How to Brew" by John Palmer and start with partial mashes, as suggested. The partial mash is much more forgiving if mistakes are made. I started brewing before the internet became big and had to make alot of my mistakes the hard way and expensive way. I wish I was able to log onto a great forum like this and have people steer me in the right direction when I started out.

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Old 12-26-2006, 10:19 PM   #7
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Don't know that i've ever seen anyone "sparge" like the fella in the link above.

I usually let the wort run out the bottom of the mash/lauter tun slowly while I pour the sparge water over the grain bed [using a sloted spoon to prevent digging channels].

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Old 12-26-2006, 10:32 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike & John
Don't know that i've ever seen anyone "sparge" like the fella in the link above.

I usually let the wort run out the bottom of the mash/lauter tun slowly while I pour the sparge water over the grain bed [using a sloted spoon to prevent digging channels].
You talk about batch sparging as if it's not sparging at all. However, I'd venture to say that a majority of the folks here sparge this way. Simply put, sparging is just rinsing the grain to grab any residual sugar present after starch conversion. Traditionally, it's done similar to what you describe (fly sparging). However, batch sparges are much simpler, faster, and, done correctly, can result in better efficiency (probably because the grain is agitated as the sparge water is added, increasing the "rinsing" action).

Like you, I prefer to fly sparge - but I use a pump and sparge arm to transfer from the hot liquor tank at the same rate that my wort is running off. In the end, it's all a matter of personal preference and technique.
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Old 12-26-2006, 10:42 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike & John
Don't know that i've ever seen anyone "sparge" like the fella in the link above
That's one of the sites that made my mind up to go AG and I sparge like that.
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Old 12-26-2006, 10:44 PM   #10
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Another batch sparger. That link was extremely helpful to me a few months ago when I was starting to work with grain. I've only been hitting around 70% or so, but there are things I can do that I know can get me up to 75% (actually remembering the PH, buffer, for example).

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