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-   -   Thinking about going AG? Don't be afraid. (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/thinking-about-going-ag-dont-afraid-149004/)

aubrey 11-27-2009 12:11 AM

Thinking about going AG? Don't be afraid.
I just popped my AG cherry last night, and wanted to post a message for those perusing this forum thinking about going AG.

It's easy to read some of the more advanced posts in here and think that AG is really hard and you can't do it. However, those conversations are just that - advanced conversations of experienced AG brewers trying to perfect their technique.

Going AG added two hours to my brew-day. Two. And they weren't a hard 2 hours, it was mostly about waiting. There's a little math and calculations to do up front to know how much water to use, and proper temperatures, but aside from that its not any harder than extract.

As for equipment, much like above its easy to see other people's AG setups and think you need all kinds of fancy equipment. Not true. I converted a Igloo Cube cooler that I got at target for $20, and $20 worth of parts at the hardware store (went with the stainless braid method). You don't need any fancy manifolds and such to get your first AG brew under your belt. Keep it simple for your first go-round and move on to fancier things as you get better at it. Also, I didn't have a HLT, or at least not a separate one. My Boil Kettle and my HLT were the same thing. I Lautered into my bottling bucket while my BK was being used as my HLT, once done I poured the wort from the bottling bucket into my BK and off to my boil. Edit: I forgot to mention that I don't have a chiller of any type (yet) either. I put my BK into a tub full of cold water and just wait. If my tap water is on the warm side, or I'm feeling impatient, I'll freeze a few gallon jugs of water, sanitze the outside of one and drop it in the kettle, and drop the others into the tub of water to speed up the process a little. The bobbing of the jug in the BK helps by circulating the wort a little, too. end edit

Anyways, that was all. I just wanted to post as someone who was intimidated but decided to go for it anyways. It was way way easier than I thought it was going to be, and was actually a pretty relaxing experience. And I managed to get 83% efficiency on my first try.

Anyways, that's all. I hope this is helpful to get other new AG brewers started.

Bernie Brewer 11-27-2009 12:28 AM


Ag is really easy, and you can do it on the cheap. I converted a bottling bucket to a rudimentary MLT for about $3. A bought a plastic colander, cut the lip off, and stuffed into the bottling bucket just above the spigot. And my boil kettle did double-duty as an HLT, also. I wrapped an old blanket around it to help hold temps. It wasn't the most efficient setup, but it got my AG ball rolling.

And the terminology is pretty simple, too:

Mash= soak
Sparge= rinse

Lauter= strain


Mountainbeers 11-27-2009 12:46 AM

How did you cool your wort?

OHIOSTEVE 11-27-2009 02:34 AM


Originally Posted by Mountainbeers (Post 1703180)
How did you cool your wort?

That is about all that is stopping me from going all grain....I have even considered doing no chill because of it.

Bernie Brewer 11-27-2009 02:53 AM

I had already purchased an IC before starting AG, so it was no biggie for me.

waldoar15 11-27-2009 03:14 AM

I've got my first two all grains still in primary and will probably do another this weekend sometime.

Don't know if they're drinkable though. :P

zzees 11-27-2009 03:16 AM

I have been looking to go AG, but it looks ominous to me. but you give me hope. I'll hit up my Local brew store and pick up a cooler dealio.

I have everything I need to brew extract plus a few extras, ei wort chiller. Is there anything else I would need?

Bdogg 11-27-2009 03:34 AM

Totally agree with the OP.

I was initially skeptical about having to fabricate a bunch of metal parts together to build a mash tun. I bought a 47qt picnic cooler and the braided stainless steel and it sat there for weeks. Then one day I decided to play around and learned that if I simply fed in a 5/8" OD vinyl tube through the actual water drain hole (that just pops open to let melted ice out), the tube was only slightly bigger than the hole, and just needed to be forced in and it sealed all on its own, no BS required. Filled the cooler with hot water and left it for 2 hours, came back - not a drop had leaked. My first time doing AG, the only thing that was a pain with that setup was that I had to tilt the cooler up on its side to get all the liquid out. No big deal. Didn't leak that time either.

Another thing I wasn't looking forward to is building either of two types of a complicated looking wort chiller. Instead of chopping up hoses and trying to find things that would fit my sink, I just build an immersion chiller with a $10 100gph bird bath pump from home depot that I put in a tub full of ice water and just circulated it (although there is an ice machine in my building which made that part easier). No soldering, fittings, or dicking around. It took 5 minutes to assemble, cost very little, and my wort went from boiling to 70 degrees in about 15 minutes. Stove top worked fine for the boil. Slow, but hey, I'm a patient guy.

There is simplicity to be had in the process if you are just looking to try it out. I think all the extra equipment cost me about $100 in total (10 gallon pot, cooler, pump, copper tubing, candy thermometer) and if you hated doing it and wanted to go back to extract, you could easily sell off most of what you bought on craigslist or kijiji and recover most of your cost anyway. And if you love it, you can get to work building some of the crazy intense **** you see all over this forum :p

permo 11-27-2009 04:25 AM

I just started brewing in september, I brewed exactly 3 extract brews and then did some research, converted a 48Q cooler and switched to all grain. It is a very simple process and not all that complicated. 1-1.5 quarts per pound of grain on the mash, the same or even more water for the sparge and a big pot. In the last month I have brewed 5 all grain batches and all worked great. I have some advice from my learnings:

One thing that i find VERY important with all grain brewing is a very accurate digital thermometer. THe difference between a beer mashed at 147 degrees and 157 degrees is major and it could cause you to ruin a kolsh or brew a very dry oatmeal stout. I have found that Taylor makes some of the most accurate and reliable models. I monitor the temp of my mash througout the 60-90 minutes....if I fall 2 degrees below my target I add some hot water but if you properly pre-warm your tun the heat loss is less of an issue.

The grind of your grain will greatly affect your efficiency I error on the side of a finer grind and have yet to get a stuck sparge or anything like that

When in doubt, use more water as opposed to less and boil it down

and my favorite thing about all grain brewing


This all being said, I did brew some quality extract brews, but the 1-2 pounds of speciality grains really limits the complexity and malt profile of your beer. There is no extract that can replicate the complexity of using 10-12 pounds marris otter as a base.

Mountainbeers 11-27-2009 04:48 AM

The wort chiller is the only thing holding me back as well. I plan on going shopping in the morning for a turkey fryer on the best day of the year for such a purchase.

I guess I'll just forgo a batch or two so that I can save a few bucks for an IC.

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