Tonight I have been working on my first AG brew. It is EdWort's Haus Pale Ale.
I got home from work and started heating up mash water at about 6 PM. Using this calculator (http://www.brew365.com/mash_sparge_water_calculator.php) I determined that my strike water should be 168 F and about 3.5 gallons. I heated it up past this point to 180 F so that I could use the strike water to pre-heat my Coleman cooler MLT.
I dumped 3.5 gallons of 180 F water into the MLT and let it cool to 168 with the lid open. I then dumped in my grain and used my cordless drill with a coathanger whisk to stir the mash. I got it really good and mixed up. I used my thermometer to check a few areas and found that I was at about 160 F. I panicked and started dumping in ice water to bring it down to the 152-154 range. I overdid it and ended up at about 142. Sigh.
At this point I tossed a couple of gallons of hot tap water onto my stove. Once this was boiling I dumped it into the MLT to bring the temperature up. I was only able to reach about 148, this was 30 minutes into the mash. I shrugged and decided to just let it go.
I started vorlauf at about 45 minutes into the mash and drained my first runnings at about 1:05-1:15, SG of first runnings was 1.048. I did a batch sparge with 6 gallons of 165 F water. I did another vorlauf and drained the rest about 15 minutes after dumping the sparge water into the MLT.
End result was just under 10 gallons of wort with a SG of only 1.031. My aim is to get about 5-6 gallons at 1.051 SG, so I've begun the boil-down process. I think I can hit my target. I have 6 gallons boiling on my propane burner and two pots with 2 gallons in them boiling on my stove. I'm probably gonna be up late tonight.
Hopefully in a couple of hours I'll be running 5-6 gallons of 1.051 wort through my CFC and pitching yeast at about 2 AM.