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Old 10-22-2009, 11:18 PM   #1
jcsweat
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Default Hello, first all-grain batch, and questions

First of all, I'd like to say hello to everyone since I'm new here.

Anyway, I've been brewing for a couple of years with my room mate and we've only done extract and partial mash brewing before now, but I think we're about to take the plunge into all grain.

Also, before I keep going I'd like to say I've gotten most of my beer making knowledge from "How to Brew" by John Palmer. I had the print version first then of course the website came along. All the batches I've made using this book have been great, but I'm wondering what do you guys think of this resource? Good? bad?

So, first, I was thinking I wanted to do a wheat beer, but it seems like most wheat beers have several spice ingredients as well as a multi-step infusion due to the wheat needing specific temps, etc. Seems a little too complicated for us for our first try at all-grain.

So we backtracked a bit and I think we're going with a stout, this stout actually, located here

http://beerrecipes.org/showrecipe.php?recipeid=425

I chose this because it has only a single step infusion so I thought that would be easier for us, but I'm open to suggestions to other recipes.

So, if you wouldn't mind, please take a look at that recipe and tell me what you think of it. My first thought is, looking at the grain bill, that I'm going to need to cut it down to get to my target batch size of 5 gallons. It looks like that recipe is made for a 10 gallon batch, but I don't know because I'm new at this and there are no specifics about batch size in the recipe.

Is there some way I can calculate what the batch size would be for that recipe so I know how much to cut it down by? I'm thinking there is since the Original Gravity is stated as being 1.058-60. Seems like there would be a formula for this and I just don't know it.

Also, in some of Palmer's recipes in his book, he differentiates between Beginning Gravity and Original gravity. For example, for an all-grain version of something, he'll say BG is 1.050 for 6 Gallons and OG for 5 Gallons is 1.060. Maybe I'm dumb, but I've searched the internet for a specific definition of BG and I can't find one. I've seen it mentioned plenty of times, but not defined.

So what's the definition of Beginning Gravity, and what's the difference between BG and OG?

Thanks for any help and advice. I look forward to being a part of this message board in the future.

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Old 10-22-2009, 11:29 PM   #2
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Thats definitely a 5gal batch. My stout recipe uses 20lbs of grain for a 5.5gal batch. 13lbs for 10 gallons would be very weak, around 1.030OG. Very low.

I've never used BG, but I think its synonymous with OG. Beginning and Original gravity. I always use OG. Its like those news agencies that say Osama bin Laden and one says Usama bin laden, just to be different. Use OG, and everyone will know what you're talking about.


The recipe looks pretty good, i'd brew it. And for advice. MAKE SURE YOUR CRUSH IS GOOD. If you have a sub-par crush, you will have a lower OG and therefore a beer that may not have reached its full potential. Think of it this way, the crush should look like you took a peanut and hit it gently with a hammer. Broken into pieces, but not pulverized. Pulverized grain is bad because it shreds the husks, and will cause some possible problems like releasing tannins into the wort, or creating a stuck sparge depending on what method you are going to use to mash.

Hope this helps a little.

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Old 10-22-2009, 11:43 PM   #3
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Oh, 5 gallons, really? Well that's good to know. I was just assuming based on other recipes I've seen, 13 pounds seemed like a lot for 5 gallons, but as I said I'm new at this.

I'll make sure about the grain, thanks for the advice. There's a local store I got to where I've gotten grain for partial mash recipes and the grain doesn't seem to be too crushed.

Ok so one more question which I thought of which I don't remember Palmer addressing is this. After sparging, you've got some amount of wort which you then boil. So, for a 5 gallon batch, should the amount of it be intentionally more than 5 gallons to account for evaporation? like say at the beginning of the boil it's 6 gallons and a gallon boils off during the boil. Is that the way things work? Or - should I just worry about the specific gravity of what I'm boiling and not necessarily how much of it there is?

This is where I'm thinking BG comes into play, because something tells me BG is the specific gravity of the wort before the boil. But I don't know this.

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Old 10-23-2009, 12:22 AM   #4
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That's definitely a 5 gallon batch.

Recipe looks good, but note that you can make almost any all grain recipe with single mash infusion....only "unmodified malts" need more complicated mashes, and those are tough to come by.

I think BG is the gravity before you boil, and OG is the gravity after you boil. Boiling drives off water, which increases SG.

Edit: Also, you'll want at least a quart starter for that.

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Old 10-23-2009, 12:32 AM   #5
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Yeah I was planning on a quart starter. I've used one in all my batches except the very first one I did and the fermentation has always been quick and thorough.

Would you guys recommend using a secondary fermenter for this? If so, should I just keep watch on the SG to see when it's finished fermenting?

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Old 10-23-2009, 12:46 AM   #6
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For a 60 minute boil you could collect 5.75-6 gallons of wort and see how that goes.

Since it's your first all grain, you don't know your efficiency and your boil off rate so IMO Stout is a good option because it's a forgiving style (but then most styles are!).

+1 you don't have to step mash a wheat beer (but I do), but the other reason not to start with that is if you have to deal with a stuck sparge, you don't want to have to do it your first time -- it will be hectic enough without that!

Have fun and good luck!
Palmer's How to Brew is an excellent resource. It was my only book for my first 10 or so batches, which were all grain. Palmer's BG could be the pre-boil gravity. If you start with 6 gallons at 1.05 and boil it down to 5 gallons you will end up with 1.06 OG.

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