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Old 10-15-2012, 12:08 AM   #1
kombat
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Default My first all-grain brew, with pictures!

Hi guys,

You've all been so helpful with the barrage of questions I've had over the past couple of weeks, I thought you might be interested in the results of my first-ever all-grain homebrew session. I brewed a recipe I actually made up myself. There's a local brewery that I really like, and I took a stab at replicating my favorite American Pale Ale beer of theirs. For those who are curious, the brewery is Broadhead, in Ottawa, and the beer I'm trying to copy is their Wildcard Ale. They periodically change up the hops (hence the "Wildcard"), and I loved it when they used ZYTHOS, so that's what I'm trying to reproduce.

They'd given me a couple of hints for the recipe, indicating that it's simply 2-row malt with some Vienna, and ZYTHOS hops for aroma. With that information, and everything I've learned form this forum (and Palmer's "How To Brew" and Papazian's "Complete Joy of Homebrewing"), I put together a recipe in Beersmith. Here's the recipe I came up with:

Batch size: 5 gallons
8 lbs. Pale Malt (2-row)
2 lbs. Vienna Malt
0.5 lbs. Carafoam (for head retention)
0.5 lbs. Aromatic malt
2 oz. Cascade @ 60 mins
1 oz. ZYTHOS @ 5 mins

The recipe is supposed to be an American Pale Ale. Originally, I'd designed it with 0.5 lbs of Caramel Crystal 120L instead of the Aromatic, which would have gotten me right on the money for colour, but when I went to brew today, I realized I don't actually have any Crystal 120. I did, however, have 0.5 lbs. of Aromatic, so I used that instead. Also, my original recipe called for 1.5 oz of Cascade for bittering, which would have gotten me exactly the right amount of IBUs, but the pellet pack was 2 oz, and I didn't feel like sealing up 0.5 oz of hops when I wasn't sure when I'd be able to use them again, so I just used the whole 2 oz. pack. With all that said, here's what the profile looked like in Beersmith:



So, I set up my new Barley Crusher, weighed out my grains, and milled them.






Using my Polar Express popcorn bucket to measure out the grains








How's my crush look? I just used the default factory setting on the Barley Crusher, with no adjustments whatsoever.

I heated my strike water to 180 F.


I poured it into my mash tun, then stirred and waited until it dropped to 167 F, then poured in my grains and stirred until it dropped to 156 F (that's my wife's hand, not mine!)




Then I wrapped my mash tun in an old sleeping bag and left it for an hour.



After an hour, the temperature had dropped to 150 F. I vorlaufed, drained into my boil kettle, then batch sparged with 4.5 gallons of water at 168 F for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and drained again.

Then, I added another gallon or so of bottled water to get up to 6.5 gallons and started boiling.



Once I boiled, I added the bittering hops, using my new "hop screen" from Chad Beauchamp, of Arbor Fabricating, whom I found through this forum. I went for the 300 micron screen, and it worked perfectly.



2 oz. of bittering hops (Cascade) @ 60 mins, and 1 oz. of aroma hops (ZYTHOS) @ 5 mins.



With 10 minutes left in the boil, I added my wort chiller to the pot to sanitize it. I had already filled a cooler with ice water and gotten it ready to start chilling.



It took 45 minutes to cool to 80 F. I aerated thoroughly with my paint mixer attachment on a drill, then I transferred it to a sanitized carboy. By the time I pitched the yeast, the wort had dropped to 72 F. My O.G. was 1.050 - pretty much right on target. I even got to use my new Brew Hauler straps when I brought the whole thing downstairs.



I'm a little concerned about all the sediment at the bottom of my carboy, but I'm hoping it won't be an issue. The hop screen contained the hop gunk, and the bazooka screen in my boil kettle kept out most of the residual grain matter, but there was still quite a bit of sediment in the carboy.



My volume looks a little low (4.5 gallons, maybe?), but I've decided not to risk compromising the batch by adding more water. I'm just going to proceed with what I've got, and hopefully it'll be drinkable!

I hope you've enjoyed this walkthrough of my first ever all-grain brew day. Thanks to all of you, I think I've avoided most of the major trip-ups.

Thoughts, comments?

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Old 10-15-2012, 01:24 AM   #2
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Congrats! Looks and sounds pretty good...though I'd want to get it chilled quicker next time if possible.

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Old 10-15-2012, 01:30 AM   #3
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No worries. That sediment will compact over time. Just break material. Looks great. Good job!

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Old 10-15-2012, 01:35 AM   #4
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Great job! All grain is much more fun and easier on the wallet once you buy the equipment. Yes you do look a bit short, but who cares! You must have had low efficiency if you were a little more then a half gallon short and six points off, so perhaps you should look into the crush or your mashing/sparging process. Plus if you mashed at 156 F, you should have a somewhat high FG (less ABV) and good mouth feel, so it'll end up a nice session pale ale.

In the future, to save money, as bittering hop flavor doesn't come through, use a hop variety like Columbus or Horizon, as the alpha acids (the bittering compounds) are much higher in those varieties then Cascade (12-14% AA vs. 5 % AA) Cascades are typically aroma/flavor hops, if I'm correct. Plus the cohumulone levels are lower in those varities then Cascade, which would mean a slightly smoother bitterness. Tiny things like that you can pick up using BeerSmith and reading here!

Anyway looks great! Keep us posted

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Old 10-15-2012, 01:38 AM   #5
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Great post, love the pictures. I am also new to AG makes me want to start another batch.

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Old 10-16-2012, 01:51 AM   #6
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Well, 24 hours later, and this batch is going gangbusters. The airlock is bubbling almost constantly, to the point where there is actually some StarSan foam forming out the top of the airlock (the airlock is filled with StarSan). Here's a picture of the fermentation I took tonight:



The temperature on the carboy said 72 F, which worried me a little bit, so I moved it into my lagering freezer (set at 55 F). I know it'll take a day or so for the freezer to get the temperature of the batch down, but I'm hoping I'm not too late. Will cooling it within 24 hours of pitching the yeast still help reduce some off-flavors, or is the damage already done?

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Old 10-16-2012, 01:53 AM   #7
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Awesome post! Makes me want to start doing AG.

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Old 10-16-2012, 02:03 AM   #8
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I know it can be a bitch with the fryer having a timer on it. Look it up in these forums. U can remove it in five minutes and not worry Bout forgetting and have it shut off....great pics tho!!

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Old 10-16-2012, 02:04 AM   #9
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congrats, cool pics, and it looks delicious!!

I like that "hop screen", I've been using mesh bags which are a pain to clean and I usually have 3 to clean at the end of the day.

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Old 10-16-2012, 08:11 AM   #10
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Great pics, very inspiring.

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