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homebrewdad 01-18-2013 04:34 PM

My very first all grain...
 
I'm brewing my very first all grain batch this weekend. Was planning to do a brown ale, but Austin Homebrew has gotten slow, so my order won't make it in time. Instead, I'm dropping by my LHBS this afternoon to pick up ingredients to brew Jamil's Belgian Golden Strong (his version of Duvel).

First off, Jamil's recipes are for a 6 gallon batch. This one is quite simple:
11 lbs Belgian Pilsner malt
3 lbs cane sugar
2.25 ounces Czech Saaz (4.0% alpha)
WLP570 yeast

I'm scaling down to a 5.5 gallon batch size. My LHBS is out of Belgian Pilsner, but they do have German; from what I can tell, it's pretty much an equal substitute. Their Saaz is only 3.2% alpha. So, my scaled, adjusted recipe is now:

10 lbs German Pilsner malt
2 lbs 12 ounces cane sugar
2.59 ounces Saaz (3.2% alpha)
WLP570 yeast

Jamil suggests 3 vials of yeast... I suggest making a starter. Since I don't really have the time to step one up, however, I'm going to do a 2.5 liter starter with two vials. Make sense?


Beersmith is confusing me a bit. My intention is to do a batch sparge. It has me mashing in with 13.5 quarts of 159.4 degree water. So far, so good (mashing for 90 minutes at 149 degrees).

It then calls for "batch sparge with 2 steps (1.61 gal, 3.78 gal) of 168 degree water"

Why two steps? Isn't the point of batch sparging to do that in one step? I have a 62 quart cooler... it's not like I don't have the space.


I am considering adding the cane sugar after the boil - say, after the original fermentation is halfway (or a little more) done... I know that the key to this style is to really dry this beer out, and from what I understand, adding simple sugar like this into the fermenter could give me the boost I need to get over the hump.

Does that sound like a good idea? How will I need to adjust my volumes to account for this (or will I?)


Anything else I'm overlooking? I feel like I'm pretty prepared, but I'd like to minimize my exposure to stupidity. Thanks for any input.

zzARzz 01-18-2013 05:32 PM

In BeerSmith, if you open the mash profile options (the button next to the profile name under the Mash Tab), uncheck "Use equal batch batch sizes" about 3/4 down the window and that should give you a single step batch sparge amount. I think that option is checked by default for some reason.

homebrewdad 01-18-2013 05:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by zzARzz (Post 4799677)
In BeerSmith, if you open the mash profile options (the button next to the profile name under the Mash Tab), uncheck "Use equal batch batch sizes" about 3/4 down the window and that should give you a single step batch sparge amount. I think that option is checked by default for some reason.

Aha! How screwy. I unchecked that option, and also checked the option to drain the mash tun before sparge (whcih seems to be obvious to me... am I missing something?).

It now wants me to sparge with 5.38 gallons of 168 degree water. Does that sound reasonable?

Yield is supposedly 7.31 gallons into the boil. 90 minute boil. Target is 5.5 gallons into the fermentor.

freisste 01-18-2013 05:52 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by homebrewdad

Aha! How screwy. I unchecked that option, and also checked the option to drain the mash tun before sparge (whcih seems to be obvious to me... am I missing something?).

It now wants me to sparge with 5.38 gallons of 168 degree water. Does that sound reasonable?

Yield is supposedly 7.31 gallons into the boil. 90 minute boil. Target is 5.5 gallons into the fermentor.

First, I've never done a legit sparge (only BIAB), but my understanding is that after the mash, the grain is settled, but relatively loosely. The wort remaining in the mash keeps it from collapsing. If you start adding fresh water as you start to drain, you can hold the water level constant. If you do that and drain slowly enough, the grain will not collapse (apparently if it collapses it can get too dense and you can get a stuck sparge). But again, I've never done it so I could be wrong.

I didn't see your recipe, so I don't know exactly, but it seems reasonable. Not sure.

As far as your last numbers, I think that is setup-dependent. It takes into account the boil off rate of your equipment. If you put the wrong numbers in, it will have a bad pre-boil volume and a bad sparge volume.

homebrewdad 01-18-2013 05:56 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by freisste (Post 4799758)
As far as your last numbers, I think that is setup-dependent. It takes into account the boil off rate of your equipment. If you put the wrong numbers in, it will have a bad pre-boil volume and a bad sparge volume.

Yeah, I realize this. New equipment for me (to accomodate this jump to all grain), so I am aware that there is going to be some trial and error. I figure that if I'm in the ballpark, I can adjust and be more accurate next time.

zzARzz 01-18-2013 06:05 PM

7.31 gallons of pre-boil volume sounds about right for a 90 minute boil, especially since you lose a bit of water to absorption during the sparge.

If you're going to use starters from now on (and I strongly suggest you do), check out the DIY stir plate plans around the web (I found this one very helpful). The major benefit is that you can use just one vial of yeast per starter and it also decreases the amount of starter wort you need since it keeps the yeast in suspension. I think I made mine for about $30 out of stuff I had laying around and Radio Shack parts and you certainly make it back quickly given the money you'll save in yeast and extract.

homebrewdad 01-18-2013 06:10 PM

I appreciate the reassurance. I know that these are rank newbie questions... but again, it's my first AG batch.

zzARzz - I always do starters, but haven't done a stirplate yet. It's on my to-do list, but I wanted to get my AG equipment together and my fermentation temperature control first. It's costing me $7 this time around for the extra yeast, but I'll get there.

zzARzz 01-18-2013 08:47 PM

At least you have the wisdom to ask questions instead of abusing some perfectly good ingredients! ;)

It's strange at first for people who've done extract quite a bit to switch to all grain: You were used to topping-off and now you're boiling-off. This site saved my sanity when I did my first AG batch.

homebrewdad 01-18-2013 08:49 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by zzARzz (Post 4800580)
At least you have the wisdom to ask questions instead of abusing some perfectly good ingredients! ;)

It's strange at first for people who've done extract quite a bit to switch to all grain: You were used to topping-off and now you're boiling-off. This site saved my sanity when I did my first AG batch.

Thanks. I try to do my homework; it irritates me to no end when a newbie, say, wants to dump a batch of beer because it's green or flat, when a little reading would have educated them.

That being said, it's one thing to have a grasp of the basic principles, but it;s another to get specific answers to my specific questions.

Thanks!

beergolf 01-18-2013 09:18 PM

It may take a few batches to get your volumes dialed in with a new set up. Heat up some extra sparge water, so if you end up short you can add a little more to get to your volume.

The recipe looks fine, a good solid basic tripel recipe. Adding the sugar after fermentation slows works well, and it stresses the yeast less. Pitch the yeast in the mid sixties and slowly let the temp rise. Once the temp gets up keep it at that temp or even slightly warmer until it finishes. Belgian yeasts do not like to be cooled down.

Good luck with your first AG brew. It is really not that difficult.


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