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Old 12-24-2011, 02:09 AM   #1
inkman15
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Default Still Learning All Grain - Thoughts On My Process?

Hi guys - I've done 3 all-grain batches using my 10 gallon cooler MLT and propane burner. My beers have been decent thus far but I know that I'm still not doing some things correctly. Today, I brewed the Centennial Blonde recipe which is so popular on here. I took pretty detailed notes on my process and was hoping you could take a look and let me know of any red flags that you see.

Centennial Blonde (From Homebrewtalk)

Recipe

7.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)
0.75 lb Cara-Pils/Dextrine (2.0 SRM)
0.50 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM)
0.50 lb Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM)
0.25 oz Centennial [9.50%] (55 min)
0.25 oz Centennial [9.50%] (35 min)
0.25 oz Cascade [7.80%] (20 min)
0.25 oz Cascade [7.80%] (5 min)

Yeast: 1 Pkgs Nottingham (Danstar #-) (Hydrated)
Water: Deer Park bottled spring water (bought 10 gallons)

Estimated OG 1.040
21.5 IBU
3.9 SRM

Mash at 150

Method

• Added grains to mash tun
• Heated 3 gallons strike water to 163 and added to mash tun (NOTE: if were to use 1.25/qt per gallon guideline, I would have added 2.75 gallons. I rounded up because I was lazy, but figured it wouldn’t impact too much because is still in general guideline range)
• Mash for 1 hour
• Heated 1 gallon in small pot to 177
• Allowed some wort to flow through the valve into a small pot. Added it back on top of mash. Did this twice. (Mentioned in Palmer’s book.)
• Added 177 degree water to mash tun and allowed to sit for 5 minutes
• Emptied into 8 gallon brew kettle
• At the same time as emptying, heated up additional 3.5 gallons in small pot to 180 for full strike. Added to mash tun and allowed to sit for 10 minutes
• Sparged to bring kettle volume to 6.5 gallons (though it seemed high in the kettle)
• Began boil and added hops at designated intervals
• Following boil, placed in ice bath (62 lbs of ice). Took approximately 30 min to cool
• Original Gravity: 1.044 – slightly off from target; may be that I did not drain enough from the mash tun. When I dumped the grains, there was a decent amount of water still in there too
• Pitched yeast
• Sealed up and put vodka in airlock
• Ferment for 2 weeks

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Old 12-24-2011, 02:17 AM   #2
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Looks like you did everything right. Except that you need a chiller, lol. 62lbs of ice? Holy smokes. Don't worry about the 4 points of gravity - You probably just mashed and sparge well enough to be a bit more efficient than the recipe. Or you boiled off a bit more. Either way, good job.

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Old 12-24-2011, 02:21 AM   #3
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Haha, yeah - I'm pretty sure I'm getting a chiller for Christmas this year. Much needed!

I guess my main question is around sparging. Reading through Palmer's example, he's gradually adding the sparge water to the MLT and gradually getting it into his brew kettle. I add it all at once - with the exception of the first gallon. Is this OK? From everything I've read about sparging methods and such, it seems that Palmer may be being a little anal in his process?

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Old 12-24-2011, 02:26 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by inkman15 View Post
• Following boil, placed in ice bath (62 lbs of ice). Took approximately 30 min to cool
• Original Gravity: 1.044 – slightly off from target; may be that I did not drain enough from the mash tun. When I dumped the grains, there was a decent amount of water still in there too
Yeah, overall it looks like you have a good process going here.

I do see a couple things that you might want to look into.

1. Using the ice bath is not generally the best way to cool 5 gallons. For one, simply moving that much wort manually is a little sketchy. 210 degree wort will burn you very badly if spilled. It also seems to take a lot of ice. And the wort can remain in the temperature range that it is susceptible to infection for a long time.

Look into making your own 'immersion chiller' or 'counterflow chiller' Both require a little skill to make and offer unique benefits. Either way they will save you money in the long run when made well.

2. Be happy when you are off on OG and you record a higher reading than the recipe. You can easily correct this by slightly dilluting the finished wort. Over time you can learn to use slightly less grain if you are getting a better efficiency than the recipe calls for. Being on the over side is much better than the under side when it comes to a starting gravity. Over gravity also tends to imply that you are getting an effective mash (assuming it stays in the specified temp ranges)

Hope some of this helps.
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Old 12-24-2011, 02:37 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by inkman15 View Post
Haha, yeah - I'm pretty sure I'm getting a chiller for Christmas this year. Much needed!

I guess my main question is around sparging. Reading through Palmer's example, he's gradually adding the sparge water to the MLT and gradually getting it into his brew kettle. I add it all at once - with the exception of the first gallon. Is this OK? From everything I've read about sparging methods and such, it seems that Palmer may be being a little anal in his process?
Palmer is talking about fly sparging, and you're doing batch sparging. Fly sparging or 'on the fly' sparging is essentially keeping a constant amount of water in the mash tun as you lauter. You're doing batch, where you add your sparge water, mix well, and lauter. Most people find batch to be faster and easier (as do I). Efficiency difference between the two is negligible.
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Old 12-24-2011, 03:06 AM   #6
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On the off chance you don't get an IC for Christmas, use 2x sink full of water for the first chilling. The temperature difference between boiling water and cold tap water is plenty to bring the wort down to around 90°. Then, use an ice bath to bring it down the last 25° to pitching temp. You'll use a fraction of the ice.

Are you getting your mash volumes and temps from the recipe? I haven't brewed this beer, so I'm not familiar with the mash instructions.

Your fifth bullet point is a process called lautering. You pull a volume of wort (usually enough to where it runs husk-free out of the valve) and place it back into the mash tun. This sets the grainbed and lets it act as a filter for the rest of the drain-off.

Did you take temperature readings during the different steps? It almost looks like a double mash-out, with the 170° water addition and the 180° one. Perhaps I am new enough myself to not know some secret to this, but I thought you could simply mash out once and be OK. I would think a 150° mash for an hour, mash out with 180° water to stop starch conversion, lauter, and sparge with appropriate amount to get to preboil volume. Someone help me out with what I'm missing on the 177° addition.

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Old 12-24-2011, 03:10 AM   #7
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One thing to take note of is your mash PH. A general rule of thumb is acid malt equal to 2% of the total grist. You can use EZ water calculator to find out exactly how much.

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Old 12-24-2011, 03:29 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djfriesen View Post
On the off chance you don't get an IC for Christmas, use 2x sink full of water for the first chilling. The temperature difference between boiling water and cold tap water is plenty to bring the wort down to around 90°. Then, use an ice bath to bring it down the last 25° to pitching temp. You'll use a fraction of the ice.

Are you getting your mash volumes and temps from the recipe? I haven't brewed this beer, so I'm not familiar with the mash instructions.

Your fifth bullet point is a process called lautering. You pull a volume of wort (usually enough to where it runs husk-free out of the valve) and place it back into the mash tun. This sets the grainbed and lets it act as a filter for the rest of the drain-off.

Did you take temperature readings during the different steps? It almost looks like a double mash-out, with the 170° water addition and the 180° one. Perhaps I am new enough myself to not know some secret to this, but I thought you could simply mash out once and be OK. I would think a 150° mash for an hour, mash out with 180° water to stop starch conversion, lauter, and sparge with appropriate amount to get to preboil volume. Someone help me out with what I'm missing on the 177° addition.
You can definitely mash out once and be fine. That's the correct way, really. I took this process from the Bee Cave Haus Brew recipe on here. He, for some reason, adds a small amount of sparge water before the full sparge. I don't think I'll do this next time around. Thanks for your thoughts.
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Old 12-24-2011, 03:34 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djfriesen View Post
On the off chance you don't get an IC for Christmas, use 2x sink full of water for the first chilling. The temperature difference between boiling water and cold tap water is plenty to bring the wort down to around 90°. Then, use an ice bath to bring it down the last 25° to pitching temp. You'll use a fraction of the ice.

Are you getting your mash volumes and temps from the recipe? I haven't brewed this beer, so I'm not familiar with the mash instructions.

Your fifth bullet point is a process called lautering. You pull a volume of wort (usually enough to where it runs husk-free out of the valve) and place it back into the mash tun. This sets the grainbed and lets it act as a filter for the rest of the drain-off.

Did you take temperature readings during the different steps? It almost looks like a double mash-out, with the 170° water addition and the 180° one. Perhaps I am new enough myself to not know some secret to this, but I thought you could simply mash out once and be OK. I would think a 150° mash for an hour, mash out with 180° water to stop starch conversion, lauter, and sparge with appropriate amount to get to preboil volume. Someone help me out with what I'm missing on the 177° addition.
His fifth bullet is actually called vorlauf, but you probably meant that.

And he's mashing out with the 1 gallon addition of 177 degree water, and then adding 3.5 gallons of sparge water. That first gallon isn't strictly necessary, but some think that raising the temperature with a small addition of water not only stops conversion, but it helps to dissolve more sugar into solution. The sparge water is going to do that anyway, so many people just fire off their first runnings with no added water, and then add their sparge water, mix, and drain again.
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Old 12-24-2011, 03:34 AM   #10
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Well if EdWort says to do it, that's good enough for me. I just wonder what his rationale is. I have heard of multiple-temp mashes, but not really seen it applied to sparging.

edit: yes, vorlauf. My apologies.

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