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Old 04-07-2011, 08:50 PM   #1
KoedBrew
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Default Suggestions Before you Step into All-grain

I posted this as a response to a post asking what to consider before going all-grain. I put some time into it so I figured I would post it for everyone to see.

These are all things I am trying to perfect now, but I also have to include all of the All-Grain considerations.

Perfect other stages of your brewing process prior to switching to all-grain.
Couple things to focus on (In my opinion)
1. The Boil: this is important and so much happens in the boil that is overlooked.
A. Make sure you are getting the right amount of boil-off, start with X gallons and boil Y minutes to come up with Z gallons of final Wort at the correct gravity.
(That being said I would get a Brew Kettle that can handle the full amount of the boil and a Wort Chiller first!)
B.Boiling lowers the pH level in the wort, crating a proper environment for the hop utilization.
C.Boiling Sterilizes the Wort
D.Boiling temperature destroys enzymes: if they would not be destroyed, they would continue to work during fermentation.
E.Boiling creates an environment for extraction of hop resins and allows them to be processed
D.A Rolling boil causes the unstable proteins to coagulate. Tannins extracted from husks and hops help this process happen.
E.Cooling the Wort...You have created a sterile wort, as soon as it drops below 140F it becomes infectable again. So you want to cool it fast and get it in an environment where it will be safe. Also, cooling the wort prevents off flavors like DMS.

Proper boiling creates the stable environment for fermentation (Which is the second thing I would focus on before switching).

2. Fermentation: Pay attention to quality of fermentation (not quick quantity), and Proper fermentation should be mastered(figured out at least) prior to switching to All-grain.
A. YEAST STARTERS! They are crucial! Make a yeast starter for every beer over 1.050. Use mrmalty.com.
A1.Oxygen...Make sure a ton of oxygen gets into your wort, via a stone, or lots of shaking or transferring, ect...
B. I would recommend Glass or Steel for fermentation. Before you go all-grain have a good fermentation vessel. Switching to all-grain and still fermenting in a bucket is a bad move in my opinion.
C. Hopefully you can remove as much of the break material as possible prior to pitching...these proteins can cause problems for your yeast and just be a nasty mess in the fermentation vessel.
D.Temperature Control, you really need to determine the temperature you want for fermentation and get that to be as consistent as possible. I am lucky to have a basement that stays between 65-66F During cool months and 68-70 during hot months...but during each fermentation you want to know your temps and keep it consistent. Unless you are trying some advanced techniques. If you want to Lager you need temp control for that.
E. TIME Time is crucial...There are very few beers that are better with a shorter fermentation time. Have patience and Let them puppies sit, let the yeast completely clean up the wort ferment completely and then give it time to clean up and settle down.
Consider it like when picking up a woman when you are dating, the package may say 1 week, but just like that date said I'll be ready at 7pm,it ain't happening. We all know there are much more Complex Processes that women go through to get ready and very few of them are ready when they say they will be. Well neither will your beer. Give it 3 weeks or more before you touch it. (Again my opinion, A lot of beers can be ready sooner)
F.No Secondary is necessary on Most beers. More problems can be cause from secondary-ing a beer than not.

Of course bottling and kegging are important, but my fingers are tired.

If you got those nailed then go All-grain, but until you have them completely figured stick with Extract. And when you start buying for all-grain...Buy Big! You will eventually want to upgrade it so just start that way.

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Old 04-07-2011, 10:07 PM   #2
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I do an all-grain batch every 2 weeks and still use buckets. I have zero problem with them. As long as you don't scratch them I don't see a problem.
After the beer's 4 weeks are up I spray them out with a hose and use my finger tips to get anything that needs to be scrubbed.
When its time to fill them with new beer I just mix up 2.5 gallons of star san and shake the crap out of it.
I have had no problems with infections and like I said I a do a batch every 2 weeks so its not like these things aren't getting used.

They're easy to get samples out of and they fit in my tiny fridge with the johnson controls thermostat so I can control the temp the whole way through.
They also don't let light in and don't break. I can also do 6 gallons in them with some fermcap, if I used 5 gal corny's I'd be much more limited on quantity.

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Old 04-07-2011, 10:25 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stat View Post
I do an all-grain batch every 2 weeks and still use buckets. I have zero problem with them. As long as you don't scratch them I don't see a problem.
After the beer's 4 weeks are up I spray them out with a hose and use my finger tips to get anything that needs to be scrubbed.
When its time to fill them with new beer I just mix up 2.5 gallons of star san and shake the crap out of it.
I have had no problems with infections and like I said I a do a batch every 2 weeks so its not like these things aren't getting used.

They're easy to get samples out of and they fit in my tiny fridge with the johnson controls thermostat so I can control the temp the whole way through.
They also don't let light in and don't break. I can also do 6 gallons in them with some fermcap, if I used 5 gal corny's I'd be much more limited on quantity.
Agreed on the fermenting bucket thing. They're easier to carry, cheaper, they don't let much light in, and they don't shatter if you accidently drop it!
I've never had sanitation issues with them either.
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Old 04-07-2011, 10:45 PM   #4
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I think I could of written this a little bit shorter for you. "Figure out wtf you are doing before making it more complicated." There you go and I didn't have to include any opinions on styles of fermenters, whether or not to secondary, how long to let it sit before bottling, when to make a yeast starter or anything else that is more opinion or preference than fact and has absolutely nothing to do with making beer with all grains. Not that your advice was bad but I think 2 minutes on this forum and you will hear all those things repeated ad nauseum.

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Old 04-07-2011, 11:02 PM   #5
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I will be very disappointed if I can't make my 8 gallon kettle work for all grain. I just bought it a while back, and I'm sick of hemorrhaging money.

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Old 04-07-2011, 11:06 PM   #6
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I will be very disappointed if I can't make my 8 gallon kettle work for all grain. I just bought it a while back, and I'm sick of hemorrhaging money.
I have a 9 and it can be difficult sometimes but you can make it work. FermcapS should probably be used in your brewery.
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Old 04-07-2011, 11:10 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KoedBrew View Post
Switching to all-grain and still fermenting in a bucket is a bad move in my opinion.
FYI - You are going to get a lot of blowback on this comment.
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Old 04-07-2011, 11:34 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by 40watt View Post
I will be very disappointed if I can't make my 8 gallon kettle work for all grain. I just bought it a while back, and I'm sick of hemorrhaging money.
I use a 10.5 gallon and usually get 7-7.5 gallons to the kettle and 6 post boil. It wants to boil over everytime even with fermcap. It could be that I'm boiling too vigorously though. I find spraying the side of the kettle with water from the hose to drop the temp quickly usually stops it from going over.
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Old 04-08-2011, 12:41 AM   #9
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You have a few good suggestions, but none of it has anything to do with going all grain. You should use good techniques regardless of brewing extract or AG. My second or third brew (20 years ago) was AG, anyone who can read a recipe and has the proper equipment can do it. Its just not that difficult as some people make it out to be. I've actually referred a number of people to the 1 gallon all grain kits at brooklynbrewshop.com. With a small batch like that equipment is practically nil, and if you screw it up, who cares, its only a gallon. The videos on their site also explain the process well enough that anyone should be able to follow along.

I used buckets to brew with for my first 12 years. I had a carboy but broke it, and so I just bought more buckets instead of carboys.

There are also people who will argue that allowing the break material in the fermentor is beneficial. I think, though, that the evidence points to saying that it doesn't really matter.

One should also clarify that yeast starters are only needed with liquid yeast.

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Old 04-08-2011, 01:41 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 40watt View Post
I will be very disappointed if I can't make my 8 gallon kettle work for all grain. I just bought it a while back, and I'm sick of hemorrhaging money.
I do 5.5 gallon batches starting with around 6.5-7 gallons in my 8 gallon kettle. It's not ideal but it works fine. I leave a thermometer with a alarm on it in the wort up to 205F then I watch it like a hawk as the hot break occurs, I turn down the heat and have a spray bottle to spray down the foam that occurs, also I boil on a large piece of plywood so boil overs don't create a big mess. Long story short you can do it if you're careful.

And to the OP it looks like you were trying to help but most of what you say is opinion and preference over what is necessary to make great beer. Most of what you mentioned has to do with pitching and the fermentation part of the brewing process, controlling these things will improve any beer whether extract or all-grain (except the bucket part as mentioned thats a preference only).

Personally I think if you're going to become an All-grain brewer you might as well do it sooner rather than later. I did one partial mash when I started then decided to go all-grain. I screwed some stuff up but it was stuff I was gonna screw up on my first all-grain no matter when I did it, heck I still screw stuff up when brewing all-grain and you know what ? it still comes out as beer, great beer. If you want to take the plunge to all-grain than have fun and afterwards RDWHAHB.
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