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SurlyBrew 08-06-2012 02:26 PM

Tips for 1st all grain batch
 
I have done 10 extracts, 1 partial mash and I'm making the switch. I've made a homemade mash tun cooler with copper tubing manifold. After much deliberation I've decided to batch sparge vs. fly sparge. What are some useful tips that will make my day a little easier? Things you wish you had know/thought of before you took the plunge.

Pie_Man 08-06-2012 02:37 PM

I'd say that using brewing software or a good calculator to determine your water volumes is helpful, but not necessary. Definitely take detailed notes so that you can refine your AG process for future batches. I use an AG brewing checklist that I made so that I don't forget to vorlauf, take a pre-boil gravity reading, etc. Having a way to measure your water volume in the boil kettle is very helpful as well. This could be as simple as marks of a spoon, or the side of the kettle. And of course, have fun, I find AG a lot of fun, and it's not much harder than what you've been doing.

pgrebus 08-06-2012 02:44 PM

I use a calculator like this http://www.brew365.com/mash_sparge_water_calculator.php

Remember to heat your tun. I add a gallon or 2 of boiling water, shake it around, and give it 15 minutes, then drain the water.

Pete

KISS Brew 08-06-2012 02:44 PM

Make sure you have a good thermometer. This can be critical for both efficiency and hitting the style you're aiming for. I found out that my old instant read thermometer was anything but instant, and it was pretty far from accurate.

Many people here will recommend the Thermapen, but I went for the cheaper RT301WA from the same company. I've been very pleased with it.

DonMagee 08-06-2012 02:48 PM

I second using some software to calculate volumes AND your temps. The mash tun will cool down your strike water when you add it. So you have to calculate your strike temp based on how much thermal mass your mash tun has. Beersmith is great for this.

Wirk 08-06-2012 03:16 PM

My first brew was an all grain, seriously is not that hard, I am not saying that in my first brews I didn't have problems, I did but all of them were fermentation or bottling related(so AG wasn't related to it).

The only recommendation I can give you is: have good instruments(a good thermometer and hydrometer).

Mojzis 08-06-2012 04:59 PM

Add a thermometer to your mash tun. Wish I did this first. Makes it so much easier to see whats going on and if you hit your target.

Also, don't be afraid to make your strike water temps a little hotter. It a million times easier to adjust from too hot rather than adjusting from too cold. First time you do this its going to be a PITA. Make your strike water a little hotter to heat up the tun.

Print out a checklist.

Get things ready while mashing, like pre-heating sparge water with about 15 minutes left to the sparge.

Mix up the mash when first pouring in strike water. Sometimes you get grain balls and patches stuck to the bottom. Don't stir too long or you'll lose a fair amount of steam and lose temp.

caber2615 08-06-2012 05:11 PM

I just finished my first all grain batch this weekend. Everything went well but my efficiency was lower than expected. I would suggest 2 things..Im convinced this would have helped my efficiency...
1. Get a good crush. If your LHBS is crushing for you, have them run your grain through twice.
2. Most important IMO...Sparge SLOWLY...Dont get excited like me and drain your mash tun in 2 minutes for each sparge. Should have taken closer to 20 minutes...open the ball valve ever so slightly...

Good luck!

Pie_Man 08-06-2012 06:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by caber2615 (Post 4309257)
I just finished my first all grain batch this weekend. Everything went well but my efficiency was lower than expected. I would suggest 2 things..Im convinced this would have helped my efficiency...
1. Get a good crush. If your LHBS is crushing for you, have them run your grain through twice.
2. Most important IMO...Sparge SLOWLY...Dont get excited like me and drain your mash tun in 2 minutes for each sparge. Should have taken closer to 20 minutes...open the ball valve ever so slightly...

Good luck!

I don't think sparging slowly is necessary when batch sparging. I try to set the grain bed when vorlaufing and I drain the mash tun at roughly the same speed which for me is at least half open on the valve. Once conversion occurs, you just need to get the sugars from the mash tun to the kettle.

mike20793 08-06-2012 06:50 PM

Speed does not matter for batch sparging. It does for fly sparging because you do not want to create channeling which would prevent all the grain from being washed. Since batch sparging employs the stir like crazy method, you can open the valve all the way up and collect the runnings fast.

My biggest piece of advice is take plenty of notes and do not stress if you do not hit your temps exactly. Keep boiling water on hand and ice cubes on hand so you can quickly adjust when you miss your temps. It will take several batches before your equipment is fully calibrated and you know what temps to heat your strike and sparge water to. Another note for sparging. The temperature of the grain bed needs to be as close to 170 as possible after you add your sparge water. For me, that means adding in water 180-185 (depending on the mash temp) to bring the grain bed up to temp. Good luck and post your notes after you complete and we can help you nail down any mistakes you may make. Cheers. :rockin:


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