So I finally made the jump into AG after playing around with partial mash for a while. Bought a converted Igloo cooler for MLT, 10 gal Megapot, and a nice outdoor burner. Did a couple of batches now with batch sparging and my mash efficiency was about 72-77%. Here's the mashing/lautering procedure I've been following. Could someone comment on how it looks and what improvements I could make?
1. Heat up 1 gallon of water and pre-heat mash tun with it.
2. Heat up strike water. I did about 1.3 qt/lbs ratio.
3. Pour in the water and add grains, stir thoroughly to avoid doughballs. Stick thermometer in and close the lid. Check back in 3 minutes to see what the temperature has stabilized at. Adjust temp as necessary.
4. While mash is happening, heat up as much sparge water as necessary. I use BeerTools Pro calculator to figure that out.
5. After 60 minutes, test for starch conversion with iodine. If done, vorlauf 2-4 quarts (depending on how the runoff looks) then drain first runnings into the kettle.
6. Split sparge water into equal portions. Pour first portion into the mash tun, stir and let rest 5 minutes to let the grain bed settle. Then vorlauf again and drain.
7. Repeat step 6 with the remaining sparge water.
I know that a mash-out is recommended most of the time, so I may try that next time, but it's a bit more difficult with a cooler since I'd have to infuse with boiling water and dilute the mash.
Here are a few pics I took the first day.