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Old 11-22-2010, 08:55 PM   #1
PSUinDC
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So, I'm a former extract brewer, looking to get back into brewing. I'm looking into going for an all-grain system this time around. I've been reading a lot over the last couple of weeks, and one of the main questions I can't seem to find an answer on is about the mash tun.

When you're doing a recipe that calls for step mashing, or even if your temp is slightly off or whatever, to regulate your mash temp... all you do is add hot or cold water? Doesn't this screw up the precise amount of water that you want in the mash, or does that not matter? I often see exact amounts of water for mashing, but if you're using a plastic cooler and have no direct way of heating the mash, I feel like things can be problematic.



 
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Old 11-22-2010, 09:14 PM   #2
thelastdandy
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i always do step mashes/temp corrections by adding hot water to the plastic cooler/mash tun. you'll end up with a thinner mash, but it won't be a problem. you'll use less sparge water to get your boil volume naturally, but i've never really noticed a difference. a lot of times (in my experience anyways) there isn't really a need to do a step mash with the highly modified grain now a days. with a good cooler for a mash tun you shouldn't really need to make to many temp adjustments either. i might loose a half of a degree over an hour. make sure you get a big cooler though. you want to be able to hold the grain, mash water, plus any of the water additions if you decide to do a step mash.



 
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Old 11-22-2010, 09:55 PM   #3
PSUinDC
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Hmmm interesting. I guess that I just never saw that particular situation explained well.

So, there are 2-cooler all-grain starter kits out there (10 gallons each)... one for the HLT, one for Mash Tun. I guess you'd try to fill that HLT with close-to-boiling water in the beginning eh? Do you think that these setups are ok for a beginner?

I see all of the ridiculous electric setups with pumps and burners on every tank and all that jazz, and while it looks cool, I want to keep to a KISS method before I go nuts.

 
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Old 11-22-2010, 10:18 PM   #4
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I would recommend that you get some brewing software, like Brewsmith. There is a function to determine the temperature and volume of your strike water.

Always remember to pre-heat your mash tun before dough-in.
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Old 11-22-2010, 10:54 PM   #5
PSUinDC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arturo7 View Post
I would recommend that you get some brewing software, like Brewsmith. There is a function to determine the temperature and volume of your strike water.
Ahhh, right. That is something I should look into getting. I'm crafting a good Christmas list this year, starting with "Honey, will you get me a kegerator for Christmas?" lol

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Originally Posted by arturo7 View Post
Always remember to pre-heat your mash tun before dough-in.
Yeah, I have read about this also.

 
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Old 11-22-2010, 10:58 PM   #6
AKbrewer
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In my experience doing step mashes in a cooler kinda sucks but when I do it I just start with a thick mash to compensate for the additional water. I`ve switched over to mashing in a 10 gallon kettle with a false bottom and while it doesn't hold heat as well as my cooler you can always put some heat to it and fix the problem. (not to mention easily do step mashes and mash-outs) If I were to do it over knowing what I know now I would skip the cooler altogether and use a direct fired tun.

 
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Old 11-22-2010, 11:39 PM   #7
wilserbrewer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PSUinDC View Post
to regulate your mash temp... all you do is add hot or cold water? Doesn't this screw up the precise amount of water that you want in the mash, or does that not matter?
The amount of water added to make small temp adjustments is trivial IMO. I'm a hack, OK, but all I do is sparge to a final pre boil volume, and usually not precisely, that is what is critical to me, everything else is blah blah blah.

Simply sparge to a volume preboil, and boil down to hit a target post boil volume, that's what works for me.

 
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Old 11-23-2010, 12:20 AM   #8
japhroaig
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1. the plastic setups are not only great for beginners, but for any AG brewer. don't get hypnotized by the bling (i know, i know, do as i say, not as i do )
2. beersmith or many other programs (brew calculus, beer math, etc) make a *huuge* difference.
3. software + a calibrated thermometer (ice water registers 32F, boiling water registers 212F--and yes, check them, many thermometers are off) will prevent 90%+ of all problems.
4. before you get into step mashes, really, truly understand why you would need one. again, 90%+ of the beer most people want to brew do not require a step mash. if you want to brew an award winning wheat beer, okay then it's a damn useful thing to do, but almost every other style you can cheat and do a single temp. oh, and i don't step my wheat beers either

as an aside, i used a plastic setup for ten years, until they died on me and i got some good deals on stainless. in all honesty, the coolers held their temps better (until i insulated the stainless with reflectix). plus, if you like to do, say, barley wines, you can get *enormous* coolers that can hold gigantic quantities of grain. my 15 gallon mash tun struggles to hold enough grain for a real barley wine or wee heavy, and i've been contemplating getting a cooler just for those really big beers.
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Old 11-23-2010, 01:37 AM   #9
PSUinDC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by japhroaig View Post
1. the plastic setups are not only great for beginners, but for any AG brewer. don't get hypnotized by the bling (i know, i know, do as i say, not as i do )
2. beersmith or many other programs (brew calculus, beer math, etc) make a *huuge* difference.
3. software + a calibrated thermometer (ice water registers 32F, boiling water registers 100F--and yes, check them, many thermometers are off) will prevent 90%+ of all problems.
4. before you get into step mashes, really, truly understand why you would need one. again, 90%+ of the beer most people want to brew do not require a step mash. if you want to brew an award winning wheat beer, okay then it's a damn useful thing to do, but almost every other style you can cheat and do a single temp. oh, and i don't step my wheat beers either

as an aside, i used a plastic setup for ten years, until they died on me and i got some good deals on stainless. in all honesty, the coolers held their temps better (until i insulated the stainless with reflectix). plus, if you like to do, say, barley wines, you can get *enormous* coolers that can hold gigantic quantities of grain. my 15 gallon mash tun struggles to hold enough grain for a real barley wine or wee heavy, and i've been contemplating getting a cooler just for those really big beers.
Thanks for the dose of reality. I was getting the impression for sure that the "bling" was just a classic "boys and their toys" situation, and that it was totally necessary. I'm going to go for the plastic coolers and see how far they get me I've never even tasted a barleywine, so I don't expect to be getting into those any time soon. I'll probably go with 10 gallon coolers to get 5 gallon batches going.

Time to do a little searching to see peoples opinions on the different software and such. I also want to find a local that does all-grain so I can observe/help on brew day. Yay beer!

 
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Old 11-23-2010, 01:52 AM   #10
japhroaig
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i use (a brewing application) on my iphone, but Beersmith is a lot better. you're gonna do great


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