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Old 05-03-2012, 06:58 PM   #1
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Default Am I doing something wrong?

I have been brewing for about a year and a half, and the last year or so doing all grain. I keep hearing/reading lots of extract and PM folks talk about how much work they think AG is and how much longer it takes than extract. Granted, it IS a little bit more work, and a little more time; but it really doesn't seem all that bad to me. Let me run down my equipment and typical process... times are approximate, but fairly consistent.

5 Gallon economy pot for strike and sparge
8 gallon alumaclad bottom boil kettle
5 Gallon round Igloo mash tun

60 minute single infusion mashe, 2 batch sparges due to equipment restraints. And 60 minute boil.

11:00 AM - Get strike water on the stove to heat, about 2.5-3 gallons depending on grain bill. Fill a bucket with sanitizer and all things to be sanitized for the day. Weigh grain and hops, crush grain.

11:30 AM - Dough in. Add half of required sparge water to 5 G pot. If a fermenter needs to be cleaned this is the time I do it (though it is usually already clean).

12:00 PM - Heat first sparge.

12:30 PM - Vorlauf and collect first runnings. When its done running I sometimes throw it on the stove on medium heat so as to shave boil up time. Dump first batch spage in, stir, cover and wait 15 minutes. Fill 5 G pot with reminder of sparge water and heat on high on stove.

12:45-1:00 PM - vorlauf and collect second runnings. Add second sparge, stir and cover, wait 15 minutes.

1:30ish PM - Vorlauf and collect final runnings. Get kettle on stove heat high heat until it boils, usually takes a half hour or a little more to get there. While waiting for boil I usually empty and clean out the MLT.

2:00-2:15 PM - Add first boil addition, set boil timers and add hops as necessary. Add IC at last 15 minutes.

3:00-3:30 PM - flame out, kick on chiller, usually takes 10-20 minutes to chill depending on season (ONLY reason I like winter is for the cold tap water)

By 4:00 I have cooled wort in the fermenter, pitched and airlocked, equipment cleaned and draining and all peripherals put away. And 4:00 is if I slow heat water to make sure I don't go over temp or have any kind of "issues".

I don't really think 5 hours is a long time for a good AG brew with problems, and I regularly knock it out in 4-4.5 hours. And almost always I am running around doing other things while waiting for strike to heat, waiting for mash to finish, waiting for kettle to boil... I have 3 kids, so there is no such thing as a dedicated brew day. Making lunches, starting dinner, sometimes grilling during the brew. Am I doing something wrong, or is this typical? Or is my kitchen just magic? Seems all too simple to me.

E2 Brewing CoOp Est. 2010

"Hell, If it don't turn out good we'll just distill it and get drunk!" - My dad...
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:21 PM   #2
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Looks good to me! My experience is similar. My first few times required 100% attention the whole time, but now I just set some timers and let the beer make itself.

Originally Posted by EdMerican View Post
...there is no such thing as a dedicated brew day...
+1 to this.

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Old 05-03-2012, 07:28 PM   #3
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I brewed an IPA (2.5 gallon) on Monday that took 3.5 hours from start to finish. Felt like nothing considering I just sat on my deck and drank beer the whole time.
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Old 05-03-2012, 07:31 PM   #4
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Well said Ed, I made the switch 3 months ago and went straight to a 10 gallon setup. After the first 2 drew days, I wondered why I waited so long to go AG. It is a bit longer, I have to double batch sparge, so it adds an extra 20 mins, but I'm still within the 4.5-5 hour range.
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:00 PM   #5
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I also recently switched to AG and experience the same time requirements. I think the people who say it is too much work or takes too long haven't experienced it and are intimidated.
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:17 PM   #6
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I say basically the same thing all the time to my local club. Ag adds about 45 min for me, the larger scale (full boil) is where the extra time is...
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Old 05-03-2012, 08:48 PM   #7
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I went AG after my 3rd batch and now have everything, with full cleaning time down to about 5 hrs. Every once in a while, I'm mildly tempted to do a PM batch, but the loss of control of all of the ingredients just isn't worth the slight reduction in time. And I feel more "connected" to the final product.
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:09 PM   #8
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I did one extract batch and ever since have done AG. I don't let my sparge additions rest...that would shave even more time off your day. There is negligible if any returns from letting it rest anyways.
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Open log Fermenting and gas-can secondary?? I am planning my next brew right now!!
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:28 PM   #9
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To the OP, are you doing 5 gallon batches? If so your grist is pretty thick....Your time frame sounds about right. I have a friend who brews running around chasing kids half the time. He's botched quite a few batches over the years becasue of it. I'd try to brew at night so I could focus on the craft at hand. Multi tasking usually means both tasks suffer.
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Old 05-03-2012, 09:33 PM   #10
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When I went AG it would take me like 6 hours as I was like a chicken with my head cut off, but after a few brews under my belt, its easy. Today I went to start and set up everything at 12:30, mashed in by 1:15 and by 5 pm, everything was washed, rinsed and put away. The wort was in the fermenter with yeast happily munching away. So 4-4.5 hours is average. And Id say about 2 hours of that I am inside doing other things.

The only thing I found to brew faster was mead, but that consisted of adding water and honey and yeast into a 5 gallon fermenter and letting it go. LOL

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