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Old 06-01-2012, 08:47 PM   #1
Feb 2008
Posts: 44

I'm currently using the BIAB method but would like to move to all grain. I have a 10 gal. cooler with false bottom and I want to develop a feel for my system prior to making all grain brews or partial mashes that utilize more grain and less extract. Would you seasoned vets recommend a dry run with a small amount of grains (4#) and specific water volumes (1.5qt/#) to "test" for stuck sparges and inefficiencies? I'm not concerned with wasted grains but would save the runoff for a starter if done correctly.

I havent prepared an appropriate sparge water delivery system yet so I might have to use a laddle to batch sparge. Testing may provide me with first hand experience whether that might actually work or not with my system. Is this a rational idea or a big waste of time? In the end, I'm concerned with how much water I'll need to float a specific amount of grain and the rate at which to pull from the mash tun and how much laddling ill need to do simultaneously. I appreciate any input, thanks.

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Old 06-01-2012, 08:52 PM   #2
Piratwolf's Avatar
Jul 2011
Va Beach, VA
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I sorta went this route in my switchover. My first several AG batches were 2.5gal yield in order to keep things manageable & avoid a costly mistake. Turned out a lot easier than I thought, but I'm glad I started small! IMHO if you're gonna mash, you may as well boil & ferment. You already know that side of the game anyway
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Old 06-01-2012, 08:52 PM   #3
tre9er's Avatar
Jan 2012
Lincoln, NE
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(BIAB is all-grain)

1.25g strike water for 4lbs. of grain, dough-in at 166-168, mash at ~153 for 60 mins (or less).

sparge with 2.06g. of water.

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Old 06-01-2012, 09:02 PM   #4
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Feb 2011
Kokomo, IN
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A test run is a good idea. I did the same thing you are thinking about doing my first all grain batch, I made starter wort. This will give you a good idea of what to expect on brewday as far as your general process goes and hitting your temps. What it won't do is give you an accurate indication of your effciency though. That is unless you generally brew low gravity session beers. I get great efficiencies when I make starter wort, but that drops the more I beef up the grain bill.
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Stick with the plan....not the sparge.

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Old 06-01-2012, 09:59 PM   #5
Jun 2011
Hayward, California
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I really wouldn't worry about test runs. The first several batches I did all had horrible efficiency. Still came out as beer and still tastes good. Plus up scaling isn't really proportional, we get better efficiency when we do 10 gallons vs 5 for example.

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Old 06-01-2012, 10:36 PM   #6
Malticulous's Avatar
Aug 2008
St. George Utah
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Just do it. Make beer. That's the way to learn.

BTW I get better BHE with smaller batches. That is because with the same boil time I get the same evaporation volume. With a 2.5 gallon batch I can get nearly a 50% evaporation rate. Efficiency is all about total water to grain ratios.
Everything is better with a beer.

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Old 06-01-2012, 10:37 PM   #7
Jul 2011
Windsor, CT
Posts: 306
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I don't think that 4# of grain is enough for your 10 gallon cooler for a test run. I'd for with 10lbs to get a real feel for sparing and the challenges that you might have with a compacting grain bed.

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Old 06-02-2012, 02:40 AM   #8
Oct 2009
Silver Spring, MD
Posts: 113
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Originally Posted by phoenixs4r View Post
I really wouldn't worry about test runs. The first several batches I did all had horrible efficiency. Still came out as beer and still tastes good. Plus up scaling isn't really proportional, we get better efficiency when we do 10 gallons vs 5 for example.
I agree. Just do a full batch. I made the leap last year and the first 2 batches were certainly for "learning the system" - like how much water does my crushed grain absorb and what do I need for sparge water to hit my pre-boil volume, what temp does the water need to be to hit my mash temp when the grains are added, etc. My efficiency was not too great either, but the beer always came out fine.

I actually found a few weeks ago doing a half batch that my system for a full batch didn't work either...so if you do a test batch you may need to still tweak your system when you go to full batches. But hey, you'll be that much better of a brewer anyway!

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Old 06-02-2012, 08:40 PM   #9
Brewsncrabs's Avatar
Apr 2011
Lancaster, Pa
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Just make a batch. Figure out your sparge water and pour it in. No need to ladle it. Your over thinking the process, which is normal for your first AG. Don't worry it will be beer. Your first batch won't be perfect but you will be proud of it.
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Old 06-03-2012, 01:25 AM   #10
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May 2007
Jersey Shore, New Jersey
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Just make a five gallon session type beer...Anyone else find the title of this thread humorous? Dry run w/ a mash tun....what is that, just grain?

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