You've all been so helpful with the barrage of questions I've had over the past couple of weeks, I thought you might be interested in the results of my first-ever all-grain homebrew session. I brewed a recipe I actually made up myself. There's a local brewery that I really like, and I took a stab at replicating my favorite American Pale Ale beer of theirs. For those who are curious, the brewery is Broadhead, in Ottawa, and the beer I'm trying to copy is their Wildcard Ale. They periodically change up the hops (hence the "Wildcard"), and I loved it when they used ZYTHOS, so that's what I'm trying to reproduce.
They'd given me a couple of hints for the recipe, indicating that it's simply 2-row malt with some Vienna, and ZYTHOS hops for aroma. With that information, and everything I've learned form this forum (and Palmer's "How To Brew" and Papazian's "Complete Joy of Homebrewing"), I put together a recipe in Beersmith. Here's the recipe I came up with:
Batch size: 5 gallons
8 lbs. Pale Malt (2-row)
2 lbs. Vienna Malt
0.5 lbs. Carafoam (for head retention)
0.5 lbs. Aromatic malt
2 oz. Cascade @ 60 mins
1 oz. ZYTHOS @ 5 mins
The recipe is supposed to be an American Pale Ale. Originally, I'd designed it with 0.5 lbs of Caramel Crystal 120L instead of the Aromatic, which would have gotten me right on the money for colour, but when I went to brew today, I realized I don't actually have any Crystal 120. I did, however, have 0.5 lbs. of Aromatic, so I used that instead. Also, my original recipe called for 1.5 oz of Cascade for bittering, which would have gotten me exactly the right amount of IBUs, but the pellet pack was 2 oz, and I didn't feel like sealing up 0.5 oz of hops when I wasn't sure when I'd be able to use them again, so I just used the whole 2 oz. pack. With all that said, here's what the profile looked like in Beersmith:
So, I set up my new Barley Crusher, weighed out my grains, and milled them.
Using my Polar Express popcorn bucket to measure out the grains
How's my crush look? I just used the default factory setting on the Barley Crusher, with no adjustments whatsoever.
I heated my strike water to 180 F.
I poured it into my mash tun, then stirred and waited until it dropped to 167 F, then poured in my grains and stirred until it dropped to 156 F (that's my wife's hand, not mine!)
Then I wrapped my mash tun in an old sleeping bag and left it for an hour.
After an hour, the temperature had dropped to 150 F. I vorlaufed, drained into my boil kettle, then batch sparged with 4.5 gallons of water at 168 F for 10 minutes, vorlaufed, and drained again.
Then, I added another gallon or so of bottled water to get up to 6.5 gallons and started boiling.
Once I boiled, I added the bittering hops, using my new "hop screen" from Chad Beauchamp, of Arbor Fabricating, whom I found through this forum. I went for the 300 micron screen, and it worked perfectly.
2 oz. of bittering hops (Cascade) @ 60 mins, and 1 oz. of aroma hops (ZYTHOS) @ 5 mins.
With 10 minutes left in the boil, I added my wort chiller to the pot to sanitize it. I had already filled a cooler with ice water and gotten it ready to start chilling.
It took 45 minutes to cool to 80 F. I aerated thoroughly with my paint mixer attachment on a drill, then I transferred it to a sanitized carboy. By the time I pitched the yeast, the wort had dropped to 72 F. My O.G. was 1.050 - pretty much right on target. I even got to use my new Brew Hauler straps when I brought the whole thing downstairs.
I'm a little concerned about all the sediment at the bottom of my carboy, but I'm hoping it won't be an issue. The hop screen contained the hop gunk, and the bazooka screen in my boil kettle kept out most of the residual grain matter, but there was still quite a bit of sediment in the carboy.
My volume looks a little low (4.5 gallons, maybe?), but I've decided not to risk compromising the batch by adding more water. I'm just going to proceed with what I've got, and hopefully it'll be drinkable!
I hope you've enjoyed this walkthrough of my first ever all-grain brew day. Thanks to all of you, I think I've avoided most of the major trip-ups.