After three successful extract batches, I made the leap to all-grain brewing this weekend. I intended to "live post" throughout but got easily distracted along the way, so here's the write-up...
My set up is a 10 gallon Igloo mash tun with a straight braid. I'm boiling in a 15G keggle and using a homemade immersion chiller.
Today wasn't the best brewing weather with ambient temps in the 20's and a nice mix of freezing rain and snow. That being said, things still went well.
The recipe was a robust porter with a hop bill that mimics Edmund Fitzgerald by Great Lakes Brewing.
I started out pre-heating the mash tun with about two gallons of boiling water. This turned out to be key for maintaining temps. Using BeerSmith I calculated my strike temperature based on the grain temp. I was shooting for 156 degrees and hit 155.5 with just the original addition of water. After a 60 minute mash I had only lost 2 degrees which I consider basically flawless given that the temperature in the garage was 30 at the time.
The first runnings came out easily and I added the sparge water in one round. While pulling the second runnings I did have a small issue with the flow decreasing to basically nothing. I think my tubing is a bit too long and I also didn't have the MLT high enough above the boil kettle. A quick stir and a few minutes to settle and I was able to get the remainder of the second runnings without issue. Boil gravity was 1.046 for 7.5 gallons and an efficiency of 81%! Not too bad for a first try.
The boil went well but the weather was so cold that the propane regulator kept freezing up. I was struggling to keep a rolling boil and settled for a vigorous simmer. When I added the immersion chiller to sterilize it I lost boil completely. I switched tanks and had trouble getting everything lit again. All things said it took about 5 minutes to get the flame going again and probably another 5 to get back to a boil. I waited on my final hop addition until the boil picked up and finished out with no other issues. I finished with 5.5 gallons as intended with an OG of 1.058 (expected 53).
The immersion chiller performed well and with 40 degree tap water I cooled to 64 degrees in 5 minutes!
Yeast are pitched and the batch is downstairs. The basement is 64 degrees and since I intended to pitch closer to 70 it might take a bit for fermentation to start up. All in all, I'm pretty happy. I hit all my expected volumes and overperformed on efficiency. Aside from a little bit of a stuck sparge the all grain process was no less smooth than extract brewing. Thanks to everyone here for posting all your tips and suggestions. It helped a lot!
Now to wait...and hopefully build my draft system. I would love to finish secondary and keg this rather than bottling.