some time ago, I decided I was going to make the leap to all grain. I purchased a cooler and converted it to a mash tun, I bought a burner and picked up a large brewpot. With the help of my machinist brother-in-law, I even built my own grain mill - basically a Crankenstein clone.
Saturday night, I decided to brew my first all grain batch. I got started a little later than I planned, but wasn't too worried about it. I started crushing my grain and realized I had to open up the gap a bit as it was doing too good of a job with the crush. Once I got a good crush going, I realized there were bugs crawling around in my grain!
I've had the grain for about 3 months and it was still in the sealed bags from the HBS and has been stored in a sealed rubbermaid container so the bugs came at no charge from the HBS. I'm going to have to have a chat with them about that! Luckily I had another batch of grain I bought from another place so I still had enough grain to brew. The rest of the crush went without a hitch.
Heated up my strike water and hit my mash temperature spot on - 152 degrees. I mashed for an hour and then collected, meanwhile heating up the sparge water. I did a split batch sparge. Did a 60 minute full boil and then started my cooldown. I don't have a wort chiller yet so I just stuck the pot in a snowbank and stirred occasionally. That worked fine but took a while.
Siphoning to the fermenter, I used a fine mesh grain bag to filter out the hops and the break. That slowed things down a bit, but it worked fine. Once I got it all into the fermenter, I realized that I underestimated the boil off and loss to break/hops and had to top off with about 1 gallon. After topping off, my gravity was dead on so I got about 75% efficiency.
All in all, I think I did fairly well for my first time. Next time, I'll be sure to collect more wort and I'll be making a immersion chiller.
I'm no longer an all-grain virgin!