1st AG batch a total nightmare!

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Beavdowg

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I've been building up to all-graining for several months now. I modified a Sanke keg as a boil kettle with a nice drain valve. I built a rib-cage style immersion chiller that worked awesome on an extract batch. I converted a cooler with a weldless ball valve and SS braid (the braid part turned out awesome, if I say so myself, the ball valve from bargain fittings still has a slow slow drip leak. I can't get it to stop.) I researched batch sparging over and over and over again, and watched hours of youtube AG videos. I feel like I understand the process pretty well. I purchased all the ingredients for Ed's Hause Pale Ale and went to work. I started at approx. 6:45pm last night and finally fell into bed at 3:00am, over 8 hours later!! I actually left a few small items to clean for today so it would of been longer. I told myself last night if this is the best I can do, forget it. That's just too long to brew 5 gals. of beer!

Here's what happened:

I used the mash calculator from brew365.com to figure out all the temps and volumes. I heated up 14 qts of water to 180* and put that into my MLT to preheat. I waited about 10 minutes and the temp was already down to 163*. I was shooting for 164* so I thought I'd be ok. I doughed in and stirred for a couple minutes. I checked the mash temp and it was already down to 149* just a couple minutes after I doughed in so I added approx. 1/2 qt. of 158* water and that brought the mash temp up to 151.9*. I figured I could live with 1/10th of a degree off. Well I noticed that the lid to my MLT was very warm whereas the sides of the MLT were undetectable, so I put 2 blankets over the lid. 38 minutes later I checked the temp at it was already down to 150.1*. After 62 minutes the mash temp had fallen to 147.8* How the hell can I do this if I'm losing 4* in an 1 hour, I thought! So I continued to carry out a double batch sparge to get 6.5 gal of wort with a pre-boil gravity of 1.045. Now this gravity was when the wort was basically maybe in the 150* degree range, I forgot to take a temp of the sample. So I'm going to assume that I at least hit the 1.051 OG called for in Ed's recipe. How do you cool the pre-boil wort down enough to be able to calculate a gravity when it's coming out of the MLT so stinking hot? Well, as rough as the mash went I calculated I got about a 75% mash extraction efficiency. I can live with that for my first go-around.

So here is where things started to go south: I did the boil, which took forever. I'll bet it took 30-40 minutes just to get my wort to a boil and I'm using the SP-10 185K BTU fryer. I couldn't believe it. Well I decided to add my bittering hops to the pot before it achieved boil as I thought it'd be a sort of first wort hopping, advanced move, eh? So everything went fine with the boil other than it taking FOREVER. This is where things started to get bad. In a sanke keg 5gals of wort doesn't come up very far on the keg, probably not even 1/2 way up. Well, that left maybe only a 1/4 of the copper coils of my immersion chiller submersed into the wort. So it took probably 35 minutes to get my wort down to 80*. Since I had just read earlier in the day yesterday that my LOT of Nottingham yeast had been recalled I felt I could live with 80* to put into the fermentor since it'd be 8-12 hours before I could get new yeast and pitch. I opened the sweet valve on my kettle and began draining into the fermentor. I was thinking this is awesome not having to siphon or lift the heavy kettle and try and pour into the fermentor. Well, after about 2.75 gals my wort flow came to a halting screach. I had to rush to get my Easy siphon out and soaking in the iodophore so I could drain the rest of my wort out. My hose wasn't quite long enough so it was a bear to get the siphon started as I was trying so hard to not let the lower end of the hose touch anything to maintain sanitization. Uggh, I finally got it started and slowly siphoned every thing out. I did lose the siphon once in there somehow while trying to reposition the pick up end. I only got about 4.9 gals into the fermentor so I added a little water to bring it a hair above the 5 gal mark. I usually like to start with about 5.5 gals in the fermentor so that I actually keg 5 gals. Oh, well, at this point I had had enough, I just added water straight out of my faucet. I figured I used to put a ton of tap water in my fermentor when I first started brewing since I couldn't do a full boil so I'm hoping this won't ruin the whole thing. I pitched today with Safale-05 after shaking the crap out of the fermentor to aerate the wort. For some reason at the time I pitched I thought it'd be a good idea to shake up the fermentor after I pitched to get the yeast down into the wort. But after I did this and saw some yeast on the side of the fermentor I thought that might of been a bad idea. With dry ale yeast do you guys just sprinkle it on top and leave it or do you try and shake the yeast into the wort?

My biggest questions that I need to straighten out before my next attempt are:

1) What else can I do to not lose so much heat in my MLT? I preheated it for 10 minutes. My cooler isn't one of those "EXtreme" ones so I'm wondering if just a good ole fashion plastic cooler doesn't have good enough insulation to hold the temps. Also because clearly all the heat was being lost out the lid I wonder if I should try and shoot some additional insulation into the lid.

2) How can I get my kettle ball valve not to clog? I put a copper sponge thingy underneath the pick up tube hoping that it'd keep all the hops out of the tube and not clog it, but clearly that didn't work. I did use whole whops this time to try and maximize the utilization and after tasting my gravity samples I think it worked but I've got to figure out a way to be able to not clog the drain. Suggestions please.

3) I've got to shorten the brew day or I'll never get the time to brew again. I've only got 1 cooker so I'm limited there. Suggestions here?

I appreciate all the help. This site is great! Sorry to sound so pissy but last night's brew session took it all out of me, pretty frustrating.:drunk:

thanks for all the help:mug:
 

CaptYesterday

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1. Don't worry about it as much as you are. My MTL loses an average of 1-2 degrees on a standard 60 minute mash. I personally don't mind if the beer is little drier. It still tastes good to me.

2. Hop Bags.

3. Use your stove to heat sparge water while you mash is going on and start heating the first runnings while you are sparging.Keep at it, you'll get quicker with practice.
 

JesseRC

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I think you did everything right!!! I mean you knew what you were doing and improvised when you had to.

I hate to tell you this, but sometimes all grain takes all of those 8 hours , when you get good at it you might be able to come in around 5-7 hours. The good thing is that you have lot of down time when ramping up the heat, mashing in, boiling the wort. This last time what I did was cleaned as I went along and I also grouped some of my other brewing tasks, like kegging my previous batch to a keg,etc during that down time. I also sometimes do 10 gallons when I find a style/beer I like. The down time also allows me some time with the kids , wife.

As for the mash tun, well you did the right thing by covering it, but quit opening it. I also collect more like 7-8 gallons of preboil volume and do a 90 minute boil. I know that adds 30 minutes to you time, but the efficiency seems better. Really I just boil down to 5.5 and stop then, if its 60min or 90 minutes either way.
 
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Beavdowg

Beavdowg

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Thanks for the replies and encouragment, fellas. I think I might have to start using the kitchen stove to heat sparge water, like you said. I did clean as I went. I had the MLT all cleaned up during the boil. I was talking to a friend today who all-grains and he said even though he only has 1 cooker he still will put his 1st runnings on the cooker when he's not heating sparge water. So he's alternating sparge water and heating wort on the same cooker. He said it certainly isn't as nice as having 2 cookers but it still cuts down his time to achieve boil. But heating sparge water on the stove would allow me to begin boiling the wort after the 1st runnings.

Any more suggestions?

thanks:mug:
 

pnj

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My first AG was about 7 hours. I did it in the oven and on the stove top using every pot and pan I had in the house. And the beer wasn't that good even after 3 months in the bottle. But, I had a smile on my face because I was happy I took the plunge. :)

You might want to look into 'No Chill' method. It will cut your time some because you don't need to cool the wort.
 

azscoob

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I squashed my ribcage chiller down to fit in the keggle at 5.5gal level, I checked the level by adding a measured 5.5 gal of water into the keg, then squashed the chiller to just hit the top of the water, now when I boil, I add the chiller to sterilize and it also acts as a gauge of sorts to let me know when I get to 5.5 gallons. worked good last brewday to help hit my numbers.
 

LexusChris

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Beavdowg, congrats on your step into AG!

I took the same 1st step about 4 months ago, and ended my brewday ready to quit. My day sounded a lot like yours... I had thought I wasted my 8 hours and contaminated my batch at the end.

My friends reminded me: Dont Worry. Relax. Have A Home Brew. :) They encouraged me to bottle it anyway, and let time heal the beer. And it did. My 1st brew was drinkable, but not quite memorable... but I learned a TON!

The stress of my 1st AG batch, the new process, the new equipment, being on a burner in the backyard instead of in the kitchen, all contributed to the stress of that day.

I just finished my 5th AG batch, and was just over 6 hours. The process has become relaxed and fun. I found ways to use my single burner to heat up sparge water, etc. while I was mashing in the cooler... just finding a few shortcuts to save some time and make the process flow better.

Congrats again on your 1st AG beer! Keep at it. It will take a few iterations to get the basics down and enjoy your brewday. :) Good luck!
--LexusChris
 

Zen_Brew

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Your stress level will come down as you become familiar with your process.

I actually heat my strike and my sparge water on the gas range in the kitchen. It saves on propane, but you'll need a big pot to pull it off. I have a 30 qt pot that I use but you could probably get away with a 20-22 qt.

I like to heat my strike water a couple degrees hotter than my software tells me to. I keep a half gallon of water in a jug to adjust the temp down if it hits a couple degrees high. It is much easier to adjust temp down then up in your mash. Even if i hit 3 or 4 degrees high it only takes maybe a quart of room temp water to knock it right down. Don't sweat the extra qt, just deduct it from the sparge. mash temp is more important that water to grain volume in the mash.

For mash ton heat loss. Yeah most of those lids are not insulated and it is your greatest source of heat loss. Some people have squirted "great Stuff" insulation spray in the lid but I have read mixed results with some not curing correctly. Find some 1" thick styrofoam and cut it to just fit inside the cooler. Poke a couple small holes in it and make a little handle out of ties wraps through the holes. When you hit your temp put the foam disc in the cooler and slide it down to just above the wort. This helps immensely with your heat loss as it blocks off the dead space. I went from losing 4-5 degrees to losing about 1 degree. You can put a blanket over the lid as well and wrap the drain valve as it acts like a heat sink to let some heat out.

For your long boil time try to find a cover for your boil kettle. Keep it coverred until it comes up to boil. You lose a lot of heat out of the top. Remove the cover once you hit boil. Make sure your flame is a nice blue color as that is when it is at it's hottest.

You may have to play with your stailess scrubbie some more to deal with the blocking. Whole hops can be tough. Consider a large grain bag that you can suspend in the brew kettle and keep your hops in there. Some people have made a fixture to hang it in the center of the pot. It leaves a lot of room for them to be stirred around and let their goodies out, but keeps them out of the way when the boil is done.

All grain just takes longer. You can clean as you go to help shorten it, but for me that takes the fun out of it. I prefer to drink, stir, and call my friends and make them envious while I am brewing.

Enjoy
Cheers :mug:
 

Bobby_M

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Even if you do everything exactly the same next time, you'll feel better about it. Go into the cooler at 185F instead of 180 next time.

Use a fine mesh bag for your hop additions, but don't let it sit on the bottom of the keg.
 

Jkane101

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Even if you do everything exactly the same next time, you'll feel better about it. Go into the cooler at 185F instead of 180 next time.

Use a fine mesh bag for your hop additions, but don't let it sit on the bottom of the keg.
This is what I do, tie it off to the pot handle. Makes a ton of difference.
 

zman

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I think it is worth the 30 or 40 bucks to get a Coleman Xtreme from Walmart...etc. My temps hold perfectly. When I clean the mash tun I let it soak over night with hot water and Oxy Clean. I check it the next day and the water is still hot. It might lose 5-10 degrees overnight. This is what I call an impressive cooelr.
 

HotbreakHotel

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I started at approx. 6:45pm last night and finally fell into bed at 3:00am, over 8 hours later!!
+1 it's a long process -- With practice you might get down to 6 hours. But I find the more I brew the more waiting time there is, so as long as I'm not doing a decoction or step mash or caramelization or other fancy stuff I can do other things in between. When I first started brewing this was impossible -- brewing was way too hectic. For instance I can clean the house or cut the lawn during the 60 minute mash -- I just take a break here and there to check the temp and stir. The same goes for the 60 minute boil.

I waited about 10 minutes and the temp was already down to 163*.
I heat mine for a longer time. I find that even if it reaches a certain temp it takes time to stabilize in the cooler. I've tried many procedures, but I've found it easier not to be too technical on this part of the process. Whatever temp water you put in you might consider leaving it in longer, even if it's cooler water, this has worked better for me. It might sound crazy, but maybe you could experiment with putting boiling water in the mash tun before work and see what it is when you get home, since you are trying to save time.

The towel thing for added insulation is a very good idea. Also, if you can get a little burner, like a campstove or something and keep a little extra very hot strike water on hand just in case it will make things easier. If you're still losing temp you can boost it. Likewise, it's good to keep some of your water cold so you can cool it quickly if you overshoot.

Personally, what is the easiest way I have found is to heat the mash tun with some boiling water - maybe 3 qts (two tea kettles full) and leave it for a long time, maybe 45 minutes. Then I heat my strike water to 5 or so degrees hotter than it's supposed to be, and add the water until I reach temp. The mash will be too stiff, so I dilute the strike water with cold water until the strike water is at target temp and then I top it off. I hit my temp every time this way.

How do you cool the pre-boil wort down enough to be able to calculate a gravity when it's coming out of the MLT so stinking hot?
Me? I go fold some laundry or something -- it cools relatively quickly in the hydrometer tube, and to speed it up you could always stick the tube in a tall glass of ice water or just stick in the fridge or freezer.

Well, as rough as the mash went I calculated I got about a 75% mash extraction efficiency. I can live with that for my first go-around.
Yay!!! Good job!!!

So it took probably 35 minutes to get my wort down to 80*.
This is nearly 0 concern. Possibly maybe your beer might come out a little cloudier. I've made award winning beer without a wort chiller, and the ice bath takes that long or longer. This is more like a fine point, certainly not a catastrophe.

But after I did this and saw some yeast on the side of the fermentor I thought that might of been a bad idea.
After the yeast that is still in the wort is dissolved you can shake it again to try to pick up more yeast. I hope there's enough in there. If you pitched one pack you can always pitch another one to make sure. I always put two packs in a 5 gallon batch and my beer comes out clean.

With dry ale yeast do you guys just sprinkle it on top and leave it or do you try and shake the yeast into the wort?
I shake the wort first to aerate then pitch the dry yeast and let it distribute itself on its own.

I've got to shorten the brew day or I'll never get the time to brew again. I've only got 1 cooker so I'm limited there. Suggestions here?
Maybe do no-sparge, if your mash tun is big enough for the extra grain? Start heating the runnings before lautering is finished?
 
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Beavdowg

Beavdowg

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Man, thanks for all the replies and suggestions. That's what I love about this forum!

I did have bubbling somewhere between 12 and 20 hours later. It started in the middle of the night and the bubbling exhaust smells awesome! After reading the previous post I'm considering pitching another package of the Safale-05. Would there be any harm in pitching another packet 2-3 days after initial fermentation has started?

Some of you have suggested a hop bag but my understanding is that you get much better hop utilization by NOT using a hop bag. Do you find this true? What about using one of those bazooka screens as the pickup tube? Anyone use that?

I'll have to check the color of my flame next time. If it's not super blue how do you go about making it more blue(richer)? I have the Bayou Classic SP-10, btw.

I'll have to work on squishing my immersion chiller down a little shorter, too. I can see myself working toward making a counterflow chiller, then that would take all the hassle out of the immersion chiller problem.

I'll keep you posted on the progress!

thanks again!:tank:
 

Zen_Brew

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Man, thanks for all the replies and suggestions. That's what I love about this forum!
Some of you have suggested a hop bag but my understanding is that you get much better hop utilization by NOT using a hop bag. Do you find this true? What about using one of those bazooka screens as the pickup tube? Anyone use that?:
Not necessarily a small hop bag, but one of the fine mesh large grain bags. Small hops socks can restrict the hop utilization some. Some brewers still use the mall hop socks and adjust their hop bill accordingly to make up for lower utilization. For using a larger bag you suspend this in the pot off the bottom and their is plenty of room for the wort to circulate and extract the hop goodies. There should be minimal loss of utilization with a large bag used.

As to the bazooka screens, I hear they work good for pellet hops, but will clog up pretty quick with a lot of loose whole hops in the kettle.

I'll have to check the color of my flame next time. If it's not super blue how do you go about making it more blue(richer)? I have the Bayou Classic SP-10, btw.:
Not familiar with the bayou, but most of the burners have a small metal disc near where the hose connects into the burner and the stand. The disc has a solid part and a part that is sort of cutout, and you just spin the disc to get the flame bluer. You are changing the amount of oxygen that is mixing with the propane.
 

CrankyOldLibrarian

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This was a great post to read today since I just did my first 5 gallon all grain yesterday. (I've done 3 gallon all grain in the past.) This was my first batch with my modified 10 gallon cooler mash tun and keggle.

All I can say is that our brew days had many similarities. It was fun & frustrating. My OG was pretty far off so my hopes for this batch is pretty low, but, hell, it was a good learning experience.
 

Sum1Stu

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Sparging sounds like a horror!! Im just starting to do mashes, and im all about the teabagging grain, in sparge water technique for 10minutes, keeping temps 150-155.

Doesnt take too long when your not batch/fly sparging, im unsure of the quality difference though.
 

KellyK

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Congrats on advancing to all grain. I concur with what many have said, all grain usually will take at least 6+ hours to pull off fully. I've got a few suggestions that may help with the time and frustration.

Farm supply stores sell electric immersion water heaters - they are designed to keep cattle/horse water from freezing in the winter. I think they run about $40. Plugged in, one of these will bring 10 gallons of cool water up to mash in temperatures (165 range) within 4-5 hours (depending on the ambient temperature). Works like a champ. You can set it on a timer to turn on at say 4:00 a.m. so your water is ready to go at 8:00 a.m. Most have a max range of 180, so it won't overshoot your water too much if you don't start on time.

As to the stuck flow (which probably accounted for at least a half hour delay on its own) I concur with the hop sack suggestion. Here's at least one thread for building a large suspended hop sack. Takes about $10 worth of parts from the home depot. https://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/diy-hopstopper-68960/. I built one using all metal parts instead of the PVC with an easily removed hop bag (the nylon paint strainer bags at home depot work great and cost about $2 each). Haven't noted any detectable drop in my hop utilization and it does a really good job. A good whirlpool will also help prevent clogging.

For checking your gravity during the brew day, since you've made the jump to all grain consider purchasing a refractometer. Allows for testing on the fly with minimal wort at boiling temperatures. Worth its weight in gold.

Lastly, since it sounds like you've already got a converted keg capable of brewing 10 gallon batches, if your mash capacity permits, I'd suggest you step up to 10 gallons. You get twice as much beer in essentially the same amount of time and for me, somehow that makes the time spent much more satisfying.
 

BargainFittings

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Sounds similar to my first all grain. My main angst was grinding all the grain by hand!

If you keep having a leak on the ball valve, email me so we can work it out.
 
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Beavdowg

Beavdowg

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Sparging sounds like a horror!! Im just starting to do mashes, and im all about the teabagging grain, in sparge water technique for 10minutes, keeping temps 150-155.

Doesnt take too long when your not batch/fly sparging, im unsure of the quality difference though.
You know the only part of the sparging that was a hassle was getting the sparge water up to the 170* everytime I wanted to sparge. Once it was up to temp I just poured in the required volume, stirred it up real well, let it sit, and drained it out after vorleufing(sp?) Since I only let the sparge water sit on the grains for 10 minutes I pretty much was starting to heat my sparge water again while the grains were sitting for those 10 minutes. Other than that it wasn't my biggest issue.

I will say, the SS braid design worked very well for me! I didn't have any stuck sparge problems and I was able to get clear wort when vorleufing(sp?) easily within 2 quarts if not 1 -1.5 qts. And building the SS braid was super easy, only about 10 bucks, and took maybe all of 15 minutes, some of which was trying to keep my 2 1/2 and 5 yr old out of the way! I haven't built a manifold but it appears to take more time to cut all the slits. I have absolutely no plans to change from this SS braid for now. Damn, I hope I didn't just jinx myself!:(
 

Noleafclover

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I'd repeat the old addage: RDWHAHB (unless it's 3:00 am and you have to work at 6:00 am...) When I switched to AG from extract I wasn't really ready for the amount of time it takes for an AG batch. It was also a late night. Since then I've grown to love the control I have over what I'm brewing as well as the cost. Extract typically cost me 1.5 - 2x the amount for ingredients.

There are definitely ways to shave time off your brew day. You'll be shocked with how much mere experience will decrease the time it takes you to brew a 5 gallon batch.

As far as your MLT, I went with a premade 10 gallon rubbermaid cooler setup from Midwest supplies: http://www.midwestsupplies.com/products/ProdByID.aspx?ProdID=4098
I bought the first one pre-assembled simply because I was concerned that anything I put together might leak... I've had great luck with it too. The only stuck sparge I have had was my first batch, and I didn't really know what I was doing. I find the false bottom to be easy to work with and I'm always getting good efficiency with my sparges..

Speaking of sparging, personally (my own opinion, I know others will disagree wholeheartedly) I find that fly sparging (see the stickied post "Hybrid Fly Sparging" for pretty much what I do) is easier and quicker than batch sparging. Again that's my own opinion, but it's worth reading that sticky to see if it is something you might want to try. The real trick is to find something that works well for you and perfect it. Just my 2c...

Good luck to ya.. Think of each brew day as an experiment/learning opportunity, while consuming a homebrew, of course.
 

dzlater

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Sounds like you pre heated the mash tun with the dough in / mash water.
What I do is preheat the mash tun while I am bringing the mash water up to temp.
When the mash water reaches temp I dump out the preheat water, and then add mash water and grains. I'd guess that might be part of your temp loss problem.
 
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Beavdowg

Beavdowg

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dzlater,

Well, it shouldn't matter. In fact if you can work it just right using the preheat water to mash in would save a considerable amount of water. As an example, lets say you put in 185* water and let that sit for 10-15 minutes. At the end of that time you would check the temp. If it was at your dough in temp then why wouldn't you just add your grains. There's no logical reason to dump that water out, right?

:mug:
 

JoeMama

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I like to preheat the mash tun with hot water BEFORE I add my strike water and mash in. Usually a few gallons of hot tap water in the cooler for 15-20 minutes (or while I am heating the strike water) is sufficient. I dump out that water, add my strike water when its ready then mash in. Strike water is usually about 180 + 1 or 2 degrees.

By the time I mash in, its comfortably around 153 and stays there +/- 1-2 degrees.
-Me
 

dzlater

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dzlater,

Well, it shouldn't matter. In fact if you can work it just right using the preheat water to mash in would save a considerable amount of water. As an example, lets say you put in 185* water and let that sit for 10-15 minutes. At the end of that time you would check the temp. If it was at your dough in temp then why wouldn't you just add your grains. There's no logical reason to dump that water out, right?

:mug:
Right
Sorry I didn't pick up on the fact that you heated the water to 185 and then let it cool to your dough in temp.
I don't dump it I use it to clean and or sanitize other stuff
 

flyfishnc

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congrats on making the AG jump. i hopped in two batches ago.

i can relate to the stuck chiller. it sucks when that happens... to help prevent this on my last batch, i decided (basically at the last minute) to design this very complex Hop Suspension System :cross: out of a coat-hanger and a 5 gallon paint strainer bag.


if you're interested, the write-up about my brew day is here (complete with the HSS ;) ):
http://www.brewingexperiment.com/2009/09/15/black-stone-oatmeal-stout-brew-day/
 

onelegout

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No matter how many brews you do, something will almost always go wrong, no matter how small!

I had a perfect brew day yesterday - finished only 15 mins late for my girlfriend coming home, and me and her jumped in the car to head for a meal at a country pub.

Half way to the pub I suddenly realised I had forgotten to put an air lock/blowoff tube on the FV!! I don't expect it will have done it any harm though, and it's now bubbling away happily downstairs (can hear the blowoff tube bubbling from here!)

Good luck on your future brews, but don't be scared off if you run into problems :)
H
 

LTS

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So you have a keggle and an inefficient cooler. I'd make small changes as necessary and move on up to a Coleman Xtreme. Mine is great.

Next, I'd get a second burner. Then I would brew 10 gallons and you'll love just how much beer you have for the same amount of work :)

But as the suggestions have been made, the first attempt can be nasty. You made it through. A few iterations and you stop peeking at temps all the time and checking boils, etc. This past brew time I walked away while sparging, while mashing, while boiling, and pretty much only worried when I had to move a hose. :) It was very nice but I still forgot the paint strainer and ended up with some additional hop material.. no sweat, using a highly flocculent yeast so it'll settle.
 

flyerwire

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as others have posted, i too had the same first experience as you OP. Running around, not sure what i was screwing up, the wife ended up calling me and i somehow ended up about a little less then a gallon short with a too high OG, by that time i was at the same point as you and said "screw it" and just added tap water. It wasnt the best i ever drank, but it was still definitely drinkable, and my second batch went a million times smoother after all the "lessons learned".

As far as the MT/HLT, i use a 10G rubbermaid water cooler for both, i've learned how much i lose to the cooler so i either adjust the temp of the water going in, or i do like another poster mentioned and sort of "pre heat" the cooler with a small amount of near boiling water to avoid the initial heat loss. That being said, the I normally lose anywhere from 0-1* during the 60 minute, it may be worth checking out some other coolers as others have mentioned if you ever come into a windfall of a few dollars you are allowed to spend :)

Anyway, between the first and second batch i cut out about an hour just from the experience of it, now there is no stress and its much more enjoyable.

As a side note, always remember that stainless steel pot on a burner is HOT for quite a bit after the heat is off. The red mark on my shaved head when i came in from the first day wasnt too pleasing... i was bending over moving things around and bumped my head into the kettle... NOT PLEASANT!
 

tomtom

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My all-grain session yesterday lasted from around noon until 4:30. And that includes cleaning up and setting up my Igloo cube fermentation cooler. It's still in the 90's here in CFL and my barn has a tin roof so I have to keep it cool. After a few sessions it gets easier. Something crazy always happens but just roll with it.
 

JesseRC

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WOOHOOO! Well I have good news too. Today my all grain brewday was about 5.5 hours. with cleanup, and that was with 90 minute mash and 90 boil. I thank the new Bayou Classic KAB6. Sure it burns fuel, but it rocks at getting it to a boil quickly. I had no issues with it, even left it unattended while I picked up the little one at school. Just a quarter of a turn goes from gentle boil to roaring boil. I'm happy. So now to fine tune some other areas. As to the OP, keep at it, it will get better, and after all this is a hobby right, it should be relaxing.
 
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Beavdowg

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UPDATE!

So I kegged my 1st AG last night, the one that I started this post with. I force carbed it with 25 psi, shaken about 4 times since last night. I couldn't wait to taste so I hooked up the cobra-kon (couldn't resist) tap and poured myself a small taster tonight. BIG ORCHESTRAL FINISHING CHORD Tuduh!! It tastes like really nice summer beer. Probably the thing I'm most happy about is that I don't have any of that Iodophore aroma or off flavor that I had with my last batch (my first batch back in about 12 years). I was sooo worried about getting this Iodine off flavor/aroma. I'm just tickled pink!
Again, the brew was Ed's Hause Pale Ale. It's much lighter in color than I expected, way lighter than his picture. Mine has the same color as Budweiser, basically. It's not near as dark as I'd expected. The head is a nice clean white color with beautiful tiny fine bubbles that feel very smooth on the palate. It's moderately malty in mouthfeel and well balanced with a sweet finish.

Since I'm always looking to improve here's what I'd do differently next time for this beer. First, since I'm a seasonal beer guy, I'd probably only brew this beer for the summer. And, I think I'd like to fiddle around with some lemon zest in the secondary or somehow to give it a little of a citrusy characteristic. I think I'd also dry-hop it to give it a bit more of a hop aroma. Now, I'll probably brew this again for the fall or winter but I'd darken the crystal malt with something darker than 10L to give it a more copper/amber color. I'd also dry-hop it again.

Overall, I'm very pleased and I'd like to thank Ed Wort for his simple, inexpensive first AG recipe that turned out as a success.

In finishing, all my worries were for not! Yeah the 8 hour brew day sucked but it produced a great finished product that I'm proud to serve to my friends/family. I love this hobby!:ban:

Now for my 2nd AG batch...

Thanks for all the kind support and suggestions!:mug:
 

Rick500

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Congrats! Now go brew something else. :)
 

Tmeister

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If this is not too late for a reply, here is my suggestions. All grain does take a while and you'll cut time only with experience. I only have one burner from bayou and my A. G. batches take about 5 1/2 hours. I like to time myself :) but, I think you shouldn't use whole hops, pellets are easyer and more likely to be fresher, If you do, of course you need a nylon hop bag. Next, calibrate your converted keg so you know exactly where 6.5 gallons comes to. Maybe put a small dent or scratch on the inside so you can see your marker, this is assuming that a 1 hour boil will leave you with 5.5 gallons. (and make sure your wort chiller will be submerged in the wort when cooling. Third, I personally dont start heating the kettle untill all the runnings are collected, it will start to boil before all is collected, because you should aim for a slow running taking about one hour to collect 6.5 gal. I use the hour of collecting into the boil kettle to get things sanitized, cleaned, put away, all while monitoring the sparge/ lauter tun ratio (to make sure im not sparging or draining too fast) periodically. The sparge and mash tun I use are the orange beverage coolers you get from home depot. I use a S. S. false bottom and ball valves I made (you can get all the parts for the ball valve at Lowes, and this way two ball valves will only cost you about 15 bucks, instead of the overpriced ones they sell at home brewing stores.) send me a message if you want the parts list to making those ball valves. I have found this brewing system to be easyest and economical, not to mention they maintain temp very well. Buy a 5 gal for the mash, and a 10 gall for sparge water.
 
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