1st all grain mysteries

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Well-Known Member
Aug 12, 2007
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Chicago Illinois
I did my first all grain using EdWort's Haus Pale Ale as my recipe.
I used my 10 gallon Rubbermaid Mash tun with a SS false bottom.
I boiled with my new 10 gallon megapot and Hurricane Burner.
I used galons of drinking water from the local grocery store.
I followed the recipe instructions EXACTLY and still had some issues.
I have a few questions I hope will help me.
1. I calculated my efficiency according to John Palmer's technique in howtobrew.com.
Efficiency = Kettle wort gravity after the mash and sparge * gallons collected / pounds of grain.
(1.043 after temp adjustment * 6 Gallons / 10.5 pounds of grain.) = 24.57 which is pretty low. I wanted to hit at least 27. The part that does not make sense to me is that when I took the Starting Gravity reading in the fermenter it came out to 1.052 which is only one point higher that Edwort's recipe. Can someone shed light on this one? I am trying to understand the difference between efficiency and starting gravity.
2. The wort in my fermenter had TONS of sediment in it. I have a SS false bottom in my mash tun, I vorlauf until clear, I collect my runnings very gently, and I boil my hops in a vinyl hop bag. Is the sediment just something I should expect with all grain brewing? OH I almost forgot to mention that I racked the wort to the fermenter via the ball valve on my 10 gallon kettle and a high temp hose.
3. Last one - I have a SS 10 gallon Megapot that does not have any gallon markers on it. I really have no idea how much I collected (I assumed on the gallons for my efficiency calcs) although I ended up with a hair under 5 gallons in the fermenter. How can I accurately mark my kettle to know how much liquid is in it at all times?
This was long winded but I wanted to get it all out there while it was still fresh on my mind.
Thanks guys, now I have to go bottle a batch! :rockin:


Well-Known Member
Jan 29, 2006
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Lancaster County, Pa.
I recommend adding a sight -glass to your kettle. Then fill with water, a half gallon at a time, and mark your kettle accordingly with a permanent marker.


Well-Known Member
Jan 24, 2007
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Lac du Bonnet
I marked notches on the handle of my brew paddle that correspond to my typical volume concerns. Just dip it in the pot and see where the liquid level comes to.


Senior Member
HBT Supporter
Oct 29, 2005
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Long Island
The normal way to express efficiency is the amount of sugars that you actually managed to extract during the mash and the sparge expressed as a percentage when compared to the theoretical maximum. From your description, this is not what Palmer is doing. As different malts have different potential, the method you specified would give different numbers depending on the malts used. Nobody would ever reach 100% efficiency. Most homebrewers achieve 70 - 90%.
Assuming a typical pale malt and a true 6g into the kettle, 10.5 lbs malt would give you 65% efficiency using this method. That's not too shabby for a first attempt, but as you didn't really know how much wort you had collected, you may well have done better.
The original (starting) gravity simply measures the amount of sugar dissolved in the wort. You can increase the OG either be increasing your efficiency, or by using more malt (or both), or by boiling longer (which will reduce the amount of water in the wort, without reducing the sugars).
As for the sediment in the fermenter, this could be hot and/or cold break (solids that are precipitated when you boil and cool the wort).
You say that you used high temperature hose when racking to the fermenter. You really need to use a wort chiller to cool the wort down to less than 80F before transferring to the fermenter. This causes the cold break to form in the kettle, and you can either whirlpool or use a filter to leave the crud in the kettle rather than the fermenter.
As for determining how much wort you have in the kettle, I use a reverse dipstick. Instead of reading the depth of liquid from the bottom of the kettle, it reads the depth from the top of the kettle downwards to the top of the wort. Of course, you will need an accurate measure to calibrate it. I used a 1g pitcher graduated in pints, but a 1g milk container should work almost as well.

Hope this helps.