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About to do first batch of all-grain...some questions first

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aggiejay06

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Hey folks...wanted to start out by saying you guys are awesome :rockin:. I troll the forums and get a lot of answers that way, but I'm doing my first all-grain batch this weekend. I want to nail it on the head as much as possible, so I got a couple of specific questions.

1. I just ordered a 7.5 gallon turkey fryer that was a good price with the burner. $59 total for aluminum pot and fryer stand w/ accessories. I wanted at least 8 gallons and stainless steel...but on a budget with an infant now in the family. Question though...I know aluminum pots are more fragile, but out of the box, the pot already has a lot of dents in it...it also has what appears to be black scratches of some sort on the inside. I got it from Amazon, so returning won't be that easy. Any reason to think this will be a problem?

2. I'm wondering if I'm not getting a good rolling boil...this is based on my experiences doing extract brews (I've done 5 batches). My issue is when I add my hop pellets. It seems like what I would consider a good rolling boil sends all the hops up to the surface of the wort, and they collect like a sludge, not mixing in at all. If I turn the heat down some, I can stir the hops back in, and I see everything in the pot slowly moving around in the currents. There are no bubbles popping up or anything like that though. It concerns me that I'm not boiling enough...anyone else get this hop sludge on top? Do I maybe just need to boil more vigorously?

3. Again due to financial constraints, I'm planning to mash in my brewpot and closely monitor the temp. I was then planning to lauter into the two bucket method that Charlie Papazian talks about (drill holes in a bucket, place that in another bucket, and drain from there back into brew kettle). Anyone have issues with this method? I hear some people brew in a bag, but it seems like it would have to be an awful large bag to hold that many pounds of grain. It also seems like sparging a bag would be difficult...

Thanks folks!
 

Clonefarmer

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1) If you can't bring it back, just hammer the dents out and cure it. That size pot will work, but you may find yourself wanting to upgrade later. You can find kegs on Craigslist for pretty cheap. They make great 15 gallon kettles.

2) Are bubbles breaking the surface? Are you getting a boil over? When I add hops in the beginning they do the same thing. There are [ame="http://www.google.com/search?q=brewing+defoamer&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:eek:fficial&client=firefox-a#sclient=psy&hl=en&safe=off&client=firefox-a&hs=ffH&rls=org.mozilla:en-US%3Aofficial&q=brewing+anti+foam&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&pbx=1&fp=c72bee5a4a93f9a3"]anti foam agents[/ame] available to help avoid boil overs.

3) The two bucket system or bag system will work. AFAIK you don't sparge with the bag system.
 
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aggiejay06

aggiejay06

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2) Are bubbles breaking the surface? Are you getting a boil over? When I add hops in the beginning they do the same thing. There are anti foam agents available to help avoid boil overs.
Bubbles typically are not breaking the surface. I have gotten a boil over before (that sucked) at the start of my Belgian Tripel, but after that I've had to turn the heat down to keep the hops from floating. It's essentially right at the point that bubbles start breaking the surface that the hops start collecting on top...beats the heck outta me...
 

Clonefarmer

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Bubbles typically are not breaking the surface. I have gotten a boil over before (that sucked) at the start of my Belgian Tripel, but after that I've had to turn the heat down to keep the hops from floating. It's essentially right at the point that bubbles start breaking the surface that the hops start collecting on top...beats the heck outta me...
You should bring the wort to a boil before adding the first hop addition. Wait till after the boil over to add the hops. I used the same pot for a while. Every batch needed defoamer to combat boil over.
 
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aggiejay06

aggiejay06

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Awesome, thanks. I'll try this stuff...

I think I'm going to go with the two-bucket system...should I just use a clean saucer to gently scoop my mash from my brewpot into the two buckets? Seems like pouring it all would be unwise...maybe I'll just pour what's left after I have scooped all I can scoop?
 

El_Exorcisto

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I really wouldn't hammer out dents. Aluminum pots are ridiculously thin, and weakening them anymore could ruin your pot. If you are making a moderate gravity beer, I would brew in a bag versus a zapap. It's wicked easy, and yields very good results.
 
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