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All grain in 2x 12L stock pots? Beginner

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EricaM

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First time trying all grain beer recipe. I've mostly done festabrew and made one coopers extract kit.
I don't have equipment for all grain, but wanted to try anyway. I have 2 12L stock pots and a propane stove.

I'm planning to split the ingredients between the pots and do both at the same time. I know this will be demanding, to try to keep temps steady. I have a meat thermometer.

I just wanted to double check the process, because I'm not sure on it.

get water to right temp.
Steep grain. (I have cheesecloth that I thought would make it easier to get grain out again, but is there a reason I shouldn't use this?).
Take out the grain and drain in a colander, then pour hot water over it to rinse.
I plan on doing this right over the pot.
Squeeze liquid out of grain and get rid of the grain. (can I use a hydrometer in very hot liquid?)
boil wort and add hops at right times.
Put ice in wort and set it out in snowbank to cool. Maybe I'll have to put plasic wrap over the steam hole in the lid, so germs don't get in.
bring inside and transfer to fermentor. Check OG and add water as needed. I can add malt extract if OG is too low.

Does this make sense, or am I missing a bunch of stuff? I could get a bigger pot, but I think it's too dangerous to lift 20L of hot liquid. I'm a woman and not that strong, with little kids and a dog under my feet.
 

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Get youself at least a paint strainer bag or another brew in a bag bag. The cheesecloth/colander thing won't work well, it will create a mess as the cheesecloth is much too fine and the colander will be too small (trust me, I tried :D ). The investment into the bag is not much but well worth it.
 
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EricaM

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Get youself at least a paint strainer bag or another brew in a bag bag. The cheesecloth/colander thing won't work well, it will create a mess as the cheesecloth is much too fine and the colander will be too small (trust me, I tried :D ). The investment into the bag is not much but well worth it.
Thanks. Looks like I can get a bag pretty cheap, but I'll have to wait until I have time to go pick one up.
 

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Your 2 pot approach will be fine, but I would do a few things differently:
1. Get a BIAB bag, they are pretty cheap.
2. Start off with smaller recipes, since you are metric, go with 10 liter.
3. Put about 8.5L in each pot, use an on line strike water calculator to determine your initial water temperature.
4 Heat up Pot #1 to strike temp , put in your bag, then add the grains. Use a bungy cord to secure the bag around the top of the pot or it will fall in when you add the grain. Wrap it up in a blanket and forget about it for a few hours.
5. After a few hours, heat up the water in pot #2, pull the bag out of pot #1 and do a "dunk sparge" in pot #2.
6. Get both pots boiling, after about 1/2 hour, you can probably combine both pots.

You may have to play with the water volumes depending on your boil off rate and some other factors, but the above number will get you in the ball park.

Pull a sample at the end of the boil, chill it down and take a gravity reading, if its low add some DME, there are on line calculators to figure out how much to add.
 

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The way I understand your question, you're looking to split a batch between the two 3L pots. Then combine the wort into one fermenter.
Others on the board may have a better suggestion, but the first thing that comes to mind would be BIAB both pots. A paint strainer would be a much better choice for your grains. They're cheap and reusable. They usually come in 3 packs for about $5.
You'll end up with roughly 12L in the fermenter, depending on several other factors. Check out the BIAB board for more info on the process.
Where there's a beer, there's a way! Go for it.
 
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EricaM

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The way I understand your question, you're looking to split a batch between the two 3L pots. Then combine the wort into one fermenter.
Others on the board may have a better suggestion, but the first thing that comes to mind would be BIAB both pots. A paint strainer would be a much better choice for your grains. They're cheap and reusable. They usually come in 3 packs for about $5.
You'll end up with roughly 12L in the fermenter, depending on several other factors. Check out the BIAB board for more info on the process.
Where there's a beer, there's a way! Go for it.
My pots are 12L each. Maybe you meant 3 Gallons? So I was hoping to do 20L+ in fermentor. But wondering if that's possible.
 

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Your 2 pot approach will be fine, but I would do a few things differently:
1. Get a BIAB bag, they are pretty cheap.
2. Start off with smaller recipes, since you are metric, go with 10 liter.
3. Put about 8.5L in each pot, use an on line strike water calculator to determine your initial water temperature.
4 Heat up Pot #1 to strike temp , put in your bag, then add the grains. Use a bungy cord to secure the bag around the top of the pot or it will fall in when you add the grain. Wrap it up in a blanket and forget about it for a few hours.
5. After a few hours, heat up the water in pot #2, pull the bag out of pot #1 and do a "dunk sparge" in pot #2.
6. Get both pots boiling, after about 1/2 hour, you can probably combine both pots.

You may have to play with the water volumes depending on your boil off rate and some other factors, but the above number will get you in the ball park.

Pull a sample at the end of the boil, chill it down and take a gravity reading, if its low add some DME, there are on line calculators to figure out how much to add.
Dunk sparge is a brilliant idea. I forgot that I brewed like this at the beginning. Basically creating a thick mash in the first pot, then calculating the temperature in the second pot to hit mash out temperature when transferring the grain bag from the first one into the second pot.

Transfer, stir, let it sit for 15 minutes and then get it out. Evenly mix the liquid from both pots and then boil etc.
 
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EricaM

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Dunk sparge is a brilliant idea. I forgot that I brewed like this at the beginning. Basically creating a thick mash in the first pot, then calculating the temperature in the second pot to hit mash out temperature when transferring the grain bag from the first one into the second pot.

Transfer, stir, let it sit for 15 minutes and then get it out. Evenly mix the liquid from both pots and then boil etc.
Interesting idea. I will have to read this more closely.
If I had a 3rd pot... could I do grains in 2 of them and then dunk both of those in the 3rd pot, to make more wort?

Small batches are a lot of work for not much beer, and I have lots of friends who like beer. I can borrow my mother's pot.
 

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My pots are 12L each. Maybe you meant 3 Gallons? So I was hoping to do 20L+ in fermentor. But wondering if that's possible.
Due to boil over concerns, you wouldn't want to boil more than 2 gals in a 3 gal pot. Maybe 2.5 if you're standing over top of it for the first 20 mins of the boil, adjusting the burner and skimming off foam. Depending on the vigor of the boil, you'll lose 0.5 to 1 gal to evaporation (boil off). So, you can expect 1.5 to 2 gals of boiled wort per pot. I've never attempted to create a strong wort then dilute to 5 gals, but it can be done. There are risks to that method however.
 
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EricaM

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Due to boil over concerns, you wouldn't want to boil more than 2 gals in a 3 gal pot. Maybe 2.5 if you're standing over top of it for the first 20 mins of the boil, adjusting the burner and skimming off foam. Depending on the vigor of the boil, you'll lose 0.5 to 1 gal to evaporation (boil off). So, you can expect 1.5 to 2 gals of boiled wort per pot. I've never attempted to create a strong wort then dilute to 5 gals, but it can be done. There are risks to that method however.
Thanks for the reply. I'd be very happy with 4 gallons. Will see what i can do.
 

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This is too obvious but, since the OP didn’t specify and no one else has asked-is the grain being used malted grain and has it been crushed?
I was wondering the same thing. The post had a feel that made me wonder if this was extract with steeping grains.
 

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Due to boil over concerns, you wouldn't want to boil more than 2 gals in a 3 gal pot. Maybe 2.5 if you're standing over top of it for the first 20 mins of the boil, adjusting the burner and skimming off foam. Depending on the vigor of the boil, you'll lose 0.5 to 1 gal to evaporation (boil off). So, you can expect 1.5 to 2 gals of boiled wort per pot. I've never attempted to create a strong wort then dilute to 5 gals, but it can be done. There are risks to that method however.
I used to do this. Created a higher og wort with more ibus then necessary and the diluted it in the fermenter using bottled water, which is completely bug free right out of the bottle so it doesn't need to be boiled. It's relatively easy and as a bonus, the additional water chilled the wort quite a bit down, so less time for chilling is needed. It's a good system but needs a few times to be dialed in so that you got your final numbers right predictably.
 
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EricaM

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This is too obvious but, since the OP didn’t specify and no one else has asked-is the grain being used malted grain and has it been crushed?
My recipe card says:
350g crystal malt
200g dextrin malt
50 chocolate malt
50g roast barley
4.2 kg Canadian 2 row

says mash tempt 154F

Grains are crushed and in a bag together.

There's no extract, but I have some on hand if I need it later.
 
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EricaM

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I used to do this. Created a higher og wort with more ibus then necessary and the diluted it in the fermenter using bottled water, which is completely bug free right out of the bottle so it doesn't need to be boiled. It's relatively easy and as a bonus, the additional water chilled the wort quite a bit down, so less time for chilling is needed. It's a good system but needs a few times to be dialed in so that you got your final numbers right predictably.
I also like this idea. Sounds like I'm going to need to take some time to figure out exactly what I'm doing before I start.
 
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EricaM

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Think about it, post your workflow and we will have a look on it.
To make a more concentrated wort... does that mean I need twice as much hops? recipe calls for 46g. Or do I just put in the 46g and it will be stronger in the less water?
some of those says 60min, 8 min, and 1min. which I understand to mean how much boiling time is left...
I'm really new at this. sorry.
This whole process seems quite overwhelming, but the best way to learn is to try it.
 

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A couple of things folks haven't pointed out from your first post:

Don't put ice in the wort. With all-grain brewing, we don't usually dilute with any water, and ice may be a bit nasty.

Second, hydrometers do not work well with hot wort, even when you apply temperature correction. The reading will be way off if the temperature is, say 20ºF or more above the hydrometer's calibration temp. So cool it at least to that point.
 
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EricaM

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A couple of things folks haven't pointed out from your first post:

Don't put ice in the wort. With all-grain brewing, we don't usually dilute with any water, and ice may be a bit nasty.

Second, hydrometers do not work well with hot wort, even when you apply temperature correction. The reading will be way off if the temperature is, say 20ºF or more above the hydrometer's calibration temp. So cool it at least to that point.
Good to know. Thanks.
I was planning to make my own ice, but probably a good idea to check OG before adding any water, as you said.
 

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To make a more concentrated wort... does that mean I need twice as much hops? recipe calls for 46g. Or do I just put in the 46g and it will be stronger in the less water?
some of those says 60min, 8 min, and 1min. which I understand to mean how much boiling time is left...
I'm really new at this. sorry.
This whole process seems quite overwhelming, but the best way to learn is to try it.
The amount of ibus extracted from the hops depends on the boil time and on amount of proteins that are in solution. The higher the og the more proteins are in solution and with rising protein in solution the ibu extraction from the hops gets worse and worse. Google brewers friend ibu calculator, you can hack in your numbers there and the tool does all the math for you. You can even put in your pre-boil volume, which would then include your dilution water.

You basically start 100% the way I did, with the exception that I only had one pot.
 
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EricaM

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If I did this dunk sparge thing, except I started with 2 pots, with 2gallons of water each, with the grains split evenly between them, in separate bags, then I could put both bags into a 3rd pot for dunk sparge? Does another 2 gallons in the dunking pot make sense? I now have 3 3-gallon pots.

I guess it could be a problem if the grains take too much space. Maybe I could do one bag at a time, in that case...

Afterward, if I dumped 1 gallon of the sparge water into each of the pots of wort, the mixture should be pretty even. Then I could take 1 gallon back out of each wort pot and put it into the 3rd pot. boiling with 3 pots and split the hops addtions evenly between the pots. That way the pots don't get too full, and I can start the boil with 6 gallons of wort.

I'm ok with it not turning out exactly as recipe, as long as it's drinkable. Especially on a first try, I'd be more than happy with drinkable.
 

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If I did this dunk sparge thing, except I started with 2 pots, with 2gallons of water each, with the grains split evenly between them, in separate bags, then I could put both bags into a 3rd pot for dunk sparge? Does another 2 gallons in the dunking pot make sense? I now have 3 3-gallon pots.

I guess it could be a problem if the grains take too much space. Maybe I could do one bag at a time, in that case...

Afterward, if I dumped 1 gallon of the sparge water into each of the pots of wort, the mixture should be pretty even. Then I could take 1 gallon back out of each wort pot and put it into the 3rd pot. boiling with 3 pots and split the hops addtions evenly between the pots. That way the pots don't get too full, and I can start the boil with 6 gallons of wort.

I'm ok with it not turning out exactly as recipe, as long as it's drinkable. Especially on a first try, I'd be more than happy with drinkable.
If I would do two biab setups simultaneously, I would skip the sparge and just would put the biggest volume I could get into each pot. Then I would drain the bag and refill with as much water as possible, without watering it down to much, and then boil in bot pots. Idealy, I would have accounted for this before, so that I end up with both pots full of wort with the right og.

But if you would really want to do it, you could use the watering down water for a dunk sparge in a third pot. That way it would be more efficient, but also more time consuming.
 
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EricaM

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If I would do two biab setups simultaneously, I would skip the sparge and just would put the biggest volume I could get into each pot. Then I would drain the bag and refill with as much water as possible, without watering it down to much, and then boil in bot pots. Idealy, I would have accounted for this before, so that I end up with both pots full of wort with the right og.

But if you would really want to do it, you could use the watering down water for a dunk sparge in a third pot. That way it would be more efficient, but also more time consuming.
Thanks for the reply. I'll see how it goes. I'm looking to get as much wort as possible, so I will try sparging if I have the time. Hoping to do this tomorrow afternoon. Which I guess means that I should plan a supper that doesn't need the stove top.
 

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I would just scale down the recipe to fit your equipment. :) But barring that... I think the plan is reasonable.

Split the grains in half. Mash half in each pot with 2 gallons of water (4 gallons total so far). Then dunk the first bag in 1 gallon of water in the third pot. Pour that gallon into one of the mash pots. Fill the third pot with another gallon of fresh water, and dunk the second bag. Pour into the other mash pot.

You're going to absorb about 0.11 gal/lb, so here is the math for each pot (Note, 4.85 kg = 10.69 lb). Pot capacity is 12L or 3.17 gal.

2 gallons to start
Volume occupied by grain (5.35 x 0.08 = 0.43 gal)
Total mash volume: 2 + 0.43 = 2.43 gal. per pot

Water lost to absorption (5.35 lb x 0.11 = 0.59 gal)
Water added by batch sparge = 1 gal
Pre-boil volume: 2.43 - 0.59 + 1 = 2.84 gal wort per pot

Evaporation = 0.5 gal/hr
Post-boil volume: 2.84 - 0.5 = 2.34 gal
Total wort, both pots added: 2.34 x 2 = 4.68 gal (this is your batch size to the fermenter)
 
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EricaM

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I would just scale down the recipe to fit your equipment. :) But barring that... I think the plan is reasonable.

Split the grains in half. Mash half in each pot with 2 gallons of water (4 gallons total so far). Then dunk the first bag in 1 gallon of water in the third pot. Pour that gallon into one of the mash pots. Fill the third pot with another gallon of fresh water, and dunk the second bag. Pour into the other mash pot.

You're going to absorb about 0.11 gal/lb, so here is the math for each pot (Note, 4.85 kg = 5.35 lb). Pot capacity is 12L or 3.17 gal.

2 gallons to start
Volume occupied by grain (5.35 x 0.08 = 0.43 gal)
Total mash volume: 2 + 0.43 = 2.43 gal. per pot

Water lost to absorption (5.35 lb x 0.11 = 0.59 gal)
Water added by batch sparge = 1 gal
Pre-boil volume: 2.43 - 0.59 + 1 = 2.84 gal wort per pot

Evaporation = 0.5 gal/hr
Post-boil volume: 2.84 - 0.5 = 2.34 gal
Total wort, both pots added: 2.34 x 2 = 4.68 gal (this is your batch size to the fermenter)
Thanks for the math. That actually looks like a decent sized batch.
 

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You can add any water lost during the boil afterwards if you use bottled water, keep that in mind. You just need to keep an eye on the dilution factor that you are creating.
 
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EricaM

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You can add any water lost during the boil afterwards if you use bottled water, keep that in mind. You just need to keep an eye on the dilution factor that you are creating.
Thanks. :D
 

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My recipe card says:
350g crystal malt
200g dextrin malt
50 chocolate malt
50g roast barley
4.2 kg Canadian 2 row

says mash tempt 154F

Grains are crushed and in a bag together.

There's no extract, but I have some on hand if I need it later.
If I’ve done the conversion math right, this recipe has the equivalent of about 10.5 us pounds of grain. What are we doing for mash water volumes these days, somewhere between 1.25 and 1.5 quarts per pound? And if I’m not mistaken BIAB should be toward the higher end of this range. I know my 5 gallon mash tun holds a maximum of right about 12.5 pounds. And the Anvil Foundry 6.5 claims the maximum grain bill should be 8 pounds.

So will a 12L pot (thats around 3 gallons) fit the grain bag and enough water?

[edit] I see this was answered with math above. Thanks Mcknuckle.

Even though the homebrew world seems to revolve around 5 gallon/19 liter recipes, many people including myself brew smaller batches. Recipes can be scaled and there is even a whole thread here for people who brew 1 gallon batches.
 
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EricaM

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If I’ve done the conversion math right, this recipe has the equivalent of about 10.5 us pounds of grain. What are we doing for mash water volumes these days, somewhere between 1.25 and 1.5 quarts per pound? And if I’m not mistaken BIAB should be toward the higher end of this range. I know my 5 gallon mash tun holds a maximum of right about 12.5 pounds. And the Anvil Foundry 6.5 claims the maximum grain bill should be 8 pounds.

So will a 12L pot (thats around 3 gallons) fit the grain bag and enough water?

[edit] I see this was answered with math above. Thanks Mcknuckle.

Even though the homebrew world seems to revolve around 5 gallon/19 liter recipes, many people including myself brew smaller batches. Recipes can be scaled and there is even a whole thread here for people who brew 1 gallon batches.
I have 3 pots now, so I'll be spitting the grain between two pots.
 
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EricaM

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I'm in the middle of doing this.

One of my mash pots looks good. red and fairly clear wort coming off.

The other one, that was started 20 minutes earlier, is still looking cloudy and when I test with iodine, the red wort pot is fine and the cloudy one isn't.

I had a thermometer that wasn't working right and put the grain in at too high a temp in the cloudy one, 180 at least, probably more, because the temp later was almost 180, once I checked with a good thermometer. It wasn't boiling, but very hot.

So did I wreck the first pot of grain, or should I just wait longer?

If it's wrecked, I'll just proceed with the one good pot of wort and make a smaller amount.

Edit:
2+ hours and the cloudy pot is still cloudy and iodine turns black, so I'm going to use the good pot of wort that I have, throw out the bad one, and do a second pot with LME.

This is a good learning experience. Lesson: Make sure thermometer works properly before starting.
 
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You answered your own question and took the right action. :) Temps matter in both the mash and fermentation, and outside of a certain range it can actually fail, not just be "not as good."

Carry on!
 

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You could have mixed the cloudy one with the other, after it cooled down a bit, I mean only the liquid. The enzymes in the clear one would still be intact and chop the starches in the cloudy one into sugars within 20 minutes or so. However, the final og would be a bit unpredictable.
 
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EricaM

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You could have mixed the cloudy one with the other, after it cooled down a bit, I mean only the liquid. The enzymes in the clear one would still be intact and chop the starches in the cloudy one into sugars within 20 minutes or so. However, the final og would be a bit unpredictable.
Interesting. I may give this a try if it happens again. I was worried about ruining the whole batch.
I just checked, and the airlock is moving, so I should be able to see how it turns out in 2-3 weeks.

I watered it down too much and was getting 1.040, so I also added some corn sugar to get to 0.047. priming should get it to around 5%, I hope. And the bucket is full, so whatever this turns out to be, I'll have lots of it.
 

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Interesting. I may give this a try if it happens again. I was worried about ruining the whole batch.
I just checked, and the airlock is moving, so I should be able to see how it turns out in 2-3 weeks.

I watered it down too much and was getting 1.040, so I also added some corn sugar to get to 0.047. priming should get it to around 5%, I hope. And the bucket is full, so whatever this turns out to be, I'll have lots of it.
It'll be fine. More on the light side, not so much body, but will be good.

What you did with the cloudy pot was destroying all the enzymes that should chop down the starches into sugar, by heating it too much. By adding it to the other pots liquid, you would have brought these enzymes back into the game.
 
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EricaM

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It'll be fine. More on the light side, but so much body, but will be good.

What you did with the cloudy pot was destroying all the enzymes that should chop down the starches into sugar, by heating it too much. By adding it to the other pots liquid, you would have brought these enzymes back into the game.
That's very good information. Thank you for telling me about enzymes. I like to know how things work.

I'm not trying to match a style, just want a beer that my friends and I will like, so I'm sure it will be fine.
 

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I'm a little dubious of Miraculix's suggestion, if only because it would be unpredictable. At least you know you got half the intended volume of viable wort. If you mixed it together it would be a "who knows?" situation. You might get a lot of unconverted starches, which would cause permanent haze and potentially be a bit gross.

Anyway, it's off to the races now. Keep your fermentation temps in check.
 

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I'm a little dubious of Miraculix's suggestion, if only because it would be unpredictable. At least you know you got half the intended volume of viable wort. If you mixed it together it would be a "who knows?" situation. You might get a lot of unconverted starches, which would cause permanent haze and potentially be a bit gross.

Anyway, it's off to the races now. Keep your fermentation temps in check.
The unpredictable part would be only the resulting gravity. After a normal mash there is still plenty of enzymes left in the wort, unless the mash got heated too high, so a mashout step would obviously be problematic but otherwise, it would work as desired. Better than print it down the drain.
 

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Since we have a dodgy thermometer at play and two worts mashed at uncertain temps, I figure it would be a bit of a crapshoot to rely on viable enzymes in the "good" batch. I'm not arguing with the basic science you proposed. It's just a bit experimental. But a good thing to explain nonetheless.
 
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