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All Grain Time Management

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rcrabb22

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I have done 4 all grain brews so far and I can't seem to do it in less then 6 hours which makes it difficult to fit brew days into my busy schedule. I'm probably doing things in too much of a serial fashion as I seem to be spending much of my time looking at my minute timer and my watch waiting to sparge, add hops/other ingredients, etc.. I think I could be doing some other chores instead of standing around waiting for an event.

What kinds of tasks do others do in parallel to better utilize the time?
 

Chello

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cleaning/sanitizing fermentation bucket during the boil. Measure hops while mashing. I have even gone grocery shopping while mashing several times.
 

menschmaschine

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It depends on your batch size. Most of my 11 gallon batches take about 6 hours, but I do take my time a bit, fly-sparge, usually do 90 minute boils, sometimes decoction mash, etc. Here's a few things I do to lower time:

-Measure/grind grains and hops the day/night before brewday
-Set up as much equipment as you can the day/night before brew day.
-Get that mash water heating as early as possible
-Start sparge water heating to time it so that sparge water is ready when mash is done
-Fire-up burner for boil kettle half-way through sparging
-Use a cooling method that is fast (properly sized IC, CFC, etc.)
-Use a boil kettle/trub filtering system that is fast and efficient and has little chance of clogging.
 

GreenwoodRover

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I measure and prepare all my water and grain the night before right before bed time (after my boys are asleep).
Before dinner (5:30ish) the next day I pop the smack pack.
I get the mash in water heating during dinner time.
I dough in then put the kids (2 boys @ 20min each starting around 7:15pm) to bed.
Between kids I start the sparge water heating.
After bed/bath time I'm usually ready to sparge (usually 8:15-8:30).
Double batch sparge usually takes 20-35min to drain the tun three times.
I drag it all out to the garage. and get the boil going Usually about 9pm by this time. Usually takes 15-20min to get boiling during that time I'm cleaning and getting the fermentor and chiller.
Then I grab a 22ozer and watch the boil magic for 60-75min with some tunes in the background, maybe read a book...
Chill the wort for 20min, pitch yeast about 10:30-11pm.

Grab a few more beers then post something in the ramblings and mumblings section...
 

BierMuncher

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  • Prep grains, hops and yeast the night before.
  • Set up equipment the night before.
  • The most useful thing I do during the mash is take a nap. (recharges me for the boil session).
  • I run two burners so I can start my wort boiling as it drains while heating my sparge water.

My 11 gallon batches take between 4.5 and 5.5 hours...depending on my mash profile.
 

BrewDey

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I try to not plan anything else before 5 or so on a brew day. This is usually fine as long as I get up at a decent hour. I start the strike water ASAP, and get everything in order (sanitized carboy, funnel, etc. sparge tank out, turkey fryer set up) during the 90 min. mash.

During the sparge, I get everything in order for the boil. Then duirng cooling, I like to get the bulk of my mess cleaned up so that once I pitch-I'm pretty much finished. Mixed in there is usually a good deal of drinking and watching football or basketball.
 

Jack

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My strategy is to write all the steps down so I don't have to think while I brew. I'm just following instructions at that point so I'm less likely to forget something.

It's not a bad idea to add "stupid" things to your instructions like "start heating three gallons of sparge water". My least favorite thing is getting done with a mash and realizing my sparge water isn't ready.
 

CBBaron

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I usually keep plenty busy during my brew session.
I usually brew early, so after getting up I measure the strike water and set it on the stove to heat.
While thats heating I measure and crush the grain.
Then after mash in I measure the sparge water and get it ready to heat.
During the mash, i have breakfast, get the kettle ready and measure the hops.
Sparging is a little hectic as I try to get a good hot break after each batch sparge. I mash and sparge in the kitchen but boil in the garage so i spend too much time running back and forth.
Once boiling i clean out the mashtun and get the chiller ready.
Then during chilling I sanitize the fermenter and clean up what ever i can.
Finally after pitching I clean up and put away.

My supplies and equipment are stored in the basement. I mash and sparge in the kitchen and boil in the garage so it takes considerable effort to move things between the 3 locations. This seems to be where I am the busiest. Still it takes me between 4 and 5 hours.

Craig
 
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I'm trying to lower my typican NINE hour brew days. I think to lower my times I need more powerful burners to get the waters and wort to boiling temperatures faster and also I need a counter flow chiller to reduce my 35-45 minute cool down times to 15 or so (at least that would be the target). Just these two changes could reduce my times by an hour (I believe). I have a rigourous schedule of setting up for boiling and mashing as I heat the HLT's and cleaning mash equipment during boiling but I enjoy brew day so I always end up pittling with something which slows me down. I am also going to experiment with sparge rates (fly sparging) to see if I lose efficiency. My current sparge rate lends to about 45 - 60 mins of sparging but I have efficiencies in the mid 80's. I do no setup the night before (besides having all ingreedients weighed out) and this could save me another 30-45 minutes. This doesn't really save time but splits it up a bit. The last bit of advice... keep a log of your brewing sessions with key times logged. Time such as 'flame on HLT', 'HLT at temp', started mash, started sparge, boil kettle flame on, kettle at temp. Later, you can review these times and it will reveal much as to how you spend your time. If there are large times between the key points of the brew session, look for ways to reduce these. These will ususally be associated with preparing equipment for the next step which is usually something you can do while waiting on the previous steps.



Cheers...
 

sirsloop

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lol...I drove to Bobby_M's place and had a beer once while mashing. Lets just say that it was COMPLETELY converted.

I heating up water for mash while finalizing the recipe and crushing grain. During the mash I setup my brewpot and IC outside. I have two pots going with all of the sparge water so they are ready as soon as my first runnings are done. It takes a long time to get like 7-8 gallons of water to 200F. During boil I rack a previous brew out of the fermenter I'm gonna use, clean it afterwards. Clean up involves saving the first 6 gallons of warm IC water and using that with a scrubby to clean the brew pot and IC. IDk.. I think I have AG down to around 4-4.5 hours.
 

Kilgore_Trout

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As others have said, do as much as you can in advance.

I'm fairly new to AG so it still takes me a bit as well, but I try to get it all laid out saturday night, and jump on it sunday when I get up.
 

Pete08

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A second burner (though I don't have one) would save a TON of time, in my opinion.
If you are fly sparging, using some sort of tier, you can have the burner going under the kettle as your wort is draining into it. All of your mash water is in the HLT above the MLT. This is one of the reasons I went to fly sparging.
 

frissianswits

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DRINK!!!

Haha, thats what I do at least. Unfortunately this only makes your brewdays longer, which is a vicious cycle. That is, the longer the brewday, the more you drink, the even longer your brewday. On really long brewdays I only have a 50-50 shot of remembering to take a gravity reading! I went through a phase of really trying to shorten my brewdays a while ago, but that only resulted in it feeling like work. So my advise would be to relax and enjoy your wasted time.

However, take that advise with a grain of salt, seeing as this is my first post, and I have no real responsibilities in life (college student), so am able to waste as much time as I'd like.
 

adx

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I did a complete AG session in 4 hour last week including clean up time. I started at 8 am and finished putting the last of my gear away at exactly noon. I found that I saved a TON of time in the sparge and boil by having two pots.

Since I do double batch sparging, after I started the mash I measured the sparge water into two pots. With about 30 minutes left, I started heating up pot 1 which is also my boil kettle. That got to sparge temp and then I started pot two. I ran my first runnings into a bottling bucket, dumped in my sparge water and started to stir. While I was waiting for it to settle, pot 2 came up to temp. I dumped the runnings from the bucket into the boil kettle and put that on the burner. Repeat for the second sparge. After I added all the runnings into the boil kettle it only took about 5 minutes for it to come to a boil since the first and second runnings where just about to boil from sitting on the burner.

I hope that made sense. It seemed to save a ton of time since I had my burner running just about non stop all morning. I also make sure to clean up from the mash and start to get everything sanitized during the boil. That's an hour of valuable time right there. My biggest part of downtime is the mash and I usually use that to get in some good reading.
 

Saccharomyces

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I need a second burner. I spend a lot of time heating sparge water, and I have to do my final sparge infusion before I can start the B/K. Big PITA. I am definitely buying a second burner before doing my first 10 gallon batch in a few weeks. This weekend, I'm brewing 5 gallons but I borrowed an extra burner which should really help speed things up.

Other than that as other folks have said. Get the water filtered the night before, crush the grains the day before so all you have to do is heat your strike water and dough in. During the mash I measure out the hops right after doughing in (otherwise I forget about them until the boil starts.. oops), assemble the hop strainer, clean and sanitize any empty kegs, clean and sanitize my fermenter. I transfer wort from my grant to the B/K and start heating during the last runnings so it reaches a boil within 5 minutes of the last runnings. During the boil I cleanup all the mash equipment and prep the wort chiller. During the last few minutes of chilling, I sanitize my racking equipment since I rack from my kettle into the fermenter.
 

budbo

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I usually
crush the night before or while the mash water is heating
Prep for the boil then watch TV while Mashing
Clean up the Mash stuff while the boil is starting
Sanatize and set up for the transfer after last hop addition
Then Clean up When the Wort is in the BB, I'm about 20-30 minutes from being cleaned up and done.
Average brew day (5.5gal batches) runs from about 9 AM to around 2:00ish
 

Bobby_M

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If you are fly sparging, using some sort of tier, you can have the burner going under the kettle as your wort is draining into it. All of your mash water is in the HLT above the MLT. This is one of the reasons I went to fly sparging.
You can do the same thing when batch sparging. I fire up my kettle as soon at I start my first runnings. Why do you think it's exclusive to fly sparging?
 

Brewsmith

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Here's a synopsis of my brew day yesterday. I did a Scottish 80 Shilling with OG of 1.048. To save a little time I mashed for 45 minutes instead of a full hour since I was starting late in the evening. The whole process took about 4.5 hours start to finish including getting everything out, transfering a beer to keg, cleaning the fermenter, cleanup and put away.

9:10pm Get out necessary equipment (propane burner, propane tank, mash tun, kettle. Rinse out. Get a beer
9:15 Measure out mash tun preheat water and heat (6 gallons)
9:20 Calculate strike water volume and temp (12 quarts at 172)
9:30 Preheat mash tun, heat strike water
9:35 Get out keg for cleaning, start disassembly, clean HLT
9:45 Check strike temp, get grain ready. Pour preheat water into HLT
9:50 Mash in
10:00 Clean/sanitize keg and transfer tubing
10:25 Heat Mash-out water (1 gallon)
10:30 Start transfer of beer to keg
10:35 Mashout, begin to heat sparge water in HLT
10:45 Begin recirculating (1 gallon)
10:50 Begin Sparge
11:00 Close keg, purge head space, pressurize
11:05 Start cleaning carboy
11:25 Stop sparge, put kettle on heat
11:35 Weigh out hops
11:40 Boil, hot break
11:50 Begin 60 min boil schedule
11:55 Finish cleaning carboy, begin sanitizing
12:10am Check HBT forums pour another beer
12:20 Clean and put away Mash Tun annd HLT
12:30 Clean immersion chiller
12:40 Chiller into boil
12:49 Pull sample for hydrometer
12:50 Flame off, Start chiller
12:55 Clean and sanitize all transfer equipment
1:05 Check HBT again
1:20 Stop chiller, begin transfer to carboy
1:25 Pitch yeast, put carboy in fermentation fridge
1:30 Clean kettle, chiller
1:35 Check cooled sample for gravity (1.048 with 80% efficiency)
1:40 All done, pour another beer, resume HBT browsing.
 

Sean

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What's with the minute between hydrometer sample and flame out?? 'shaking head' waste, waste, waste.:cross:
 

FSR402

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The flash boiler has made my brew day so much shorter. In 5 minutes I can have all my mash water at temp and same goes with the MLT preheat water and the sparge water. It takes longer to drain from my HLT to the MLT then it does to fill the HLT with water heated to temp.
 
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rcrabb22

rcrabb22

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I really appreciate all the tips and brew day scenarios that were presented.

I made a list of every task I needed to perform and started crossing things off as they were done. It really helped me organize my day.

I was able to go from start to finish in 5:05 hours. My only issue was a reboil of dry yeast re-hydration water after using an unsanitary thermometer to see if it was cool enough.
 

FSR402

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I really appreciate all the tips and brew day scenarios that were presented.

I made a list of every task I needed to perform and started crossing things off as they were done. It really helped me organize my day.

I was able to go from start to finish in 5:05 hours. My only issue was a reboil of dry yeast re-hydration water after using an unsanitary thermometer to see if it was cool enough.
Unless the thermometer was dirty I would not have worried about it. That small amount of water with that much yest going into it nothing else would have lived.
 
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