Basic All Grain Process - 1st Time

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mrgrimm101

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I'm a couple pieces of equipment away from doing my first all-grain brew and I wanted to make sure I had the basic process down.

I will be using:
-A 48qt Cooler MLT that I built using a CPVC manifold
-A 5 gallon stainless steel kettle to use as a HLT
-A 25' copper immersion chiller

I will be purchasing:
-A propane burner
-A 10-15 gallon stainless kettle to use for the boil


As far as I understand it, I will do the following:
-Heat up strike water in my BK
-Dump it in my cooler and then add the grains
-Let it mash - while heating sparge water in the 5 gallon kettle
-Finish the mash (I plan on batch sparging)
-Transfer wort from MLT to the BK
-Boil as per usual
-Chill, transfer, then pitch

Is that it? Am I missing anything or planning something incorrectly?

Any advice or input would be greatly appreciated!
 

m00ps

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looks good to me. Only big thing is getting the vaurlof and sparging down. Also, the temp drops from mashing in and stuff with be different depending on your system. As you using an inuslated cooler for a mash tun? that should keep pretty good temps. Ive found a good rule of thumb is to use strike water that 3 degrees or so above you target mash temp to account for the equalization temp form mixing int he grains

edit: I would add the water to the grains if its at the right temp. This will require less stirring and stuff
 
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mrgrimm101

mrgrimm101

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Yes it is an insulated cooler MLT.

The only reason I was thinking to add the water first, then the grains, is that if I heat the strike water slightly higher than the mash temp, it'll condition the cooler so that it will hold a stable temperature better.
 

m00ps

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right yeah I gotcha. I do BIAB so I always added the grains to heated water but figured other people did it differently for a regular setup. Good luck
 

atom

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i always add the water to the mlt first...heat it up and stabilize the temp...then add the grain.
 

dsaavedra

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Yes it is an insulated cooler MLT.

The only reason I was thinking to add the water first, then the grains, is that if I heat the strike water slightly higher than the mash temp, it'll condition the cooler so that it will hold a stable temperature better.
This is how I did it for my 1st AG brew using my new batch sparge equipment. It worked nicely, I actually overshot my strike temp and had to stir a bunch with the lid off and even throw in a few ice cubes but then I was UNDER strike temp. The beer still turned out great, in fact, given the body of the beer, I think I mashed too high, even while being slightly under my target so it probably worked out for the better.
 

DoomRider

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As m00ps said above, accounting for the temperature change when adding grain to water (or vice versa) was the one thing that kind of threw me when I first started doing all grain. Now I keep a saucer pan of boiling water and a pitcher (brita filter) of cold water on hand. This is in case my mash water is is a little below or above what I want it to be.

Also, I remember how intimidated I was when I did my first all grain batch. You will hear it a million times, but it is true. Just relax, and go with it. If you have been extract brewing for a while and have your normal process down, then you will be fine! The steps you have listed above are exactly correct.

Congrats on the jump to all grain!
 

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One thing that I do as a very first step is bring about a gallon and a half of water to a boil and add that to the Mash Tun and let it sit while the strike water is reaching the desired temperature, then dump out that water and add the strike water. That way, you aren't adding the strike water to a cold mash tun.
 

DoomRider

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I should have clarified. I add my strike water to the MLT, add grain, stir like crazy to make sure you have no dough balls. Then I put my thermometer in the MLT (deep so it is getting the temp of the grain bed), and then add hot or cold water to adjust what you want your mash temp to be.
 

DoomRider

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One thing that I do as a very first step is bring about a gallon and a half of water to a boil and add that to the Mash Tun and let it sit while the strike water is reaching the desired temperature, then dump out that water and add the strike water. That way, you aren't adding the strike water to a cold mash tun.
^^^This helps dramatically as well!
 

AkBrew907

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+1 to heating a gallon up first to pre heat your mash tun. Will hold a much more steady temp.
 
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mrgrimm101

mrgrimm101

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One thing that I do as a very first step is bring about a gallon and a half of water to a boil and add that to the Mash Tun and let it sit while the strike water is reaching the desired temperature, then dump out that water and add the strike water. That way, you aren't adding the strike water to a cold mash tun.
Do you monitor the temp of this water, or just heat it to a boil and add to my MLT?
 

metanoia

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Do you monitor the temp of this water, or just heat it to a boil and add to my MLT?
Nope, just let it sit for a little while; doesn't matter what it lowers to because you're simply getting the MLT nice and hot so that your strike water doesn't lower significantly doing the same job.
 

treacheroustexan

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I think Yooper gave me this advice a while ago... but I heat all of my strike water up to 180 degrees and dump it in my mash tun and put the lid on for 10-15 minutes or so and let it heat up, and let it drop down to my target strike water temperature and add my grain. This takes a little longer than normal but I find it worth it.

So I heat to 180, let it heat up my mash tun and let it cool down to 165 or so on its own, and then add my grain and my mash temp would be sitting at 150 ish (just an example). I have done this my past 3 brews and hit my mash temp spot on every time.

I heat my sparge water up (usually just heat 5 gallons depending on my grain bill) to 170, and then thats heated up by the time my mash is done. I then vorlauf and drain the liquid out of my mash tun. Then for sparging, I put a colander over top of my mash tun and use a measuring cup and pour the sparge water through the colander into my mash tun until I hit my target pre boil volume (6.5 gallons)
 
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mrgrimm101

mrgrimm101

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I think Yooper gave me this advice a while ago... but I heat all of my strike water up to 180 degrees and dump it in my mash tun and put the lid on for 10-15 minutes or so and let it heat up, and let it drop down to my target strike water temperature and add my grain.

So I heat to 180, let it heat up my mash tun and let it cool down to 165 or so on its own, and then add my grain and my mash temp would be sitting at 150 ish (just an example). I have done this my past 3 brews and hit my mash temp spot on every time.
How long does it generally take for it to sit with the lid on and drop from 180 to 165?
 

treacheroustexan

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How long does it generally take for it to sit with the lid on and drop from 180 to 165?
Sorry, I should have clarified. I let it sit at the 180 for about ten/fifteen minutes then take the lid off and let it drop down to 165. It only takes an extra few minutes.
 

pwnshop

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I think Yooper gave me this advice a while ago... but I heat all of my strike water up to 180 degrees and dump it in my mash tun and put the lid on for 10-15 minutes or so and let it heat up, and let it drop down to my target strike water temperature and add my grain. This takes a little longer than normal but I find it worth it.

So I heat to 180, let it heat up my mash tun and let it cool down to 165 or so on its own, and then add my grain and my mash temp would be sitting at 150 ish (just an example). I have done this my past 3 brews and hit my mash temp spot on every time.

I heat my sparge water up (usually just heat 5 gallons depending on my grain bill) to 170, and then thats heated up by the time my mash is done. I then vorlauf and drain the liquid out of my mash tun. Then for sparging, I put a colander over top of my mash tun and use a measuring cup and pour the sparge water through the colander into my mash tun until I hit my target pre boil volume (6.5 gallons)
im no expert, but i will vouch for this process wholeheartedly. Mashing was complete PITA until i read about this method. now i hit my temps spot on every time.

I heat my strike temp to 15 degrees above what beersmith says then preheat my mash tun with all the strike water. After about 10 mins or so I take off the lid and stir the water around until I am 2 or 3 degrees above beersmith mash in temp. Then I mash in and stir like crazy until i stabilize at my desired mash temp.

An extra step i read about and now do on every brew is prior to putting the lid back on i lay a piece of aluminum foil across the grainbed. This helps trap in the heat a little better. I put the lid on and cover with blankets.

When the mash is done and I'm vorlaufing first runnings I poke a bunch of holes in the foil with my temperature probe and vorlauf onto the foil. This keeps the vorlauf from disturbing the grain bed.

Hope that helps, good luck on your first all grain!
 

55x11

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im no expert, but i will vouch for this process wholeheartedly. Mashing was complete PITA until i read about this method. now i hit my temps spot on every time.

I heat my strike temp to 15 degrees above what beersmith says then preheat my mash tun with all the strike water. After about 10 mins or so I take off the lid and stir the water around until I am 2 or 3 degrees above beersmith mash in temp. Then I mash in and stir like crazy until i stabilize at my desired mash temp.

An extra step i read about and now do on every brew is prior to putting the lid back on i lay a piece of aluminum foil across the grainbed. This helps trap in the heat a little better. I put the lid on and cover with blankets.

When the mash is done and I'm vorlaufing first runnings I poke a bunch of holes in the foil with my temperature probe and vorlauf onto the foil. This keeps the vorlauf from disturbing the grain bed.

Hope that helps, good luck on your first all grain!
love the Al foil advice, serves multiple purposes. I learn something new every day! thanks!
:mug:
 

aprichman

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I use a combination of both techniques to keep my cooler mash tun at temp. First I'll add very hot water to the mash tun to preheat it while I'm bringing my strike water up to temperature. I'll heat my strike water about 7-8F above my target temperature and will let it come down to temperature inside the mash tun before I dough in. Once I dough in, I'll cover my cooler mash tun with a fleece blanket that's folded over to double its thickness. On my particular cooler the area around the handles are very poorly insulated so I try to cover that area up really well. It would probably be best if I covered it up with 2-3 blankets and completely smothered it but as it is I only lose 2F over a 60 minute mash which is IMO not ideal but acceptable. In the past I have put aluminum foil on top of the grain when I doughed in. This helped stabilize temperatures but also tarnished the foil and left me worried about possible off flavors.
 
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mrgrimm101

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I was wondering about potential off flavors from the aluminum foil..has that happened to anyone here?
 

AkBrew907

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I was wondering about potential off flavors from the aluminum foil..has that happened to anyone here?
I'd imagine you would have to pretty much light the tin foil on fire for it to give off any sort of off taste.

People use it for baking food all the time which is getting way hotter than the mash tun ever will.
 

treacheroustexan

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Yeah i am on a corn dog kick... cook them suckers on foil every day no issues ;) baked potatoes, etc. I haven't heard of any off flavors unless like stated above lighting it on fire which i wouldn't recommend.
 

aprichman

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I'd imagine you would have to pretty much light the tin foil on fire for it to give off any sort of off taste.

People use it for baking food all the time which is getting way hotter than the mash tun ever will.
I'm pretty sure the discoloration is from the acidity of the wort. Aluminum is known to impart metallic off flavors on acidic foods such as tomatoes. If the heat and acidity of the wort is enough to pick up off flavors I'm not sure about. Seeing the aluminum discolored made me too nervous to continue doing it.
 
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mrgrimm101

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I'd imagine you would have to pretty much light the tin foil on fire for it to give off any sort of off taste.

People use it for baking food all the time which is getting way hotter than the mash tun ever will.
Good point
 
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mrgrimm101

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I am undecided on whether or not a 10 gallon kettle will be big enough, or if I should spend the extra money on a 15 gallon kettle. I will be doing 5 gallon batches but will be doing full volume boils. I want to be able to make big, high gravity beers on this system, so a big enough kettle is important. Can I get away with a 10 gallon kettle?
 

treacheroustexan

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I am undecided on whether or not a 10 gallon kettle will be big enough, or if I should spend the extra money on a 15 gallon kettle. I will be doing 5 gallon batches but will be doing full volume boils. I want to be able to make big, high gravity beers on this system, so a big enough kettle is important. Can I get away with a 10 gallon kettle?
If you can afford a 15 with no issues the bigger the better. But you will be fine doing full volume boils in a 10 gallon. I do. No matter your gravity, your volume will be the same. Depending on your boil off rate, you would probably have to boil 6-6.5 gallons or so roughly for a 5 gallon batch. That's plenty of room.
 

DoomRider

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If you can afford a 15 with no issues the bigger the better. But you will be fine doing full volume boils in a 10 gallon. I do. No matter your gravity, your volume will be the same. Depending on your boil off rate, you would probably have to boil 6-6.5 gallons or so roughly for a 5 gallon batch. That's plenty of room.
Agreed on both points. I use a 10 gal brew kettle with no issues at all (I make 5 gal batches). But bigger is always better (unless you have space constraints, i.e. small apartment, cluttered garage, etc).
 
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mrgrimm101

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Have you ever had a boilover in a 10 gallon kettle? I assumed I wanted around 7 gallons in the boil.
 

metanoia

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Have you ever had a boilover in a 10 gallon kettle? I assumed I wanted around 7 gallons in the boil.
I would assume not. I boil 7 gallons in a 7.5 gallon pot, and as long as I don't open the gas all the way and walk away, never had to worry about boilovers.
 
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mrgrimm101

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You guys are the best! It sounds like I can get away with a 10 gallon kettle no problem for now.

I want to get one that has a valve on it for easy transferring. I was thinking that a built-in thermometer would be pretty pointless, as I'm not using it as a mash tun, I'm just using it as a boil kettle. However, I'm concerned about a potential issue with the valve were I to use an ice bath, along with my immersion chiller, to chill the wort.
 

DoomRider

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Have you ever had a boilover in a 10 gallon kettle? I assumed I wanted around 7 gallons in the boil.
So you can kind of visualize what a 10 gal kettle will look like with liquid in it. I have a Polar Ware 42 qt SS brew kettle. That is actually 10.5 gal. Every gallon is 4 cm in the kettle (or roughly 1 1/2 inches). That means the kettle is 42 cm (15 3/4 inches) tall. So if you fill the kettle with 7 gallons of liquid (28cm / 10 1/2 in), that leaves you with roughly 14 cm (5 1/4 in) of space. Plenty of room IMO. You would have to walk way during the hotbreak with the burner all the way on for it to boil over.
 
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mrgrimm101

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So you can kind of visualize what a 10 gal kettle will look like with liquid in it. I have a Polar Ware 42 qt SS brew kettle. That is actually 10.5 gal. Every gallon is 4 cm in the kettle (or roughly 1 1/2 inches). That means the kettle is 42 cm (15 3/4 inches) tall. So if you fill the kettle with 7 gallons of liquid (28cm / 10 1/2 in), that leaves you with roughly 14 cm (5 1/4 in) of space. Plenty of room IMO. You would have to walk way during the hotbreak with the burner all the way on for it to boil over.
Sounds way better than my current method of boiling 4 gallons in my 5 gallon kettle. That requires constant attention! Thanks for helping me visualize it! :ban:
 

Komodo

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I want to be able to make big, high gravity beers on this system, so a big enough kettle is important.
High gravity beers will be determined by your mash capacity, not the kettle. You can use a 5 gallon cylindrical cooler, and add a second one for more capacity. That said, I prepare my full volume of water in one pot, mash and batch sparge into collection buckets, then put that into the kettle when im done sparging. With high gravity brews it's possible you may want more than 10 gallons of kettle volume.

Tip: I find two 5 gallon coolers more flexible than one bigger one. When using both, I stack them for the mash, wrap a wool blanket around them then slip a sleeping bag down over them like a huge condom. Lol. My last mash I lost ZERO degrees over the hour. This was also using foam discs wrapped in aluminum tape setting on the top of the mash. Like an internal lid. That headspace is really where you lose your temps.
 
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mrgrimm101

mrgrimm101

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High gravity beers will be determined by your mash capacity, not the kettle. You can use a 5 gallon cylindrical cooler, and add a second one for more capacity. That said, I prepare my full volume of water in one pot, mash and batch sparge into collection buckets, then put that into the kettle when im done sparging. With high gravity brews it's possible you may want more than 10 gallons of kettle volume.

Tip: I find two 5 gallon coolers more flexible than one bigger one. When using both, I stack them for the mash, wrap a wool blanket around them then slip a sleeping bag down over them like a huge condom. Lol. My last mash I lost ZERO degrees over the hour. This was also using foam discs wrapped in aluminum tape setting on the top of the mash. Like an internal lid. That headspace is really where you lose your temps.
I won't be mashing in the kettle, just boiling. I have a 12 gallon rectangle cooler MLT already built and put together.
 

pwnshop

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The only reason to buy a kettle larger than 10 gallons is if you think you might start doing 10 gallon batches. If you think that's a possibility down the line then it might be better to go larger than 10gal now as opposed to buying a 10gal and then upgrading later.
For me I really don't think I'll be doing 10 gallon batches, and if I do I don't mind buying a bigger kettle later. For you it might be different.
You won't have a boilover in a 10gal pot.
 

Komodo

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I won't be mashing in the kettle, just boiling. I have a 12 gallon rectangle cooler MLT already built and put together.
Right, I understand. I was saying if you prepare and heat your total water. volume as I do, then a higher gravity brew could affect kettle size. More mash, more grain absorption, etc.
 

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