Brewed My First AG Batch Today

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KPaul

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I've been planning the move to AG for some time now and finally did my first batch today. I had made my Igloo Mash tun several months back but waited until I felt more confident in using it. A few more extract batches were in order.

For a first batch, I think things turned out fairly well. A few hiccups, but that gives me something to work on. I brewed an Octane IPA kit from MW that used 13 pounds of grain. I've read and re-read How to Brew and used that as my guide.

I started with 5 gallons of strike water at 166 degrees for my mash. After mixing it in I ended up at 152 degrees, right where I wanted to be. When draining my wort I noticed a lot of bubbles starting to come from the spigot at 3.25 gallons. I stopped there and added another 3.25 gallons at 170 degrees for my batch sparge. I wanted 6.5 gallons to go in the brew kettle. When I started getting bubbles again and stopped the drain, my kettle volume was 6.25.

By the time I finished the 60 minute boil I was at 5 gallons in the pot. After taking a sample for OG and leaving behind what didn't get sucked up in the dip tube, I have a bit more headspace in the carboy than I'd like. I think it could use another quart or so of wort.

According to MW a 5 gallon batch should have an OG of 1.064-1.068. I ended up with 1.06 and about 4.6 gallons in the fermenter.

I had good hot and cold breaks and used Irish Moss during the last 15 minutes of the boil. There was a ton of protein floating around and even though I tried to whirlpool the wort, a bunch ended up in the fermenter.

I used an immersion chiller that I ran off the tap to 100 degrees, and then circulated ice water from a cooler with a pump down to 75. I pitched the dry yeast that I had rehydrated and am now fermenting it in a chest freezer with a JC temp controller keeping it at ~68 degrees.

So I have some things to tweak, volume and protein mainly. I'd also like to get the OG up. First I'll work on volume to get my full 5 gallons in the fermentor and look for ways to cut down on the coagulated proteins.

Any recommendations or observations are appreciated.
 

stu4stew

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Efficiency is always my personal battle. Often I just choose to throw an extra pound of 2 row in
 

EineProsit

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Sounds like success to me. Congratulations. My personal battle is/was efficiency as well. Just recently turned my Barley Crusher to .0025, for a finer crush, and extended my mash time to 75 min after reading Beersmiths 5 ways to improve efficiency. It works!
 

brewbama

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Congrats! Sounds successful because you learned a lot.

I found the work by Denny Conn and Ken Swartz helpful. Denny helps with the idea of equal runnings by accounting for certain losses and Ken takes it a step further with a calc for slightly increasing the grain bill to reach desired starting gravity and accurately predicting results.

This is what I learned: Even though I mash at ~1.25 qt/lb , I had to include loss to grain absorption, mash/lauter tun dead space, boil kettle trub and dead space in my water vol calc to reach my intended fermenter volume. I account for this in my mash out addition and batch sparge water volumes. Based on the calculator, I've usually have to add ~ .75 lb of grain to reach intended OG.

Denny: http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/

Ken: http://home.roadrunner.com/~brewbeer/files/nbsparge.html

Calc: http://home.roadrunner.com/~brewbeer/files/nbsparge.xls

I hope this helps.

Sent from my iPhone using Home Brew
 
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KPaul

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Thanks for the tips and links, it's greatly appreciated.

I've got a very healthy fermentation in process now. The blowoff tube is foamed with krausen and it's bubbling away in the sanitizer bucket. I'm quite happy with the results thus far.

To top things off, I just opened my first bottle from my last batch of extract brew (Hop Head Double IPA) and it's delightful. I just love a good IPA.
 

EarlyAmateurZymurgist

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Efficiency is something that is earned. The extraction rates on my early all-grain batches were nothing to crow about.
 

charliehorse

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I read your post twice and I'm trying to figure out what you want recommendations on. Sounds like the end result was pretty much what you planned on. If you had hicups, prepare for them next time you brew. You got over 4.6 gallons in the fermenter. This is good. I would rather have 4 gallons at the right OG that 5 gallons at the wrong gravity. Obviously, you're going to have issues with your first batch on equipment that you've never used before. I would imagine that Charlie P. would have issues if he came to my house and brewed on my system without any preparation.
 

acidrain

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Congratulations.
The only thing I can suggest is wringing every drop out of your mash... don't stop at bubbles. Drain everything.
Also, I'm a big fan of Denny as well, and learned that the half-mash / half sparge rule actually means you need to add a bit of the sparge water to the end mash before draining the first running. Do you have Beersmith? I highly recommend it. Dial in your system and dead spaces and it will tell you exactly what your volumes will be. I follow those to a T with the exception of the final sparge, which I calculate as you did with remaining volume needed.
 

charliehorse

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I'll probably get flamed for saying this, but there is no "right" way to brew. You get a reasonable ratio of water to grain in your mash tun (the rule of thumb that most folks us is 1.25 -1.5 quarts per pound, but it doesn't have to be that) and the temperature that converts the starches that you want converted into sugars. Hold the water on the grains until you know that the starches have converted and separate the liquid and grain. Most people will rinse the grain with more water to get the residual sugars. The reality is, if you find a method that works for you to get the sugars out of your grain, use it. I doesn't matter what the experts say if it works for you. If you find that you want to, for instance (and I am by no means recommending this), pour your mash through a cheese cloth lined colander, then by all means, do it. I've been at events with a couple of dozen brewers and every single one of use did something a bit different. Each and every beer that was produced turned out very tasty and at the end of the day, it was beer.

If you stop and evaluate what your trying to accomplish and why, and you come up a method that works for you then by all means, use it. for instance, I drain my wort into buckets and batch sparge. That method works for me (and I'm too cheap to buy a pump). If I didn't have the upper body strength to lift full buckets of piping hot wort, I would absolutely do something else.

The trick to any multi-step process it to make it simple enough that it's repeatable. Repeatability it the key to consistent beer. Love it or hates it, the best thing about Budweiser is that a can is going to taste exactly the same in Portland, Maine as it does in Portland, Oregon.
 
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