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Check my understanding of AG brewing...

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NOVA Brewer

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OK, after Christmas I plan on making the jump to AG. Between reading here, Papazian, and other sources on-line, I think I have a pretty solid grasp of what it's going to take. Could you old hands humor me, and let me write out what I think my procedure is going to be? Any flaws/misconceptions can be pointed out, so I don't ruin my beer and curse my descent into madness. :D

I plan on brewing out on my back patio. With a propane burner, likely from Bayou Classics, a keggle I plan on making, and my current brewpot for hot water. I'll grab a 10-gallon Rubbermaid watercooler, and convert it into a mash-lauter tun with a bazooka screen inside.

Crushed grain (either by me, if I get a grain mill, or straight from the LHBS) will go into the MLT. Hot water will go on, to get the temp around 150-155F. Let rest for an hour or so (depends on grain and recipe, but bear with me.) Meanwhile, heat sparge water to 170-180F. Drain the sweet wort into the keggle. Recycle the first few runnings from the MLT, I guess. Once that is done, sparge the spent grains. Collect this last bit of wort into the keggle.

Boil and add hops as per my usual extract experience.

As boil winds down, throw immersion wort chiller into keggle, and get that going. Don't need to sanitize the chiller, as the boiling wort will take care of that. Once wort is at the proper temp, use the spigot in the keggle to get the wort into the primary. Pitch wort as usual, and go from there.

Am I missing something? It seems relatively simple. Large initial investment for equipment, but if I get it together piecemeal it won't be too bad.

So, whaddaya think, HBT? Am I ready for AG?
 
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Make sure you recycle the first runnings from your mash and from your sparge, you don't want any husks in your boil. Recycling the runnings helps filter those out. You know it's good when the runnings are clear of husks. Other than that, looks like ya got it!

Put chiller in with 10-15 minutes left in the boil so it's goooood and sanitized.
 

srm775

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It sounds as though you're planning on batch sparging. I usually split the sparge into two smaller batches (partly cause I have a small mash tun) but I think it helps pull the sugars out more. I also don't do a vorlauf (recycling the first runnings), I just have a fine mesh bag tied to the end of my spigot hose.

When chilling, you'll want to whirlpool to help drop the temp. quickly.
 

avidhomebrewer

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I think you got it down pretty good. If I can offer any advice, make sure your water:grain ratio is accurate. I shoot for around 1.5 quarts water per pound of grain. I made the mistake with my first all-grain of not researching that thoroughly and I stuffed 14# of grain into a 5 gal. pot-didn't work out so well! Beer tasted good, but suffered with efficiency. My sparges typically last about 1 hour, maybe a bit more, so be patient to get all the sweetness out! Good luck!
 
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i'm by no means an old hand, but here's some things i saw that you might want to address.

-bazooka screen won't fit in 10g cooler. the one with the T *might*, but for not much more you get a false bottom and get to be all pro-like ;)

-Barleycrusher grain mill is by far the best homebrew purchase i've made

-Most folks advocate water first into the mashtun. It's called foundation water and it help prevent dough balls. you'll want to pre-heat your tun with boiling-ish water, this method seems to help hold mash temps better.

-as flannagain mentioned, always re-circulate the first few quarts of all your runnings and sparges, to prevent husks getting into your boil.
 

gestyr

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I would also suggest getting software such as Beersmith or Promash. Both of them are inexpensive and help out quite a bit with figuring the amount and temperature of water, etc.
 
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NOVA Brewer

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avidhomebrewer said:
My sparges typically last about 1 hour, maybe a bit more, so be patient to get all the sweetness out! Good luck!
Hm. I think you lost me. :D

By "last about 1 hour," do you mean that it takes that long for your sparge water to run through the spent grains, and get all the sweet wort into the pot? Didn't know it took that long.
 
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NOVA Brewer

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SenorWanderer said:
i'm by no means an old hand, but here's some things i saw that you might want to address.

-bazooka screen won't fit in 10g cooler. the one with the T *might*, but for not much more you get a false bottom and get to be all pro-like ;)
Maybe I used the wrong term. I just plan on making a simple strainer out of some stainless steel hose braid. Like this.
 
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NOVA Brewer

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gestyr said:
I would also suggest getting software such as Beersmith or Promash. Both of them are inexpensive and help out quite a bit with figuring the amount and temperature of water, etc.
Already bought, use, and love Beersmith!
 

Cookiebaggs

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Looks like you have the basics down pretty good.

I use this for my manifold.



The copper you see is my steam manifold that I use to raise the temp of the mash.

I used a 30 inch SS braid along with the push fittings that I found at Home Depot. The whole assembly disassembles quick for easy cleanup.
 
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NOVA Brewer said:
Hm. I think you lost me. :D

By "last about 1 hour," do you mean that it takes that long for your sparge water to run through the spent grains, and get all the sweet wort into the pot? Didn't know it took that long.
It usually doesn't, unless you are fly sparging. YOu should just batch sarge since you are starting out. I've been batch sparging for 25+ batches and get about 75-80+ efficiency.
 

Blender

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I will just add that you need to make sure your thermometer is accurate. It will help to avoid temperature errors.
 

Poindexter

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I have only done two AGs, you are going to do OK I reckon.

I suggest you find something you like around 3.2% abv, first time through you will frequently need to RDWHAH.

Also, start with a known proven basic recipe. You are going to be under enough 'pressure' trying to meet a mash schedule with six 3.2s in you ;-)

Fianlyl, boil lots and lots of water the days before, I think I would rather have a big liquor tank than a dedicated lauter tun.
 

ohiobrewtus

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You have most of it correct. Heed the advice of some of the responses that you received and you will be well on your way.

Don't worry, AG is easier than I thought it would be.
 
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NOVA Brewer

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Poindexter said:
Fianlyl, boil lots and lots of water the days before, I think I would rather have a big liquor tank than a dedicated lauter tun.
Hm. Why would I boil water in the days before?
 

Poindexter

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NOVA Brewer said:
Hm. Why would I boil water in the days before?
Perhaps with better equipment and more experience I won't have to anymore either. For now my biggest reason is sparging, my lauter tun is a hand held strainer and a mixing bowl. When I have a reserve of pre-boiled water I need only heat it to 170-180 to use it.

Time to re-hydrate the yeast, preboiled water just heat to 95°F, don't have to wait for it to cool back down from 212°.

Just little steps like that...
 

Orfy

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Your sparge water does not need to be pre boiled.
You will be boiling it anyway when it becomes the wort.

Only a small amount of water is required to rehydrate yeast so pitting the kettle on before you start your set up will normally do.

Nothing wrong with boiling loads of water but it isn't really necessary
 

ajf

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A couple of other small tips.

Before starting the mash, make sure you have about 1 qt each of near boiling and cold water. That way, if you miss the mash temperature, you can adjust it with the hot or cold water.

Take notes, especially on temperatures. That way, you will be able to duplicate the brew if it turns out great (which it probably will), and you will have notes based on your equipment rather than somebody elses.

Good luck

-a.
 

LouT

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Cookiebaggs said:
Looks like you have the basics down pretty good.

I use this for my manifold.



The copper you see is my steam manifold that I use to raise the temp of the mash.

I used a 30 inch SS braid along with the push fittings that I found at Home Depot. The whole assembly disassembles quick for easy cleanup.
Is there some kind of tubing with holes in it within the 30 inch braided SS, to keep it from kinking/collapsing? (sorry, a bit off topic, but I like the look of the setup and hopefully this is also useful to the OP)
 

VermVerm

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I think you understand it better than I did before my first AG batch.

Advice: Get a friend for your AG brew day. You will need an extra hand and explain what you are doing to the friend that way you are checking yourself before each step.

Also, I have a blackberry and I plan out the steps on it and it alerts me to what I should be doing so I can step inside or watch a ballgame at the same time. If you want to go old school start with pen and paper.

Have fun and remember it always turns out beer...and most times you can drink it.
Good Luck
Verm
 

woosterhoot

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srm775 said:
It sounds as though you're planning on batch sparging. I usually split the sparge into two smaller batches (partly cause I have a small mash tun) but I think it helps pull the sugars out more. I also don't do a vorlauf (recycling the first runnings), I just have a fine mesh bag tied to the end of my spigot hose.

When chilling, you'll want to whirlpool to help drop the temp. quickly.
I second the mesh bag on the hose, totally the way to go.
 
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