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Doing first AG batch on Sunday - a few questions...

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bgrubb7

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OK, my first AG batch is set for Sunday. I'd like for you guys to help me review a few things so I know that I'm not missing something here.

I've got a 36qt. El Cheapo mash tun (Braided SS hose type), along with a 7 gallon turkey fryer pot/burner

I'll be doing a single infusion mash with a batch sparge.

I'm using a the Mild Ale kit from Norther Brewer.

grain bill:
6 lbs. Pauls Mild Ale
0.125 lbs. Simpson's Chocolate
0.25 lbs. Crisp Amber Malt
0.25 lbs. Crisp Brown Malt

I was planning on using 1.5qts /lb, since my grain bill is relatively small.

So basically 2.5gal of Strike water (167 to give me a mash temp of 154)

Now I read somewhere that you lose .1 gal per lb of grain to absorption, so i figure I'll end up with around 1.85 gal of wort from the first running. That would leave me needing 3.9 gal of sparge water to give me 5.75 gal at pre boil. After a 60min boil, I should end up with 5 gallons.

OK, now for a few questions...

1. What kind of efficiency should I expect using these methods?
2. How do I figure my actual efficiency?
3. Do I not need to factor in absorption for the sparge, since the grains are already soaked?
4. If I come up short of my target gravity, I can just add a little DME to the boil to make up for it, correct?

With such a small grain bill, efficiency is going to be important. Should I do a thinner mash (2qt/per lb) in order to gain a little efficiency?

Sorry for all the questions at once, but I just want to make sure I'm on the right track.
 

ohiobrewtus

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bgrubb7 said:
OK, my first AG batch is set for Sunday. I'd like for you guys to help me review a few things so I know that I'm not missing something here.

I've got a 36qt. El Cheapo mash tun (Braided SS hose type), along with a 7 gallon turkey fryer pot/burner

I'll be doing a single infusion mash with a batch sparge.

I'm using a the Mild Ale kit from Norther Brewer.

grain bill:
6 lbs. Pauls Mild Ale
0.125 lbs. Simpson's Chocolate
0.25 lbs. Crisp Amber Malt
0.25 lbs. Crisp Brown Malt

I was planning on using 1.5qts /lb, since my grain bill is relatively small.

So basically 2.5gal of Strike water (167 to give me a mash temp of 154)

Now I read somewhere that you lose .1 gal per lb of grain to absorption, so i figure I'll end up with around 1.85 gal of wort from the first running. That would leave me needing 3.9 gal of sparge water to give me 5.75 gal at pre boil. After a 60min boil, I should end up with 5 gallons.

OK, now for a few questions...

1. What kind of efficiency should I expect using these methods?
2. How do I figure my actual efficiency?
3. Do I not need to factor in absorption for the sparge, since the grains are already soaked?
4. If I come up short of my target gravity, I can just add a little DME to the boil to make up for it, correct?

With such a small grain bill, efficiency is going to be important. Should I do a thinner mash (2qt/per lb) in order to gain a little efficiency?

Sorry for all the questions at once, but I just want to make sure I'm on the right track.

1. Hope for 75%, expect around 60-65% on your first AG.

2. Do you have BrewSmith or another brewing program (ProMash, BeerTools Pro)? If so, calculating your efficiency will be easy. If not, go here to learn how to calculate it yourself.

3. I never do... but that doesn't make it right :D

4. Correct, if you come up short of your target gravity you can add some LME/DME/Dextrose in the boil. Just be certain that when you take your preboil gravity reading that you account properly for temperature (the higher the temperature of your wort, the lower your hydrometer reading will be).

5. I always mash at 1.25 qt./lb. I can't attest to a gain in efficiency with a thinner mash, but I don't see why it would improve with more water. Stick with 1.25 or 1.5 and you'll be fine.
 

cheezydemon

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Efficiency will increase with more water, but then you have to boil it more. Also temp calculations are different.
 

Orfy

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+1 on all of those.

1. 65% is a good place to start for calcs on the first brew.
3. You sholdn't loose any due to all the dead spaces bing full and the grain soaked.
 

Dark_Ale

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Get your strike water hotter and let it sit in the tun for a bit until it cools to 167, then add your grain, I find its easier to get a stable mash temp, but its not necessary
You have about 6.6lbs of base malt, at 75% you should get
6.6(35)=231(.75)= 173.25/5= 34.65 or 1.034 would be your OG for 5 gallons of beer at 75% efficiency, you can use this formula to calculate your effiency when your done to see what you get
65% would be 6.6 X 35 = 231 X .65 = 150.15 Divided by number of gallons of wort which would be 5. 150.15/5 which would give you a 1.030
 

kmlavoy

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Above all, enjoy it. I did my first all grain last weekend, and it was fantastic. The only thing I would caution you on, is watch for boil overs. I usually watch like a hawk, but after my mash/sparge went better than expected, I took my eye off things and watched my kettle launch 1 gallon of wort on to my porch.

Just to give you an idea as far as efficiency and whatnot, I ended up with 71%. It left me a little lower than my style called for, but I just left it alone. My recipe was an original, and I designed it on the high end of the style as far as gravity just so that if I came out low, it would work out.

Also, don't worry too much about efficiency and all that on the day. Aim to collect the volume you want, and just go from there. It will give you a good benchmark as far as how your system is set up, what you'll need to adjust in the future, etc. I learned a ton just by trying it.
 

Blender

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My absorbtion rate is .13-.15 so make sure you have some extra water on hand. I always add the absorbtion water at the end of the 60 minute mash. I raises the temp and I shoot for more equal volumes from the sparges. Good luck it's fun.
 

Bobby_M

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I agree with a lot that has been said.

If your target strike temp is 167F, heat it to at least 175F first, throw it in the cooler and close the lid. Wait five minutes, then stir the water and test the temp. It should now be close to 167F and then you're ready to throw the grain in.

I suggest sticking with 1.25qts per pound. If you go thinner, you actually reduce your efficiency because you're leaving less to sparge with. Sparge is where you pickup your efficiency.

Don't try calculating your absorbtion on the first few batches. If you want 5.75 in the kettle, MEASURE your first runnings and subtract it from 5.75. Let's say you go with 2 gallons strike. Let's say you get 1.25 gallons out.

5.75 - 1.25 = 4.5

You'll maximize efficiency if you break the sparge into two 2.25 infusions at about 175F. Don't forget to vorlauf prior to each running.

Another tip if you want to speed things up is don't try heating your strike and sparge all at once. Heat say 2.5 gallons first. Then add new cold water into the pot for your sparge which will have plenty of time to heat up while you're mashing.
 
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bgrubb7

bgrubb7

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Bobby_M said:
If your target strike temp is 167F, heat it to at least 175F first, throw it in the cooler and close the lid. Wait five minutes, then stir the water and test the temp. It should now be close to 167F and then you're ready to throw the grain in.
Dark_Ale said:
Get your strike water hotter and let it sit in the tun for a bit until it cools to 167, then add your grain, I find its easier to get a stable mash temp, but its not necessary
Good idea. hadn't though of that. Also eliminates the need to preheat the tun.

Don't try calculating your absorbtion on the first few batches. If you want 5.75 in the kettle, MEASURE your first runnings and subtract it from 5.75. Let's say you go with 2 gallons strike. Let's say you get 1.25 gallons out.

5.75 - 1.25 = 4.5
Ya I've been driving myself nuts over getting every last calculation just perfect and trying to compensate for every possible variable. I realized that it was taking the fun out of the process, and I need to just jump right in, and not sweat the small stuff. I keep reminding myself that its actually kinda tough to screw up a batch of homebrew.

You'll maximize efficiency if you break the sparge into two 2.25 infusions at about 175F. Don't forget to vorlauf prior to each running.
Also decided to split the sparge, mainly due to the fact that I decided to use my smaller 3 gal pot for heating my sparge water. That way I can collect my first runnings directly into my boil pot, and won't have to transfer it from a bucket.
 

sweet_corn

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Good luck on sunday! Just remember that your first batch is an experiment, learning about your equipment and technique. It sounds like you understand the process well, and are doing the requisite calculations.

I have typically mashed in at 170, and hit a mash temp of 152-154 or so. Lately, I have been putting a gallon of boiling water to heat the mash tun, which I think helps quite a bit.

I split my batch sparge last time. I saw my efficiency jump by a few points so it is something to try. I lose .14 gallons/pound in my mash tun, so be prepared.

Just remember to enjoy it. I find it a ton more satisfying that extract brewing.
 

TexLaw

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Bobby nailed it. Stick with the 1.25 ratio, so that you get more in the sparge. A thinner mash does not increase efficiency, but more sparging does.

I also agree to expect around 65% efficiency for your batch. I don't know what it is, but somewhere around 75-80% of first AG batches come in around 65%. Then, magically, they go up to the mid-seventies in another batch or two. There is some skill involved, and you'll get that skill. If you manage 75% this batch, then Prosit to you! Concern yourself more with the process than efficiency, though. If you do the right things, the right results will follow in time.

Whatever you do, though, have fun. Brewing is fun. From your posts above, I'm not worried about that, though. :)


TL
 
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