First AG-That was fun!

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BrewDey

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I got some AG equipment for Christmas and went ahead and bought the rest. Yesterday was my first go at it. It took a long time, but it really was fun. We'll see how it ends up, but I think it went fairly well. Here are a few observations/questions I came across-if I'm way off, please let me know. Needless to say, I'm glad I spent the $$ on the equipment as opposed to another 55# bag of DME:D

-It seems like it's better to err on the side of thin/watery in terms of the mash water volume.

-When vorlaufing, draw off as much wort as possible at a time to recirculate. Seems like this builds the grain bed filter better than just a little a time.

-Seems like the biggest goal in sparging is to do it slowly so as to not disrupt the grain bed at all. I used a false bottom and a sparge arm-so it drained through pretty evenly and just trickled a little sparge water over the bed at a time.Took almost 2 hours though.

-Towards the end of the sparge, the wort was almost clear. Is this sign that most of the sugars were rinsed off successfully?

-I sparged 5 gallons for a 5 gallon batch. Still, after the boil, I was about a quart or so short of 5 gal. I topped it off and only missed the correct SG by a few points. Is it a good idea to sparge as much as possible? I sparged more than .5 gal./lb. and was still short. I'm using a 10 gal. pot on a fairly cold day-so that may contribute to it.

We'll see how it urns out!
 

Jo3sh

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Good show on a successful first all-grain!

BrewDey said:
-It seems like it's better to err on the side of thin/watery in terms of the mash water volume.
Well, mash consistency does affect the enzyme activity in the mash to some degree - a thicker mash will tend to yield a chewier beer with more residual sugars, while a thin mash will tend to produce a more fermentable beer, all other things being equal. I generally dough in about 1.25 quarts of water per pound of grist.

BrewDey said:
-Seems like the biggest goal in sparging is to do it slowly so as to not disrupt the grain bed at all. I used a false bottom and a sparge arm-so it drained through pretty evenly and just trickled a little sparge water over the bed at a time.Took almost 2 hours though.
Slow is good, but there is a point of diminsishing returns. Overall, it sounds like your process and efficiency were good, but most people advocate a runoff time of about 45 to 60 minutes. If your grainbed would not run off faster than that (that is to say, the flow restriction was not in the hardware), your crush may be too fine, or you may have had a lot of gummy grain like oats or wheat in your grist.

BrewDey said:
-Towards the end of the sparge, the wort was almost clear. Is this sign that most of the sugars were rinsed off successfully?
Yes. In general, the runoff gets lighter and lighter in color and in gravity as the sparge proceeds. Because you are removing more and more of the sugars, there's just less left to get. There is a point where you can actually get off-flavors from oversparging, though. I don't recall exactly, but I think it's when the runoff gets to 1.010 or so.

BrewDey said:
-I sparged 5 gallons for a 5 gallon batch. Still, after the boil, I was about a quart or so short of 5 gal. I topped it off and only missed the correct SG by a few points. Is it a good idea to sparge as much as possible? I sparged more than .5 gal./lb. and was still short. I'm using a 10 gal. pot on a fairly cold day-so that may contribute to it.
That seems to me like a lot of sparge water. Did you do a mashout? Was here still water in the mashtun when you were done sparging? In general, my process requires about .2 gallons of water per pound of grain for a sparge. This is after a mashout to bring the grainbed to around 168, and when my runoff is done, the mash is dry.
 

BrianP

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Congrats and welcome to the AG club. I batch sparge, so I can't help you much with your fly-sparging questions.

However, in terms of run-off volumes, I usually sparge until I get 6.5g, which boils down to 5.5, and after racking I'll have 5 to 5.25 in the fermenter (less trub and hops).

Again, congrats.
 

korndog

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Good job. I just made the switch recently and I have to agree; it's really fun! I'm having a blast with it.
 
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BrewDey

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Thanks. Didn't do a mash out-just got it to 150 in the MLT cooler, let it sit for 90 min., before vorlauf and sparging. Wanted to keep it as simple as possible for this 1st one. There are a few things that I'll do differently, and I'm sure I'll pick up some other tips.
 
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