First All Grain Brew is in the fermenter(long)

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Teufelhunde

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Did my first all grain brew today. I did a Verdant IPA recipe by David Heath that I converted into normal measurements (instead of metric :)), substituted a couple of grains that he used (in the UK) that I couldn't get at my LHBS, and upped the hops amounts minimally.

I used my new Brewzilla 3.1.1 and am favorably impressed with it's operation. I set it up last night to come on at 530 this morning to begin heating the strike water to 156. When I got up at 6, it was already at 120, so I switched it to manual from there on. Around 630, I began to mash in. It really felt weird to me stirring the grains, especially the ones at the bottom where they were thick, but I had never done it before and had no idea what it should feel like. After a few minutes of stirring, chopping motions (up and down) with the paddle, and using the paddle like a shovel to lift grains from the bottom to the top, I felt I should be good to go. I did stir in three handfuls of rice hulls, just in case, as there was 1.5 pounds of oats in the grist. I was unable to check the mash PH, as my wife's PH meter that she used to use for making cheese decided to not work today. Brewfather was pretty much right on with all the rest of it's calculations, and it calculated my to be 5.49, so as long as that is close, I should be OK.

I set the temp to maintain the 149 degree temperature and then I put the top plate in place and started the recirculation for the mash. At first, I tried to keep the water level low on the top plate, but after 10 minutes or so I thought I should turn the pump up a bit and raise the level because by my logic (could be totally wrong, IDK), having a higher wort level on the top plate would exert a little more downward force, resulting in the little bit higher flow through the grain bed. All went well for the remainder of the mash. At the end of the 60 minutes, I raised the temperature to 170 for mashout. I forgot to measure how long the BZ took to get there, but it wasn't long. During the mash, I had heated my sparge water in the kitchen using the kettle I had been using for extract brewing. I was concerned about lifting the mash pipe out due to the weight on my extremely f'ed up shoulders, but not to worry it was actually easy to lift out. It drained quickly, and the entire sparge (only 2 gallons) only took like 5 minutes. I removed the malt pipe and put it in a clean food grade bucket, not expected the roughly one quart of wort that drained into there (I thought it was finished). Not a problem, it was a clean bucket, so into the kettle it went. Pre-boil gravity was 1.044 when it should have been 1.046. I'll take it.

Raising the temp to a boil took a bit, but not overly long. There was a small amount of grain particulate in the wort, but really not very much. The BZ got the wort to a pretty decent boil, not violent, but pretty good, about right where I would try to set my extract batches. I put 10 drops of fermcap s in right before the start of the boil, and the hot break was a total non issue. The boil and additions were totally textbook, no problems.

10 minutes before the end of the boil, I put on the whirlpool arm and put the chiller in to sanitize them. I used a inexpensive pond pump off of amazon in a bucket of ice water to chill. I was supposed to be using a cooler instead, but the cooler was leaking (it's been years since it has been used for anything other than to keep smoked pork butts hot while they rest after cooking). Cooling down to the hop stand temperature took only a couple of minutes. I turned off the chiller and left the whirlpool running for the hop stand, then fired up the chiller again to further cool. I forgot to take off the blanket and I'm sure that hurt my cooling a bit, note to self for next time, but I was only able to cool to about 105 before I was totally out of ice....oh well, I just put it into the fermenter and into the mini-fridge at 60 degrees to further chill to pitch temperature. After I was done chilling as much as I could, I carefully removed the chiller, then whirlpooled for another 5 minutes, then let it settle for 10 to try to get the hop sludge to cone up on the false bottom. Quantity to fermenter was 5.20 and OG was 1.050 (supposed to be 1.052). Again, I'll take it.

I used the pump to put the wort into the fermenter and I placed a sanitized 200 micron paint strainer bag in my fermenter bucket because I wanted to see how much crap got past the false bottom and into the fermenter. I had intended to take a picture of it, but there was nothing to take a picture of. I am TOTALLY impressed with the false bottom in the BZ.

Lessons learned:

1. Check/be aware of equipment statuses before brew day (Ph meter and cooler)

2. I need better tubing for my chiller. What I have is thin walled silicone and it kinks/flattens out way to easy, obstructing flow.

3. I harvest ice from my fridges ice maker and put it in a plastic bag, then store it in the porch freezer until needed. I need to harvest more and will also be freezing a **** ton of cool/freeze packs that I have to add as well. Will be buying another cooler which will give more volume for ice water as well. Don't know if I'll be able to reach pitch temp or not (of course, by the time I was chilling, it was close to 100 ambient temperature, so there is that.

4. The smells coming off of this are absolutely heavenly, I can't wait for it to ferment out, dry hop and bottle it. I'm really looking forward to tasting this one.
 

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jtratcliff

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Next time save your ice until toward the end of chilling... More bang for your buck that way...

The temperature difference between tap water and boiling wort is plenty for initial chilling. You don't need to waste your ice at this stage.

As you start to get closer to 90-100F from tap water, switch to ice water.
 
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Teufelhunde

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Next time save your ice until toward the end of chilling... More bang for your buck that way...

The temperature difference between tap water boiling wort is plenty for initial chilling. You don't need to waste your ice at this stage.

As you start to get closer to 90-100F from tap water, switch to ice water.
That might be something to try, although I am not circulating virgin tap water, but merely re-circulating what is in the cooler. I live in AZ and we can't be getting just a single use out of water. When I'm done chilling, the water is used for cleanup water, and then get dumped on the wife's flower bed.....but Imma give that a try. I might be able to get down to hop stand temp before needing to add ice, even with the limited quantity of water I am using. Thanks for the tip.
 
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