first all grain. not so smooth

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Feb 11, 2008
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Hey, first stab at an all grain today. didn't go quite as expected. ran into an issue even before the mash water finished mash tun was leaking as I was letting it sanitize. It looks like a small crack in the cooler. it was fine during initial testing. but as for today, it was put aside.
well, I was trying to figure out what to do, so i figured i'd try the "brew in a b
ag" route. But since I did not have a grain bag, and the LHBS was closed, I used cheesecloth and made a bag out of that. Well, i can honestly say, it was not made for this purpose. But it did hold up for the most part. did tear in one spot, but not too bad. I did have to strain the wort with a strainer to catch the grains that escaped out the tear. Other then that, it went ok. I did have an error in calculating my water volume. I added about 26 liters in total to get a finishing batch size of about 5 gallons. but i ended up with about 3 1/2 with only an hour boil time. have no clue what happened to the other gallon an a half. Wondering how much sweeter and bitter my beer will be.

anyways, here was my recipe. it was simple for my first go.

Recipe Cream Ale Style Cream Ale
Batch 5.00 gal
All Grain
Recipe Characteristics
Recipe Gravity 1.048 OG Estimated FG 1.012 FG
Recipe Bitterness 18 IBU Alcohol by Volume 4.7%
Recipe Color 5° SRM Alcohol by Weight 3.7%
Quantity Grain Type Use
0.50 lb German Munich Grain Mashed
7.00 lb Maris Otter Malt Grain Mashed
Quantity Hop Type Time
1.00 oz Crystal Pellet 60 minutes
0.25 oz Fuggles Pellet 15 minutes
0.25 oz Fuggles Pellet 30 minutes
Quantity Misc Notes
1.00 unit British Ale yeast Yeast- safale 04
Any time you are about to brew with new equipment you need to proove that there are no leaks and that you have everything you need.

Once you are brewing is not the time to start looking for things you may not have.

If your cooler is cracked and can not be sealed by new orings or rubber seals it is time to go buy another cooler.

Congrats on your first AG.
I think I can help with the water volume question.
You say you used 26 liters water. That's about 6.9 gallons.
Your grain will have absorbed about 1 gallon, leaving you with 5.9 gallons.
In a 60 minute boil, I lose about 1.5 gallons to evaporation - You're now down to 4.4 gallons if you boil like I do
You'll lose a bit more to trub, and dead space, which will probably get you down to about 4 gallons. The remaining 1/2 gallon can probably be explained by the "about" 26 liters water, and "about" 3 1/2 gallons.
It took me a few brews to find out where my water went when I started AG, but once you've got it worked out, it doesn't vary very much from brew to brew.

On the issue of the leak, did you use hot water for the initial test?

Yea, it was fully tested prior the initial brew. I think I mentioned that it was tested before I brewed. So, yea it was fully tested WBC! But it was at least a month that it was sitting, so something could have happened between then and now.

Thanks ajf. I knew I would lose some water to evaporation. Just not that much. I guess it is a trial and error. I can bump up the water next batch and see where it goes from there.
Congrats on your first all-grain batch! One other thing is that I think you said in your post that you were sanitizing your mash tun. This is not a necessary step...just thought I'd chime in to save you some time and sanitizer for your next brew.

Cheese cloth is a pain to work with. It really isn't designed to resist pulling.

What was the original gravity? I doubt if you are outside the style limits and Cream Ales are a forgiving style anyway.

Heed this warning for this is how I lost my first lauter tun. What I found to work well is getting a large rubber o ring and washer that matches the diameter of the o ring. This spreads the tension on the plastic cooler over a wider area.