My first all-grain brew and my first brew in two years.

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max384

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As some of you may know, I recently found a two year old dunkelweisen that I forgot about in the secondary. It tasted terrible, so it was thrown out. However, I'm back to brewing! I've only done three extracts before, and only two of them were ever bottled, so I'm very much a newbie at this. However, right before I took my hiatus from homebrewing (so soon after starting too :( ) I had built a mash tun in preparation to start all-grain. Life got in the way, so I never did get started though. Yesterday a new 60 qt brew kettle came in the mail, and this morning I picked up grains from the local store!

Right now my grains have been in the mash tun for about 40 minutes. I'll begin sparging in 20 minutes. So far the biggest difference between extract and all-grain is that all-grain is boring!!! Haha, actually, I should have saved a lot of the cleaning/preparation for after I started the mash instead of before I got started with the whole process.

Since I'm bored and rambling on though, I might as well ask a question. How long does your entire sparge process take? I'm doing a 5 gallon batch. I've watched a few YouTube videos, and it seems like some just open the valve and let it drain as fast as gravity will let it, while others take their time and have the wort seep out.

My setup (the kettle is just outside on a propane turkey fryer since I'm in my basement):

 

BrewerBear

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Welcome back. The sparge process time depends on how you are doing it. I am assuming you are batch sparging,if that is correct you drain your mash being sure to vorlauf to catch any grain,pour in your sparge water,stir it up good,let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes(or how long recipe says),vorlauf to catch any possible grains then open the drain valve wide open. If you are fly sparging you drain the mash the same way then slow start the spage until you have about 2 inches of water above the grains(I think that is the correct amount I batch sparge),then vorlauf and open valve to match outgoing flowrate to match incoming flowrate.
 
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max384

max384

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Thanks guys. I ended up taking about an hour and fifteen minutes to sparge. The recipe I used didn't specify whether to do batch or fly sparging, so I did fly.

I found a recipe online and used that. As I went through the process, I found several mistakes and areas of ambiguity. I think I should have done my first all-grain with a kit rather than a random internet recipe. I think I might order a kit or two for my next ones. Then once I get a better idea of what I'm doing then move onto internet recipes and maybe eventually my own recipes.

I had always pictured all-grain brewing being so much more complicated than extract. Though, it really wasn't all that difficult at all. It was, however, VERY time consuming! It took me almost 7 hours from the start of sanitizing equipment until I had the wort in the primary fermenter. Having now done this once, I can see where I can easily cut off over an hour, but it's still much longer than the extracts I had done before.

I shouldn't have started this at 10pm. I didn't crawl into bed until about 5am!
 

RM-MN

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I had always pictured all-grain brewing being so much more complicated than extract. Though, it really wasn't all that difficult at all. It was, however, VERY time consuming! It took me almost 7 hours from the start of sanitizing equipment until I had the wort in the primary fermenter. Having now done this once, I can see where I can easily cut off over an hour, but it's still much longer than the extracts I had done before.
You should try BIAB method of all grain once just to see how it compares.
 
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max384

max384

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What did you end up brewing?
A pilsner recipe I found online.

You should try BIAB method of all grain once just to see how it compares.
I just Googled it and it looks interesting... Though I'll probably stick with the more traditional AG method until I get everything figured out. Then maybe I'll give the BIAB a try.
 
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max384

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I determined my mash efficiency to be a measly 49%. When I determined my mash efficiency, I used the specific gravity I took from the wort right before I put it in the primary fermenter and the volume I used was the final volume that was in the primary. Is that the correct specific gravity and volume to use? Or should I have used the specific gravity of the wort prior to boiling and the volume of the wort I collected after sparging?

The more I read up on sparging and mashing, the more mistakes I realized I made, so my low efficiency isn't surprising. I'm hopeful that I will increase my efficiency quite a bit on my next brew.
 

RM-MN

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A pilsner recipe I found online.



I just Googled it and it looks interesting... Though I'll probably stick with the more traditional AG method until I get everything figured out. Then maybe I'll give the BIAB a try.
I'd suggest you try BIAB first as it is a simple method that gives good results. Once you get good results from that you can go back to the conventional mash tun if you want. One warning on it though, If you double crush or grind the grains fine you are likely to get such good efficiency that you may decide not to change back. My batches tend to be near 80% with no sparge, 85% with a modified sparge. :ban:
 

Varmintman

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Max384

The thing is to find what works for you the best and then run with it. I mash in a tun and then put a strainer bag in my boil bucket and then open her up full blast. After the tun is empty I fill her up with enough water to get my boil volume stir it like crazy for a bit and then open her up full blast again. I am thinking since I do not vorlaff or anything my sparge might take 15 minutes at most and my brew day might take 5 hours with clean up and my efficiency is always around 80%

Hehe I brew at night as well. Part of finding what works for me I guess. I can listen to my music and drink a bunch of beer while doing it and not bother my wife
 

jCOSbrew

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I use the brewhouse efficiency calculator on the brewers friend site.

Brewhouse efficiency includes the potential points for your grains bill (theoretical 100% efficiency) and the losses due to grain absorption and mash tun design. For example, collecting 5 gallons of 1.050 wort has a lower brewhouse efficiency then collecting 6 gallons of 1.050 wort from the same grain bill.

My BIAB batches are getting 80% brewhouse efficiency which is helped in part by a fine crush (stuck sparge is not an issue for BIAB) and squeezing the bag to minimize grain absorption.

If you wanted to measure mash efficiency I think you would take the reading from your MLT which does not account for fluid losses. The mash efficiency is effected by your mash temp, ability to maintain temp, and duration of mash.

I use a refractometer for AG gravity measurements while brewing. The small sample cools quickly. If you are using a hydrometer you need to cool the wort sample to 60 deg F for an accurate reading.

For a more details on AG brewing and efficiency, check out Palmer's How to Brew.
 
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max384

max384

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I use the brewhouse efficiency calculator on the brewers friend site.

Brewhouse efficiency includes the potential points for your grains bill (theoretical 100% efficiency) and the losses due to grain absorption and mash tun design. For example, collecting 5 gallons of 1.050 wort has a lower brewhouse efficiency then collecting 6 gallons of 1.050 wort from the same grain bill.

My BIAB batches are getting 80% brewhouse efficiency which is helped in part by a fine crush (stuck sparge is not an issue for BIAB) and squeezing the bag to minimize grain absorption.

If you wanted to measure mash efficiency I think you would take the reading from your MLT which does not account for fluid losses. The mash efficiency is effected by your mash temp, ability to maintain temp, and duration of mash.

I use a refractometer for AG gravity measurements while brewing. The small sample cools quickly. If you are using a hydrometer you need to cool the wort sample to 60 deg F for an accurate reading.

For a more details on AG brewing and efficiency, check out Palmer's How to Brew.
Thank you for the information!

So if I'm understanding you correctly, I would take the reading from the wort from the MLT (mash lauter tun?) pre-boil? I would use this volume and specific gravity to determine my mash efficiency?

I guess I do need a better book. I have a book that came with my starter kit that only describes extract brewing. Everything I've learned thus far about AG brewing is from forums and YouTube!
 

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