Starting out All Grain

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titleist

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Well along with a ton of help from HBT and a lotta youtubing/bookreading I'm making the decision to jump right into All Grain right off the bat. Have a question tho:

Was going the route of dual cooler system and fly sparging. Question is, how are we keeping the temps exactly where we want them over the long haul that it takes to sparge like this? I have to assume the temps keep dropping over the hour so is it common to start out with a higher temp and end at or just below 168 or are you guys using something to keep the water heated in the HLT?

I haven't seen any threads discussing how to keep the temps constant at the spigot.
 

estricklin

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You'd be surprised at how well those coolers will hold heat. Sure the temperature will drop some but you'll be fine. Heat it to 175F if it makes you feel better, sometimes, in the winter I do just that.

For the most part, I've always fly sparged. I used to use a 2nd cooler to hold the sparge water but I gave it up. It's just easier to heat it directly then throw it in. If your cooler is big enough, this won't even be an issue because it will hold all of your sparge water in one whack. Then you can crack the valve open and go watch tv, (while the batch spargers stay outside and mix and vorlof hehe).
 

Terek

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I do it in my kitchen, but I have never had a problem keeping temp. Put the tun on a chair, and wrap it in 3-4 blankets. Never drops a degree. Props for going all grain off the bat. I did the same thing and never looked back. It's not that hard and way cheaper than extract. You can save even more money by buying grain in bulk ( I get it for 80 cents a lb if I buy a 55 lb bag, compared to a pound at a time for 1.48) and I wash my yeast ( another 6 bucks savings)
 

estricklin

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I do it in my kitchen, but I have never had a problem keeping temp. Put the tun on a chair, and wrap it in 3-4 blankets. Never drops a degree. Props for going all grain off the bat. I did the same thing and never looked back. It's not that hard and way cheaper than extract. You can save even more money by buying grain in bulk ( I get it for 80 cents a lb if I buy a 55 lb bag, compared to a pound at a time for 1.48) and I wash my yeast ( another 6 bucks savings)
Very good advice.

Took me too long to start buying grain and hops in bulk, it's WAY cheaper though. Hops are a few bucks for 1 oz, or you can get a lb for 15-20.
 
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titleist

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I've already got a bin for a 50# 2 row, picking up some smaller bins to keep a couple others later on. Still havn't decided on a first batch yet anyway but the 2 row is obviously a staple for a ton.

I'm gonna pick up the dual 10 gallon cooler system, starting out doing 5 gallon batch.

I'll be doing it in the garage which is under the house and heated so I can go year round.

So I can pick it up to 175 and be good with a decent bed then.... good to know and thanks.

I tend to dive in all the way with things like this and AG seems like where I'd be headed anyway, that and it seems like there's more recipes out there for AG.

A side question, is doing something like a Stella Artois clone recommended as a first batch? I'd like something light, crisp and clear for the wife and neighbor to get into. Was gonna do the stella clone out of beersmith.... as far as I can tell that particular recipe doesn't require lagering....
 

freisste

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I've already got a bin for a 50# 2 row, picking up some smaller bins to keep a couple others later on. Still havn't decided on a first batch yet anyway but the 2 row is obviously a staple for a ton.

I'm gonna pick up the dual 10 gallon cooler system, starting out doing 5 gallon batch.

I'll be doing it in the garage which is under the house and heated so I can go year round.

So I can pick it up to 175 and be good with a decent bed then.... good to know and thanks.

I tend to dive in all the way with things like this and AG seems like where I'd be headed anyway, that and it seems like there's more recipes out there for AG.

A side question, is doing something like a Stella Artois clone recommended as a first batch? I'd like something light, crisp and clear for the wife and neighbor to get into. Was gonna do the stella clone out of beersmith.... as far as I can tell that particular recipe doesn't require lagering....
If you can hold a cooler fermentation temp (low to mid 50's instead of low to mid 60's for an ale) and you can make a starter (which you probably should for an ale anyway), you can do a lager without a problem. If you don't have a fermentation chamber or constant temp root cellar, garage, etc. you should skip lagers.





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estricklin

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I'm sure you'd probably want to lager it, I mean it is brewed with a lager yeast correct? Anyway if you don't want to lager it, just skip it, probably won't be quite as smooth but still a good beer. At least cold crash it for a few days if you have the ability. I've also brewed a lot of lagers at ale temperatures and had good luck.

Sounds like you've got a good fix on things, I started out much more hap-hazard in my brewing. Made a lot of mistakes and ended up replacing equipment due to upgrades. Kinda wish I would have started all grain but getting the extract and partials under my belt helped me, I think anyway.
 

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A side question, is doing something like a Stella Artois clone recommended as a first batch? I'd like something light, crisp and clear for the wife and neighbor to get into. Was gonna do the stella clone out of beersmith.... as far as I can tell that particular recipe doesn't require lagering....
Haven't made that one myself, but it's probably a good idea to pick a fairly straightforward recipe for an ale style you like. It's also a good idea to make it a couple times in a row, both so you can work on your technique and timing, and so you can taste the results of any changes you've made.

Kudos to you for the commitment to jump right in, but the old KISS (Keep it simple sweetie) is the best course of action for your first few brews.

Cheers!
 

Bamsdealer

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I used to fly spare but now batch. I'm getting more consistent efficiency and it cut my brew day by a half hour. That said, I had a pretty good system when I did and used to sparge right from my boil kettle that was fitted w a ball valve. Even that didn't drop more than a few degrees unless it was really cold out. And if it did drop too much just stop for a min and toss it back on the burner. One less cooler you need.

Props for going all grain. I'm like u... Usually dive head first into a hobby. I did start off w a couple extract batches before making the switch to ag... And another before I started kegging.

Definitely start off with a good kettle. Preferable one with two welds. One for a therm and one for a valve. I got a nice but fairly cheap one from homebrewing.org. Mine's 9 gallons and I wouldn't want one smaller.

Good luck.
 
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titleist

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Definitely start off with a good kettle. Preferable one with two welds. One for a therm and one for a valve. I got a nice but fairly cheap one from homebrewing.org. Mine's 9 gallons and I wouldn't want one smaller.

Good luck.
Ok, now I'm off a bit. Not that I'm looking to completely cheap out here, but I thought doing AG in a 2 cooler system alleviated the need for a therm on the brew kettle? I have a great digital thermo and probe I was gonna use to get the water up to mash and sparge temps, after that I thought all the kettle was good for was the boil?

If that's correct I should be able to just get a decent SS kettle and put a spigot on it correct? I'm not going to be trying to temp control an hour long burner this way.... yes?

If I was going the other way I'd put the cash into a Blich and be done, but I thought I could skate on paying that kinda cash for a kettle if I was going to be controlling heat through the cooler?

Part of my thinking of doing it this way was to eliminate a possibility of overheating the grain on the bottom, messing with fluctuating temps on the burner constantly...
 

Terek

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Ok, now I'm off a bit. Not that I'm looking to completely cheap out here, but I thought doing AG in a 2 cooler system alleviated the need for a therm on the brew kettle? I have a great digital thermo and probe I was gonna use to get the water up to mash and sparge temps, after that I thought all the kettle was good for was the boil?

If that's correct I should be able to just get a decent SS kettle and put a spigot on it correct? I'm not going to be trying to temp control an hour long burner this way.... yes?

If I was going the other way I'd put the cash into a Blich and be done, but I thought I could skate on paying that kinda cash for a kettle if I was going to be controlling heat through the cooler?

Part of my thinking of doing it this way was to eliminate a possibility of overheating the grain on the bottom, messing with fluctuating temps on the burner constantly...
You don't really need a mounted therm. They are nice so u don't have to keep checking the temp with a prob over and over. I will multi task while I wait for water, and it's nice to just have to glance over to see if it's getting close or not. Then get the final few degrees with a probe. It's more of a luxury. Now the spigot is a must have for me, I have a bad back and have a hard time moving around and pouring 8-14 gal. Of water at a time. I ended getting a pump to help as well.
 

insanim8er

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A side question, is doing something like a Stella Artois clone recommended as a first batch? I'd like something light, crisp and clear for the wife and neighbor to get into. Was gonna do the stella clone out of beersmith.... as far as I can tell that particular recipe doesn't require lagering....
Don't you want to make good beer? I leave the Crappy beer served in a fancy glass to the commercial beers, not my homebrewing. :)

Do the cream of three crops instead.

Also, I started with all grain myself and I used the coolers as well. Pre heat them before mashing in. You'll maintain temp. I lost 1 degree over a 90min mash my last brew day.

My word of advice. Get a pump ASAP as well as a thermapen. You'll go through so many crappy thermometers it's worth biting the bullet on one good one that you can trust. And I don't know how I brewed so long with out pumps.
 

Bamsdealer

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You don't really need a mounted therm. They are nice so u don't have to keep checking the temp with a prob over and over. I will multi task while I wait for water, and it's nice to just have to glance over to see if it's getting close or not. Then get the final few degrees with a probe. It's more of a luxury. Now the spigot is a must have for me, I have a bad back and have a hard time moving around and pouring 8-14 gal. Of water at a time. I ended getting a pump to help as well.
A temp probe is just fine... but as the poster suggested mounted thermometers are very convenient. I will also say that the need for precise strike/sparge water temps aren't necessary. I like to overshoot by a good 5 degrees or more, especially in cold weather. That allows heating of the mash tun and its much easier to just stir till you hit your temp than to try to add boiling water to make up the difference. If you overshoot by a lot just add some tap or bottled water.
 

estricklin

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I've already got a bin for a 50# 2 row, picking up some smaller bins to keep a couple others later on. Still havn't decided on a first batch yet anyway but the 2 row is obviously a staple for a ton.

I'm gonna pick up the dual 10 gallon cooler system, starting out doing 5 gallon batch.

I'll be doing it in the garage which is under the house and heated so I can go year round.

So I can pick it up to 175 and be good with a decent bed then.... good to know and thanks.

I tend to dive in all the way with things like this and AG seems like where I'd be headed anyway, that and it seems like there's more recipes out there for AG.

A side question, is doing something like a Stella Artois clone recommended as a first batch? I'd like something light, crisp and clear for the wife and neighbor to get into. Was gonna do the stella clone out of beersmith.... as far as I can tell that particular recipe doesn't require lagering....
I don't have a recipe for Stella Artois, but I do have a copy of "Clone Brews", its got about 50 light lager recipes if you need one just let me know. You may also search around this forum and find a clone recipe, or find a kit from somebody like Northern Brewer.
 
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titleist

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Don't you want to make good beer? I leave the Crappy beer served in a fancy glass to the commercial beers, not my homebrewing. :)

Do the cream of three crops instead.

Also, I started with all grain myself and I used the coolers as well. Pre heat them before mashing in. You'll maintain temp. I lost 1 degree over a 90min mash my last brew day.

My word of advice. Get a pump ASAP as well as a thermapen. You'll go through so many crappy thermometers it's worth biting the bullet on one good one that you can trust. And I don't know how I brewed so long with out pumps.

Where in the line are you using a pump, for the water up to the cooler?
 

Puddlethumper

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Where in the line are you using a pump, for the water up to the cooler?
You might want to consider a copy of David Miller's book, "Brew Like a Pro". He has plenty of instructions and pictures showing how to set up a system like the one you are building. In it he uses a pump in nearly every situation where the wort or hot water needs to be moved. (FWIW, it also has quite a few other good ideas including some DIY projects.)
 

insanim8er

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Where in the line are you using a pump, for the water up to the cooler?
Well I have a single tier with two pumps, but starting out you'll use one pump and swap it between jobs.

Or, you can build a two tier system with a single pump.

I suggest quick disconnects like the ones from morebeer.com if you have to switch the pump around.

You would get your water to strike temp, pump it up to the mash tun and mash in.

You can use the pump to vourlof or get a HERMS coil and recirculate it during the mash.

Then you can gravity feed your wort to the boil kettle while you pump your sparge water to the mash tun for batch or fly sparging.

Once your boil is done, you can use the pump to run your wort through you're chiller to the keg. Or pump it right to the keg if you're using an immersion chiller.

Here's a youtube video showing a simple setup that uses a pump and a HERMS coil.


Just remember that you have to use a specific type of pump. It needs to be high temp and food grade. Chugger and March pumps are the common ones used in brewing.
 
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