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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: alcaponejunior on August 18, 2012, 04:36:57 PM

Title: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: alcaponejunior on August 18, 2012, 04:36:57 PM
OK.  I want to start doing 3-gallon all grain batches. 

The reason for this is that I'm doing this on stovetop in a apartment, and 5 gallon batches are currently impossible as the stove won't heat that much wort to a boil.  I can easily do 3.5+ gallons though, allowing a bit of room for boil-off, the immersion wort chiller, and still having three (or slightly more) gallons of post boil wort. 

I want to do the sparging in a cooler.  I was thinking of an igloo type water cooler.  However, I'm not sure the best type of cooler or the best procedure to use and how to do it.

I am familiar with both fly and batch sparging, and the consensus seems to be that batch sparging would be best.  I have several links marked for batch sparging, but please do say which one is your favorite.

My first few attempts will involve pretty simple pale ale, IPA, amber ale or SMaSH recipes. 

All comments welcome.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: denny on August 18, 2012, 04:57:00 PM
Well, my favorite batch sparging link is www.dennybrew.com, but you probably already knew that!

You say you want to sparge in a cooler.  Does that also mean you want to mash in a cooler?  Have you considered doing a concentrated boil and then adding top off water so you can get 5 gal. in the fermenter?  I did that for a couple years when I started AG and it works really well.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: alcaponejunior on August 18, 2012, 05:15:46 PM
Well, my favorite batch sparging link is www.dennybrew.com, but you probably already knew that!

You say you want to sparge in a cooler.  Does that also mean you want to mash in a cooler?  Have you considered doing a concentrated boil and then adding top off water so you can get 5 gal. in the fermenter?  I did that for a couple years when I started AG and it works really well.

Yes I meant mash in a cooler. 

I can top off to five gallons but I don't really need or want to.  Five gallons worth of bottled beer takes up a lot of space, which I don't have.  I had been doing a concentrated boil and topping off when doing extract batches, and it does work fine.  However, I think the last couple batches I've done, where I boiled all or nearly all of the wort and made a slightly smaller batch, have come out even better. 

I like the process of brewing and don't mind that by making less, I have to brew more often. 

Your link uses a rectangular cooler, are those better than the stand up cylinder type?

Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: nateo on August 18, 2012, 05:23:36 PM
The thicker your grain bed, the better it'll filter when you're running off. I'd recommend something like a 5 gallon round cooler for doing 3 gallon batches. I have a 10 gallon round cooler and it's not ideal for making small batches.

I'll just do BIAB if I'm only making 3 gallons now, but a proper MLT would be better.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: alcaponejunior on August 18, 2012, 05:30:56 PM
yes I thought something like this would be best for my application.  How would you go about doing the filter on the bottom?  I could get a stainless mesh bottom but that's expensive and I'd rather do it some other way.  I'm plenty handy enough to make alterations via a trip to home depot if need be.  8)

(http://www.football-plays.com/images/products/large_images/igloo_5_gallon_water_cooler.jpg)
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: denny on August 18, 2012, 05:32:32 PM
Yes I meant mash in a cooler. 

I can top off to five gallons but I don't really need or want to.  Five gallons worth of bottled beer takes up a lot of space, which I don't have.  I had been doing a concentrated boil and topping off when doing extract batches, and it does work fine.  However, I think the last couple batches I've done, where I boiled all or nearly all of the wort and made a slightly smaller batch, have come out even better. 

I like the process of brewing and don't mind that by making less, I have to brew more often. 

Your link uses a rectangular cooler, are those better than the stand up cylinder type?

Sounds like you plenty of good reasons for doing 3 gal. batches.

I prefer rectangular coolers, because they're less expensive than the round ones and the larger opening makes stirring and cleaning easier.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: denny on August 18, 2012, 05:33:14 PM
The thicker your grain bed, the better it'll filter when you're running off. I'd recommend something like a 5 gallon round cooler for doing 3 gallon batches. I have a 10 gallon round cooler and it's not ideal for making small batches.

I'll just do BIAB if I'm only making 3 gallons now, but a proper MLT would be better.

I've found that it really doesn't matter in batch sparging.  YMMV.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: denny on August 18, 2012, 05:33:44 PM
yes I thought something like this would be best for my application.  How would you go about doing the filter on the bottom?  I could get a stainless mesh bottom but that's expensive and I'd rather do it some other way.  I'm plenty handy enough to make alterations via a trip to home depot if need be.  8)

(http://www.football-plays.com/images/products/large_images/igloo_5_gallon_water_cooler.jpg)

Use a SS mesh braid.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: alcaponejunior on August 18, 2012, 05:42:52 PM
Got a good source for that braid?  Or can it be easily found at home depot?
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: nateo on August 18, 2012, 05:46:42 PM
I made my first braid out of a fat, short water heater line. just pull the plastic tubing inside the braid out. I used a brass flare fitting to pinch one end of the braid to the output valve, and just crimped the other end around a brass plug.

I accidentally banged it up pretty good with my mash paddle, so now I just use a stainless kettle screen from the LHBS.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: alcaponejunior on August 18, 2012, 05:55:32 PM
something like this, but maybe shorter?

(http://media.toolking.com/catalog/product/cache/1/image/275x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/C/a/Cash_Acme_U3088FLEX12_12-Inch_Stainless_Steel_Flexible_Braided_Hot_Water_Heater_Supply_Line.jpg)

I could easily hook that up to the cooler with a trip to the depot.  Since I need to go there anyway it would give me an excuse to get started...  ;D
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: erockrph on August 18, 2012, 06:05:48 PM
You could also line your cooler with a fine-mesh straining bag in place of using braid.

Also - the best bang for your buck on a 5-gallon round cooler is the Home Depot brand one. It's about $5-15 cheaper than any other one I've seen. Of course, it's not blue, so YMMV  ;)

Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: denny on August 18, 2012, 06:15:41 PM
Got a good source for that braid?  Or can it be easily found at home depot?

I use a toilet supply line, cut the ends off, and remove the inner tube.  Be sure you get real SS.  HD and some other places sell plastic ones that look like SS.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: denny on August 18, 2012, 06:16:47 PM
something like this, but maybe shorter?

(http://media.toolking.com/catalog/product/cache/1/image/275x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/C/a/Cash_Acme_U3088FLEX12_12-Inch_Stainless_Steel_Flexible_Braided_Hot_Water_Heater_Supply_Line.jpg)

I could easily hook that up to the cooler with a trip to the depot.  Since I need to go there anyway it would give me an excuse to get started...  ;D

Yeah, but you can't just screw it on.  You need to remove the inner tubing.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: alcaponejunior on August 18, 2012, 06:18:55 PM
Yeah I understand you have to remove the inner rubber tubing.

Ironically, there ain't a home depot within a bizzillion miles of here.  I'll be stuck with lowes (doh). 

I'm seeing that size cooler for about $21 at lowes, and there's also a walmart near here. 

I think I can pull off the stainless mesh hose system pretty easily if they have the hose in stock.  Those hoses don't look very expensive.  The hardware to make the modifications shouldn't be too expensive either.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: sparkleberry on August 18, 2012, 09:42:03 PM
I've been doing 3 gallon biab batches exclusively since I went all grain. I love it. I'm brewing more and the process is super easy. and a cooler is one less piece of equipment to store. have been hitting about 71% efficiency. I just picked up a grain mill and hope to improve that a bit. I really want to batch sparge larger batches but am limited by space as well as time as I work full time on a tv show(12-15 hour days/5 days a week). just wanted to share my reason for doing biab on the smaller scale. either way I know you will enjoy all grain brewing!

cheers.

ryan
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: euge on August 18, 2012, 11:36:22 PM
Don't worry you can get the same braids at Lowes. And get the shortest cheapest braid since length doesn't matter in this case.


Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: tubercle on August 19, 2012, 12:35:24 AM
Five gallons worth of bottled beer takes up a lot of space, which I don't have.

If you room for 24 bottles you have room for 48....Just stack them.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: weithman5 on August 19, 2012, 01:16:45 AM
i have been doing 2g batches and it is easy. made an electric kettle.  i switched to a round igloo because i happened to have a few.  have not moved my braid over but have just been throwing my grain in the bag in the cooler.  kind of a mash in a bag system. then boil electric.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: bboy9000 on August 19, 2012, 02:33:05 AM
Don't worry you can get the same braids at Lowes. And get the shortest cheapest braid since length doesn't matter in this case.

Why doesn't the length matter.  I assumed aonger supply line would pic up more liquid and coud be distributed evenly along the bottom of the mash tun.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: euge on August 19, 2012, 11:44:55 AM
Don't worry you can get the same braids at Lowes. And get the shortest cheapest braid since length doesn't matter in this case.

Why doesn't the length matter.  I assumed aonger supply line would pic up more liquid and coud be distributed evenly along the bottom of the mash tun.

The majority of the wort enters the braid at the end closest to the bulkhead.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: kgs on August 19, 2012, 01:42:22 PM
Here's my 3-gallon setup: 5-gallon Home Depot cooler (Lowes' cooler is identical and mine was on sale for $12 the day I bought it); home-made strainer from plumbing supply line (I can't drink beer made from anything called "toilet" ;) ); ball valve; 5-gallon kettle. Cool in the sink with ice -- I can easily get to 65 by emptying our icemaker and using one bag of ice, plus as euge and others have encouraged, stirring/whirlpooling. 

You could try BIAB and see if it worked for you before springing for the equipment... but using a mash tun helps me avoid one more awkward-lifting scenario. Even 6 to 9 pounds of grain, sopping wet, is a lot to deal with, especially indoors.

I did my setup myself, with various instructions, originally for a 2-gallon cooler (shown here http://www.flickr.com/photos/kgs/sets/72157615665837325/  ), but as I expand and upgrade I have been very satisfied with the parts from bargainfittings.com . I put a SS valve on my larger kettle for those very rare days when I can brew outside, plus some additional parts for other equipment, and I'm going to go back to them for another SS ball valve because I'm uneasy about the brass ball valve on my cooler. Though you don't need a ball valve (per Denny's instructions).

I've contemplated going up to a 9-gallon rectangular cooler. The main reason I'm considering that is to reduce or eliminate sparging on some types of beer.

On 3 vs 5, I've read *somewhere* (don't trust me on this) that doing full boils is better than partial boils+topping off. Also, when you're cramped for space, 48 bottles is a lot. When you're a new AG brewer and your process isn't dialed in, 48 bottles of not-so-great beer is also a lot to drink through or give away. However, when you have a great 3-gallon batch you'll be sad it's so small and you'll be reluctant to send three bottles to a competition.  Such is life.  :o
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: denny on August 19, 2012, 03:21:23 PM
Don't worry you can get the same braids at Lowes. And get the shortest cheapest braid since length doesn't matter in this case.

Why doesn't the length matter.  I assumed aonger supply line would pic up more liquid and coud be distributed evenly along the bottom of the mash tun.

The majority of the wort enters the braid at the end closest to the bulkhead.

Yep.  The braid is porous, right?  It's not like wort enters at one end and flows down it.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: alcaponejunior on August 19, 2012, 03:37:02 PM
that is amazing info, thanks for the link!  There is a home depot towards St Louis, and I need to go there soon, I may just get the stuff I need there.  Also, I need to visit the homebrew store which is in St Louis (and the Schlafly taproom too, lol). 

Another thing is that I just ordered beersmith II, so I will have precise calculations available before I start.  I still have one batch of partial mash/extract in the fermenter, and one left to brew, so it should be around 4 weeks or so and I'll be brewing my first all grain batch!

I have planned a smash with MO and ??* hops, a pale ale, an IPA, and an amber as my first few batches.  Exact recipes still to be determined (based partly on what's available at the LHBS). 

And I need another thing of starsan, lol.  Can't believe I've used over half of that bad boy already!  And some more PBW

When the time comes I will blog every detail and link it back to this thread

thanks to everyone for the great responses!

*I have willamette, chinook, columbus, NB and cascade pellets in the freezer, enough for probably 9-10 batches at 3 gallons each
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: euge on August 19, 2012, 04:47:19 PM
If you make the starsan solution with distilled or RO water it will last months. I make mine a half gallon at a time and it lasts re-using for months. I still use some in a spray bottle filled at least 3 years ago. Clear as the day it was mixed.

If the solution starts to look a bit murky then toss it out.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: kgs on August 19, 2012, 06:59:10 PM
If you make the starsan solution with distilled or RO water it will last months. I make mine a half gallon at a time and it lasts re-using for months. I still use some in a spray bottle filled at least 3 years ago. Clear as the day it was mixed.

If the solution starts to look a bit murky then toss it out.

What euge said -- you want contact with StarSan, and properly mixed it will last a long time. When I first started out I would fill an entire carboy. Now I slosh in a little StarSan, shake well, and drain.

Since you're probably scaling down existing recipes, Beersmith (or any brewing software) will be your friend. You can use the "scale" feature, but I prefer to enter bigger recipes, and build the smaller versions based on percentages.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: alcaponejunior on August 19, 2012, 09:07:57 PM
If you make the starsan solution with distilled or RO water it will last months. I make mine a half gallon at a time and it lasts re-using for months. I still use some in a spray bottle filled at least 3 years ago. Clear as the day it was mixed.

If the solution starts to look a bit murky then toss it out.

What euge said -- you want contact with StarSan, and properly mixed it will last a long time. When I first started out I would fill an entire carboy. Now I slosh in a little StarSan, shake well, and drain.

Since you're probably scaling down existing recipes, Beersmith (or any brewing software) will be your friend. You can use the "scale" feature, but I prefer to enter bigger recipes, and build the smaller versions based on percentages.

Yeah in a year I've used up almost $10 worth of starsan, lol.  I don't use distilled or RO water so I can't really save it, and truthfully I don't mind just mixing it up when I need it.  When I sanitize a bucket or carboy I don't fill it completely though, I put in perhaps 1/2 gallon's worth and slosh it every now and then for a while, leaving it covered, until it's ready for use. 

Beersmith II is on the way from amazon. :D
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: ukolowiczd on August 19, 2012, 11:41:17 PM
I love that DIY mash tun. My mash tun (although 15 gallons) uses the John Guest Brand fittings. They're these plastic snap on tubes, valves, etc. They're great. You can buy them anywhere but I just bought an already made mash tun from Homebrewstuff.com. I absolutely love it. No stuck mash and so easy to clean.

http://s3.amazonaws.com/homebrewstuff/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/a/2/a20792b12851aa9b6bd606_m.jpg
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: kgs on August 20, 2012, 01:48:27 AM
I love that DIY mash tun. My mash tun (although 15 gallons) uses the John Guest Brand fittings. They're these plastic snap on tubes, valves, etc. They're great. You can buy them anywhere but I just bought an already made mash tun from Homebrewstuff.com. I absolutely love it. No stuck mash and so easy to clean.

http://s3.amazonaws.com/homebrewstuff/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/a/2/a20792b12851aa9b6bd606_m.jpg

Dang, you did what I wanted to do -- a tee fitting to make a nice loop. I know it's not necessary (I can hear Denny now...) but it's sleek and good-looking. Nice.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: denny on August 20, 2012, 03:11:47 PM
I love that DIY mash tun. My mash tun (although 15 gallons) uses the John Guest Brand fittings. They're these plastic snap on tubes, valves, etc. They're great. You can buy them anywhere but I just bought an already made mash tun from Homebrewstuff.com. I absolutely love it. No stuck mash and so easy to clean.

http://s3.amazonaws.com/homebrewstuff/catalog/product/cache/1/image/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/a/2/a20792b12851aa9b6bd606_m.jpg

Dang, you did what I wanted to do -- a tee fitting to make a nice loop. I know it's not necessary (I can hear Denny now...) but it's sleek and good-looking. Nice.

Well, if looks are more important than function, be my guest!  ;)  Many people who have started with loops have reported how it gets caught up when they're stirring.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: Joe Sr. on August 20, 2012, 04:57:37 PM
Also - the best bang for your buck on a 5-gallon round cooler is the Home Depot brand one. It's about $5-15 cheaper than any other one I've seen. Of course, it's not blue, so YMMV  ;)

Just wanted to point out that the Lowes 5-gallon round cooler is blue.  Pretty much the same price, too.

I haven't actually used mine for anything but serving cold water at parties, though.  Someday.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: malzig on August 20, 2012, 11:59:12 PM
I use a looped braid, in part, because it holds the braid firmly against the bottom of the tun.

My 5 gallon Rubbermaid beverage cooler has worked well for 3 gallon batches, but I don't think there's anything special about the round cooler, but any larger cooler might require a couple more quarts of Vorlauf to clear the debris.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: alcaponejunior on August 24, 2012, 03:57:39 PM
Got the stuff to build it, that's today's project (along with my last batch of partial mash/extract brew).

I will report on the first batch when it's done!
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: euge on August 24, 2012, 05:30:29 PM
FWIW I've never had the braid "float". I think that is nonsense.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: denny on August 24, 2012, 05:42:05 PM
FWIW I've never had the braid "float". I think that is nonsense.

Same here.  I've had it raise up when I stir, but that's no big deal.  Even if it does float, it doesn't affect anything since all the draining happens at the outlet.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: morticaixavier on August 24, 2012, 06:53:25 PM
FWIW I've never had the braid "float". I think that is nonsense.

Same here.  I've had it raise up when I stir, but that's no big deal.  Even if it does float, it doesn't affect anything since all the draining happens at the outlet.

yup. I have had the braid float, or get picked up by stirring but it has never mattered. even if 60% of the braid is sitting on top of the mash. I have considered shortening the braid to about 2 inches just to get it out of the way while I stir
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: malzig on August 25, 2012, 12:18:11 AM
FWIW I've never had the braid "float". I think that is nonsense.
Same here.  I've had it raise up when I stir, but that's no big deal.  Even if it does float, it doesn't affect anything since all the draining happens at the outlet.
I've never had one "float", but an overly long braid will get caught in the paddle and be brought toward the surface. 

Once some portion of the braid rises above the surface, all the draining will occur from the portion of the braid that is submerged, so it doesn't really matter if it gets exposed. However, there is nothing to keep it from draining along the entire length if it is submerged.  The pressure is greater on the outside of the braid than the inside all along it's length, when the valve is open, so wort should enter any part of the braid that is under wort.  It is very much like why a manifold will drain along the entire length, even though there are holes well past the drainage point.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: alcaponejunior on August 26, 2012, 08:40:13 PM
OK to report on how the construction of the mash tun went...

I had not too much trouble, though I did wind up making several trips to Lowes (there ain't no hope depot 'round here, doh!)

I think the braid is too long and I will probably shorten it to about 7-8 inches. 

The 3/4 double ended nipple was too short, and the next larger size was a bit too long, so I had to use multiple washers to get it to fit tight.  It does not leak though, and I am pretty much ready to use it.

I will have to make yet another trip to the store though, because I forgot the hose for draining it into the boil pot.  D'oh!

My copy of beersmith II came in and I'm working with the program now.

I'm now searching for recipes and have a few simple ones ready.  I'm just going to do several of them without a lot of consultation, first because they're super simple and are scaled from other people's recipes that I know work (smash, IPA, pale ale etc), and second because when you ask for recipe help you often get more than you bargained for....

I am however wanting to brew a stout, and I'm going to post another thread about using beersmith II and coming up with a stout recipe.  That will be in the recipes forum if anyone is interested. 

Thanks for all the great replies!
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: Joe Sr. on August 27, 2012, 02:45:46 PM
Did you put a washer on the inside?

The valve I put on my cooler is loosey-goosey and I can't find a the proper sized SS washer to put on the inside which I think would help stabilize it.
Title: Re: Considerations for 3-gallon all grain batches
Post by: denny on August 27, 2012, 03:17:33 PM
I'm now searching for recipe

Try here....

http://wiki.homebrewersassociation.org/BeerRecipes