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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: jasonmcconnell on January 31, 2014, 02:11:48 pm

Title: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: jasonmcconnell on January 31, 2014, 02:11:48 pm
Hello All,

I plan to do my first All Grain brew in a week, and I wanted to ask the pro's out there for some last-minute advice and information. 

I'm doing a simple single infusion mash, and I built an MLT from a 10 gallon water cooler with a filter.  I don't have a separate HLT, just a 10 gal boiling kettle, which is why I'm doing a single infusion this time around.

I can do it all in my kitchen with our gas stove or I can use the side-burner on our BBQ grill.  I live in Phoenix, so the weather's beautiful right now so outside brewing is no biggie.

Finally, here is the recipe I plan to make: http://beersmithrecipes.com/viewrecipe/204033/sledge-hammr-ii (http://beersmithrecipes.com/viewrecipe/204033/sledge-hammr-ii)

Thanks in advance for all your advice!
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 31, 2014, 02:27:02 pm
Though I am not a pro, just an experienced amateur, I will give you my  $0.02.

That is a huge OG beer to try the first time on your equipment. All systems are different in the efficiency you will extract. If you want tot try it, have Dry Malt Extract on hand to boost the gravity to meet the target. I see the guy had that in his recipe.

The fermentation temps he has are higher than what I do for that style of beer. If you don't have temperature control, at least have the fermenter in a tub of water to help keep the temps down. A blow off tube may be needed at higher temps. He does mention hot alcohol notes, I wonder why.

I would go at least 3 weeks in primary to let the full amount of yeast work on the beer. Then check the gravity to see if it is done fermenting. Keg or bottle if done.

A yeast starter to hit the proper pitching rate, and plenty of O2 are good ideas. He uses some yeast nutrient 3 days in which is a good idea for a beer this big.

If you can boil the full amount outside I would do that.
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: Jimmy K on January 31, 2014, 02:33:09 pm
I used to brew with a 10 gallon mash tun and one pot.
 
You often loose some heat moving from pot to cooler. I put water in the cooler first so I can check the temperature before adding grain. If it's too low you can pull some out and bring it to a boil.
 
Are you going to drain the mash tun into another container, then add sparge water? I used to drain into my bottling bucket. Add heated sparge water to the tun. Then pour the first runnings into the kettle. Lots of lifting, but it works.
 
If you haven't done a full boil before, watch it carefully. With 8 gallons it will be kind of close to the top. The first hop addition seems to invigorate the boil and briefly increase foaming, probably because it adds nucleation sites. After a massive boil over last year I always turn the gas off for that.
 
Kitchen vs stove side burner? Not sure which is more powerful. Some kitchen stoves aren't powerful enough to boil 8 gallons. Some are. Same is true with grill burners I'm sure. You can partially cover the pot to help. In Pheonix maybe you can position some mirrors around the pot to reflect sunlight at it.  ;D   But really, I'd use whichever looks like it has a bigger flame.
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: HoosierBrew on January 31, 2014, 02:42:42 pm
+1 to all the good advice. The DME advice is especially good, since your efficiency will drop doing a beer that big.  I use a refractometer to measure preboil gravity, so I can have an idea how much DME to add to a big beer.
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 31, 2014, 02:54:57 pm
When I do big beers, this calculator is used to see if the mash will fit. Go down to "can I mash it".
You will be OK, BTW.

http://www.rackers.org/calcs.shtml
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: jasonmcconnell on January 31, 2014, 02:58:20 pm
That's some really great info!  I didn't expect such a quick response, thanks everyone!

You often loose some heat moving from pot to cooler. I put water in the cooler first so I can check the temperature before adding grain. If it's too low you can pull some out and bring it to a boil.

I was actually considering this issue, and was thinking I could bring the water to a higher temperature than is needed, move it to the cooler and leave 1/2 to 1 gal to add cooler water to bring the temp down before adding the grain.

That is a huge OG beer to try the first time on your equipment. All systems are different in the efficiency you will extract. If you want tot try it, have Dry Malt Extract on hand to boost the gravity to meet the target. I see the guy had that in his recipe.

That's a fantastic idea!  Thanks!

The fermentation temps he has are higher than what I do for that style of beer. If you don't have temperature control, at least have the fermenter in a tub of water to help keep the temps down. A blow off tube may be needed at higher temps. He does mention hot alcohol notes, I wonder why.

Another good idea, I've also seen people put damp cloths around the carboy to keep it cool.  I usually put a box over my brew to keep the sun from hitting it ... unfortunately we have limited means to keep things cool in the desert, so I'll do my best.  FYI I have no idea what Hot Alcohol means  :-\

A yeast starter to hit the proper pitching rate, and plenty of O2 are good ideas. He uses some yeast nutrient 3 days in which is a good idea for a beer this big.

I probably sound like a noob, but what do you mean plenty of O2?

Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: jasonmcconnell on January 31, 2014, 02:59:59 pm
When I do big beers, this calculator is used to see if the mash will fit. Go down to "can I mash it".
You will be OK, BTW.

http://www.rackers.org/calcs.shtml

That's really awesome!
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: Jimmy K on January 31, 2014, 03:06:15 pm
I was actually considering this issue, and was thinking I could bring the water to a higher temperature than is needed, move it to the cooler and leave 1/2 to 1 gal to add cooler water to bring the temp down before adding the grain.
Also a good plan. Stirring and just leaving the cooler open will bring the temperature down a couple degrees too. Since you're using beersmith, I'm pretty sure it has a temperature correction calculator.
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: Jimmy K on January 31, 2014, 03:20:40 pm
I probably sound like a noob, but what do you mean plenty of O2?
Aerate the wort before adding yeast to promote healthy fermention. There are various methods. Rock the fermenter back and forth, stir vigorously if it's in a bucket, inject air with an aquarium pump if you're higher tech, or use an O2 tank if you're really slick.
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 31, 2014, 03:33:59 pm
Jimmy answered the O2 question.

Hot alcohols are higher molecular weight, cause a burning heat in the throat, and are said to give headaches and hangovers. High fermentation temperatures produce more of these. Also known as fusel alcohols.
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: ynotbrusum on January 31, 2014, 07:34:41 pm
On that side burner issue - make sure the burner structure can handle the weight of 8 gallons plus the pot (approaching 70 pounds total, if not more).  Just would hate to see a collapse of the cart....not trying to scare you.

Cheers - to all grain and your first foray.
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: Upstate Dan on January 31, 2014, 08:32:10 pm
Make sure you calibrate your thermometer. My first AG batch was a Kolsch that was quite chewy...not so good. The thermometer I used was about 10 degrees off.
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on January 31, 2014, 08:47:55 pm
Can you check mash pH? Some of us do.
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: kramerog on January 31, 2014, 08:54:55 pm
I probably sound like a noob, but what do you mean plenty of O2?
Aerate the wort before adding yeast to promote healthy fermention. There are various methods. Rock the fermenter back and forth, stir vigorously if it's in a bucket, inject air with an aquarium pump if you're higher tech, or use an O2 tank if you're really slick.

Open fermentation for a few days would work to get adequate oxygen into the wort and you won't have to worry about the buggies because of the high alcohol.  I like to do my big beers in a bucket and stir the beer well after 12 hours of fermentation to get more oxygen into it.

For a beer this big, your yeast is going to need some added yeast nutrients.  You can put a heaping tablespoon of spent yeast into the boil to provide all the nutrients needed.
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: jasonmcconnell on February 01, 2014, 05:46:35 pm
Aerate the wort before adding yeast to promote healthy fermention. There are various methods. Rock the fermenter back and forth, stir vigorously if it's in a bucket, inject air with an aquarium pump if you're higher tech, or use an O2 tank if you're really slick.


Gotcha, I do that a couple ways: 1) pouring it fast, and 2) shaking the living crap out of it once I get the lid on ;D.  No fancy tech here, just me and a carboy!

On that side burner issue - make sure the burner structure can handle the weight of 8 gallons plus the pot (approaching 70 pounds total, if not more).  Just would hate to see a collapse of the cart....not trying to scare you.

I actually already thought of that, but I haven't tested the strength of it.  Quite honestly, I don't think the flame will be hot enough to do the job.  We have one burner on our kitchen stove that is pretty impressive, so I'll probably just do it inside until I can afford a backyard burner.  Got my eye on one for $40 that puts out 55,000 BTUs but picking a burner is a completely different post.

Can you check mash pH? Some of us do.

I've thought about it, but quite honestly I've never had any issues in all the years I've brewed to warrant it.  Of course I've only done extract brews, so maybe an all grain batch is more sensitive to water ph levels ... but my mentor taught me to "relax ... have a home brew"  ;)

For a beer this big, your yeast is going to need some added yeast nutrients.  You can put a heaping tablespoon of spent yeast into the boil to provide all the nutrients needed.

Great advice, I do believe the recipe calls for yeast nutrients 3 days into the primary fermentation.  Do you think that adding it during the boil will make that unnecessary?

Thanks again everyone!
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: Jeff M on February 01, 2014, 08:15:50 pm
I wouldnt add yeast nutrients during the boil.  Ive smelled that stuff and wouldnt want it cooked into my wort.  not sure if it would happen or not, but id avoid it.
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 01, 2014, 08:19:45 pm
I wouldnt add yeast nutrients during the boil.  Ive smelled that stuff and wouldnt want it cooked into my wort.  not sure if it would happen or not, but id avoid it.

Yeast nutrient in the boil is not a problem.
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: hopfenundmalz on February 01, 2014, 08:24:38 pm
Aerate the wort before adding yeast to promote healthy fermention. There are various methods. Rock the fermenter back and forth, stir vigorously if it's in a bucket, inject air with an aquarium pump if you're higher tech, or use an O2 tank if you're really slick.


Gotcha, I do that a couple ways: 1) pouring it fast, and 2) shaking the living crap out of it once I get the lid on ;D.  No fancy tech here, just me and a carboy!

On that side burner issue - make sure the burner structure can handle the weight of 8 gallons plus the pot (approaching 70 pounds total, if not more).  Just would hate to see a collapse of the cart....not trying to scare you.

I actually already thought of that, but I haven't tested the strength of it.  Quite honestly, I don't think the flame will be hot enough to do the job.  We have one burner on our kitchen stove that is pretty impressive, so I'll probably just do it inside until I can afford a backyard burner.  Got my eye on one for $40 that puts out 55,000 BTUs but picking a burner is a completely different post.

Can you check mash pH? Some of us do.

I've thought about it, but quite honestly I've never had any issues in all the years I've brewed to warrant it.  Of course I've only done extract brews, so maybe an all grain batch is more sensitive to water ph levels ... but my mentor taught me to "relax ... have a home brew"  ;)

For a beer this big, your yeast is going to need some added yeast nutrients.  You can put a heaping tablespoon of spent yeast into the boil to provide all the nutrients needed.

Great advice, I do believe the recipe calls for yeast nutrients 3 days into the primary fermentation.  Do you think that adding it during the boil will make that unnecessary?

Thanks again everyone!

Measuring mash pH is important, as the mash works best in a range from 5.2-5.6 or there abouts. If you want to get serious about all grain, at least get some pH strips (which have a bias that you need to be aware of).

https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/water-knowledge
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: HoosierBrew on February 01, 2014, 08:28:29 pm
I wouldnt add yeast nutrients during the boil.  Ive smelled that stuff and wouldnt want it cooked into my wort.  not sure if it would happen or not, but id avoid it.

Yeast nutrient in the boil is not a problem.

+1.  Wyeast recommends theirs @ 10 minutes left. It's what I do.



EDIT -      http://www.wyeastlab.com/hb_productdetail.cfm?ProductID=15
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: Jeff M on February 01, 2014, 08:34:49 pm
good to know!
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: garc_mall on February 01, 2014, 10:09:20 pm
I wouldnt add yeast nutrients during the boil.  Ive smelled that stuff and wouldnt want it cooked into my wort.  not sure if it would happen or not, but id avoid it.

Yeast nutrient in the boil is not a problem.

That smell is the stuff you don't want in your beer volatilizing off. The Ammonia is used as a source of Nitrogen to help the yeast grow new cell walls.
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: morticaixavier on February 02, 2014, 12:21:28 am
Aerate the wort before adding yeast to promote healthy fermention. There are various methods. Rock the fermenter back and forth, stir vigorously if it's in a bucket, inject air with an aquarium pump if you're higher tech, or use an O2 tank if you're really slick.


Gotcha, I do that a couple ways: 1) pouring it fast, and 2) shaking the living crap out of it once I get the lid on ;D.  No fancy tech here, just me and a carboy!

On that side burner issue - make sure the burner structure can handle the weight of 8 gallons plus the pot (approaching 70 pounds total, if not more).  Just would hate to see a collapse of the cart....not trying to scare you.

I actually already thought of that, but I haven't tested the strength of it.  Quite honestly, I don't think the flame will be hot enough to do the job.  We have one burner on our kitchen stove that is pretty impressive, so I'll probably just do it inside until I can afford a backyard burner.  Got my eye on one for $40 that puts out 55,000 BTUs but picking a burner is a completely different post.

Can you check mash pH? Some of us do.

I've thought about it, but quite honestly I've never had any issues in all the years I've brewed to warrant it.  Of course I've only done extract brews, so maybe an all grain batch is more sensitive to water ph levels ... but my mentor taught me to "relax ... have a home brew"  ;)

For a beer this big, your yeast is going to need some added yeast nutrients.  You can put a heaping tablespoon of spent yeast into the boil to provide all the nutrients needed.

Great advice, I do believe the recipe calls for yeast nutrients 3 days into the primary fermentation.  Do you think that adding it during the boil will make that unnecessary?

Thanks again everyone!

Measuring mash pH is important, as the mash works best in a range from 5.2-5.6 or there abouts. If you want to get serious about all grain, at least get some pH strips (which have a bias that you need to be aware of).

https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/water-knowledge

+1 to mash pH being important. Not to say you can't still relax and have a homebrew but it's helpful to st least have an understanding of pH and how it can affect your beer. When you are using extract the brewer who made the extract paid close attention to mash pH to be sure.

I go the lazy route and start with RO our distilled water and follow bru'n water. I have yet to have a problem that way
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: HoosierBrew on February 02, 2014, 12:43:40 am
+1.  I resisted getting a handle on pH for my first couple AG brewing years, and no surprise my results were spotty. Some styles came out great (blind luck), some not so. Bru'nWater is fantastic -if you invest in a 100g scale (or similar) and weigh out your water salts according to the software you'll be thrilled with the results. I honestly think it's better to stick with extract/steeped grain brewing than to brew AG and ignore pH. Just my $0.02


EDIT - http://www.amazon.com/American-Weigh-Signature-AWS-100-Digital/dp/B0012LOQUQ

          This is the scale I use. Great for hops and water salts. Very affordable.
Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: ranchovillabrew on February 02, 2014, 02:50:32 am
I started measuring pH when I went to all grain.  I don't adjust my water much yet. However,  I wanted to have good notes for when I'm ready to dive into tinkering with water.  I have pretty hard water though. 

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Title: Re: First All Grain Brew ... Advice?
Post by: ranchovillabrew on February 02, 2014, 02:51:40 am
Also I add yeast nutrient at the same time I put my immersion chiller in and add irish moss. 15 minutes to go.

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