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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: jasonmcconnell on February 01, 2014, 06:15:14 PM

Title: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: jasonmcconnell on February 01, 2014, 06:15:14 PM
Hey All,

I got some fantastic responses to my previous post asking for advice on doing my first all-grain brew.  One thing that remains a concern is that I might have picked a recipe that may not be great for my first try.

So, back story on me ... about 7 years ago I learned how to brew extracts and that's all I've done for years.  At one point I sold my brewing equipment but just recently got all new stuff and I'm back in the game.  I just finished building an MLT from an Igloo cooler and I'm ready for my first all grain brew.

So here is the recipe I was going to try http://beersmithrecipes.com/viewrecipe/204033/sledge-hammr-ii (http://beersmithrecipes.com/viewrecipe/204033/sledge-hammr-ii)

I'd appreciate it if other all-grain brewers with more experience than me (which would include anyone who has done 1 batch or more hehe) to post your favorite "first timer" recipe.
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: ynotbrusum on February 01, 2014, 06:33:22 PM
Since you have done several extract batches, I would do one of those you have done already and compare them!

As a default either Denny's Wry Smile IPA or the Waldo Lake Amber are winners with me.  Those recipes are ubiquitous because they are tried and true, not to mention award winning.
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: WDE97 on February 01, 2014, 07:05:00 PM
Since you have done several extract batches, I would do one of those you have done already and compare them!
As a default either Denny's Wry Smile IPA or the Waldo Lake Amber are winners with me.  Those recipes are ubiquitous because they are tried and true, not to mention award winning.

I would agree with this. Do something you are familiar with for comparison. Regardless, I would suggest doing something simple so you can spend more time learning/figuring out the process and less time worrying about a complicated recipe.
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: el_capitan on February 02, 2014, 06:32:14 AM
Another vote for Waldo Lake Amber.  Wicked good. 
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: klickitat jim on February 02, 2014, 11:06:57 AM
What have you got for fermentation temp control? My suggested recipe would be one that you have the ability to ferment successfully. I'd pick something simple, like a smash
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: majorvices on February 02, 2014, 01:13:26 PM
Sent you a PM requesting you take off your self promotion on your tag line. Advertising is not allowed on forum.

A pale ale or IPA would be good choice, or a porter or stout. Here's a few suggestions:

Pick up some ColorpHast pH strips, some calcium chloride, some gypsum, and if brewing a dark beer get some calcium carbonate. If your pH is high (over 5.6) add a tsp or gypsum and a tsp of calcium chloride. If dark beer and pH is low (lower than 5.4) add a tsp of calcium carbonate. Take pH readings at room temp.

Buy 2 or 3 lbs of light DME just in case you have any efficiency surprises.

RDWHAHB! :)
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: tommymorris on February 02, 2014, 05:07:18 PM
Sent you a PM requesting you take off your self promotion on your tag line. Advertising is not allowed on forum.

A pale ale or IPA would be good choice, or a porter or stout. Here's a few suggestions:

Pick up some ColorpHast pH strips, some calcium chloride, some gypsum, and if brewing a dark beer get some calcium carbonate. If your pH is high (over 5.6) add a tsp or gypsum and a tsp of calcium chloride. If dark beer and pH is low (lower than 5.4) add a tsp of calcium carbonate. Take pH readings at room temp.

Buy 2 or 3 lbs of light DME just in case you have any efficiency surprises.

RDWHAHB! :)

Sorry, to highjack the thread, but how do you take mash PH temps at room temp?  Is the volume needed for a PH strip so low that it drops to room temp from mash temp in just a few minutes?

Also, is adding mineral salts as you suggest better than adding acid to drop the PH?

As you can tell I have never bothered with PH, but, just yesterday ordered PH strips and a bottle of lactic acid. I have some gypsum but none of the other salts you mention. I am brewing light colored beers with surface water which is relatively mineral free.
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: majorvices on February 02, 2014, 07:24:22 PM
You can use freezer or fridge to cool small sample (you don't need much). I generally use lactic acid and calcium chloride usually to drop my pH on very pale beers especially if I am not building water from scratch. But I am afraid to suggest messing with acids to someone who hasn't experimented with all grain yet. But, yes, you can certainly use acids and I would recommend using acids to adjust pH for the experienced homebrewer.
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: jasonmcconnell on February 02, 2014, 09:19:15 PM
What have you got for fermentation temp control? My suggested recipe would be one that you have the ability to ferment successfully. I'd pick something simple, like a smash
I really don't have anything, my previous brews have fermented at room temp and been okay.
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: klickitat jim on February 02, 2014, 11:45:06 PM
Right on. But I can see a chest freezer and temp control in your future. Beer is all about the fermentation in my opinion.
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: jasonmcconnell on February 03, 2014, 12:05:19 AM
Right on. But I can see a chest freezer and temp control in your future. Beer is all about the fermentation in my opinion.

There's a LOT of upgrades I want to do ... so I'm sure you're right!  Once I get a few batches under my belt, I'll probably be posting a question on whether a RIMS or HERMS system is better LOL
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: morticaixavier on February 03, 2014, 03:19:08 AM
Right on. But I can see a chest freezer and temp control in your future. Beer is all about the fermentation in my opinion.

There's a LOT of upgrades I want to do ... so I'm sure you're right!  Once I get a few batches under my belt, I'll probably be posting a question on whether a RIMS or HERMS system is better LOL

Forget HERMS or RIMS, get a chest freezer. it's cheaper and will make 1000% more difference in the quality of your beer than a fancy brewhouse.
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: klickitat jim on February 03, 2014, 04:02:45 AM
Agreed. If I started over, first thing would be fermentor temp control
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: majorvices on February 03, 2014, 12:37:59 PM
Right on. But I can see a chest freezer and temp control in your future. Beer is all about the fermentation in my opinion.

There's a LOT of upgrades I want to do ... so I'm sure you're right!  Once I get a few batches under my belt, I'll probably be posting a question on whether a RIMS or HERMS system is better LOL

Forget HERMS or RIMS, get a chest freezer. it's cheaper and will make 1000% more difference in the quality of your beer than a fancy brewhouse.

Exactly, the thing that will make your beers go from "ok" to "wow!" is temp control. You simply can't make great beer if you can't control your fermentation temp.
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: dcb on February 03, 2014, 02:25:50 PM
Exactly, the thing that will make your beers go from "ok" to "wow!" is temp control. You simply can't make great beer if you can't control your fermentation temp.

You guys are making me feel really validated.  From my reading I had determined that temp control is so important that I held off getting back into homebrewing until I could have it.

Looks like the OP is from the Phoenix area.  With highs in the 70's right now it might be tough to find a place to keep the temperature in the mid 60's.  In cooler climes, you don't necessarily need a converted chest freezer this time of year.  My garage never gets above 50 this time of year, so I wrapped my bucket up with a blanket, my wife's heating pad, and a home-made STC 1000 controller.  Cost less that $40 all told.
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: klickitat jim on February 03, 2014, 02:55:19 PM
I think there's a sliding scale. Indoors is better than wild swings outside, an inner room that only swings a few degrees is better than just any old room, water bath or a wet towel is better than nothing to keep cool, a refer with adjustable control, a thermowell to measure the true beer temp... it progressively gets better. But I think the progressive curve gets steep when you get dual temp control with very little fluctuation.

No matter how fancy your brewing equipment or how award winning your recipes are, until you can maintain the fermentation temp, it's like a cool car with the best engine, but no steering wheel.
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: jasonmcconnell on February 04, 2014, 04:58:44 AM
Exactly, the thing that will make your beers go from "ok" to "wow!" is temp control. You simply can't make great beer if you can't control your fermentation temp.

I'll have to move towards that ... If I spend any more money on my brewing hobby I'll have to get use to sleeping on the couch :)
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: euge on February 04, 2014, 07:06:38 AM
Agreed. If I started over, first thing would be fermentor temp control

+1

Not kegs nor a big fancy pot or burner but actual honest to god fermentation temp control. And I'd do it before going AG. But that's not always how the chain of events goes. ;D

Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: klickitat jim on February 04, 2014, 11:38:55 AM
When trying to make improvements, in retrospect it seems silly that I left the biggest improvement for last. But if my first kit was fermented properly maybe I would still be s kit only guy...
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: majorvices on February 04, 2014, 12:12:27 PM
Exactly, the thing that will make your beers go from "ok" to "wow!" is temp control. You simply can't make great beer if you can't control your fermentation temp.

I'll have to move towards that ... If I spend any more money on my brewing hobby I'll have to get use to sleeping on the couch :)

At the very least you should be using a tub of water in which you immerse your carboy and rotate out frozen water bottles 2 or 3 times a day. That trick works fairly well.
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: ynotbrusum on February 04, 2014, 12:34:54 PM
Exactly, the thing that will make your beers go from "ok" to "wow!" is temp control. You simply can't make great beer if you can't control your fermentation temp.

I'll have to move towards that ... If I spend any more money on my brewing hobby I'll have to get use to sleeping on the couch :)

At the very least you should be using a tub of water in which you immerse your carboy and rotate out frozen water bottles 2 or 3 times a day. That trick works fairly well.

Or just the water bath alone helps stabilize temperature swings if in a basement this time of year (up north we tend to allow the house to cool substantially overnight in winter).  To avoid stalling when the indoor basement temp drops to or below 60, the water bath helps in that way, too!  It works like a dual controller.
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: HoosierBrew on February 04, 2014, 12:55:14 PM
Exactly, the thing that will make your beers go from "ok" to "wow!" is temp control. You simply can't make great beer if you can't control your fermentation temp.

I'll have to move towards that ... If I spend any more money on my brewing hobby I'll have to get use to sleeping on the couch :)

At the very least you should be using a tub of water in which you immerse your carboy and rotate out frozen water bottles 2 or 3 times a day. That trick works fairly well.

+1. Cheap and easy.
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: denny on February 04, 2014, 04:02:14 PM
Exactly, the thing that will make your beers go from "ok" to "wow!" is temp control. You simply can't make great beer if you can't control your fermentation temp.

I'll have to move towards that ... If I spend any more money on my brewing hobby I'll have to get use to sleeping on the couch :)

Without temp control it doesn't matter of you buy the best ingredients, have fancy equipment or take all the care in the world when you brew.  A lack of temp control can make all of that stuff useless.
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: bluesman on February 04, 2014, 05:40:45 PM
Exactly, the thing that will make your beers go from "ok" to "wow!" is temp control. You simply can't make great beer if you can't control your fermentation temp.

I'll have to move towards that ... If I spend any more money on my brewing hobby I'll have to get use to sleeping on the couch :)

Without temp control it doesn't matter of you buy the best ingredients, have fancy equipment or take all the care in the world when you brew.  A lack of temp control can make all of that stuff useless.

Agreed!

When I first started controlling ferm temps, my beer went from fair at best, to very good then excellent.

It's my number one recommendation to any brewer.  ;)

 :)
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: HoosierBrew on February 04, 2014, 05:46:59 PM
Exactly, the thing that will make your beers go from "ok" to "wow!" is temp control. You simply can't make great beer if you can't control your fermentation temp.

I'll have to move towards that ... If I spend any more money on my brewing hobby I'll have to get use to sleeping on the couch :)

Without temp control it doesn't matter of you buy the best ingredients, have fancy equipment or take all the care in the world when you brew.  A lack of temp control can make all of that stuff useless.

Agreed!

When I first started controlling ferm temps, my beer went from fair at best, to very good then excellent.

It's my number one recommendation to any brewer.  ;)

 :)

+1.   Yep.
Title: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: tommymorris on February 04, 2014, 06:39:42 PM
My temp control history

Started w/nothing -> ester flavors
Immerse in water w/ ice bottles -> works well for ales but gotta add ice too often
Cool Brewing bag -> basically the same as above
Chest freezer -> super easy, great results EDIT: plus lagers!

I travel a lot for work so adding ice to water or bags was tough. The wife would do it for me but not with the sense of urgency that I would like.
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: jasonmcconnell on February 07, 2014, 10:17:30 PM
Wow I had no idea temp control was so important!  I'll definitely see what I can scrounge up before my next brew.
Title: Re: Best Recipe for First All-Grain Brew
Post by: euge on February 07, 2014, 10:31:16 PM
Even a fridge turned all the way up as warm as it will go ought to work until a controller is found. BTW buy Johnson Controls. ;) Their analog unit is just as good as their digital IMO. I have both.