Last night, I brewed a Belgian Pale using the full low oxygen method. It was actually pretty easy.
I underestimated how long it would take to bring 7.75 gallons of water to a boil. Next time, I'm going to split it between two pots and combine them when they are close to a boil.
My usual efficiency on this recipe is in the low 80's. Not being sure what to expect, I targeted 70%, but ended up hitting 73%. I can live with that for now.
I did have to do some gentle stirring to break up dough balls. Hopefully, it didn't burn through too much SMB (I used 50 mg/l). I may need to order some sulfite test strips.
Typically, I heat my strike water to 13 degrees above my target mash temp, and then I gently stir for about 5 minutes to even the temp and break up dough balls. Given the increased volume of strike water and not being able to stir, I guessed 11 degrees would work. It turned out 8.5 degrees would have been the correct target. On this beer, I doubt mashing at 152 instead of 150 will make any difference, and I'll get it right next time.
That said, I've been hitting my mash temp on the nose every brew for the last 10 years, so it's a bit irritating. If I get really into low oxygen brewing, I'll probably switch to a RIMS.
I did a 70 minute boil targeting 10% evaporation. Actual evaporation was 11.5%, which is pretty close.
The ground water here is warm. I usually chill to 90 or so and then let the chest freezer bring it to pitching temp overnight. Last night, I chilled the wort to 100 and then started recirculating 4 gallons of water I had chilled to the low 40s in the freezer while brewing. That got me down to 80 at which point I pitched the yeast into the fermentor, racked the wort on top, oxygenated, and put in the chest freezer to bring it down to 68. Next time, I'll pick up a bag of ice. That should get me where I need to be, at least for ales.
Overall, it was a pretty smooth process, and I learned what adjustments I need to make for next time. It was a long brew day, but it's nice to get everything done in one shot rather than having to chill overnight and oxygenate/pitch yeast in the morning.
This was also the first time I conditioned the grain before milling. I don't think the crush really looked all that different though.