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First all-grain, help me make a SMaSH APA recipe?

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Congrats on your first All-Grain!  It's takes a while to dial in your process so I hope you had fun and enjoyed the day.

Honestly, I never pre-heat my MT.  I bring it inside and warm it up to 68F and bring my strike water a few degrees above to compensate.  You'll get used to it and I'm not taking anything away from pre-heating.  I also always have an extra pot of boiling water on hand, just in case. 

What did you use to calculate the amount of water needed?  I would definitely recommend investing in some brew-ware if you have not already.



--- Quote from: anje on January 28, 2013, 03:07:23 PM ---Well, I did it. Not exactly a SMaSH -- decided to throw some crystal in there for color/flavor/acid. I'll probably start monkeying with water chemistry in a few brews.

What have I learned?
(1) Hitting temperatures when it's 33F where you're working is kinda tricky. (Glad I didn't do it last weekend when it was more like 12F.  But chilling worked great!)
(2) I used too much water. My efficiency might actually have been OK if I measured it, but everything came out a bit dilute.
(3) My cooler keeps grains untouchably hot after the sparge is drained for several hours. But it takes a LOT to get it warmed up.

Can anyone link me to a quick tutorial on how to tune the temperatures needed to heat a mash tun? Even with preheating, my strike water temp wasn't even close at first. The thing weighs about 17lbs, for what it's worth.

--- End quote ---

Hitting strike temperatures is a toughie.  I'm on batch 8 of all grain and I still haven't pegged it.  I haven't had to deal with very cold or very hot weather yet either, mostly it's been between 55-65 degrees.  Beersmith II would be helpful, but you still have to dial things in.  I am getting closer tho, I'm usually within 2-3 degrees.

Water usage is another issue that you can't necessarily solve on your first or second batch.  Again, beersmith II has helped me, but in the end I've basically decided on using eight gallons per batch for reasonable OG batches.  Obviously if I make something high gravity, it may require more water.  For now, eight gallons has mostly been close to the right amount, with enough left over for starters, priming sugar etc.  Even then, on my last batch I had nearly a gallon left over. 

Using too much sparge water will leave you a little thin on your OG.  I've moved from using the precise amounts shown on beersmith to using "close" to the first amount, and adjusting the second sparge amount according to how much wort I have.  I have also been trying to almost completely drain before sparging.  The one time I followed the beersmith amounts directly, I came out seven points low, and when I had reached boil volume, there was still sparge water flowing.  Because of this, I assume that I wasn't draining completely enough before the next sparge step, and was using too much water.

My cooler keeps the grains quite hot too.  I only lose perhaps two degrees over 75 minutes of mashing, even with several stirs.  The spent grains remain very hot for a long time too.

Pre-heating your mash tun might be a good idea if you're dealing with greatly varying temperatures.  Near-freezing temps will obviously suck some energy out of your strike water, and you'll probably dial in your system easier if you don't have to deal with such big temperature fluctuations.  I have not been pre-heating, but I live in TX where it's pretty much always warm, if not damn hot, so this isn't as much of an issue for me. 

You CAN do a smash beer, but you don't have to, and honestly I'd probably have preferred the recipe you chose over a pure smash.  As I said earlier, my first beer was a smash and didn't come out like I expected.  It had plenty of head and body though, I used maris otter. ::D  It was good, just not what I expected!  Way maltier and not very hoppy (bitterness was fine, but lacked hop flavor).  FWIW it was a willamette/MO smash.

You're on the right path man, keep it up!

I also recommend some brewing software.  I use beersmith II and I think it was worth the money.  If anything, it's over-complicated, but it will certainly cover the issues and parameters you need, and then some.

I'm sure I'm not doing this the way that people would recommend but it works for me.
I bring my water to about 180F and add water to my mash tun cooler and let it sit for 10 mins.  Then I take the temp.  If I think it's gonna be way too hot I may add a few ice cubes but probably not. 
I mash in and then take the temp again.  If it's way too hot I add a few ice cubes and stir slowly.  On the very, very rare occasion that it's been too cold I add some more boiling water.  Yes it may cause my water:grain ratio to vary slightly from my planned amount but I've never ever had an issue with it nor do I give a hoot.  I shoot for 2L/lb of grain and if I have to add another couple liters of boiling water to a brew I end up at about 2.2L which works just fine.

My water is pretty hard so I use 1/2 tap and 1/2 distilled for pale beers, pure tap plus dark malts for darker beers.  Again, may not be what others think is ideal but sure works for me.  Maybe some day I'll screw around with trying pure distilled water and adding minerals etc but I really can't see myself getting that wound up about it.  If you want to worry over water, go ahead since there's lots to obsess about but for me the 1/2 and 1/2 method works just fine.

Glad you added Crystal to your mash.  I think it's sort of needed in an APA.  100% MO or even Munich might work but with pale malt, I like a bit of crystal (although I am dialing that back to get them a bit dryer).  To my mind, the reason for doing a SMaSH beer would be to determine the characteristics that a particular malt or hop bring to the beer and I wouldn't be doing that until I had my process down perfectly to eliminate brewing variables (although I like Jeff's comment that he calls them Pilsners).

Good luck and enjoy. 

One of the sillier things that I didn't anticipate is how much freaking fog you get with hot water in cool weather. Had to take off my glasses and was constantly wiping the display on my thermometer (which is waterproof, for the record) to try to see anything.

But I finally got to use all my new toys. New kettle (aluminum, yes I heated water in it previously), bayou burner that sounds like a jet engine, milled my own grain, and it's in my new fermentation chamber at 63F. Because the best part of Christmas is when you get to play with your toys!

ETA: For the moment, I'm using BrewTarget for my software. Which isn't fantastic, but it seems to be functional. Even if the temps it gave me for strike water were off (blame not knowing any values for the cooler, need to mess with those), it at least gave me something to shoot for. I do need to more carefully measure my water -- this was largely scoop, pour, oops-too-cold, throw some back and heat more, dump some more in, good-quick-add-grain!


--- Quote from: anje on January 28, 2013, 05:41:48 PM ---I do need to more carefully measure my water -- this was largely scoop, pour, oops-too-cold, throw some back and heat more, dump some more in, good-quick-add-grain!

--- End quote ---

I have an app on my iPhone called 'Sparge Pal'.  It's a snap to figure out how much water you need and at what temp.  Then adjusting for outside temp and other variables is much easier. 



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