Author Topic: All Grain Questions  (Read 1364 times)

Offline MrDonde

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All Grain Questions
« on: January 25, 2017, 09:45:05 PM »
Afternoon,

I did my first all grain brew using my new equipment and several questions came up during the process so I thought I would just throw them out here and hope for some help from the hive mind.

I was doing a 5 gallon Kölsch recipe and using keggles for mashing and the boil. I got this set from another homebrewer along with a keezer and various other equipment. The setup is 3 keggles and a 2 tier propane burner stand. I used one keggle for mashing, one for heating sparge water, and one for the boil.

1. One general issue I had was "wasted"/"unused" water or wort. Because of where the spigots are I would often have 1 or two gallons of liquid left in the keggle when transferring liquids from keggle to keggle. Is this normal or is there some trick to not leaving behind as much liquid?

2. The false bottom I used in my mashing keggle took 3 gallons of water before the water would rise above the false bottom. Again, is this normal for keggles? Is my false bottom too big? How do I account for this 3 gallons when figuring out recipes?

3. I had very inconsistent temperature readings throughout the process. My keggles have thermometers above the spigots and the reading on them was not consistent with my digital thermometer I used. Heck, depending on where I placed my digital thermometer I would get different temperature. The range was between 2 to 10 degrees F different. Is there some trick to getting a consistent temperature? (The thermometers are new so I fairly certain they are working correctly.)

4. What is the best way to transfer liquid from one keggle to another? I was given a small pump with the equipment and the guy told me it worked fine but I have been unable to get the pump to move water. My 2 tier propane stand kind of works but I often have to tip the keggles on their side to get the liquid moving. (This is the pump https://www.amazon.com/bayite-BYT-7A015-Circulation-Supply-Adapter/dp/B01G305PK0/ref=pd_nav_hcs_bia_t_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=N6EETNZAZ3NR4SZ2H8PD

5. For sparging is there a good method or tool for sparging with keggles? Since my pump was not working I just used a pitcher to sparge slowly. I probably did a poor job since I was moving the grain bed around and the rate was not steady.

7. More of a general all grain question, how do you calculate your mash time and sparge time/rate? Along with all grain brewing I am looking to do my own recipe creation and I am still unsure how to figure out those numbers.

6. This may answer the other questions but are keggles too big for me to use? I generally do 5 gallon recipes. Do I need to do much larger recipes to use the keggles correctly? If the keggles are too big what is a solid/cost effective 5 gallon setup? I have all the stuff for mini-mash brewing so I have a lot of equipment.

Thanks for any help anyone can offer!
-Donde

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: All Grain Questions
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2017, 10:03:25 PM »
Keg kettles kinda way to big for 5 gallons batches

I don't sweat "leftover " wort. I intentionally brew "too much".  I need 5 gallons to my kegs, so I shoot for 5.5-6 into the fermenter, usually a half gallon left in the boil pot with hops and break, and about a half gallon left in the mash tun after sparge.

Offline Slowbrew

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Re: All Grain Questions
« Reply #2 on: January 25, 2017, 10:14:50 PM »
Do the kettles (excluding the mash tun for now) have a pick-up tube that can pickup liquid from deeper in the vessel?  Without a pick tube you would leave quite a bit behind on each transfer.

In the mash tun, how does the drain piping connect to the screen?

Some pictures might help folks figure out if your numbers are "normal".

As Jim said, 16 gallon kettles may be a bit large for 5 gallon batches.  I have a 12 gallon stock pot for my boil kettle that gives me a ton of space, which is nice, but my evaporation rate is pretty high.  I use a cooler as my mash tun so my setup is completely different from yours and really can't compare much with the setup you have.

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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: All Grain Questions
« Reply #3 on: January 25, 2017, 11:00:22 PM »
Keg kettles kinda way to big for 5 gallons batches

I don't sweat "leftover " wort. I intentionally brew "too much".  I need 5 gallons to my kegs, so I shoot for 5.5-6 into the fermenter, usually a half gallon left in the boil pot with hops and break, and about a half gallon left in the mash tun after sparge.

Yeah, but it sounds like he's leaving up to 2 gallons behind on a five gallon batch.  That's a lot.  Part of the problem is likely that the system is set up for bigger batches, but it also sounds like you need a better pick up tube.
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Offline IPAnic

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Re: All Grain Questions
« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2017, 12:05:27 AM »
+1 "better pickup tube".
Also, in regards to the pump, you'll need to get "all" the air out of the suction/inlet side of the hose/tube/pump before it will work. The pump needs to be placed at a lower elevation than the liquid your pumping. Then you'll need to bleed all the air from the suction/inlet side (this can usually be done by placing the "outlet" hose/tubing in a small bucket without the pump running but still at a lower elevation than the liquid your trying to pump. Do this until all air is bled out). It's not a "suction lift" pump...it's a positive head pump (easy there) - meaning positive (liquid) pressure needs to remain on the inlet side while it's pumping. Air is almost every pump's enemy.

Offline stevedorau

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Re: All Grain Questions
« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2017, 02:22:59 AM »
In my experience taking a mash temp is worthless. Without recirculation, temps will vary widely. Do the calcs on the strike temp knowing the grain temp and all will work out.

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Offline stevedorau

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Re: All Grain Questions
« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2017, 02:43:04 AM »
As to mash times, I would stick with 60 min mashes. You can shorten it as most conversion happens in minutes, but you will get better efficiency if you wait an hour. More than than has little value. 

As to sparging, I recommend batch sparging with 2 iterations. I get much better efficiency with 2 than 1 even if my mash tun is big enough to hold both.  Start with batch and go to fly sparging later if you want to try it. I don't think you will gain much with fly and it is a hastle.

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Offline denny

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Re: All Grain Questions
« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2017, 05:03:51 PM »
Keg kettles kinda way to big for 5 gallons batches

I gotta disagree, Jim.  My average batch size is 5.5 gal. and I use a converted keg.
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Offline denny

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Re: All Grain Questions
« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2017, 05:07:37 PM »
As to sparging, I recommend batch sparging with 2 iterations. I get much better efficiency with 2 than 1 even if my mash tun is big enough to hold both. 

I find this very intersting.  My reopeated testing has found that I only get at most a 2 point increase with an additional sparge, which for me is not enough to hassle with.  I wonder why there's such a difference.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: All Grain Questions
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2017, 05:13:32 PM »
Keg kettles kinda way to big for 5 gallons batches

I gotta disagree, Jim.  My average batch size is 5.5 gal. and I use a converted keg.
You're totally right. For whatever reason I was thinking kegs were bigger than that... I use a 15 gallon kettle for 6 gallon final. Thanks for catching that
« Last Edit: January 26, 2017, 05:23:04 PM by klickitat jim »

Offline stevedorau

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Re: All Grain Questions
« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2017, 05:42:25 PM »
As to sparging, I recommend batch sparging with 2 iterations. I get much better efficiency with 2 than 1 even if my mash tun is big enough to hold both. 

I find this very intersting.  My reopeated testing has found that I only get at most a 2 point increase with an additional sparge, which for me is not enough to hassle with.  I wonder why there's such a difference.
I generally do not stir the mash either during mashing or sparging.  With 1, I get about 65% efficiency and with 2, 75%.  I imagine mixing could change the results quite a bit. 

Offline stevedorau

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Re: All Grain Questions
« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2017, 05:47:06 PM »
As to sparging, I recommend batch sparging with 2 iterations. I get much better efficiency with 2 than 1 even if my mash tun is big enough to hold both. 

I find this very intersting.  My reopeated testing has found that I only get at most a 2 point increase with an additional sparge, which for me is not enough to hassle with.  I wonder why there's such a difference.
I generally do not stir the mash or the sparge. With one sparge I get approximately 65% efficiency and 75% with two sparges. I am sure stirring makes a big difference.

Offline JJeffers09

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Re: All Grain Questions
« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2017, 05:53:48 PM »
1.) Get a good pickup tube, or keep tipping the kettle.
2.) I am about 2.5 gallons space with my false bottom with my new kettle.  Keggles are about 3.
3.) Even though they are new, test your thermometers in boiling water, adjust accordingly with the flathead screw on the back.
4.)Are you putting the 'inlet' into the front and the 'outlet' on the top?
5.)I suggest a sparge arm, or batch sparge/full volume mash
7.)It is based on your pH and other factors.  It is probably best to do a starch test until you get the hang of things.
6.) If you are batch sparging, and making 7.2gallon batches boiled down to 5gallons into the fermenter you are good to go with the Keggles and will not have to worry about boil over,  Maybe 10 gal vessels.  I have pulled off 8.5 gallon, but there will be boil overs.
« Last Edit: January 26, 2017, 05:56:18 PM by JJeffers09 »
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Offline denny

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Re: All Grain Questions
« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2017, 06:20:37 PM »
As to sparging, I recommend batch sparging with 2 iterations. I get much better efficiency with 2 than 1 even if my mash tun is big enough to hold both. 

I find this very intersting.  My reopeated testing has found that I only get at most a 2 point increase with an additional sparge, which for me is not enough to hassle with.  I wonder why there's such a difference.
I generally do not stir the mash either during mashing or sparging.  With 1, I get about 65% efficiency and with 2, 75%.  I imagine mixing could change the results quite a bit.

I don't stir either.  With one sparge I average 83%.
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Offline denny

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Re: All Grain Questions
« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2017, 06:22:10 PM »

will not have to worry about boil over

Oh, man, you have a lot of faith!  I thought that the first time I used a keg for a 5 gal. batch.  Turned my back and it boiled over.  And that isn't the only time!
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russell