Author Topic: First time all grain  (Read 1675 times)

Offline 1stnspc

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First time all grain
« on: July 20, 2010, 06:23:33 AM »
Hi all, I plan on brewing my first all grain this weekend (weather dependent) and I have a few questions. The recipe I'm using is from the Sep/Oct 09 issue of Zymurgy on page 29 - The Clark Kent Mild Ale.

There are 8.25 lbs of grain that will be going into the mash tun. Based on a quart per pound, I'll need just over two gallons of water for absorption. The recipe says that I should collect six gallons of wort with the expectation that one gallon will be lost to the boil. So now I'm up to just over eight gallons, plus about 1/2 gallon due to dead space in the tun. So does that mean that almost nine gallons of heated water will go into the mash tun to end up with six in the kettle?

Also, is the iodine test an absolute must for someone in the early stages of all grain?

I think that's all of the questions that I still have about this. Wish me luck!

Thanks a lot for all of the help,

Matt

Offline bluesman

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Re: First time all grain
« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2010, 07:18:21 AM »
The average grain absorption is .12 gallons/lb. So you will have about a gallon of absorption plus about a gallon of evaporation per hour during the boil. If you want to acheive six in the kettle you'll need 8.5 gallons which includes the half gallon of tun deadspace loss. But if you do a 90 min boil....use 9 gallons.
Ron Price

Offline akr71

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Re: First time all grain
« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2010, 07:19:09 AM »
I've never done an iodine test.  I just mash for 60 minutes and don't sweat it (well, maybe a little less for full bodied beers, a little longer for light bodied beers)).

For that amount of grain, I'd add between 8 to 10 quarts (I would lean towards 10 myself) of mash water.  When the mash is done, drain the tun and measure how much you collected.  Use enough sparge water to get you to the total boil volume you are looking for - you won't really know your system until you've done a few batches, but a good rule of thumb is ~1 gallon/hour lost to evaporation.  I'd aim for ~6.5 gallons going into the boil kettle.

The water absorbed by the grain and lost to dead space won't make it to the kettle, but 8-9 gallons sounds about right.

Hopefully people with more experience can chime in too - I'm still new enough at this that I remember all the headscratching, but seasoned enough that brewday is has become pretty easy and relaxed.  You're on the steep part of the learning curve and the best way to get through that is brew as often as possible  ;)
Andy

Amherst, NS - Canada

Offline tygo

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Re: First time all grain
« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2010, 07:23:58 AM »
I don't bother with the iodine test either.  Also, the amount lost to the boil is going to depend somewhat on a few factors one of which is the shape of your kettle.  Taller, narrower kettles are going to boil off less, probably in line with the 1 gallon you're figuring on.  With shorter, wider kettles (like mine) you're going to boil off considerably more than that.

Take lots of measurements, keep good notes, and brew lots of batches and you'll have your system figured out in no time.
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Offline euge

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Re: First time all grain
« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2010, 09:27:15 AM »
Did the iodine test the first time only. Just to see it. Don't bother.

I think you're on the right track with the Mild ale. Better than trying to squeeze a Barleywine out on your first go. You'll be stepping up into the artful techniques of brewing now. There's factors that will affect your beer now. Primarily, I suggest understanding what your water profile is and how it will relate to your brews' pH. This is critical in all-grain brewing. I suggest at least reading Palmer's website and utilizing the nomograph.

When lautering your mash some find it helpful to only open the valve half-way as a maximum. This may help you avoid a stuck mash, but with 8.25# you probably won't have much of a problem in that area.


Good luck!
The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline saintpierre

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Re: First time all grain
« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2010, 09:51:10 AM »
I agree with the consensus here.  I went all-grain just after the new year and have made 11 batches so far and now my brew day is smoother.  Take as many notes as you can the first time.  It will help when you make a big beer.
I did an iodine test on the first cople of batches. Now, sometimes I will if I brew a style that I have never done all-grain before to confirm that the startchs are converted (must be the engineer in me).
For the water I typically like to heat extra for the HLT in case I got into the barleywine and mis-calculated something ;D

Cheers!
Mike St. Pierre
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Offline weithman5

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Re: First time all grain
« Reply #6 on: July 20, 2010, 10:40:40 AM »
those pictures on that "other" forum are pretty descriptive. I am not sure i like the valve right on top of the heat source. i guess nothing that good hot pad wouldnt protect you from.
Don AHA member

Offline thomasbarnes

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Re: First time all grain
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2010, 02:13:06 AM »
Best of luck!

Your first all grain batch will also be a test of your mashing setup. This means you're working with unfamiliar equipment in addition to unfamiliar procedures. Lots of fun, but also lots of new ways to screw up.

Amylase enzymes denature fairly quickly; you have about 5 minutes to get your mash temperature down to where you want it.

Given the high degree of modification of most modern malt, starch conversion can happen fast - within about 30 minutes.

Conversely, most brewers run off their wort too quickly - for maximum extract efficiency, you want a slow trickle of wort. This also helps combat hot-side aeration.

(These facts from a presentation from a rep from Briess malt at the 2008 NHC.)

Practically this means:

Really sweat your strike temperature. Warm your mash tun with hot water before you add your grist, so you don't get too much of a temperature drop. Have a half gallon of hot (ca. 170 degrees F) water and a gallon of cool water (room temp.) on hand in addition to your regular liquor. Stir your mash well to get even temperature distribution and break up clumps of dry grain. Take a couple of quick measurements using a probe thermometer, sampling in different locations and at different depths to get a sense of how the water is flowing through your mash tun. Working quickly, mix your mash until you get an even temperature. Judiciously adjust your mash temperature using your hot or cold water until you're within a couple of degrees of where you want to be. After that, you're good. Messing with it won't help it. Leave it alone. Do something else.

If you must shave time from your brew day, take it from your mash. You can get away with as little as 30 minutes is pH, mash thickness, etc. is right and you're going for a dextrinous wort. Good reference here:

 http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter14-6.html

For wort runoff, once you're sure that your system is working right set the valve on your mash tun so you're just getting a trickle of wort. If you're recirculating or fly sparging, adjust the flow so liquid is coming into the mash tun at about the same rate it's going out and the mash is covered with liquid. The idea is that you want the mash to "float" slightly so it doesn't get compacted (the dreaded "stuck mash").

Other stuff I've learned the hard way:

As you collect your runoff, also look for bits of grain husk and other crud in your wort. If you see that sort of stuff, carefully pour your runoff back into the mash tun until the runoff is fairly clear. Grain husks in your wort = astringency in your beer.

Don't be tempted to add more sparge water to get that last little bit of wort. That's another way to get astringency. Better to get a smaller amount of higher gravity wort. If you want to make up the volume, just cheat and add water and malt extract. After all, it's your first all grain batch! Who expects perfection the first time?

In some cases, crud can clog the outflow valve of the mash tun. Something like a pipe cleaner, bent coat wire hanger or chopstick is useful for clearing such clogs. You might have a clog if outflow suddenly slows severely, even if it doesn't stop. You can also tell if there is a clog if the amount of liquid flowing into the mash tun starts to rise.

If you do get a stuck mash, shut off the outflow, let some more sparge water or recirculated wort into the mash tun and gently stir the mash. Once the liquor covers the mash, you can carefully restart the outflow valve. The ideas is that you want to "refloat" the wort without creating "channels" through it. If worse comes to worse, though, just accept that you'll get crummy efficiency from the mash and get the runoff any way you can.

Eventually, you'll know your system well enough that you can nail your mash temperature without needing to mess around with hot and cold water, you'll figure out flow rates, and whatnot, so you will be able to pretty much ignore the mash tun, hot liquor tank and grant while they do their thing. Until then, sweat the details in the first few minutes of mashing and during runoff.

Offline mrcceo

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Re: First time all grain
« Reply #8 on: July 21, 2010, 05:47:35 AM »
Just a few suggestions some of which will conflict with the other posts but then what is a form for.

Up your water to grain ratio to 1.5 quarts of water to 1 lb of grain.  This will help when it comes to preventing a stuck sparge and give you better efficiency.

Run the iodine test.  Since you are new to all grain you will have all kinds of variables and without good pH control the iodine will confirm your conversion which could take up to 60 - 90 minutes. It also will give you some peace of mind and eliminate at least one question/variable if you should run into problems.

If you don't monitor the pH and you don't know your water chemistry you may want to use some 5.2 mash stabilizer as insurance.

Make sure your organized and you may want to set up the night before so you can just start in the next day. Setting up the night before will also help you in case your missing anything.

Stay relaxed and Good luck.

 



Offline denny

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Re: First time all grain
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2010, 08:39:03 AM »
Best of luck!

Your first all grain batch will also be a test of your mashing setup. This means you're working with unfamiliar equipment in addition to unfamiliar procedures. Lots of fun, but also lots of new ways to screw up.

Amylase enzymes denature fairly quickly; you have about 5 minutes to get your mash temperature down to where you want it.

In reality, you have a bit longer...more like 15 min.

Given the high degree of modification of most modern malt, starch conversion can happen fast - within about 30 minutes.

Conversely, most brewers run off their wort too quickly - for maximum extract efficiency, you want a slow trickle of wort. This also helps combat hot-side aeration.

Unless you batch sparge, in which case you can run off as quickly as your system will allow.

Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

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Re: First time all grain
« Reply #10 on: July 21, 2010, 09:05:46 AM »
I learned that the Pros do an iodine test.  It is a quick test.  It may save you grief.  I went a long time not doing one after getting my process down, but have been doing it for the past year.  Saved one mash that had not converted. The base grains were vienna and munich, so a temp boost and more time did the trick.  YMMV.
Jeff Rankert
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Offline 1stnspc

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Re: First time all grain
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2010, 12:02:17 PM »
I'd like to thank everyone for their advice and suggestions. I'm mainly using this session as a practice run & get the procedure down. That's why I chose to do this mild ale with only 8# of grain and a few oz. of hops. I've watched enough videos and read enough articles/books so I'm fairly confident in what I need to do. I've been running the whole thing over in my head for the past couple of months although like most things, I'm sure I'm forgetting a few details that I'll run into when I get started. My next batch will involve step mashing, but it seems pretty straight forward. Thanks again and I'll let you know how I do!!!