Author Topic: First experience with All Grain brewing.  (Read 1190 times)

Offline dano14041

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 286
    • View Profile
First experience with All Grain brewing.
« on: October 10, 2010, 02:01:51 PM »
I brewed my first all grain batch yesterday. I enjoyed it much more than the extract brewing I have done.

Wish I could say everything went smoothly, but no, there were a couple of glitches. I was warned that my evaporation rate was too low so I up it (from 12% to 14%) but still came up about 1/4 gallon short and had to add water back for 5 gal to the fermenting bucket. Easy enough to fix, just up the evaporation rate in Beer Smith.

I also put 7 gal of wort into a 7.5 gal kettle. Hard to control boil over with so little room left in the pot. What size would be better to upgrade to? 10 gal or 15 gal?

The biggest problem I had was getting the mash temps correct. I preheated my mash tun with 3.5 gal of 168 F water. Beer Smith calculated the strike water to be 15 qts at 163.9 F, I added the 15 qts at @164 F and my mash temp was 155.1 F, supposed to be 152 F. I cooled down with some ice and actually hit exactly 152 F.  :o  Mash temp dropped to 149.9 F during the 60 min mash. The problem was when I added the water to mash out. The calculations said to add 3.25 gal water at 207.4 F. I added 6.5 qts at 205 F and it only raised the temp to 153 F instead of 168 F. ??? I quickly heated another gal water to boiling and added it. The temp still only when up to 157 F. I drained the mash tun and added 10 qts of water at 175 F (still trying to bring the temp up to 168 F) This brought the mash temp up to 161 F (forgot to take the temp of the grain before adding the sparge water.)

After all that, my question is, "What can I do the get Beer Smith to calculate the correct water temp for the later additions?"

Thanks,
Dano
Tulsa, OK

Offline tubercle

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1639
  • Sweet Caroline
    • View Profile
Re: First experience with All Grain brewing.
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2010, 02:42:18 PM »
Congratulations, there is no turning back now ;D

 One thing I do,  if I use my turkey frying pot, is to drain wort into it but leave about 5 inches free space, and drain the rest into a separate container. After the hot break settles in a few minutes after coming to a boil (and fighting it with a spray bottle) I pour in the rest of the wort and wait for the "mini" hot break that occurs from the addition. Then I start my time at that point such as adding hops, etc...

 As far as reaching your temps: Those data bases are good for a starting point but are only a guide line. Some hit it exact based on the calculations but some don't. You system is different than anyone else and will have to be adjusted according to about 10, 000 variables. Over time you will learn you water volume, strike temps, mash out temps from experience. I don't use the software. I can hit what I want to within a few degrees, which is good enough for me, just because I know.

 Don't get too caught up on the mash out. Add hot water to rinse the grains and to keep it thin enough to drain. Good enough.
Sweet Caroline where the Sun rises over the deep blue sea and sets somewhere beyond Tennessee

Offline theDarkSide

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2456
  • Derry, NH
    • View Profile
Re: First experience with All Grain brewing.
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2010, 06:23:39 AM »
I just upgraded to a 10 gallon kettle because I was doing the same as you ( 7 gallons in a 7.5 gallon kettle ).  If you have the funds, you could go with a 15 gallon kettle and be on the way to doing 10 gallon batches.  In the meantime, get some Fermcap-S foam control, put a few drops of that in there and the boilover will be in check.

What is your mash tun?  Did you stir the mash completely before taking your reading?  Did you enter the temperature of your grain into beersmith?

I use a rectangular cooler for my mash tun and drape a blanket over it to try to hold the temp.  Although I don't think 2.1 degrees over 60 minutes is that big of a deal.

I've always had good luck with Beersmith hitting the numbers, but then I never do a mashout, and just sparge with 180-185 F water ( batch sparge ).
Sergeant - BNArmy Member
Seacoast Homebrew Club - Portsmouth, NH
AHA Member
Stephen Mayo
------------------------------------------------

Offline hokerer

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2639
  • Manassas, VA
    • View Profile
Re: First experience with All Grain brewing.
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2010, 06:30:22 AM »
The calculations said to add 3.25 gal water at 207.4 F. I added 6.5 qts at 205 F and it only raised the temp to 153 F instead of 168 F. ???

3.25 gallons?  That sounds more like a sparge volume than a mash out volume.  If it really did call for 3.25 gallons, it looks like you only added half that with your 6.5 quarts.
Joe

Offline malzig

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 466
    • View Profile
Re: First experience with All Grain brewing.
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2010, 07:40:24 AM »
Most software has some setting for the Thermal Mass of the mash tun, you can try changing that until the mash temperature matches your actual reading.  You also want to make sure it's set up so that it accounts for the fact that you pre-heated the tun, otherwise it will tell you to make the water hot enough to heat the grain and the tun.  Is it possible you just didn't wait long enough for the temperature to settle.  That can take 5 minutes or more for the excess heat to get absorbed by the tun.  Since you got the heat down to 152F and it finished at 149.9F, your 155F might have dropped down to 153F all on it's own, meaning you would have only been off by a trivial 1 degree.

I wouldn't worry about not hitting the mashout temperatures too much.  A mashout doesn't serve much purpose to a batch sparger, frankly.  However, you want to be able to hit your temperatures accurately if you ever want to try a step-mash.  The program told you to add 3.25 (13 qts) gallons at 207F, though, but you only added 6.5 qts at 205F.  On my system, depending on the mash volume and grain amount, that could account for a 10F difference in mashout temperature.  That does sound like it was supposed to be your sparge water, though, unless you were intentionally doing a no-sparge batch.

A 7.5 gallon kettle is tight for 5 gallons, but do-able.  Tubercle has a good suggestion, but it also seems like you have high evaporation at 2.25 gallons.  You may be able to turn the heat down, get a less aggressive boil, and lose less to evaporation.  I have tempered my evaporation to 1.5 gallons in my 8 gallon kettle, so that I could start at 6.5 gallons and end at 5 gallons, which would give you a gallon of headroom.  You also could make a little less beer.  There's no reason you can't design your recipes to make 4.75 gallons instead of 5, if that's what fits in your kettle.  All that said, if you really want a new kettle, my buddy uses 9 gallon pots, starts with 7 gallons and has a comfortable amount of room to spare.

Offline dano14041

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 286
    • View Profile
Re: First experience with All Grain brewing.
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2010, 08:22:37 AM »
The calculations said to add 3.25 gal water at 207.4 F. I added 6.5 qts at 205 F and it only raised the temp to 153 F instead of 168 F. ???

3.25 gallons?  That sounds more like a sparge volume than a mash out volume.  If it really did call for 3.25 gallons, it looks like you only added half that with your 6.5 quarts.

The 3.25 gal water was for sparge. The mash out called for 6.5 qts which I added. I need to proof read my post better.  :-[
Tulsa, OK

Offline dano14041

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 286
    • View Profile
Re: First experience with All Grain brewing.
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2010, 08:48:26 AM »
What is your mash tun?  Did you stir the mash completely before taking your reading?  Did you enter the temperature of your grain into beersmith?

I use a rectangular cooler for my mash tun and drape a blanket over it to try to hold the temp.  Although I don't think 2.1 degrees over 60 minutes is that big of a deal.

I've always had good luck with Beersmith hitting the numbers, but then I never do a mashout, and just sparge with 180-185 F water ( batch sparge ).

My mash tun is a 48 qt rectangular cooler. Maybe I am just worrying too much and just need to brew more and get more experience. ;-)
Tulsa, OK

Offline svejk

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 182
  • Seattle, Wa
    • View Profile
Re: First experience with All Grain brewing.
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2010, 09:18:59 AM »
If you are interested in learning more about thermal masses and strike temperatures, the Basic Brewing podcast on 9/16/2010 has an interview with Chris Colby dedicated to this subject.  For anybody not familiar with podcasts, you don't need an ipod to listen to them, you can download a free version of itunes and play them on your computer.

Offline dano14041

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 286
    • View Profile
Re: First experience with All Grain brewing.
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2010, 09:25:23 AM »
Thanks Svejk! I will give it a listen!
Tulsa, OK

Offline bluesman

  • Global Moderator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 8808
  • Delaware
    • View Profile
Re: First experience with All Grain brewing.
« Reply #9 on: October 11, 2010, 09:33:52 AM »
There's a learning curve with all-grain brewing.  Knowing your equipment is part of that learning curve. There can be slight variations from system to system.  I also use beersmith and had to tweak my calculations based on my specific system.  It is very important to target your strike temps as best you can but there will always be some variation.  I have found it better to undershoot (volume) my strikes slightly and adjust accordingly (hot or cold water) in order to maintain my volumes. This way you will come closer to your targeted gravity.

Good Luck!
« Last Edit: October 11, 2010, 11:28:17 AM by bluesman »
Ron Price

Offline denny

  • Administrator
  • Retired with too much time on my hands
  • *****
  • Posts: 13583
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: First experience with All Grain brewing.
« Reply #10 on: October 11, 2010, 10:06:20 AM »
Maybe I am just worrying too much and just need to brew more and get more experience. ;-)


That's absolutely true!  I did batch 383 yesterday, and it went so quickly and smoothly that at the end of it I was wondering if I'd forgotten to do something!
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

Offline euge

  • I must live here
  • **********
  • Posts: 7587
  • Estilo Casero
    • View Profile
Re: First experience with All Grain brewing.
« Reply #11 on: October 11, 2010, 10:48:57 AM »
I'll chime in. Congratulations on the first AG.

If you plan to do 10 gallon batches invest in a 20+ gallon kettle. Ultimately, a 15 gallon will probably be too small. My opinion is that a brewer needs at least 40-50% more kettle capacity than the volume at the start of the boil. Primarily this is to compensate for wort expansion, foaming and boil vigor.

Best not to have sticky wort slopping over the edge during a boil, or an unnecessary and avoidable boil-over because the wort-level was too close to the top.

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

Be Sure To Vote Jonathan Fuller for Governing Committee!

Offline narvin

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1375
  • Baltimore
    • View Profile
Re: First experience with All Grain brewing.
« Reply #12 on: October 11, 2010, 11:24:15 AM »
When I did 5 gallon batches, I had an 8 gallon kettle, and it was barely large enough.  I would probably start with 7.5 gallons and boil down to 5.5, and get a little over 5 in the fermenter after trub losses.

As for step infusions for mash out (or otherwise), you always seem to need a lot more than brewing calculators estimate.  I think that this is because small infusions lose a lot more of their heat during transfer than large ones.  There was some article in Zymurgy that suggested you use 194* F as the infusion temp instead of 212... this gets it a lot closer, IMO.

Also, a mash out is unnecessary.
Please do not reply if your an evil alien!
Thanks
Chris S.

Offline wingnut

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 309
  • Plainwell MI
    • View Profile
Re: First experience with All Grain brewing.
« Reply #13 on: October 11, 2010, 11:39:09 AM »
Back to the initial question about not hitting temps on the infusions...

I usually do not pre-heat my mash tun (insulated cooler) and the numbers come out good most of the time.  In Beer Smith there are some parameters that allow you to modify the thermal mass of the cooler that should help account for your calculations.

Also, did you re-calc your 2nd addition based on the lower temp?  My guess is that Beersmith figured your mash was at 152 when you added your second additon, not 149.9.  You also added water/ice to cool the overshoot of your initial infusion... that mass was probably not accounted for in the Beersmith Calc. 

The good news is, with a little practice, you will tweak things enough to hit your temps every time. 

NOW THE IMPORTANT PART....

HItting the mash temps dead on... is not life and death, and probably will not even make a noticeable difference as long as you are within 2 to 5 degrees of the first infusion.  Much more hinges on the grain itself, and fermentation.

Welcome to the other side, I have had a ton more fun tinkering with All Grain vs Extract, but be carful to only let it get as complicated as you like it!!!  All Grain can still be very simple and easy!

-- Wingnut - Cheers!

Offline 1vertical

  • I spend way too much time on the AHA forum
  • ********
  • Posts: 2604
  • Ozone Layer. Actual location
    • View Profile
Re: First experience with All Grain brewing.
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2010, 07:06:30 AM »
Get the mashwater freeware download from John...tell him I sent ya.

http://gnipsel.com/beer/software/beer-software.html

I am trying to get john to visit us over here.... :P

This single thing has helped more than I can say. Thanks again to john for this stuff.
A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.