Monday, October 22, 2012

My Way To All Grain Brew, Part 1

For the second time, I brewed an all grain beer the other weekend, and I'm feel like I'm starting to get my arms around it a little more.  It is a long process, and to do it right, starting early in the morning with the mash seems to be a good idea.  The first time, I mashed the night before and then boiled first thing in the morning, which seemed to work out too.

Analysis of the recipe and the amounts of water, grain, etc. is essential.  I try not to stress out about it though.  If some of the measurements are off, then compensate later.  There are a lot of assumptions made during the process, including the amount of water absorbed by the grain, left in the tun, loss of water through steam, loss of water with trub, etc.

I hope for a 4 gallon batch.  My largest carboy is 5 gallons, my mash tun is 5 gallons, and the boiling vessel is 7 to the rim.  The smaller 4 gallon batches seem to work out.  For secondary fermentation, I can rack to the 3 gallon carboy and to a one gallon carboy (in which I can add some oak chips, or other items to experiment).  It's a rather small operation, but seems to work.

All Grain, Part 1, The Mash:

8.8lbs of cracked grain. Stupid photo, I know
Background:  Brewing a Brown Porter, aiming for OG of 1.052.  Working with the numbers, I should need about 6.5 gallons of water to start.  I had 8.8 lbs of grain.  Most will suggest to add 1 to 1.5 quarts of water per pound of grain. Here I added 3 gallons (not sure if I'd be able to get more into the tun), which is at 1.36 quarts per pound.
  1. I have a 3-3.5 gallon stock pot which works well on the stove.  Fill with wather and heat to 165 degrees.
  2. Put another smaller pan on the stove and set on high heat.  It won't take long to boil.
  3. Pour boiling water from the small pan into the Mash Tun to heat it up on the inside.
  4. After awhile, dump out the hot water.  This primes the Tun for the mash, so as to not lose a large amount of initial heat.
  5. Place the grains in the Tun.  It's amazing that they will fill it almost half way up.
  6. Once the water is 165 degrees, I add it to the mash tun with a 3 quart pitcher, stirring it into the grain.
  7. Continue adding until 3 gallons of water are in the tun. 
  8. Stir well to make sure all air bubbles escape, and once all in, check the temperature and adjust if necessary with added water.
  9. Cover and set the timer for 60 minutes, and stir every 15 minutes.
  10. After 60 minutes, drain, the first gallon or so into the pitcher, and the pour back into the top of the tun.  The first amount will be cloudy, this "recirculation" will allow the the wort that has traveled through the grains, filtering it, to come through.
  11. Drain the water into the boil pot.  This will take some time, and go fairly slow.
The mash, grain with 3 gallons of water in a 5 gallon cooler

See also Part 2, Sparge & Lauter