Going all grain

Brewing processes and methods. How to brew using extract, partial or all-grain. Tips and tricks.

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Going all grain

Postby Cheers » Fri Aug 30, 2002 11:42 am

I am going to make the plunge and go all grain. When I do it though I want to do it right. Can you guys and your VAST knowledge ;) put all grain in to laymans terms for me. For instance, I see alot of talk about mash effiecentcy. What is that exactly? How does it pertain to brewing? How do you calculate it? what exactly do you use a magnetic stirrer for? What is the best yeast to use? Liquid, dry, or home cultures? Any other of the basics that you can help me with would be great. I really want to go all grain, I'm just a little hesitant. Thanks.
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Go For It!

Postby Gravity Thrills » Fri Aug 30, 2002 12:49 pm

First a warning: going all grain will TRIPLE the length of your brew day, so you really have to like brewing. But, the satisfaction of basically making something great from nothing but raw ingredients is huge, so go for it.

Take baby steps. Do a couple of stovetop all grain batches before you build the new brewery. My first forays into all grain followed Papazian's (CJHB) suggestion pretty closely - plastic bucket with drilled drilled bottom for a lauter tun etc. If you find you don't mind the extra effort and like the degree of control all grain gives you, you can go wild from there.

As far as yeast, absolutely go with liquid starters. Harvest and culture for re-use if you brew frequently enough to make it worth the effort. definitely don't just pitch one little Wyeast "smack pack," you'll have a long lag time and risk infection. Make a 1-2 quart starter with 1/2-1 lb of DME and pitch that.
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Postby val_dieu » Fri Aug 30, 2002 2:07 pm

All of what gravity thrills said. As far as
mash efficiency goes, mash effeciancy is
the degree to which available starches in grain are converted to soluble sugars made available for fermentation. Mash efficiency generally falls between 65% and 80%. If you don't know how efficient your mashing process is, 68% is commonly achieved with home systems. Anywhere from 65 to 75% should be close enough for estimation purposes. Mash efficiency affects the value of your original gravity.

I'd consult books such as Homebrewing I by Al Korzonas to find out more.
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The don't worry clause

Postby Freon12 » Sat Aug 31, 2002 1:07 pm

The people on this forum have guided me and I'm sure others to beer worth drinking. I think if you don't know what it is or don't understand what it does, you don't need it. All that stuff is nothing but fine tuning. Good water and good ingredients are all that make the difference.
Just try one and then ask questions based on your results.

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a few things to keep in mind

Postby stumpwater » Sun Sep 01, 2002 5:33 am

Hey congrats on getting to this point. I figure that you tried a few batches of extract brews first and had some success. Ok, so when you go to all grain, don't change everything you do at once. If you made good beer with a dry yeast culture, don't complicate your first all-grain batch by trying to handle a liquid culture. Use the dry yeast you always use. I didn't with my first batch and almost stopped all-grain brewing. I am still using the dry yeast after a dozen batches since hey, I am brewing really tasty beer.
Equipment tip for all grain. Buy a good size pot since you need to boil the full batch. Propane cookers are amazing for boiling large quantities.
Go to www.howtobrew.com and read about mash efficiency. It is a good way to tell wether your extraction process is working. (ie mash/lauter/sparge) I did my first mash using the single infusion technique described on the above mentioned website. I calculated my mash efficiency at 78%. Not bad for a first! I use a picnic cooler for a mash/lauter tun with a copper manifold I made based on info from the same website. I left all of the joints on my manifold free with no saudering. It was easy to make and easy to clean. I just feed a bit of tubing through the drain hole in the cooler and plug it in to the manifold. I use teflon tape to seal the drain hole. Not the fanciest equipment, but it works awesome.
My best advice is to do a bunch of reading, and when you think you understand, go ahead and try. It really is easy to do all-grain, you will be amazed! Whem yu don't umderstand somethin, com to dis forum and askes. The people here will make everything make sense.
Na zdahroveh!
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You won't regret this step

Postby andytv » Wed Sep 04, 2002 8:53 am

Congrats on your choice to go all-grain, you will never regret it. If you are worried about the length of the brewday, check out the posts on cycle time this month. I broke into all-grain brewing by buying an ingredient kit from homebrew.com. You may want to check them out, they have alot of great kits. If you have a homebrew book, stick to the instructions and you shouldn't have to worry about mash efficiency. What does a magnetic stirrer do? I just got one from ebay for $10; it causes a teflon coated magnetic rod to spin within a container (beaker, flask, etc). By using this device, you can keep yeast in suspension while you're growing yeast starters w/o introducing outside air to the mix. You don't need a magnetic stirrer, but you may want one, as I did, when you get a little more experience. I would use whatever yeast you are comfortable with. I use both dry and liquid, liquid adds $$ to your brew cost, especially since you can't store it for too long. I have harvested yeast from batches of beer with good luck, and I may start again since my little lab is somewhat better equipped now.

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