Thursday, November 5, 2009

Finally Made the Jump to All Grain!

The title says it all. I went with a cooler mash tun for batch sparging ala Denny Conn. I used a 70 quart Coleman Xtreme cooler, stainless braid, and ball valve for a 10 gallon setup. Pics are at the bottom. The first brew on my ghetto-fabulous rig was a Single Malt and Single Hop IPA (SMaSH). Here's the recipe:

24 lbs Weyermann Munich
1 oz Summit FWH
1 oz Summit @ 60 min
2 oz Summit @ 15 min
2 oz Summit @ flameout
1 oz Summit keghop (per keg)
US-05 yeast

Mashed at 150 for 60 minutes. I was shooting for an OG of 1.066 and 91 IBUs but ended up with only 1.048, putting my efficiency in the high 50s, not too good. Despite the low efficiency, the beer turned out really good! I think once I get a Barley Crusher and dial in my system I will rebrew this as a low gravity, highly hopped session beer. It's got tons of citrus (tangerine and grapefruit) hop flavor and aroma but thanks to the Munich base there's a solid malt background that still finishes dry. I really like this beer.

My second batch was another attempt at the smoked brown ale I brewed last November that was inspired by Red Hook Late Harvest. Although I got a different result with that brew, I ended up liking it a lot so I just modified the grain bill a bit (more rauchmalt, less roasted barley) and converted it to an AG recipe that looks like this:

20 lbs Rahr 2 row
3 lbs Weyermann Rauchmalt (beechwood smoked)
1 lb C60
.5 lb C120
.5 lb pale chocolate
.25 lb roasted barley
1.5 oz Magnum @ 60
2 oz Czech Saaz @ 15
US-05 yeast

I mashed this one at 150 as well. I was shooting for 1.068 on this but ended up with 1.056, so I did improve my efficiency slightly to 62%. I am really liking this beer as well. There's a hint of chocolate and coffee in there and the smoke is noticeable without being overwhelming, and there is just enough hop presence to balance everything out. I am quite happy with this beer as well.

Finally, I brewed a 10 gallon batch of Belgian Golden Strong. I mashed this one at 148 for 90 minutes and then did a 90 minute boil to drive off DMS because of the Belgian Pils malt. I split this batch between Wyeast 3864 (Unibroue) and Wyeast 3739 (Flanders Golden). Both of these strains were part of the VSS series. I pitched at 64 degrees and then ramped up over the next few days to about 80 degrees, which is where they sit right now. It's only been 2 weeks so I haven't taken a reading on these yet. Here's the recipe:

25 lbs Castle Pils
5 lbs table sugar
5 oz Czech Saaz @ 90

Pretty simple recipe! The actual OG on this one was 1.076 versus my target of 1.082, but my efficiency dropped back to the high 50s since I calculated this at 65%. Not sure what the deal is, since I double crushed the grain and thought I did a fairly good job measuring my volumes.

In other brewing news, I attended the AHA Rally at Surly Brewing with a couple of guys from RAZE back on October 10. Surly brewed what they called an Imperial Brown for the occasion and distributed 5 gallons of wort to over 300 homebrewers. In addition, we had the opportunity to drink free beer from Surly, including their freshly tapped Surly Wet, a wet-hopped IPA. I got to meet a bunch of guys from the Northern Brewer forum too which was icing on the cake. I just kegged this beer and so far it is tasting great. It was a big beer (OG 1.081) that I fermented with Wyeast 1214 Belgian Abbey yeast. I taste some dark fruit, alcohol warmth, and a little coffee and molasses. It will definitely get better with age.

Here's a few pics of the new AG setup:


nate said...

Congrats on your move to AG. I did the same thing this year and am on my 3rd batch so far. I'm having the same problem with my efficiency and I've been stuck in the mid-50s to low-60s on each session and am working to figure out how to get that up. I'd be interested in hearing how your next few sessions go and what you change to get your efficiency up.

richt said...

Do you have your own mill? I started a thread on the Northern Brewer forum and got some good replies, many of which said to look at my crush. For my last batch I double crushed and still was around 60. I checked my mash ph as well and was at 5.3. I probably need to do more reading and be more careful about measuring my volumes.

nate said...

I don't have my own mill and I'm ways from that, so I'm stuck with what gets crushed when I order. I brewed again this weekend, though, and made two changes that seemed to help a lot.

1) Much slower runnoff. I kept the speed down once it got started especially on the second runnings.

2) When adding the second round of water, I gave all the grains a big stir for a few minutes to loosen up the sugars.

On Saturday I ended up with BHE of around 69 - 70%. Way too much wort b/c I miscalc'd my boil off...but that's a different topic.

richt said...

Nate, I'm already doing nubmer 2, but I'll try to be more thorough next time. I am definitely planning on running off more slowly next brew (which might not be for a few weeks yet!). For my previous batches I just barely cracked the valve for the vorlauf, but once the runoff was clear I opened it all the way. How slow did you go, Nate?