First All Grain Batch

Hi all!

Attempted my first all grain batch yesterday. In a nutshell, it went horribly wrong.
To start, i couldn’t reach my mash temperature. I have a 10 gallon tank used for a hot liquor tank, and a 10 gallon igloo cooler for my mash tun. Looking for a mash temp of 153degrees, i heated my water to 165 and added 4 gallons. Temp wouldn’t go above 150, eventually settled at 145, i added more hot hoter at 175 degrees, but it wouldn’t get above 150.

Second, my instructions which came with the kit, which was a Irish Red Ale from Northern Brewer, did not say how much wort to collect. All i knew was the OG was to be 1044. I did not have my brewpot graduated to show gallons on the side, so i had to eyeball how much wort was being collected. So i’m assuming i needed to collectg enough wort until my OG was 1044 correct? By the time i checked it, it was 1030 @ 124degrees. So did i stop to soon, or didn’t wait long enough?

Third, i didn’t collect enough wort, to be sure. Maybe about a gallon short, plus i seemed to have accumulated alot of trub in the fermentor. I used a hop basket for my hop additions, but it seemed like there was a huge amount of junk that got transferred to the fermentor after the boil.

Fourth, and this is my own fault, i forgot to aerate the wort in the fermentor. A neighbor came over to see what was going on, and he completely distracted me. Oh the horror!

If anyone has any advice on the top three issues, it would greatly appreciated. I actually have an active fermentation going on now. It started a couple of hours after i pitched my yeast starter, so we will see how it turns out. Looking to make some Caribou Slobber some time soon.


You definitely have some issues and reading to do. This batch isn’t ruined but may not be what you want.
If you were doing 5 gallons, you would need to collect 6.5 gallons or so. You’re preboil gravity would be lower than 1.044. It would increase to 1.044 as the volume lowers due to evaporation.

For mash temps in a cooler I heat my strike water to 20 degrees above desired mash temp. In your case it would have been 173. Then add the strike water to your cooler and let sit for 15-20 min to allow the cooler to “heat up”. Then dough in, this technique gives me consistent mash temps. I feel like letting the cooler “heat up” is the key to holding temp.

For the water you need this is tricky. I would recommend you get brewing software such as ProMash or Beersmith. These will calculate the sparge water and doughing in water you need. Plus they figure in what will evaporate with the boil to give you 5 gallons in the fermentor.

The hops and crap in your fermentor will settle for when you rack/bottle. As far as aeration just shake your carboy/bucket a bit. These are simply trial and error learning lessons.

Lastly AWESOME! on your first AG batch. You pry don’t feel that way but it’s very cool. You still made beer from grain! Maybe not ideal conditions/numbers/etc. but you made beer! Good learning lessons!

At this point RDWHAHB

Thanks for the info. Back to the books before i do my next batch. Still confused on Original Gravity and how much wort to collect though. You state 6.5 gallons or so, is that a rule, for 5 gallon batches, or is there a formula to determine?

Ranger, thanks for your comments. I actually just got a copy of Beersmith, but when i tried to move the recipe i have for this batch into the software, the Belgian Caramel pils grain wasn’t listed in the grains database, so i wasn’t sure how to add it in.

I was using 2qts/lb grain for my mash water formula. Maybe next time use 1.5qts/lb in case i need to add more water.

You need to figure out how much post boil volume you want, how much evaporation you’ll have during boil and that will be how much wort you need to collect. If you want 21 quarts post boil and will evaporate 6 quarts during boil then you need 27 quarts preboil . Evaporation depends on your kettle and local environment.

You can preheat your mash tun with water to limit heat loss. Add a couple gallons of 160 or so water and let it sit. It gets the cooler warmed up.

There are calculators all over the internet that will compute your strike water temp. You put in the amount of grain and the volume of strike water, it gives you a temp. There is no one size fits all rule because it depends on those factors, plus the temp of your grist. I think most of them assume 70 F, so if your grain was outside it might come out cool. I have an app on my android tab (brewzor-calc - free) that lets you adjust it. You also want to preheat your mash tun, or it will bring your temp down. That’s an advantage of a directly heatable tun. They don’t seem to be very popular, but I wouldn’t use anything else. I start from the end and reason back on volumes: I want 5 gallons to bottle, so I add half a gallon for fermenter waste = 5.5 gallon. Add a gallon for boil-off (you’ll have to fine tune that as you get accustomed to your setup) = 6.5. Add 1 pint/lb for grain absorption: for an 8 lb bill, that would be a gallon = 7.5. Remember, any recipe or calculator has to make assumptions about extraction and brewhouse efficiency, so your OG may not be exactly on the money. Think things out in advance, remember general principles, and learn with each brew. Don’t sweat minor variations in numbers - sanitation, temp control, etc. are more critical. Good luck man.