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Getting started with All Grain

I’ve been brewing extract and partial mash recipes and I’m planning to try all grain.I bought the Beer Smith 2 software and I’m all ready stumped when trying to fill out the "my Equipment " area. I will be using a 10 gallon cooler with a false bottom for my mash tun, I’m assuming I would lose approx. a 1/2 gallon of water in the bottom of mash tun. Would that be right? Then I need to know my boil off rate, which I never took notice of when doing extract. What I need to know is how many gallons of water I need to start with to end up with a 5 gallon batch? Would a 10 gallon brew pot be a good size to start out with for brewing a 5 gallon batch? I hope my questions make some sense and thanks for any help you can give me

Put a gallon or so of water in your tun, let it drain, then measure what is left in the tun. That will be a close enough estimate to what you will lose to dead space. You can always correct it slightly after you’ve made a few batches. My 5 gallon tun leaves about a cup behind, but it depends on the design.

I have mine set at 3/4 gallons in the mash tun and 1/2 gallon in the boil kettle for loss and I start with 7.6 gallons before the boil.

I need 10.5 gallons of water total to start I fly sparge and only lose a couple cups if that in the sparge tank. ... 140.0.html

The link gives step-by-step instructions on building your equipment profile.

I finally just got my boil-off rate and shrinkage (due to cooling) dialed in on my system. Before, I was using a set percentage of 5% evap and 4% shrinkage, per a brewing book I have. I noticed these numbers were way off. So I notched a dowel rod to measure volumes in my BK. After a few brews, I now know I lose about 1.125 gal due to evap, and about .375 gal after cooling. As for my mashtun, I use a round 5gal cooler with a braided hose. I also put a large grain bag inside, and mash in that. After I sparge, I simply lift the grains out and dump whatever wort is left inside the tun, resulting in zero loss. I don’t know if this is the best method, but I currently get about 80% efficiency, so I’m good with that.

Thanks for your replies, I now have some ideas to get started. :cheers:

Boil-off rate: 1 gallon an hour is a decent assumption, to start. You will boil off more if you boil more aggressively than you need. Maybe a little less, if you can fine tune your boil down to just enough to keep it rolling.

5 gallon batch = 5 gallons in kettle at end + Boil-off + Volume lost to dead space + volume lost to grain absorption. You’ll also lose some volume to hops and trub, but that will be variable. You may lose some volume to the kettle, if you don’t drain it completely.

A lot of people use 9 and 10 gallon kettles for 5 gallon batches, which gives you a lot of extra room and allows you to make 6 gallon batches if you lose a lot of volume to trub. Others use 7.5 gallons, which is probably about as small as you can get away with, but you’ll need to watch it like a hawk when it comes to a boil. I use an 8 gallon, which works well for me when I make a 5 gallon batch.

Boil off depends on the kettle and burner you have, and of course on how vigorously you set the boil. You can’t really figure boil rate until you have your equipment, but 1 gallon/hour is in the ballpark. On my system it is 1.2 gallons/hour. Losses in the mash tun and kettle also depend on the specific equipment AND the method you use to empty them. Again, you’ll need to get your equipment and try it out, then fine-tune the numbers over the first few batches you do.

For 5 gallon batches, I would strongly recommend you get a 10 gallon kettle. That gives you plenty of head space for normal 60 minute boils so you won’t have to constantly worry about boil overs, and will allow you to try long boils if you want to experiment with different techniques. If all you plan to do is 60 minute boils, you can get away with something as small as 7 gallons, but it will be really nerve racking to guard against boil overs.

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