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The shift to AG

Slowly taking the plunge to get everything I need to go All Grain. I am well equipped and able to do extract and Partial Mash quite well at this point and have a nice pipeline going with tapped kegs, full “on deck” kegs, full, pre “on deck” kegs and batches in primary and secondary. The batches in primary are lagers and I have new kits ready to brew to put on the yeast cakes. Other than that, I have two more kits BUT that is it for kits. I am taking the plunge.

I will certainly start with 5 gallon batches eventually moving to 10 gallon ones when I have recipes down.

I know I will need a bigger brew pot. I think I have an 8 gallon one but I still have done partial boils with extract so that will have to change.

I have a few large coolers that I can modify with valves.

I recently bought a good thermometer.

I guess the biggest issues I have are knowing/deciding what bulk grains to go ahead and get to keep on hand and to purchase a grain mill.

Also I am struggling with my wort chiller. I have a counterflow chiller but using tap water, I am able to only cool wort to about 85-90* in the warmer months. That is pretty much why I continued to do partial boils, so I could top off with very cold water and pitch right away.

How do you guys cool your wort? Pump ice water through the cfc?

Also, what base grains are the most versatile? In looking at recipes, it appears that I would need 2 row and Maris Otter as a starting point?

Pumping ice through your wort chiller is any easy way to chill below groundwater temp. For bulk grains, I keep bags of American 2-row, Maris Otter, and either German or Belgian Pils on hand all the time.

I keep sacks of: pils, 2-row, pale ale (such as Maris Otter), Vienna, light Munich, malted wheat, and unmalted wheat. You can buy your Vienna and Munich in smaller quantities if you want. I did just buy a sack of crystal 40 but normally I buy those in smaller amounts (5lb). I store everything in rubbermaid totes in the original sacks.

If I could only have two base malts on hand I’d go with standard 2-row and malted wheat. You can add flavors with the specialty grains.

I have the same issue you do as far as chilling to pitching temp. I just chill and put my fermentor in a swamp cooler with a couple of ice bottles and pitch after it cools down properly, usually a few hours or overnight. It doesn’t hurt to let the wort sit and cool off. You can force it down with chilled water through your chiller but it adds cost and effort.

[quote=“tom sawyer”]You can force it down with chilled water through your chiller but it adds cost and effort.[/quote]Fortunately, I have a dedicated beer fridge with a top freezer, so I just keep 4-6 gallon jugs of ice in there along with the hops and it doesn’t cost me anything for the ice.

So you switch from the tap water to a pump with ice water? That seems like a pain, I guess with quick disconnects its no big deal.

Just regular rectangular Rubbermaid totes? Is there any concern about bugs getting into the grain, or mold? I cannot recall if it was oatmeal or some other grain that for some reason a few years go attracted moths of some sort.

Any idea how much volume is in a 55# sack of grain?

I store my grain in a 32 gallon Rubbermaid trash can, it will easily hold 2 sacks of grain and probably another 20 pounds or so of specialty malts in smaller bags.

I use garden hose fittings on my immersion chiller, I get it down to 70-80° and just unhook from the faucet to my submersible aquarium pump in a bucket of ice and water, it takes about 30 seconds tops.

I get that on an immersion chiller, but with a counterflow chiller, you only get one shot at cooling…only as long as the wort takes to flow through.

50# fits nearly perfectly in 2 5-gallon buckets. I just use Lowe’s 5-gallon plastic buckets lined with plastic bags, has worked well for me.

As for grains it’ll depend on what you brew but I’ve been happy keeping 2-row Pale, Maris Otter and a Munich as my main malts. I don’t use munich as a base malt for anything but I do so many recipes that use a pound or two it was a far better investment to just buy a sack.

As for mills there are many good options, personally I’ve been very happy with my Barley Crusher.

Even during summer my water temps are 70 degrees so I won’t be too much help there. Trick I’ve seen is to run water through an immersion chiller sitting in a bucket of ice water that then fed the counter flow chiller. Obviously a larger investment but not many choices for cooling when your ground water is a higher temp than what you want to cool the wort down to.

All you need to do is run the CFC with ice water instead of groundwater then throttle the wort flow to hit 60F going into the fermenter. How many gallons of hose water are you using to cool a typical batch?

How many gallons of hose water are you using to cool a typical batch?[/quote]

A bunch! I do it inside by hooking up to a spare laundry hose connection, but have the run the hose pretty hard and the flow from the cfc pretty slow to even get anywhere close to 80*. A little easier as the ground temps cool down the public water supply.

If you have a CFC and a pump, you can recirculate for a while to get the temp of the entire batch down.

So rather that recirculating the cooling water, I am recirculating the wort? That would take even more tap water than I currently use, I would guess, but it is a thought.

You could also use a small amount of ice to knock off the last few degrees. 5.0 gal of 86°F wort and 0.5 gal of ice will stabilize at 65°F.

I think this would be the best idea, coil up 25’ of 3/8" copper tube for a pre chiller.

I don’t think recirculating uses any more or less water, chilling is chilling. The difference is that you chill the whole batch at once and you could possibly just use ice at the end, when your chilling water is no longer cold enough.

FWIW, I have experience in recirculating wort using a CFC (works great), but no experience using warm chiller water, that’s not a problem for us up here in MI.

I got a tip yesterday at a local homebrew club gathering…Use the tap water to get it down to 90-100* and then use the ice bath and a pump to cool the rest of the way. A couple of quick disconnects and the switchover should take only seconds. I would just have to cool the wort twice.

Well I have been busy, and so has my credit card:

Just got back from buying 4 sacks of grain - 2 Row, Pale Ale, Marris Otter and Pilsner

Also got about 25 lbs of Specialty Grains, I was like a kid in a candy store. It was self serve, so I got more than I planned.

Ordered a Barley Crusher

Ordered a new Propane burner and a 20 gallon Alum pot with lid.

Ordered a scale, a pond pump, and a bunch of containers to hold the bulk grain.

Last critical thing is the cooler mod. I have 4-5 coolers to pick from and just have to decide which one to use.

Got two more extract kits to use up and WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF ALL GRAIN.

I did get kind of a funny look from the guy at the LHBS when I told him I was just getting ready to do my first all grain brewing. I would appear that most people dip their toes in a bit rather than buying enough grain for 15-20 batches. :smiley:

:cheers:

All you need to do is run the CFC with ice water instead of groundwater then throttle the wort flow to hit 60F going into the fermenter. How many gallons of hose water are you using to cool a typical batch?[/quote]

I started out long ago with an immersion chiller and figured out real quick in Texas that will only work to get your temperature down to 90 or so when your ground water is 85 degrees. :shock: I eventually upgraded to a counterflow chiller and kept my immersion chiller also. I put it in a bucket of ice and run the hose water thru it first and then thru the counterflow chiller. It allows me to throttle the hose back a little and not use so much water and also allows me to have the wort come out of the chiller at 60 to 65 degrees easily. I can usually cool a typical 5 gallon batch in 10 to 15 minutes using this method.

I just bought a pond pump and am going to try the ice water method with my next batch.

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