Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

The shift to AG

Ok, I brewed my last two extract kits last Sunday. Next batch will be all grain and I have been busy.

Bulk Grains - Check
Bulk hops and lots of extra hops - Check
Storage containers for grains - Check
New Propane burner and 20 gallon pot - Check
New Barley Crusher - Check
Pond Pump received, just need fittings for counterflow chiller
Cooler valve ordered, waiting to recieve

I still need to fabricate an insulated internal lid to effectively reduce the volume of my 70 qt Igloo Cube cooler

And I still need to decide what to brew for my first AG batch. I want to start simple so I can “taste the ingredients” Something really basic like a cream ale with a little hops. Any ideas?

Last thing I need to figure out is water. I make my own RO water and have yet to figure out how to treat it to make it work, just have not had time.

I think everyone is over thinking the basic needs of an all grain project. Whet ever you choose to do for a base malt know what u need to hit for a strike temp. most grains will need a rest at a lower temp. as far a chilling goes i have used old water bottles that i froze the night before than sanitized and threw it in the pot that way u dont have to use ice just freeze about six of them for a 5 gallon batch.

You are probably right, but I just worked really hard to get my processes down pat with extract and partial mash and I have brewed some really decent beers. I am trying to do the same with AG and maybe I shouldn’t. There are just so many more variables that need to be considered, especially when tweaking recipes.

I usually recommend a stout for a first batch. They are very forgiving. So if you miss any marks or make any mistakes you still have a beer you can be proud of (and drink).

Well I brewed my first AG batch yesterday. Basically brewed Caribou Slobber but I did not order the kit, I just got bulk grains and assembled all the parts.

Some interesting things that I am surprised that I never read on this forum. Overall the day went pretty smooth except having to run out after cooling the wort (left a hell of a mess) and not being able to get back till 12:30 am. By the time I washed and cleaned everything it was 2:30.

  1. The scale I bought to weigh grains sucks. It does not work well when pouring continual weight into something. When you pause, it locks so you can read it - Lame
  2. Barley Crusher worked great, but it is a lot of work!
  3. When you buy a pound of hops, break out ounces BEFORE you need them!
  4. I thought I was smarter than BeerSmith. I figured there was NO WAY I needed over 10 gallons of water to end up with 5 gallons of beer. WRONG! plus I ended up doing a 75 Minute boil (see #3 above) so in the end, I had 4 gallons of cooled wort. Gravity was high too, so I added RO water to top it off and all came out well.
  5. My 24 year old son helped from time to time and looked at me like I was a genius when my mash tun worked as planned (he said it would never work) and when I used my pond pump in an ice bath to feed my counterflow chiller.

The things I did not expect was how much of a pia it is to scoop out and dispose of grains out of the cooler, mash tun.

Really happy to have this one behind me so I can relax and get back to brewing. With bulk grains and bulk hops in my possession, as well as harvested yeast, the next 8-10 batches are basically FREE!

All-grain got a ton easier for me after I did it a few times and set up a work flow that made things easier. Barley crusher is far easier when you hook up a drill rather than try and crank forever. I use the 1 hr during the mash to get all my hops in order, I use small cups to weigh out each addition and stack them in the order that I’ll need them.

Do you use bulk hops (by the lb.)? I thought I had some in 1 ounce packages, but when I checked, I only had a pound of pellets. Luckily my son was happy to break them out and play with the food saver.

I am a real “system guy” and I will definitely be fine tuning my process over the next few batches. I will say that it was very satisfying to see all of that nice sweet work pouring out of the mash tun. That was my first sign that this might really work.

Except for the occasional hop I buy all my hops in 1 lbs bags, its far cheaper and I like having a good variety on hand. My routine is to get the mash going, get it at the temp where I want it and then start my 60 minute timer. After the mash is under way I grab all the bags of hops I need for the beer (they are all vacuum packed in the freezer) and measure them into as many cups as I need for each addition, stacking them all in the order I need to add them. (I also include my yeast nutrient and whirlfloc) After I’ve got them all measured I vacuum seal everything back up right away and throw it back in the freezer.

When I’ve got people over for brewing or am trying to do other stuff at the same time I’ll set a timer for each hop addition (also when I need to put my cooling coil in to the boil). It helps make things fool proof and at least makes sure I get stuff in the boil at the right times.

[quote=“560sdl”]
2. Barley Crusher worked great, but it is a lot of work!
3. When you buy a pound of hops, break out ounces BEFORE you need them!

The things I did not expect was how much of a pia it is to scoop out and dispose of grains out of the cooler, mash tun.[/quote]
2. It’s good work, though. How often do you get to put in a little manual labor and get back beer? Besides, it burns off a few of those extra calories.
3. Once you get the wort on the flame, you should have plenty of time, while you wait for the boil, to weigh out your first addition. Then, you probably have another 30-40 minutes to weigh out the next one. I think you’ll find you have a lot of time to weigh out hops, once it is all more routine. I buy hops by the pound and wait until I use them the first time before breaking the seal on the package.

Just turn the tun upside down on the compost pile (it’s a good time to start one if you don’t have one yet), then hose it out. I can see how it would be a hassle if I tried cleaning it out 1 scoop at a time.

Slothrob - thanks. Yea, I definitely wanted to experience the manual labor of grinding the grains for my first few batches. It was a good work out.

I live in a pretty urban suburban neighborhood. It is close in to DC. When I was doing extract with specialty grains and partial mashes, I was putting the grains in my compost bin. But even that amount brought in critters and about two weeks ago my wife actually saw a rat walk across our driveway. Never seen one before, so we decided to hold off on composting grains for now thinking that may be the cause.

I had similar issues with my first couple of AG brews. As you know, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to fine tune your process to your system. My first AG was more of a workout as I was running back and forth. I can’t remember how long it took but it was probably over 6 hrs. After a few iterations, I was doing 5g AG batches from start to finish / cleaned up in 4 hrs. Now I do 10g AG batches and I can do them in around 4.5 hrs. I save a lot of time by splitting the mash / sparge water between both of my BKs, heating them at the same time (I have 2 burners). I also bought a CFC which makes cooling 10g faster than it used to take 5g with an IC.

Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com