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Transition to All Grain

I have been holding off on going all grain because we have our house on the market and I was planning on taking that step after I moved. Well things are slowing the in the house sales area and I may take the plunge as I am down to two more kits to brew.

So my dilemma is, for the first time, how do you have any idea how your efficiency will be? I will probably go with a NB all grain kit and plan to batch sparge. But if I am extremely inefficient, it will come out very weak, correct? I generally only check my gravity after the boil, so by the time I figured out my OG it would be too late to add DME, unless I boil and add, which would affect the flavor, no?

I thought about ordering a kit and getting a few lbs of extra grain, then splitting the batch in half (with original grains) and seeing how my efficiency shakes out and then adding additional grains to the second half as necessary.

Am I worrying too much about this? Should I just start with something simple and hard to screw up like a cream ale and see what the heck happens?

BTW, on my partial mashes, I have been using a nylon bag and my OG’s have been spot on, if not a few points high.

Just buy a lb or two of extra base grain and add it to the mash. Then take a gravity reading once you have filled the kettle and add DME if you need to (but you probably won’t). Use a simple ratio to predict your OG - (gallons pre-boil) / (gallons post-boil) * kettle gravity. So if you’re starting with 7.0 gallons, shooting for 5.5 into the fermenter, and the kettle gravity is 1.048, you’re going to have an OG of (7 / 5.5) * 48 = 61 = 1.061. Going the other way, if you know you want to have 1.070 in the fermenter, you can calculate the desired kettle gravity as 70 * 5.5 / 7 = 55 = 1.055

How much would the warmer temps affect the gravity readings? This sounds like a plan.

You’ll need to chill the wort if you’re using a hydrometer. An easy way is to put a glass bowl in the freezer at the start of the brew day, then ladle enough wort for the reading into the bowl, swirl a minute, check the temp, and then use the hydrometer.

Fyi there are plenty of internet sites that will do the conversion for you. You just gotta plug in the numbers.
BeerSmith being just one of them. : )

How do you plan on mashing? Are you going to batch sparge with a cooler
http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/
or do the brew in a bag thing? If you’re batch sparging I don’t think you’ll get horrible efficiency out of the gate, it’s pretty hard to mess it up. Main points to consider:

  • Accurate measurements of water, do a test run with water in your mash tun to see how much is left behind.
  • Hit your temperatures, make sure you have an accurate thermometer. I'd shoot for the middle of the mash range on your first few batches, 155°
  • The crush of the grain. If you order a kit this may be out of your control. Do at least a 60 minute mash to assure conversion.

    NB’s cream ale kit is pretty cheap, $13.50 crushed, without yeast. Maybe your could reuse the yeast from one of your two kits you have, if you have a catastrophe you won’t be out much money. I’m betting that won’t happen though, you’re already doing PM so stepping up to AG is pretty simple.

  • [quote=“Glug Master”]How do you plan on mashing? Are you going to batch sparge with a cooler
    http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/
    or do the brew in a bag thing? If you’re batch sparging I don’t think you’ll get horrible efficiency out of the gate, it’s pretty hard to mess it up. Main points to consider:

  • Accurate measurements of water, do a test run with water in your mash tun to see how much is left behind.
  • Hit your temperatures, make sure you have an accurate thermometer. I'd shoot for the middle of the mash range on your first few batches, 155°
  • The crush of the grain. If you order a kit this may be out of your control. Do at least a 60 minute mash to assure conversion.

    NB’s cream ale kit is pretty cheap, $13.50 crushed, without yeast. Maybe your could reuse the yeast from one of your two kits you have, if you have a catastrophe you won’t be out much money. I’m betting that won’t happen though, you’re already doing PM so stepping up to AG is pretty simple.[/quote]

    I was definitely going to batch sparge rather than fly sparge. The brew in the bag thing intrigues me because I have a pretty good system going with partial mashing using bags. Plus I don’t have a cooler converted yet, but have plenty of options on coolers. The cream ale is a good idea and something I was considering as a starting point.

  • I just recently made the jump to all grain. I watched Don O’s video

    about six times and did exactly what he did. I’ve done two kits (EPA and Smashing Pumpkin Ale) and hit my O.G. spot on both times.

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