Using the New All-Grain Equipment

Okay, well sort of…

Today, I used some of the new all-grain brewing equipment that I received this past week.  All I have to say is wow!  Okay, I’ll say more, but I have to start with, wow!

I made an American Pale Ale recipe found in BYO magazine because I wanted to make something fairly easy and I am doing a sort of comparison of American Pale Ales to see what different recipes taste like.

I used the mash tun and I batch sparged the mash so as to only add a little allgrainequipment012of the complexity involved in all-grain brewing.  I also only mashed half of my fermentables due to the weather not permitting me to brew outside with my big kettle and burner.  The weather really wasn’t too bad out, but it was rather windy and I wanted to minimize the level of frustration that might occur. 

All in all, it was quite easy.  The mash tun is a 5-gallon cooler with a false bottom to separate the grain from the wort and a ball valve to drain into the kettle.  I was concerned about the vorlauf (recirculation) step and the thought of a stuck mash really disturbed me.  By the way, a stuck mash is when the wort will not longer drain out of the mash tun because the grain bed has compacted.  Recirculation, the process of draining a little of the wort out and pouring it back into the mash tun helps clear any grain husks or chunks that may have gotten below the false bottom and it really works.  I was surprised that after draining a couple of quarts out, pouring it gently back over the grain in the mash tun, the wort was mostly chunk free.  Pretty neat.  Once recirculation was finished, I let the wort drain into the kettle and then batch sparged with 168 degree (F) water and let it sit for 10 minutes or so.  I then recirculated again and drained the second runnings of wort into the kettle.

This method and type of equipment added a bit of time to the brew day, but really only about 20 minutes.

One other item of note was that my original gravity (OG) reading was 10 points higher than I had planned using my brewing software of choice, Beersmith.  This could be from a number of factors including, my setup for the equipment in Beersmith is skewed, I used Briess Golden Light malt extract which I have never used, or the least likely cause was that I was super efficient with the new equipment.  I know that this type of equipment and methods is more efficient than the previous equipment and methods, but I seriously doubt I could gain 10 points of fermentability.  I really don’t think that brewing a 1.062 beer that was planned to be 1.052 will significantly change the overall beer, but who knows.  The level of hopping was respectably high for this kind of beer so this should help to balance out the discrepancy.

Once this beer and the other American pale ale that I brewed a couple of weeks ago are bottled and ready to drink, I want to do a side by side comparison of the variations on the recipe.  I will gladly post my findings.

The Adequate Brewer

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