All-Grain Brew Review

My first two all-grain batches have turned out well and the verdict is still out on a third.  There are some things I will change, but all in all, I have enjoyed all-grain brewing.

The main things I wish I could change about the process are location and chilling the wort.  I don’t have a covered patio so I am at the mercy of the unpredictable KY weather.  I am tempted to move to the garage but I’ve been spooked by stories of carbon monoxide poisoning even with the garage door open, so I may not try this.  Maybe I’ll get a carbon monoxide detector.  Chilling the wort is another thing that I need to reevaluate.  Right now I am using a big metal wash tub and lots of ice.  In the fall or early spring it works okay, but in the heat of summer it takes a very long time… and a lot of ice.  I plan to get an immersion chiller before the next batch but I need to get new hoses.  My garden hoses are in poor shape and the connections leak.  The last thing I need is garden hose water spraying into my kettle as it cools.

My 5 gallon cooler mash tun works remarkably well.  I have the thermometer port on the front and that works nicely.  The cooler seems to only drop a degree or two over the course of an hour rest.  The false bottom filters well and I have only needed to recirculate a couple of quarts to get most of the grain husks out of the runnings.

My Barley Crusher grain mill works like a charm giving me a consistent and good crush in a reasonable amount of time with a reasonable amount of effort.  I tried to hook my cordless drill up to the crank arm, but I couldn’t get it to work correctly, so I just crank manually.  It can be a work-out to grind 12 pounds of grain, but like I said, it’s reasonable.

So, on to the reviews of the two batches.

Batch #47
Hop Grenade

This one really didn’t get as hoppy as I wanted or as the name implies.  It’s more like a hop fly-swatter.  It is a deep reddish color and has a good hop aroma with a little bit of caramel.  The taste is hoppy and malty, but not as bitter as I had intended.  I think I just went a little conservative with the hops.  I can see myself re-brewing this one with some minor adjustments to the malt bill and certainly to the hop bill, especially the bittering hops.  This one cleared nicely, although it is not as clear as other batches.

Batch #48

This one was a lot of effort.  I had a lot of ingredients and some that I had not used effectively in the past, namely orange and grapefruit peel.  In the one other recipe I used these ingredients, the beer turned out pretty good at first, then went downhill fast.  It ended up tasting like vegetables.  Some of the problem, I believe, was canned extract, but something else went wrong as well.  I used a micro-plane to peel the fruit with the first attempt, but with batch #48, I used a carrot peeler.  The peeler worked perfectly whereas the micro-plane seemed to turn the peel into pulp.  Anyway, this Saison is one of the best beers I have made.  It is crisp, bitter, and refreshing.  The color is light gold and somewhat hazy.  The Wyeast French Saison yeast added a soft bread-y and slight banana aroma.  The orange and grapefruit peel come through as in the aroma as well as the flavor.  This is as refreshing as any ‘lawnmower beer’, but at 7% ABV one should not quaff too many after working in the yard.  I can’t see myself wanting to do much work after a couple of these.  You can get the recipe here.

Old 49er
Old Ale

This one is the biggest all-grain batch to date and one of the biggest beers I’ve ever made.  I used 12 lb of grain and 3 lbs of extract as well as 10 oz of Black Treacle.  I mashed with about 1.25 quarts of water per pound of grain and this was incredibly thick and difficult to stir.  I probably could have increased the water/grain ratio or I could have used more grain and water as my mash tun was not full.  I’m still finding my mash tun capacity.  This one took a very long time to cool and I finally gave up and pitched warm.  I haven’t bottled this batch yet so I’ll review flavor at a later time.

The Adequate Brewer


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