I’ve been brewing for a couple of years off and on now, but today marks my first foray into the world of all-grain brewing.   If you are going to be a professional, you have to brew like the big boys do, right?   I have known for awhile that I wanted to make the switch, but to be honest, it’s pretty expensive to get the additional equipment that you need to conduct a mash, lauter, and full-volume boil.

Last week I lucked into a long term loan on a 10 gallon kettle and propane burner.   I still needed a mash tun and wort chiller though.   We had an old 48 quart rectangular cooler laying around the garage that I talked my dad into letting me convert to a mash tun.   All the parts cost me about thirty dollars, which allowed me to install a bulkhead with ball valve, and a stainless steel braid to filter the sweet wort out of the mash.   Word to the wise: it’s pretty much impossible to find washers that fit snugly around a 1/2″ brass pipe nipple.   Somehow it all came together though.

The new setup

With the mash tun completed, I headed down to Seven Bridges, which is the local homebrew shop in Santa Cruz.   I decided on a copper immersion chiller, which is the cheapest way to chill your wort to pitching temps, next to the sink ice bath method, but good luck fitting a 10 gallon kettle in your kitchen sink and getting it cooled with any speed.   I also wanted to get an oxygen stone to go with an O2 tank and regulator that I got along with the kettle and burner, but they didn’t have the right size so I’ll have to wait on that.   Oxygen is important for yeast health and reproduction, but the pouring and then shaking carboy method seems to work ok if you pitch plenty of healthy yeast.   Next brew I’ll be on that.

I decided to do a relatively simple beer that wouldn’t be too much of a loss if I screwed the mash up.   I have had the bulk of a pound of Amarillo hops sitting in my fridge for a few months, so I decided to go with a hoppy American pale ale with all amarillo.   I kept the malt bill simple to let the hops shine, and pitched the clean wyeast 1056 yeast strain for the same ends.   Here’s the recipe:

Running off the mash to the kettle

Amarillo Pale Ale

For 5 gallons

8# Gambrinus pale ale malt

.75# Gambrinus munich malt

.75# Briess victory malt

.5# Gambrinus wheat malt

Single infusion mash at 152F for one hour.

Hops:

1.5oz Amarillo (7.5% alpha acid) @60 min.

1oz Amarillo @ 10min

3oz Amarillo @0min

Ibus calculated to 46 total, and I might dry hop with a couple more ounces for a week when primary fermentation slows, depending on how the beer smells at that point.

Waiting for the batch sparge to dissolve the left-over sugars.

I came in a little low on my mash temperature, hitting 150F instead of 152F, and lost a few more degrees over the hour-long mash.   This might make a thinner beer than I wanted, but hopefully it will finish nice and dry, letting the hops run the show.   I also came in four points under gravity, hitting a 1.052OG instead of the anticipated 1.056.   I ended up with 5.25 gallons instead of 5, so that might be part of the cause, along with a slightly lower efficiency than the assumed 75%.   Next time I’ll boil a little more vigorously, which should boil off more water and give me a higher gravity.   Overall, all-grain was a success, and the airlock is already bubbling this evening after pitching the yeast this afternoon.   I scored a smack pack of wyeast that was packaged four days ago, which is probably helping in the yeast-health department.   I should be brewing a Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ clone with my friend Mike in a couple days, so we may see the second voyage of the new setup soon…

All done and into the closet to start fermentation. Super cloudy with all the hops.

Calculating the original gravity

The boil hop additions measured out and ready to go.

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