Jump to content
Mr.Beer Community
Sign in to follow this  
scbrooks87

Getting way ahead of myself...

Recommended Posts

Ok, newbie brewer here, but I wanna learn what I can about all grain brewing...

I'm working with extracts right now, and I understand the basics of all grain. I get HOW to do the processes, mashing, sparging, boiling, etc... But what I don't understand is how to know what kind of grain to use to make a certain beer!

I mean, I see there are darks, pales, etc... but how do you figure out how much of each type of grain is needed to make a certain kind of beer?

And... On a similar not for all grain... One part of the process confuses me... When you do the mash, and you go to sparge after it... I get draining the water from the grain into your boiling pot, but how do you know how much h2o is needed for the sparge... I see some people use a ratio of 1.25 quarts water to 1 lb grain, so if you have 15.5 lbs grain, you'd need 19.375 quarts water, roughly 4.8 gallons. So then for a 5 gallon batch, does that mean you can only sparge .2 gallons through the grain?

Thanks for reading and thanks to anyone who decides it a good idea to respond to my misunderstandings! lol.

-Scott

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

scbrooks87 wrote:

I see there are darks, pales, etc... but how do you figure out how much of each type of grain is needed to make a certain kind of beer?

This is the real art of brewing, isn't it? For quick research I'd recommend looking at Midwest and Northern Brewer and the like, and see what their all grain kits contain for various styles. This will give you some ideas of ratios, but there are generally a number of ways to get to the same place. It takes experience and experimentation to craft the perfect all grain brew...which is precisely what gets so many of us hooked!

Cheers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And of course, feel free to run any recipes through the borg for advice...there is a wealth of knowledge here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's the easy and fun part of brewing all grain, I think. I check out the BJCP guidelines for beer styles first, decide on a beer style and then Google for recipes. Just remember all someone needs to post a recipe on a forum is an email address, so be sure your getting your recipes from a reliable source before you plunk down your cash and invest the time needed to brew it.

Then it's off to the grain supplier, or any other sites that provide brewing information and ideas for using different grains. I still use qBrew and an updated database to put together and archive all of my recipes. It's amazing what's already been published on the Internet by our brewing brethren (fellow brewers) extract, steeping and all grain recipes are everywhere.

It also helps a great deal to have access to an experienced brewer and LHBS owner. It's unreal how much I learned incidentally just by asking questions and having someone who's been there done that already provide all the answers.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Screwy Brewer wrote:

It also helps a great deal to have access to an experienced brewer and LHBS owner. It's unreal how much I learned incidentally just by asking questions and having someone who's been there done that already provide all the answers.

FYI....Screwy is the experienced brewer the LHBS owner is up to you ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To mash, you need at least a base malt. A base malt is a grain that was treated so that it has enzymes that will convert starches to sugar. The amount the particular malt can convert is known as its diastatic power. Some can convert their own starches and others can convert their own and can also convert starches in other grains. Two row is an example of a malt that can convert its own starches and starches from other grains.

I'd advise following recipes to get a handle on the amount of certain grains to use until you get a feel for what each does in terms of flavor, color, etc. You can also post here with a description of what you're trying for and people will chime in with suggestions.

When you mash, the grain soaks up a lot of the water that you use initially, so there's not nearly as much that goes in the pot as what you soaked the grains in. Then, the boil will eliminate more of the water.

I also think 15.5 lbs of grain sounds like a lot for a 5 gallon recipe. That would give you >8% ABV at 75% efficiency (Qbrew's default) and will still be over 7% with 65% efficiency.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

scbrooks87 wrote:

I mean, I see there are darks, pales, etc... but how do you figure out how much of each type of grain is needed to make a certain kind of beer?

All grain recipes start with a majority of a base malt. 2-row, pils and munich are some common base malts. Specialty grains are then added to give each beer it's distinct character.

I see some people use a ratio of 1.25 quarts water to 1 lb grain, so if you have 15.5 lbs grain, you'd need 19.375 quarts water, roughly 4.8 gallons. So then for a 5 gallon batch, does that mean you can only sparge .2 gallons through the grain?

No, because you are going to want to collect more than five gallons pre boil to account for boil off, grain absorption and trub loss. I generally collect between 7 & 8 gallons of wort pre boil.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to MB and the Forum.

I have been brewing 1-1/2 years and just did my first AG. It was kind of fun, but took a lot of time and basically not free to do other things for the first 90 minutes ... prep and mashing. The next hour was interupted with hop additions. Then the cleanup.

From my first experience I come away with mashing temp is critical, and grain milling must break the hull/shell of the grain. I will be off considerably from the recipe ABV because of one or both of the above. That is not a problem for me, because I am more about the flavor and quality of the brew than the ABV.

Will I do this again along with the MB recipes, yes. I like the process. I am only brewing 1 gallon recipes though. Liking the idea of having a lot more recipes to taste.

Brooklyn Brew Shop Beer Makng Book is has 52 recipes for all seasons in 1 and 5 gallon bills. ($13 at Walmart online, free ship to the store - retail = $19.99)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How to Brew by John Palmer and Brewing Classic Styles by Palmer and Zainasheff have the answers you seek.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow thanks so much everyone for the replies! I really like this forum, everyone is really encouraging.

I'm actually really hoping to find a wealth of info with the recipe event I signed up for... Where newbs like me get paired up with experienced brewers. I really think that will give me a lot of really good info for designing all grain recipes.

I like the idea of using base recipes that someone else has already made, and then tweaking it to my own style, when I was searching around, I found some good ones, but I was a bit weary, cause ingredients aint cheap.

Now for some followup-

What is BJCP? I don't recognize the acronym.
Anyone know of any really great LHBS in the San Diego Area?
Gymrat- I do have "How To Brew" I'm wrapping my head around it and reading through it still. very scientifically written lol.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

scbrooks87 wrote:

What is BJCP? I don't recognize the acronym.
Anyone know of any really great LHBS in the San Diego Area?
Gymrat- I do have "How To Brew" I'm wrapping my head around it and reading through it still. very scientifically written lol.

BJCP = Beer Judge Certification Program

Click this link to find a LHBS in your area.

BTW, so many good craft breweries in SD. Ballast Point Brewing Company would have to be one of my favorites. Sculpin IPA is my #2 favorite beer. And of course Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido is not too far. Visiting there tomorrow as a matter of fact.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

genotype wrote:

scbrooks87 wrote:

What is BJCP? I don't recognize the acronym.
Anyone know of any really great LHBS in the San Diego Area?
Gymrat- I do have "How To Brew" I'm wrapping my head around it and reading through it still. very scientifically written lol.

BJCP = Beer Judge Certification Program

Click this link to find a LHBS in your area.

BTW, so many good craft breweries in SD. Ballast Point Brewing Company would have to be one of my favorites. Sculpin IPA is my #2 favorite beer. And of course Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido is not too far. Visiting there tomorrow as a matter of fact.

Thanks for the info!!

And yes, San Diego is AMAZING for craft brew... I have tried so many, and love that the number of craft brews I've tries is a drop on the ocean compared to my options for new beer lol.

I really enjoy sculpin, it's one of my dad's favorite brews. It's funny you mention ballast point and stone, when I was brewing my last MB extract batch, I was drinking BP yellow tail, and stone IPA...

In east county where I'm at, a newer brewery is Manzanita, they have some very good beer.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So quick question. Looking at a recipe, it says boil size is 7 gallons, batch size 5.5 gallons, 60 min boil.

So does that mean it boils off 1.5 gallons? And would that fit in a standard carboy? I'm looking to pick up a home-brew kit, and then start a couple DIY projects for my mash/lauter tun, and my sparge water container.

Thanks again for answering newb questions!
-Scott

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A lot depends on your brew kettle, but you will start with more water than you'll end up with since, over the course of a 60 minute boil, you will lose liquid. I use a 6 gallon bucket as my primary fermenter, then I rack to a 6 gallon plastic carboy as my secondary (for dry hopping). One project on my to do list is to convert 2 10 gallon beverage containers into a mash tun/hot liquor tank setup. I've been doing BIAB's in the meantime.

I'll give Manzanita a try when I find one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Some things you're just going to have to find out for yourself through trial and error. There are rules of thumb, but every batch is going to be different. When you add the particulars of your own boiling apparatus, the vagaries of the grain crush, etc., you can't pin it down exactly each and every time.

The advice given above is very good as general guidelines go. Your grain will soak up a lot of water initially, so your mash yield will be much lower than the amount of water you added. Your boil-off may vary, but you can make adjustments as needed. And you'll learn what works for you.

For what it's worth, I did a 5-gallon AG batch last Sunday, and here are the number for you to see.

I used 11 pounds of grains, and I go with 1.25 quarts per pound, so I rounded it to 3.5 gallons for the initial mash. After one hour, it yielded about 1.5 gallons of run-off, so I lost a good 2 gallons to the grains soaking it up. The sparging process brought my volume up to 6.5 gallons, which was my target. After a 60-minute boil, I had my full volume of 5 gallons.

This is what works for my grain grind and my mashing/cooking equipment. What works for yours is for you to determine, but this is a starting point. I chose my starting points after doing research here and in some brewing books, and it works okay for me.

As far as formulating recipes, The Conserver put it very well. You start with a base malt, such as 2-row, and add the specialty grains and other things depending on what style you're working on. It's a lot like making a tomato-based barbecue sauce. The main ingredient there would be ketchup. Lots and lots of ketchup. But what gives the sauce its unique flavor is the blending in of other ingredients such as hot sauce, something sweet like honey or molasses, sour components like vinegar or lime juice, or whatever strikes your fancy. But all these ingredients together don't equal the amount of ketchup you started off with.

Beer recipes are the same. You can make a decent brown ale with 9 pounds of 2-row, 1/2 pound of dark malt, 1/4 pound of specialty dark grain, etc. How you blend them is up to you, depending on the characteristics you want the beer to have. For me, that's where the fun in brewing is; pursuing the characteristic of a certain beer batch by batch.

So I suggest you start there, and see what conclusions you draw. You'll have beer in the end, I'm sure, and each subsequent batch will be easier for you to do your calculations.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

scbrooks87 wrote:

So quick question. Looking at a recipe, it says boil size is 7 gallons, batch size 5.5 gallons, 60 min boil.

So does that mean it boils off 1.5 gallons? And would that fit in a standard carboy? I'm looking to pick up a home-brew kit, and then start a couple DIY projects for my mash/lauter tun, and my sparge water container.

Thanks again for answering newb questions!
-Scott

Plenty of room in a standard carboy for 5.5 gals. I'd recommend marking the outside of the carboy with a permanent marker for each gallon, as well as using a blow-off tube, just in case.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks FedoraDave. That was a lot of info. I appreciate you putting that all together for me. I've been doing a lot of looking, and I'm now working on some parts lists, etc... for brewing equipment.

I think I may start with a starters kit for 5 gallon batches, maybe some partial mashes, then going on to AG... I'm just excited to experiment, and wanting to dive right in. I want to make recipes, but I know I gotta start with other people's recipes, then maybe adjusting them from there to see how my adjustment effect things.

Definitely a fun thing to learn. I know I'll have a ton more questions as I go.

Thanks!
-Scott

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

scbrooks87 wrote:

Thanks FedoraDave. That was a lot of info. I appreciate you putting that all together for me. I've been doing a lot of looking, and I'm now working on some parts lists, etc... for brewing equipment.

I think I may start with a starters kit for 5 gallon batches, maybe some partial mashes, then going on to AG... I'm just excited to experiment, and wanting to dive right in. I want to make recipes, but I know I gotta start with other people's recipes, then maybe adjusting them from there to see how my adjustment effect things.

Definitely a fun thing to learn. I know I'll have a ton more questions as I go.

Thanks!
-Scott

That's not a bad idea. Most online suppliers sell all-grain recipe kits, so you know if your procedures are correct, you'll have a good beer in the end. And recipe books are out there, too.

From there, it's a matter of deciding which styles you like or want to pursue, which adjuncts you might like to try, and doing some experimenting within reason. I was surprised at how much just one batch taught me, and I'm much more confident when working on a new recipe. Of course, everyone here will give you much advice and support, too, so run any recipes you formulate through the Borg as you develop them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You bet man. I'll definitely run some ideas through here as I come up with them. Guess now all I have to do is collect my gear, which brings up more questions all on its own lol.

Anyways, Thanks again for everyone's help here. Great forum! Very glad I've been assimilated lol.

-Scott

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...