Reflecting on the real first all-grain

I think I mentioned some of this yesterday, but here are the basic reflections on the all grain day.

I managed to eke out an efficiency of 70%, which was above what I predicted.  This means of all the sugars existing in a grain, I managed to get 70% of them.  This percentage is quite respectable.  I’ve  read of only  relatively rare cases where anything above 75% is achieved.

The mash tun seems to be a little bad at retaining heat.  I’m not sure if this is a cooler problem or actually something to do with my thermometer.  The thermometer was sitting at the corner of the grain bed, so it may have been a cooler spot.  I need a better thermometer anyway… maybe one that floats, or one with a probe (or those fancy remote control ones).

I had, as is not surprising, more problems with boiling than with mashing.  My stove can just barely boil 5.5 Gallons, and that is mostly with the lid on.  I never get a full, vigorous rolling boil.

That aside, I still ended up below my final volume.  I had to extend the boil after I added the wort chiller in the last 15 minutes, because the chiller was so cold it took a while to heat up again.  But by doing that, I was not able to estimate the real volume of wort I had left.  Not to mention I forgot that wort has about a 4% expansion rate when it boils.

The final gravity was a little high–probably because I over boiled.  I ended up adding about 3/4 of a gallon of distilled water to get it closer to the OG I wanted–1.038 or so.  It’s going to be on the strong side (for a mild) but here’s hoping it attenuates (ferments off) enough not to be too sweet.

Nevertheless, the wort is now fermenting away in the warmer fermentation environment of the spare room.

In all, I have to say it was a successful first all-grain day.  The fact that I had 70% efficiency is really great.  I had a clear, lovely wort, and the problems I had are mostly equipment problems, not technique problems.


About danmalleck

Medical historian and jack-of-all-trades curmudgeon. I tend to ramble about politics, social incivility, and our self-centred culture more interested in buying the next cool ringtone or LED TV than actively engaging in the sorts of discussions and issues that matter. The more opportunity we have to buy more stuff, the less concern there is, it seems, in politics, social justice and let's face it, basic human decency, unless those things actually can save us money or get us more things to show how awesome we are through displaying our material wealth. And I like to brew beer, make cheese, and put food in jars.
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