All-Grain Brewing 101: The Basics

Welcome to the world of all-grain brewing. In this video, we’re going to give you a crash
course of everything you need to know to get started. We’ll talk about what things you need, what
those things are called, and how those things work. So first, the good news: you don’t have to
replace most of your equipment from your old extract brewing days. Carboys, buckets, siphons…all of that will
continue to serve you well in your all-grain brewing endeavors. Now, the great news: you get to upgrade your
brewery with brand new equipment. What new equipment is that, you ask. Well, the first thing you have to ask yourself
is what size batch you want to brew. Some people stick with the 5-gallon batches
they’re used to in extracts, but many come to realize that with minimal extra time and
effort you can double your output to 10 gallons. And that’s what we’re going to show you in
this video today. To accomplish this, you’re going to need:
a 15-gallon boil kettle, an external propane burner, a mash/lauter tun with a false bottom,
and a hot liquor tank. All-grain brewing means new equipment. The mash/lauter tun is where we mix the heated
water and the grains to convert all the starches into sugars. It comes with a perforated stainless steel
dome called a false bottom. This helps lauter, or separate the liquid
from the grain when we rinse it with water from the hot liquor tank. In brewing, liquor refers to the water that’s
been treated for brewing. So, this is the hot liquor tank where we keep our heated
brewing water. These Fermenter’s Favorite coolers are great
for all-grain brewing for several reasons. First, they’re well insulated, which means
you’ll be able to hit your target mash and hot liquor temperatures and keep them there
for hours. Second, they’re engineered to be bigger. The 5-gallon system comes with 7-gallon coolers,
and the 10-gallon system can hold up to 11.7 gallons of mash or water. Finally, they come with valves, which makes
transferring liquid from vessel to vessel a breeze. Just open a valve, and let gravity do all
the hard work for you. When you get your all-grain system, you have
to do a little bit of assembly. Namely, putting your valves on and hooking
them up to the false bottom. Here’s how you do that. Take the front half of the valve and place
it through the opening in the cooler. Now, attach it to the back half inside the
cooler and screw them together. You can repeat these steps for your other
cooler and your kettle. To assemble the false bottom, screw the two
pieces of the elbow assembly together, through the dome false bottom, and place it in the
cooler. Thread the included barb fitting into the
back side of the valve assembly and then connect the two barbs together with the included tubing. Use the clamps provided to secure them. Now you’re ready to get brewing. What we’re going to show you in this video
is called a single step infusion mash. This means we’re going to hold the mash at
one temperature the entire time to convert the starches into sugars. There are more advanced schedules out there
where you hold different temperatures for different amounts of time, but you can learn
about those as you become more experienced. The first step is to heat your strike water. This is the water that will bring your mash
to the correct temperature. You’ll need 1.3 quarts of strike water for
every pound of grain. But this amount will vary from recipe to recipe. The general rule of thumb is that your strike
water should be 10 to 15 degrees hotter than your target mash temperature. Once it’s heated, carefully move your strike
water to your mash tun, and then slowly add the grist. You’ll want to stir well to avoid clumping
and get an even temperature throughout. The ideal range for mashing is between 148
and 158 degrees Fahrenheit. Whatever you do, do not exceed 168 degrees
in the mash during this step, or you may destroy the enzymes needed for starch conversion. We’re going to let the mash sit here for 60
minutes while science works its magic. Inside the cooler, the hot water is activating
enzymes in the grain that are converting the stored starches into fermentable brewing sugars. While this is happening, you can start collecting
the hot liquor for the sparge. Heat the sparge water, or hot liquor, to 175
degrees and transfer it to the hot liquor tank where it will stay warm until it is needed. After the mash has sat for 60 minutes, it’s
time to do the mash out. This means we’ll raise the temperature of
the mash to roughly 170 degrees by adding near-boiling water and stirring well. This is a great place to use your old extract
kettle. This step helps prevent the mash from becoming
too cold and gummy, and also denatures the enzymes to ensure that no more starch conversion
takes place. Leave the mash at this temperature for about
10 minutes. Now it’s time to start collecting some wort. Open the valve on the mash/lauter tun slightly,
and collect the runoff in some intermediate vessels. The initial runoff from the mash/lauter tun
is cloudy and filled with draff, small solid grain particles. Recirculating helps clear the runoff. When the first vessel is near-full, switch
it out with the other vessel. Poor the contents of the first vessel gently
down the side of the mash/lauter tun to avoid tunneling a hole into the mash. Continue switching back and forth, filling
and dumping, until the wort appears clear. Sparging is the act of rinsing the mash with
hot water to rinse all the residual sugars through. The easiest way to let gravity do the work
is to place your three brewing vessels in a three-tiered setup. Place the hot liquor tank towards the top,
the mash tun in the middle, and the boil kettle on the bottom. The secret to getting all this to work is
to make sure that the rate of water going into the mash is equal to the rate of wort
coming out of the mash tun. The ideal rate for optimum sugar extraction
is one quart of wort per minute. Open the valve on the hot liquor tank to gently
disperse the sparge water over the top of the grain bed. The fitting on the end of the tubing will
help disperse the water and prevent tunneling through the mash bed. Sparging a 10-gallon batch will take roughly
45 minutes. During this time, you want to keep an eye
on everything to make sure the grain bed doesn’t go dry, or that you get a stuck sparge. You can stop sparging once you have collected
an adequate amount of wort. For a 10-gallon batch, this will be around
12-13 gallons in the boil kettle, or when the runoff reaches a specific gravity of between
1.0008 to 1.012. Now it’s time to boil your wort. Boiling your all-grain batch works much like
boiling an extract batch. Add the hops, chill the wort, pitch your yeast,
but there’s one big thing you have to keep in mind, and that’s your boil volume. With all-grain brewing, you generally don’t
add water after chilling. So you have to boil the entire volume, and
then make sure you can chill it all. This means you’re basically doubling, even
quadrupling, the thermal mass in your kettle that you have to chill. This is why you’ll need a bigger kettle and
a propane burner, especially for 10-gallon batches. Most kitchen stoves can’t put out enough heat
to boil 6.5 gallons, or even 13 gallons of wort. The more BTUs you have, the easier it’s going
to be to get a vigorous boil, capable of maximizing your hop utilization. If you still have your old immersion chiller,
you can still use this. It will work well on a 5-gallon all-grain
batch, but will really struggle with a full 10-gallon batch. Another alternative is to look into the world
of counterflow chillers. These will help you chill your wort quickly
while you transfer it, which will help speed up and improve your brewing process. Like a lot of things in home brewing, there
are many options. It just comes down to finding what works best
for you. As you become a more experienced brewer, you’ll
surely find new products, new techniques, that might make your brewing day easier, faster,
or both. But the most important thing to remember is
never stop brewing. Cheers!

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