ALL GRAIN HOMEBREWING FOR BEGINNERS

The recipe we have put together is a brown ale. Very sweet, about 5 % alcohol by volume. To us, it tastes like chocolate cake. It’s a fairly easy beer to do. By the end of this article, you will all know how to brew an all-grain.

For more information on all-grain beer brewing check our Introduction to brewing malts – The basics

The Recipe

  • 5 lbs. 4 oz. Pale Malt (2 row)
  • 2 lbs. Victory Malt
  • 1 lbs. Brown Malt
  • 12.0 oz. Golden Naked Oats
  • 8,0 oz. Caramel/Crystal Malt 60 L
  • 4,0 oz. Aromatic Malt
  • 4,0 oz. Caramel/Crystal Malt 30 L
  • 3,2 oz. Chocolate Malt
  • 2 oz. Fuggles Hops
  • Safale 05 Yeast (Red Package)

This is not a hoppy beer. So we will not add a lot of hops. Fuggles are an awesome English hops that has been making brown ales for hundreds of years. They are very low in alpha acids.

For the yeast, we can cut corners. This style of beer isn’t affected so much by the yeast. The beer style we are going after is mainly affected by the grain bill.

For the water if this is your first time brewing an all-grain. We would recommend you buy 10 gallons of spring water.

Going from an Extract to an All Grain

Wooden barrel, sack of grains and a glass of beer
Credit: https://www.soundbrewery.com/all-grain-brewing/

You can still use a lot of things from your starter kit. Especially a 6 gallon carboy and a 5 gallon stainless steel kettle. Outside of that you will need at least 7 gallon kettle for 5 gallon batches.

A lot of people convert kegs into kettles. Since kegs are stainless steel they are great for 10-gallon batches. Our kettle has a lead which is great to keep the temperature plus it saves us money on propane. Ensure it has been welded to attach a 1/2 inch ball valve that you will need later.

You will also need a good stainless steel thermometer. Buy 5 to 10 feet of silicone hosing tubing. Homebrewers silicone is good up to 220 F which is awesome because water boils at 212 F. That means you can clean it up by just boiling it. Pharmaceutical grade silicone can be good up to 300 F but it’s more expensive.

The most important part of brewing all-grain homebrew is the mash tun. Make sure you have it built out of a 10-gallon cooler. You need to use 2-inch diameter stainless steel false bottom. It works as our filter to keep the grains from going into the kettle when we boil.

Lets Mash In

When the grains are heated to a specific temperature, in this case 154 F, the enzymes and the base malt begin converting starches into sugars. These sugars are going to give us alcohol.

How do we know how much water we need?

You need 1.33 quarts of water for every pound of grain. You can do the math or use homebrew mash calculator. Just use empty water bottle as a point of reference to get that 3.4 gallons into your kettle.

If your target mash temperature is 154 F we need our strike water temperature to be 166 F.

Why? Grains are at room temperature at about 75 F. When we pour this 166 F water in our mash tun the grains are going to cool down 10 to 12 F which is good. That is how we will get at our target mash at 154 F.

Once our strike temperature comes to 166 F we will pour it into our mash tun. Make sure to pour water before pouring your grains. Then we will be pouring our grains slowly with stirring. Look for any clumps. They usually stay at the top.

Check the temperature to see how close you are to 154 F. Its all good if you are within couple of degrees over or under. Set the lid. Make sure its screwed on tight. Let the grains soak for an hour in our 154 F water. We have to give the enzymes time to convert all the sugars.

Grain mashing in brewing beer
Credit: https://www.kissmybrew.com/all-grain-vs-partial-mash-vs-extract/

Time to Sparge AKA Rinse our grains with hot water to get as much sugars as possible

We need 5.2 gallons of water for our sparge. Heating the water to 180 F so its not going to boil over. Once you get your sparge water to that temperature you need to keep it there for 45 minutes.

Time to Vorlauf AKA recirculation to minimize the grains getting into a boil.

Vorlauf is a process of filtering out the first quart to half gallon of the wort. A lot of grains come out at first and we want to dump those grains back into the mash tun. Keep doing it until you see no more grains. When you pour the wort back to the top don’t just splash it in. Give it a nice drizzle to create a nice grain bed. You need to be doing it until its just liquid coming out and there is no more grains in it.

There is a couple of ways to sparge but we prefer continuous sparging. For us is the most effective. We sparge to separate grains from sugars. You are actually rinsing the residual sugars left in the mash tun after you drain the mash. In this way we are trying to get the most potential for amenable sugars. The slower is better. Open a very slow drain from your mash tun whish is also called loitering (Draining).

After 45 minutes you should have close to 6 gallons of wort in your kettle. Grains can absorb a lot of water.

Boil

Bring the temperature to 212 F and add 1.5 oz. of hops. Watch your kettle when adding hops. Try turning the heat down to avoid wort overflowing. We will cook them for 1 hour. After that kill the flame and add remaining 0.5 oz. of hops.

Boiling the beer wort in a stainless steel pot
Credit: https://brewingaxis.com/homebrewing-101/

Chill your Wort (under 75 F under 45 minutes)

There are a lot of ways to cool your wort down. Anything under 180 F and your wort is vulnerable to infections. We are using wort chillers and we can cool it down from 212 F to 75 F in about 18 to 20 minutes.

Become best friends with ice. Buy if if you have to or just fill it with a lot of trays in the freezer. The more ice you use the less water you are going to end up wasting.

We have a 50 foot copper chiller 1/2 inch diameter in our 8 gallon kettle with the wort. Clean your chiller and rinse it with hot water. You can put the chiller in the last 5 minutes of your boil to sanitize it. Make sure there are not water leaks getting into your kettle. Anything you put into your kettle under 180 F must be sanitized.

When you see your thermometer not going down past 90 F just keep adding ice and cold water back in your chiller. Once the wort has cooled down to 75 F transfer it into your sanitized fermenter. You can use sanitized funnel and strainer to collect any sediment.

Wort chiller for brewing beer
Credit: https://learn.kegerator.com/immersion-wort-chiller/

Pitching the Yeast

First throw the waterproof bag of yeast and scissors in the sanitizer solution. After that open the yeast and add it to the fermenter. Now you have to seal it which can be tricky because the glass is slippery. Wipe the top of the fermenter with a clean paper towel. Your air lock need to be sanitized. Store your fermenter in a dark room for 14 days between 68 F to 73 F.

How to we know our yeast is working and turning wort into alcohol?

Anywhere from 6 to 48 hours, you should start seeing bubbles. That means the yeast is activated. Its eating all the sugars from our grains and turning them to alcohol and CO2. We can officially call it beer.

It is up to you whether you want to bottle it using priming sugar to carbonate your beer. Or if you plan on kegging it with a CO2 tank. Completely your choice.

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