1 Posted: Saturday, December 03, 2016 4:08 PM

Ok, after downing a few of my completely incredible small brewery advent calendar beers I got for xmas I'm throwing in the towel with kits. That's it, I've tried absolutely everything in the quest for a great beer and have proved to myself it simply can't be done. Kits make a moderately drinkable beer at best. If you think yours are great then I'm very happy for you but they taste nothing like a commercial beer. My beer has never once tasted fresh despite trying every tip known to man

So, I'll try all grain once and if it produces a good beer I'll be gladly willing to keep home brewing! Otherwise I much prefer to pay a little more for a beer that tastes great. I don't know where to start, but have seen ag kits online. What's the minimum I need to make my first? Brew in a bag was recommended to me but I know nothing about this either

Thanks

2 Posted: Saturday, December 03, 2016 4:11 PM

Grainfather does alright.

3 Posted: Saturday, December 03, 2016 4:15 PM

Watch these

4 Posted: Saturday, December 03, 2016 4:47 PM

G'day Corksniffer,

I found the same thing as you - kits can make pretty nice beer, but it'll never pass for the best commercial beers.

BIAB in a Crown Urn seems to be the a very popular all-grain method. The Robobrew system from Keg King looks like quite a nice all-in-one setup too. As mentioned, the Grainfather setup is a good one, my mate who brews on one really likes it.

I personally like the 3 vessel setups with a separate hot liquor tank, mash / lauter tun and kettle. This is probably only my preference because it's less messy than BIAB for me. To give you an idea of the vessel sizes, to get the 12 litres of post-boil wort I am after I use a 9.5 litre stock pot for my HLT, a 15 litre round Esky cooler with a ball valve and bazooka screen for my mash tun and a 21 litre stock pot for my boil kettle. Scale these up as appropriate for your desired post-boil volume.

I have gone to double-batch sparging to get a bit extra efficiency, so the steps for say a 1.065 OG beer for me might be:

  • heat 10 litres of strike water in my kettle
  • add strike water to my mash tun, slowly stir in grain 1kg at a time to avoid clumping
  • heat 5 litres of sparge water in my HLT during the mash
  • first runnings go into the kettle with FWH hops, starts getting heated on the stove
  • 5 litres of the sparge water goes into my mash tun, stirring well
  • heat another 5 litres of sparge water into my HLT
  • first batch sparge run-off goes into the kettle
  • second batch sparge water goes into my mash tun from my HLT, stirring well
  • second batch sparge run-off goes into the kettle
  • commence the boil in my kettle

If you go 3V, I have a couple of recommendations:
  • Don't skimp on the boil kettle size. Make sure it is sized so that the pre-boil volume for your batch size (allowing for a 90 minute boil in case you ever want to do one) will only fill up about 3/4 of the total kettle volume. Then you won't be worried about boil-overs.
  • As you can see, my HLT could stand to be a little bigger (eg 15 litres) so that I could heat my strike water in it rather than in my boil kettle, and heat all my batch sparge water at the same time. So if you go the 3V route, I would recommend having a HLT roughly 2/3 of the size of your boil kettle.

Cheers,

John

5 Posted: Saturday, December 03, 2016 5:40 PM

Hey CorkSniffer, I use the Grainfather and can say it produces awesome beers. There is still a learning curve with AG, and things to get right such as correct milling, and I have recently looked at my PH levels and altered my brews to be closer to the 5.2-5.3 range. This step has made a huge jump I didn't expect in my efficiency and hop flavours in my brews.

Do you temp control your current brews?
When you say Kits, is that just a tin and brew enhancer? Have you done kits with only light dry malt, and say 200grams of steeped grains?
Before going AG, have you done a full extract brew? I found these were very good and better than some commercial beers and very easy to brew. I still do these for a friend, where I can do a pacific ale clone for around 20 bucks.
AG can be pricey to get into, but the brews turn out to be alot cheaper. Have you got any mates you can go halves with in something like the GF?

6 Posted: Saturday, December 03, 2016 6:10 PM

From what I've seen of your posts before now you may find even changing to AG may not get you the results you desire , lower your expectations a little for now , I'd love to be able to play guitar like Hendrix but not going to get there anytime soon or am I going to be matching craft beer brewed by a master anytime soon

First get all your basics down pat
Temp , yeast pitching rates , aeration and sanitation will all make a difference to the end product for the better
By all means take the plunge but understand it is a steep learning curve

7 Posted: Saturday, December 03, 2016 7:02 PM

Shibby:

Hey CorkSniffer, I use the Grainfather and can say it produces awesome beers. There is still a learning curve with AG, and things to get right such as correct milling, and I have recently looked at my PH levels and altered my brews to be closer to the 5.2-5.3 range. This step has made a huge jump I didn't expect in my efficiency and hop flavours in my brews.

Do you temp control your current brews?
When you say Kits, is that just a tin and brew enhancer? Have you done kits with only light dry malt, and say 200grams of steeped grains?
Before going AG, have you done a full extract brew? I found these were very good and better than some commercial beers and very easy to brew. I still do these for a friend, where I can do a pacific ale clone for around 20 bucks.
AG can be pricey to get into, but the brews turn out to be alot cheaper. Have you got any mates you can go halves with in something like the GF?


I totally agree with Mr Shibby - extract brews, where you add your own malts, hops, yeast, provide a very nice beer (I'm having one now), at a reasonable price.
Being a man of simple pleasures, I absolutely love my extract ales - give them a go and see what you think.
Cheers.

8 Posted: Sunday, December 04, 2016 7:42 AM

Hmmm extract you say, eh? No harm in giving one a go I guess. Mine tasted like gaol juice after a nice IPA last night. Had one sip and couldn't bare to drink the rest so I cracked open a kahlua. Yes, a Kalhua.. this should give good indication of the quality of my product. Which is kinda a shame because I've got about 8 cartons left. Sure I can find some derro who'd be happy to drink them
Thanks guys

9 Posted: Sunday, December 04, 2016 8:36 AM

Good tips John!

Allgrain brewing can pruduce amazing results giving you develop the technique's and start with good recipes to later improvise from…
Making quality beer is all in the hands of the brewer and creativity…
I share a lot of beer even sell some kegs to fellow brewers…
I can make some craft beers just as good if not better than those on the market… the sky is the limit!
My IPAs and APAs are fantastic
My lagers are continuing to improve also these being my main focus and challenge to master!

3V system is actualy fun and vary simple… so glad I went down this road
I started realy budget system with 2x keggles and a 57L mash tun and make 46L brews, then upgraded the kettle to a 100 litre pot and now make 60 Litres…

You need HLT (for recirculating wort and sparge water- so no cleaning required)
50L DIY keggle is free except for fittings -fit double electric elements or use gas like I do

Only 1 extra cleaning vessel v BIAB is the extra mash tun as I use the coil chiller for recirculation of wort and sparging…








10 Posted: Sunday, December 04, 2016 9:46 AM

Corksniffer:

Ok, after downing a few of my completely incredible small brewery advent calendar beers I got for xmas I'm throwing in the towel with kits. That's it, I've tried absolutely everything in the quest for a great beer and have proved to myself it simply can't be done. Kits make a moderately drinkable beer at best. If you think yours are great then I'm very happy for you but they taste nothing like a commercial beer. My beer has never once tasted fresh despite trying every tip known to man

So, I'll try all grain once and if it produces a good beer I'll be gladly willing to keep home brewing! Otherwise I much prefer to pay a little more for a beer that tastes great. I don't know where to start, but have seen ag kits online. What's the minimum I need to make my first? Brew in a bag was recommended to me but I know nothing about this either

Thanks


Yes I agree that kits can't get you to commercial quality. However a kit with a nice steep of grains and hops plus a good yeast pitch and stable ferment temps can get you 90-95% of the way there which gives a very drinkable beer. Its all about getting the process downpat.

An All grain batch will get you all the way and can even surpass commercial beers IMO but it does take time and extra processes to get there. I have done ~10 batches and I would say maybe 2 I would class as good as commercial quality. There was one shocker and the rest have been OK without knocking my socks off. The 7 or so have been better than my kit beers though so you should see an improvement with all grain. i would be shocked if you didnt.

I have a robobrew and it is pretty simple but from a cost benefit point of view would go the 40L Crown Urn BIAB setup.

11 Posted: Sunday, December 04, 2016 10:16 AM

I agree with greeny,
All grain is so dead simple… heat water to 72 degrees mash in grains leave for 60 minutes! job done..
A cheap 40L Crown Urn BIAB setup and away you go! people get results
Ive personaly never brewed in a bag apart from doing partial mash… and prefer the 3v setup for what I like to achieve in a quality beer, its more fun and controlled and can be upgraded to do vary large brews that makes brew day worth while for me!
If doing single batches BIAB makes tons of sence and you can recirculate the wort if you with and do step mashes also!

12 Posted: Sunday, December 04, 2016 8:34 PM

Hey Corksniffer I've just walked down your path and considered most of the ways to go all grain and decided on the BIAB in a 40 litre Crown urn. Mainly because I saw it as a cheap way to see if I enjoyed it and to see if I could produce a beer I could enjoy and be happy to serve to family and friends. I kegged my first AG brew today, an IPA, and going by all taste tests so far its on the money but time will tell. Before I went AG I fermented a few FWK's first to see if AG would achieve the taste I was after and it certainly did. I have found that like most on here I really enjoy the process and one thing that I wasn't prepared for was the amazing aromas, a great little bonus. I also do the no chill method and find this to be a very efficient and easy way to go. Good luck in your endeavour, which ever way you go I'm sure you'll be right.

Cheers
Greg

13 Posted: Wednesday, December 07, 2016 5:15 PM

Thanks a lot everyone, I really appreciate your experience

I'm looking at buying a pre-milled all grain kit but have a bunch of fresh hops and US-05 already so is there anywhere that sells pre-milled grain by itself or would it have to be a kit with everything?

I'm just buying a bag for the trial run. I plan on boiling to temp. Sparging the grain for 1hr, boiling the hops in wort, cooling naturally, transferring to fv for fermentation. It would only cost $60 or so and tell me if it's something I want to keep at or not

14 Posted: Wednesday, December 07, 2016 5:25 PM

Corksniffer:

Thanks a lot everyone, I really appreciate your experience

I'm looking at buying a pre-milled all grain kit but have a bunch of fresh hops and US-05 already so is there anywhere that sells pre-milled grain by itself or would it have to be a kit with everything?

I'm just buying a bag for the trial run. I plan on boiling to temp. Sparging the grain for 1hr, boiling the hops in wort, cooling naturally, transferring to fv for fermentation. It would only cost $60 or so and tell me if it's something I want to keep at or not


If you're in Melbourne Grain and Grape will set you up with milled grains as most places that sell grains will. If you have a recipe just give them a call or just ask them to make up grains from one of their recipes which is what I have done. Check them out online or find one in your area.
http://www.grainandgrape.com.au/products/category/HOPLAJMQ-specialty/page-3

15 Posted: Wednesday, December 07, 2016 5:42 PM

Thanks mate! I'm actually in Darwin :( so will have to order online. Maybe someone can recommend a simple American pale ale recipe or something? I don't care how small the batch is

16 Posted: Wednesday, December 07, 2016 5:51 PM

Wow! Just having an “8 bit india pale” and it's beautiful. Do people add hops just prior to bottling for this fresh taste? I can't imagine it's been fermented with them. So fresh. And ‘creamy’ I notice the mouthfeel is superb in these fine micro brewery beers, which is a shame because the best beer we have to choose from up here regularly is Matilda Bay. I bought a ctn of Yak yesterday but am now bitterly dissapointed at the lack of quality with this stuff. It's watered down junk compared to anything I've been drinking in this Boozebud advent

17 Posted: Wednesday, December 07, 2016 6 PM

5.70 kg Joe White Pilsner (3.9 EBC) Grain 1 95.0 %
0.30 kg Joe White Crystal Malt -120L (236.4 EBC) Grain 2 5.0 %
20.00 g Warrior - Boil 60.0 min Hop 3 30.8 IBUs
0.50 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 mins) Fining 4 -
20.00 g Cascade - Boil 0.0 min Hop 5 0.0 IBUs
20.00 g Centennial - Boil 0.0 min Hop 6 0.0 IBUs
20.00 g Columbus(CTZ) - Boil 0.0 min Hop 7 0.0 IBUs
20.00 g Cascade - Dry Hop 2.0 Days Hop 8 0.0 IBUs
20.00 g Centennial - Dry Hop 2.0 Days Hop 9 0.0 IBUs
20.00 g Columbus (CTZ) - Dry Hop 2.0 Days Hop 10 0.0 IBUs

I've just kegged this US IPA which is my first AG BIAB. The recipe is from G&G and something I was familiar with.

18 Posted: Wednesday, December 07, 2016 6:15 PM

Thanks Swill, maybe a brew shop would mill something like this for me. In regard to the hops, is this 0 minutes no boil dry hopped later on straight up?

19 Posted: Wednesday, December 07, 2016 6:33 PM

Corksniffer:

Thanks Swill, maybe a brew shop would mill something like this for me. In regard to the hops, is this 0 minutes no boil dry hopped later on straight up?

hey corksniffer, the 0 minute additions generally mean to add the hops at the end of the boil and let sit for 10-20 minutes

20 Posted: Wednesday, December 07, 2016 10:47 PM

What MPH said.

Brew shops will mill grain to order yes. It does need to be used pretty quickly once milled though, otherwise it goes stale, so you wouldn't want to order for too many recipes at once, unless you plan to brew them all in a week or something.

It's for this reason I also bought a grain mill when I was setting up my AG rig. This way I can buy grains unmilled and in bigger amounts (cheaper), and just mill as needed when I do a brew. The Mashmaster mills are excellent.

I can vouch for the Crown urns, I've had mine a bit over 4 years now and it hasn't missed a beat. Dunno how many batches I've put it through but probably 100 or so by now. Despite what some may say, you can produce equally good beer on a BIAB or similar 1V setup as a traditional 3V setup. It's a lot simpler process too.

I've never bothered with a chiller either, I just dump the hot wort into a cube about 20 minutes after the end of the boil. This period of 20 minutes I also use for those “0” minute hop additions. The advantage of cubes is that you don't need to have a fermenter ready to do a brew day, you can simply store the wort in the cube until one is available. This convenience really suits me because it's pretty rare that I do a brew day on the same day as a kegging/bottling day.

Cheers

Kelsey