Instructions, Equipment and Recipes for All Grain Brewing
This page is about all grain brewing, the next step most homebrewers eventually make in their brewing endeavors. All grain equipment can be as simple or as complicated as you want. The determining factor is often how much money you want to spend. I’ve had great success using 10 gallon coolers converted to a mash tun and hot liquor tank. You can make your own or purchase the all grain equipment setup from a supplier, like MoreBeer.com.
All Grain Brewing Tips
Before we talk about all grain brewing instructions, there are a few preliminaries you need to do before you can start your brew day:
- First of all, you have to decide what kind of beer you want to brew. This isn’t always as easy as it seems. But, once you decide, you have to build an all-grain beer recipe from scratch,or pick a good all grain recipe that has been brewed before (Get a copy of the book Brewing Classic Styles written by Jamil Zainasheff and John J. Palmer wherever brewing literature is sold-it includes 80 award-winning recipes anyone can brew, it will become your favorite homebrewing recipe reference). I’ve written a cool spreadsheet that you can download which makes it easy to find recipes in the book that match your ingredients.
- Purchase your ingredients as fresh as possible. If your local homebrew supply store does not have a good turnover of ingredients, purchase them online. You can purchase your ingredients per each item on your all grain recipe, or you can purchase your ingredients as an all grain brewing kit. Most homebrew supplies have a huge inventory of all grain kits, many are adapted from your favorite commercial beers. I like MoreBeer.com for their huge and diverse inventory of all grain brewing kits.
- If you will be brewing as soon as you get your malt, you can have it milled for you. But if it may be a little while before you brew, purchase your grains unmilled and then mill your grain just before you plan to brew (the longer it sits after being milled, the more oxidation occurs and the more stale the grains taste).
- Enter the recipe into your brewing software (in this case BeerSmith), review the results, and if you are trying to brew an all grain beer “to style”, adjust any of the ingredients or processes that will bring your recipe back to specs of the BJCP guidelines for that style (no need to worry about this if you use recipes from Brewing Classic Styles). BeerSmith brewing software automatically calculates the different variables and graphically and numerically shows you whether they are within the ranges of the style you want to brew.
These ranges include Estimated Original Gravity Bitterness (IBU’s) Color in SRM Estimated ABV (percent Alcohol by Volume) Just make adjustments to the ingredients or processes, such as efficiency or sparge method, to change the variables (such as original gravity, color, IBU’s, etc.). If this is confusing to you, watch the tutorial videos at the BeerSmith website.
Here are the brewing instructions as if you were following an all grain brewing recipe prepared in BeerSmith Brewing Software. All of my award-winning beers were formulated on BeerSmith, I highly recommend it. I’ve tried several different ones and I find BeerSmith to be the best, especially for the beginning all grain homebrewer.
All Grain Brewing Instructions Using
BeerSmith Home Brewing Software.
Here are the rest of the procedures as they occur on the BeerSmith Brew Sheet:
- Prepare your yeast starter 1-2 days before all grain brewing.
- On brew day, clean and prepare your all grain brewing equipment (or your all grain brewing kit) – put thermometers in place, hook up propane, set-up other equipment, prepare sanitizer, etc.
- Measure ingredients, crush or mill your grains. Prepare your water-filter if needed.
- Prepare ingredients for Mash– BeerSmith gives you a list of all the ingredients you entered for this recipe. Move them all to your brewing area.
- Preheat your mash tun-unless you made equipment adjustments or grain temperature adjustments in the software.
- Perform the Mash: The brew-sheet will tell you exactly how much water to add and what the strike temperature should be. Add water to your mash tun. (Now is the time to add chemicals to modify your brewing water such as Calcium Chloride, Gypsum, Calcium Carbonate, etc. or acids if needed. BeerSmith has a Water Profiler tool that makes adjusting your water simple). Add your crushed grains, stirring to mix well. The temperature should fall to the saccharification temperature you chose in your mash profile (this is where BeerSmith comes in handy, no calculating grain absorption, volumes, temperature variables, just follow the directions).
- Hold your mash at the desired saccharification temperature for 60 minutes-if you use a multiple step infusion mash, the BeerSmith brew-sheet will give times, temperatures and water volumes you need to add. If you are decoction mashing, the software will tell you how much of the grain mash to decoct (pull out and boil) for each decoction step.
- Heat your sparge water while you wait on the mash to finish. (Learn about the No-Chill Brewing method which requires no sparge at all). To learn more about the brewing process called Lautering, click here.
- Sparge with the volume of water that BeerSmith has calculated. Transfer the heated sparge water to your Hot Liquor Tank (HLT) if fly sparging. If batch sparging, add water volume given for each “batch” of sparging. After you finish sparging, add water (if needed) to reach pre-boil volume specified in BeerSmith.
- Boil Ingredients-The boil in an all grain brewing day is broken down into a timeline for the hop additions, sugar, nutrients and Irish moss additions. Follow the timeline and add ingredients at specified times in brew-sheet. Check pre-boil gravity and adjust wort if needed. You do this by adding water if the gravity is too high, and DME or LME if the gravity is too low. BeerSmith has a Water Dilution tool to calculate the amount of water to add to bring the gravity up to the desired level. Go into BeerSmith and adjust the efficiency to match your pre-boil gravity, then add your malt extract until the pre-boil gravity matches the desired number.
- Cool wort to fermentation temperature-with your chiller. Add water as needed to achieve fermentation volume.
- Siphon wort to primary fermenter. Measure Original Gravity with hydrometer and compare with estimated original gravity. If you missed it, now is the time to adjust it before you add yeast. Measure Batch Volume-Measure and compare with estimated volume.
- Aerate/oxygenate your wort.
- Pitch yeast and ferment for the time and at the temperature you specified in your recipe. Measure Final Gravity– Measure your actual final gravity and compare with estimated FG. If your final gravity is lower (closer to 0) than the estimated FG, your yeast fermented well and you have full attenuation. If the FG didn’t meet the estimated final gravity, allow it to finish fermenting, move it to a warmer place, ramp up the temperature a little, add a little sugar in place of some malt next time.Interested in the calories in your beer, the recipe page in BeerSmith gives you the calories in the all grain beer you plan to brew, just in case you’re counting.
- Keg your finished beer at pressure and temperature given for the style, or bottle beer with the amount of priming sugar listed.
- Age your beer (you decide how long).The Brew Sheet gives you the date to SAMPLE AND ENJOY!
A new (new for American brewers and homebrewers) method of all grain brewing involves eliminating or reducing the amount of dissolved oxygen in your procedures to less than 1% dissolved oxygen. Brewers in Germany say this is what makes their malt-forward beer styles taste so fresh. Learn about it here.
Very Important: Be sure to keep good notes and enter them in the notes section. If you win a Best of Show with this beer and you want to brew it again, you will need all the notes you took regarding any adjustments you had to make for the inevitable problems that pop up while all grain breiwng. These might include actual temperatures you mashed at, actual temperatures you sparged at, any differences from schedule you encountered, ie. mashed for 75 minutes because you had to go put a band aid on your child’s knee, etc.