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Being brewing for years, but will be doing my first all grain batch this weekend. What is the one thing that is key for me to follow/watch/do to insure a good batch?

Thanks.

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What is your sparging technique going to be? (edit the question to add that detail) –  brewchez Oct 5 '10 at 14:53
    
Built a sparging arm out of copper tubing connected to my HLT –  threefrenchs Oct 6 '10 at 13:20
    
So fly sparging then. –  brewchez Oct 9 '10 at 12:00

6 Answers 6

First, temperature of the mash.

Second, gravity. This will help you determine a lot of things, like if you need to boil down / add water.

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Keep a steady eye on your temperature throughout your mash. Raise the mash temp to 168 before sparging with 168 degree water. Do a nice slow sparge, and start it by vorlaufing (cycling the water through the grain bed) before sparging. I'm sure there are a few other things to watch like your water water to grain ratio, I use 1.25 qts/lb usually, but I just posted the things I messed up on my first all grain batch.

Have somebody check your grain crush too. This will have a lot to do with your extraction rate.

My post is also assuming that you know if you are going to do a protein rest and a temperature that you want to mash at, depending on the body or mouthfeel that you want. I actually just listened to an old Brew Strong podcast from the Brewing Network that was very informative. You can look it up on there website or in Itunes. I believe it was just titled Mashing.

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Ditto what PJ and dzachareas said about the mash temps, recirculating, and sparging slowly. Probably the most important aspects.

Also, I'd add that if you haven't already been using them, irish moss/whirfloc and a wort chiller are essential if you don't want to get chill haze. Need to have a good solid (fast) cold break at the end of the boil.

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Thanks everybody for the info. I'm really looking forward to my first All-Grain Brew. –  threefrenchs Oct 6 '10 at 13:19

Take really good notes so you can correct next time for things that don't work out this time.

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I don't think any one thing could be more important than collecting details on what you do. If you don't like the way it turns out and want to ask the community how to fix it, you can't have too much information. –  Mlusby Mar 3 '11 at 22:32

If you're using coolers for HLT or MLT - make sure they have been at room temperature for a significant amount of time before using them. Sadly, I once made this rookie mistake, which made it very difficult to hit the correct temperatures...

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I heat my strike water 5 degrees beyond what I want before pouring it into the MLT. Once the temp has fallen to the correct strike temp, I know the MLT is warmed up, and I mash in. –  Tobias Patton Dec 31 '11 at 21:04

Excellent advice has already been given. I would only add, take your time, don't rush, start as early as you can so you don't feel pressured by time. And, like the carpentry adage of 'measure twice, cut once', check everything carefully - though, sometimes, mistakes can produce surprisingly good results! Enjoy!

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I just realised how old this post is! Note to self: Check the question date before answering. Perhaps, I should have asked, 'how'd it go?' ROFLMAO :D –  iWeasel Sep 13 '11 at 9:54
    
yeah, old and the user is no longer around! i just edited the title to make it a question is all ... –  Poshpaws Sep 13 '11 at 10:13
    
It's part of the StackExchange model! The OP asks a question, it gets answered, and when the next person wants to ask the same (or very similar) question, the answer is already here, and the power users won't get spammed with simple questions over and over again. But you still are giving good advice. –  Pulsehead Sep 14 '11 at 13:33

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