Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from August, 2016

Things I've Learned Brewing with The Grainfather, Part 2

In the last post, I shared an overview of The Grainfather, recommended equipment to use with it, and an overview of the brewing process.  In this installment, I'm going to talk specifically about mashing and sparging. Having brewed over a dozen batches with it, I'm finally becoming very comfortable with the device, the mash process, and how to get what I want out of it. I don't consider myself a "master" of it yet, though.

For those who have never done all-grain brewing, I want to provide a quick overview of the mash process itself.

Mashing - With or Without The Grainfather
The goal of mashing is to turn the starches in the grain into sugars. More specifically, you want to turn the starches into a mix of fermentable and unfermentable sugars that provide the flavor profile associated with the beer you are brewing. A sweeter beer might warrant more unfermentable sugars. A more dry beer will demand few unfermentable sugars.

To a great extent, controlling the amount o…

Things I've Learned Brewing with The Grainfather, Part 1

Late in 2015, I made the switch from extract brewing to all-grain. I had made some really good extract beers prior to that switch. Switching to The Grainfather and all-grain brewing at once was like learning to brew all over again. All-grain brewing is different from extract brewing up to the point at which you start boiling the wort. Brewing in The Grainfather is different from brewing with other equipment. I'm not saying that either is necessarily better or worse, just that it's all different. Any time you introduce a change into your process, you introduce a need to learn and experiment. I'm hoping in this post to share things I've learned about brewing all-grain beers with The Grainfather so that the rest of you won't make some of the mistakes I did.

Note: This post refers to the US model of The Grainfather and may not apply to non-US versions.

Let's start with things about The Grainfather itself:


What else do you need? Although The Grainfather is an all-in-o…

Grainfather Specifications for BeerSmith, Beer Tools Pro, and Other Software

Recently, I've been trying to "dial in" settings in BeerSmith and Beer Tools Pro so that I can do a better job getting my actual brewing results to match up to the figures in the software. Below are some of the figures I've worked out with my US Grainfather. Given manufacturing variances and possible measuring errors on my part, these might not match exactly to yours, but hopefully they're close enough that it will help you.

BeerSmith Equipment Profile:

Brewhouse Efficiency: 83% (based on my experience, yours may vary)Mash Tun Volume: 8 gallonsMash Tun Weight: 8.82 poundsMash Tun Specific Heat: 0.12 Cal/gram-deg CMash Tun Addition: 0 gallonsLauter Tun Losses: 0 gallonsTop Up Water for Kettle: 0 gallonsBoil Volume: 6.25 gallonsBoil Time: 60 minutesBoil Off: 0.40 gallons per hourCooling Shrinkage: 6%Loss to Trub and Chiller: 0.53 gallonsBatch Volume: 5 gallonsFermenter Loss: 0.40 gallons (yours may vary)Whirlpool time: 0 minutes Beer Tools Pro Vessel Profile: Shape: …

Cream Ale v1.0 Recipe and Notes

One of the beer styles I've wanted to brew for a while is a cream ale. It's a nice, light, refreshing style that is easy to enjoy during the warmer months.  With summer approaching its end, I thought maybe it was time to brew it. The recipe I'm using in this case is based closely on the Kari's Cream Ale recipe on the American Homebrewer's Association web site. This recipe won a gold medal at the National Homebrewer's Conference in 2008, so it seemed like a good choice.

Using BeerSmith, the BJCP style guide, and calibrations based on my recent experience with The Grainfather, I had to modify the existing recipe.  My brewhouse efficiency with The Grainfather is pretty consistently coming out at 80%, so the original recipe's grain amounts were decreased to get the beer closer to the figures stated in the AHA recipe.

The Recipe
3 pounds, 12 ounces of 2-row Pale Malt
3 pounds, 12 ounces of Swaen Pilsner Malt
8 ounces of Flaked Maize
1 pound of corn sugar
1.35 oun…

RIMS Brewing and The Grainfather

In extract brewing, there is no mash step. The brewer may choose to steep some specialty grains to grain the flavors they offer, but the mashing was done by whoever created the malt extract used to produce the beer. The benefit of extract brewing is that you save time and don't need as much equipment. The down-side is that you have less control over the flavor of your beer.
For all-grain brewers, it's all about the mash. This is analogous to extract brewing's steeping and stirring in of malt extract, but is considerably more complicated. I won't go into all the complexities here, because to be quite honest I doubt I know or understand them all. There are a number of ways to perform a mash. These include: Decoction mashing: A portion of the mash is drawn off and boiled in a separate vessel, then added to the mash tun to heat it up. In this style of mashing, there's no heat applied to the main mash vessel - only to the portion drawn off and heated separately. This is…