My brew day sheet tells me how much mash and sparge water I've calculated that I will need based on the grain bill and equipment. I begin by filling The Grainfather with the mash water and dropping in a Campden tablet to remove chlorine and chloramine. I fill my sparge water kettle with the sparge water amount, plus one gallon to account for dead space in the Mega Pot kettle.
When The Grainfather has reached the mash temperature (or the temperature of the first step in a multi-step mash), I begin scooping in the crushed grain.
|Adding crushed grain to the mash water|
Once it's all in, I place the mesh top on the grain basket and try to get it as close as I can to the top of the grain bed without compressing the grain bed.
|Pressing down the grain basket top|
|Starting the recirculation pump|
As I work, I check off items and steps on the Brew Day Sheet.
|The Brew Day sheet and stopwatch|
When it's time to mash out, I'll have The Grainfather raise the mash temp to 167F and give it about 10 minutes at that temperature. I lift out the grain basket and move the silicone hose from the sparge water kettle into the grain basket.
|Transferring sparge water into the grain basket via the hose|
When sparging is finished, I lift off the grain basket and quickly put it inside a 5-gallon kettle I have which is wide enough to hold the basket easily. This kettle holds the remaining drips from the grain basket and prevents a mess on the floor while I get the kettle up to a boil.
Now I set the switch on the controller to "boil" mode.
I usually take the time to scoop the spent grain out of the basket while the kettle heats to boiling. Then I rinse off the grain basket with clean hot water from a nearby sink so that cleanup will be easy later. The spent grain is set out of the way until the boil is finished. It will be disposed of later. The 5-gallon kettle gets rinsed also.
At this point, I clean my stainless steel spoon and stir the wort vigorously. I use a pipette to capture a few drops of the wort and drip those on my refractometer to take a pre-boil gravity reading. If I'm using a recipe that includes only grain and hops, this reading should match up to the figure on the brew day sheet if the volume is also correct. If it's off, this is when I'll decide if I'm going to need to increase the boil time (to concentrate the wort and increase its gravity), add water to reduce the gravity, or add sugar or malt extract to raise it.
Often, while sparging or during the boil, I'll mix up some Star San in my fermenter and begin sanitizing the fermenter for use. I'll also sanitize an airlock and fill it with sanitizer so it's ready, too. This saves time later on.
My wort is now ready for the next step in the process, the boil. We'll discuss that next week.
|The wort is coming up to a boil...|