Your First All-Grain Brew Day

I guess the best way of showing you how to brew all-grain in your kitchen and backyard is to walk you through the whole process, step by step. So welcome to my kitchen! I’m assuming you’ve treated your water and it’s sitting in two sterilised fermentation bins. You’ve told your partner/mates/Probation Officer that you’ll be tied up all day, you have all your equipment and ingredients to hand and your recipe is printed out and sitting on the kitchen table. So let’s get cracking…

Before we do anything more though, I’d like to make a plea about keeping brewing notes. It’s important that for each and every brew you do, you write down exactly what you did to produce the beer and write down what it ends up tasting like, both in your opinion and in the opinion of a trusted friend or two who know a bit about beer. Keep all of your notes as they are useful reference material. Sod’s Law dictates that the most delicious beer you ever brewed can’t ever be brewed again because you didn’t bother making notes! Your tasting notes can be as basic or as complex as you want; simply taste your beer and write down what you think is good and bad about it. Keep these notes together with your recipe notes relating to the brew.

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Writing down what actually happens on Brew Day is very useful too. For example, "The intention was to do a 60 minute boil. Once the boil had begun I nipped out on a quick errand but the car broke down so the boil inadvertently lasted for 3 hours and 10 minutes." When you actually come to taste this beer you’ll then be able to identify that the toffee note in the beer was caused by the sugars caramelising in the prolonged boil. You may even decide your beer tastes so great that a 3 hour 10 minute boil becomes a must in your brewing!  

The recipe we’re going to brew today is for 25 litres of a nice, straightforward pale ale which will end up anywhere between 5.1 – 5.5% ABV. Using a staggering amount of imagination, as it’s the first all-grain recipe, let’s call it ‘Thirst Of Many.’ If you have a better name in mind and let's face it there are millions out there, be my guest…

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Thirst of Many

Ingredients

5000gms low colour Maris Otter

500gms light Crystal Malt

275gms Torrified Wheat

Yeast

1 sachet of Safale S-04 yeast

Hop Schedule

Start of boil: 

18gms Cascade @ 4.8 AA

37gms East Kent Goldings @ 4.8AA

37gms Williamette @ 4.0AA

10 minutes from end of boil: 

10gms Cascade & 10gms Williamette                                                               

Water Treatment

Add one crushed Campden tablet per 25 litres and stir well. Then, as recommended by laboratory analysis - 9ml of Carbonate Reducing Solution (CBS) per 25 litres of water to be used and stir well. 22gms of Dry Liquor Salts (DLS) to be mixed in with the mash.

Mash and Sparge

Mash in 16 litres of water at 67°C. Add 22gms of DLS at the start of the mash. Once all the wort has been collected, pass it through the grain bed again. I sparge this one at 62°C. Sparge temperature is not crucial as long as it doesn’t exceed 77°C.

Boil

60 minutes. Add Protafloc 15 minutes from the end of the boil and stir well.

Fermentation and Gravity Readings

In case you like to use a hydrometer the OG reading I had was 1.050 and the FG 1.010, giving an ABV of 5.2%. If you don’t want to be bothered with a hydrometer you can rest assured primary fermentation will be complete in seven days, after which you should siphon off to secondary fermentation and let it condition for two weeks before kegging or bottling, as you prefer.

Over the next few pages we’ll take a detailed look at every aspect of the brew. So without further ado let’s start The Mash.

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