That’s it. We’re at the end. Today we’ll go through the steps to make a beer starting with some malted barley, some hops, water, and yeast. I just recently brewed up a batch of my Saison, which has been tweaked to my tastes, and is fairly popular with visitors:
Yield: 5 gallons
Grain bill (assuming 80% efficiency)
6 lb 2-row
4 lb Pilsner (preferably Belgian)
1 lb Crystal 8L
1 lb Malted wheat
Mash at 148 F for 90 minutes
90 minute boil with the following hop additions:
1.5 oz Saaz (2.8% AA) at 90 minutes
.5 oz Saaz (2.8% AA) at 20 minutes
This should end up with an OG of ~1.050, and a FG of ~1.008 for about 5.5% ABV
Pitch with a saison yeast (I usually use 565, but used a new one for this batch).
So what’s different with All Grain versus Extract? For All Grain beer, you’ll be starting with malted barley, and need to convert the starches in it to sugars. This is done in the mash. You’ll need a 10 gallon (or larger) insulated (or heated) container with some manner of filtering out the grain from the wort. This can be done with a stainless steel false bottom, which is something like a colander with smaller holes that sits on the bottom of the mash tun over the spout where you’ll be draining the wort. Or, you can use a bag that you attach to the side of the mash tun. The bags are cheaper, easier to clean, and prevent stuck sparges. The only problem is you’ll have to lift a heavy (water + grain) bag out of the mash tun in order to clean it.
There are two main enzymes that will break the starches into sugars, Beta Amylase and Alpha Amylase. Now, these two enzymes have different temperature ranges that they’re most active in, for Beta Amylase, that range is 131-149°F; for Alpha Amylase, that range is 145-158°F. Anything above those temperatures will denature (break) the enzymes, and they’ll stop working. The lower the mash temperature, and the longer, the more fermentable sugars you will get from the grain. The higher the mash temperature, the more unfermentable sugars you’ll get. Too high of a temperature (or too short a mash time), and you’ll have unconverted starch in the beer instead of sugar.
Using a calculator, we figure out what temperature we need to heat the water up to so that when it is mixed with the malt, it’ll be at our expected mash temperature. This is known as the strike temperature. In this instance, my strike temperature came out to be 160 F. We then take the malt and add the hot water to it.
During this part of the process, you’ll want a mash paddle, which is used to stir up the mash and break up any dough balls that form. You can use a big whisk (or spoon) if you want, but stay away from the $5 cheap plastic mash paddles, they do not work all that well for batches over 1 gallon..
Then we put the top on the mash tun and wait, stirring it every once in a while if you so desire (which will up your efficiency a bit). So since this is a 90 minute mash, we’ll take this time to discuss efficiency. There’s two main measures of efficiency that matter to the home brewer: Brewhouse efficiency – how much of the sugars did you get to out of the malt and into the fermenter at the end of the day (80% is a good standard to reach for); Conversion efficiency – How many of the sugars did you get out of the malt. These numbers will be different, because there’s going to be some loss in water absorbed by the grain, left in the mash tun, and left in the boil kettle at the end.
So while the mash is going, we’ll also heat up water for sparging (rinsing more sugars off the malt). We want this water to be hot (I usually aim for 185 F and boiling), because we want to stop the conversion process, and because we need to get all of this wort up to a boil anyway. I do a 2 step batch sparge. So after draining the mash tun, I’ll dump hot water over the grain and drain it twice. You can do a single batch sparge, or even a continuous sparge (where you have a pump recirculating the mash over the grain).
All of these runnings will go into the boil kettle and brought up to a boil. At this point, you follow the same steps as you would for an extract batch. Now you just have to clean up your mash tun, and decide what to do with the spent grain. The grain still will have some sweetness to it, and can be used to feed livestock, dried and ground into flour, or used in its current state to make spent grain bread.
And for sitting through all of these columns, here’s a bonus recipe:
Yield: 5 Gallons
60 Minute boil
4 lb Maris Otter
1 lb Crystal 90 L
1 lb Crystal 30 L
1 lb Carapils
Mash at 150 for 90 minutes.
1 oz East Kent Golding (7.2% AA) at 60 minutes
Ferment with a Dry English Yeast (I use WLP007 for this one)