This is going to be a step by step of how I’m doing and what I’m using this first time. I’m making a ale as they seem a little more forgiving compared to Lagers. But I have a wheat beer recipe that I think may work out well once I get the process down.
I have a five Gallon stock pot I’m using so I just measured out grains for 1/2 of the average 5-6 gallons of beer. I put in a metal insert for jars from the canner to keep the bag from direct contact of the bottom of the pot. I’m using 4 of the big Binder clips to hold the edge of the bag over the edge or the stock pot. I’m doing half batches as the grain bag is heavy on a normal batch size so it will be easier for me to move with my handicap.
Heating up 3 gallons of water to 154 degrees F. This method is very temp. sensitive so you need to check it often because if it get’s to high it will stop the process. On my electric stove I can hold that temp a couple of lines below Medium heat. Having an instant read thermometer is great for making sure you stay at the correct temp. Add your grains slowly a couple of cups at a time and stir it so you don’t end up with a dough ball. After about a half hour of checking the temp every five minutes and you are sure you are maintaining it. Let it work it’s magic, I think of it as kinda like a giant teabag and it’s slowly steeping to get all those sugars you will feed your yeast, and getting the max. flavor out of the grain. You will need a 90 minute soak of the grains using the Bag method because you don’t sparge the grains, so this method does take a bit more time on average. But let’s face it, if you are in a hurry you are probably not making your own beer.
I laid down an old bath towel and have the fermenting bucket standing by to drain the bag because after this process is done you need to let the bag drain and I found my jar lifter from my canner fit’s on top of my fermenting bucket and I think it will be strong enough to hold the grain bag and let it drain. The towel should keep the floor clean from drips moving the bag. You will be adding this bucket back into the pot when you boil your wort. So make sure you have sanitized everything. Moving the grain bag was a breeze and it’s draining into the bucket the jar lifter is almost perfect for the bag, I love multi-taskers! Moving the bag and getting the wort boiling went much better than I anticipated. Doing the smaller batch of grains really helped. Good time to rinse the bag while you wait for the wort to boil.
After the bag has drained you just boil up up the wort and add your hops just like you do using LME or DME you just don’t have to add water to your fermenting bucket as this isn’t an extract. Use your Hydrometer and get your OG (Original Gravity) reading and then add your yeast when cooled to about 70 degrees and let it bubble away. I have a little journal I’m starting for all grain beers to keep track of the readings and my own little notes.
Using the leftover grains: I’m got the dehydrator out and I will take a shot at drying the used grains out. Put the trays over the sink before adding the grains as some will slip through and it can be a little messy. I put about 2 cups of grains per tray and have 8 trays worth drying/dehydrating. I hope this process works but if it doesn’t I’ll freeze it in one pound bags for animal feed.
I was a little concerned doing this method but the wort is starting to smell like beer! It will take a week or two at the min. to see if it works as well as I hope. But so far so good! After watching a couple of videos of folks doing full batches and struggling with the grain bag compared to how easy doing a 3 gallon batch was for me even with my handicap. I would recommend the smaller batches of all grain bag method. Three gallons will still give you over a case of beer at bottling time. I think brewing beer should be fun and not a struggle or chore!
There you have it, about 5 hours invested in time and about 30 minutes total of physical labor, about $6.00 invested in ingredients for (I hope) a good all grain beer that you know what’s in it. The used grains can be as feed for chicken, pigs and cattle love. Though sheep and goats don’t seem to like it much from what I’ve been reading. Plus there are recipes for bread and doggie treats that can be made from the used grain. You could do other kitchen and cooking projects at the same time from canning to baking bread. Or go read a book watch an old movie do some sewing or knitting or even paint whatever floats your boat.
No, it’s not fast but I look at that as a feature not a bug. I know I need to slow down sometimes and possess myself with patience and look around and see the beauty the world, of taking time to smell the BBQ, canning or bread baking. I really have come along way baby.