First AG brew

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Fired up the 3V brewery system for the first time time this afternoon to mixed results. For background I picked up the system off this forum at the start of the year after mainly extract brewing on and off for over 10 years.

Today's brew was a recipe from a local brewery/HBS, they milled the grain and supplied hops/yeast. I've only recently moved to the area and this shop has a pretty good online presence and range.

Aussie Pale Ale

Pale 2-row 4.4kg
Wheat Malth .3kg
Crystal .2kg


Super Pride 10g @60
Galaxy 50g
Vic Secret 50g
(25g each at flameout, remainder dry hopped)

Safale US-05

To be completely honest I made a few mistakes and despite reading a lot of material online over the last few months I learnt as much about brewing and my system this afternoon as I did reading everything else.

My biggest mistake was forgetting to factor in the water loss that occurs in the grain absorption. I used the standard rule of 3L per kg of grain and then batch sparged but when I calculated the amount of water needed to sparge I forgot to take into account absorption. Stupid mistake and I ended up with a final batch of around 12L

I also got my strike temperature very wrong. I wanted to mash at 65 so I got the water up to 67 and transferred the whole lot into my mash tub. By the time I added the grain it was already down to 61. Only dropped to 60 over the course of an hour.

So what will I do differently next time?

1. Heat up the strike water to a higher temp. I've actually got a thermowell in the mash tun so I should have monitored it more closely before adding the grain. This will be an easy fix, simply add water in at a higher temp, allow extra time and temp loss for the tub to heat up etc.

2. Work out exactly how much water I need. I've read few threads on this and this was a silly oversight. However I am wondering, do I sparge with the total amount of water I need to make a 21L brew or use even more to allow for evaporation during the boil?

3. I need to tighten a few fittings on the vessels, fit with plumbers tape etc. I had a few leaks, this could have been avoided if I had a done a dry run first but I didn't.

4. Sterilize the wort chiller with santizer rather than have it in boiler to sterilize. It just got in the way and made things messier than it needed to be.

Even though brew wise today wasn't that great I had a great afternoon watching the system work and learning a bunch of new stuff. I took heaps of notes so I know how long it takes to heat water, how it holds temp and brings the wort to boil. I'm going to purchase the exact same recipe again and see if I can improve. In fact I'll probably do 4 or 5 runs with this recipe to make sure I can get my system sorted.

I still put this in the fermentor, added a few extra litres of water post boil to make it worth my while and ended up with an SG of 1040. I'm not expecting great things taste wise but I thoroughly enjoyed the process.

I've also been a member of this forum since the start of the year. So often, most questions I've been thinking about have already been asked and are solved with google search. Its nice sharing an experience of actual brewing rather than pouring a FWK into a fermentor and adding yeast!


Keep doing it and you’ll have it sorted pretty soon. My main advice is write all volumes and temps down, including strike water temp, and actual mash temp after adding grain, and slightly tweak each batch. You’ll eventually know roughly how much you lose through grain absorption, boil off etc. And efficiency, consistency is the most important thing, don’t overly stress about trying to maximise it over consistency.!
Nothing teaches like doing!
RE 1. Calculate the strike water temperature, there are plenty of on line calculators if you don't want to do it your self (here). Part of this calculation will depend on the volume you are using as strike water, which will depend on the answer to 2.
2. Its very handy to know how much water you will need in total, I wouldn't want to see my sparge over half of the total water volume, usually less. Its a good idea to take all your water (plus 10% for fudge factors). Make sure the water is dechlorinated (Campden is good) and treat it all with any salts you are going to use.

As mje says write things down.
Loosely where water goes in the process
You want 21L fermenter, if that's what you are looking for.
Volume left in the kettle to exclude hot break and hop debris, usually 5-10% of your to fermenter volume so ~1-2L (needs measuring).
Boil off should be in the 8-10% of the start of boil volume, start at the high end and keep records but call it ~2L and adjust when you have harder numbers.
At the start of the boil You are looking to have ~25L in the kettle (worth noting that all calculations are based on 20oC so you will need about 3% more if measured at say 70oC, comes to just short of 26L - call that your target.

Around 0.8L/Kg of grist goes out with the grain (well again give or take depending mostly on the grind) but start at 0.8, you have 4.9kg of grist so you need to allow 3.92L
Add that on and we get to 29.92 (call it 30L)
Its pretty standard to add 2% for evaporation during the mash, bits left in hoses, jugs...
Pretty much comes to 30.5L

Have lots of fun!
Congratulations! Sounds like you didn't do too badly. Anyone with a new system is going to have a learning curve figuring out what makes everything work, even experienced people.

Twelve liters won't last long. What's next? Think I would try the same recipe so you can compare your results against a known entity.

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