Fermentation Riot All Grain Beer Brewing

All Grain Beer Brewing Process

The following steps outline the main activities that are required to brew a batch of beer with all grain methods. This is the general overview covering the basics of all grain brewing.


Step 1: Determine Your Recipe
There are many sources for your recipe. Click here for a list of excellent beer recipes that are at the top of my list. The other option is to create your own recipes with software such as BeerSmith, ProMash, or calculate it out by hand (probably not!).


Step 2: Get Your Supplies
Find your local home brewing supply store or find a reputable website online. This will be the place you will come to get your grain, hops, yeast, and other supplies you need for brew day. If you can't find a local homebrew store you can also try these stores which will package and ship your ingredients to you.



Step 3: Make a Yeast Starter if it is Required.

Yeast Starter A yeast starter is necessary on most beer recipes as the pitching rate is not sufficient with just one vial or packet of yeast. A yeast starter will need to be made days in advance of brew day so be sure to prepare for this. See this tutorial on making a yeast starter to ensure your yeast are happily making beer. If you are unsure if you need a yeast starter this tutorial will help you determine that.


Step 4: Brew Day

1.) The first step is to heat up the water that is needed for mashing the grains. This is done by adding water to a stockpot and heating with a turkey burner.

heating hot liquor tank A turkey burner is necessary for all grain brewing as you will likely need to heat 5 gallons of wort so this will also be used to heat our water that will be used for our mash.

2.) While the water heats, the grains are milled. This can often be done at your local homebrewing store but I prefer to do mine directly before mashing to reduce oxidation of the malts. However this should be relatively insignificant if you mill ahead of time.

Milling Grain There are many options available for milling your grain. Milling is not meant to pulverize the grain into flour but instead it should crack the husk or break the grain into large pieces which will allow water access into the endosperm. The more the grain is milled into flour the better your efficiency of sugars extracted but the higher the change for a stuck sparge (not fun).

Milled Grain:
milled grain
Notice how it is not the consistency of flour. The husks act as a filter bed to allow the extracted sugars (wort) to flow through the mashing process.

3.) Once the heated water reaches the temperature required so that once the colder cooler and grain mix the temperature stabilizes at the recipe target, the water is added to the mash tun and grains are mixed in simultaneously.


adding water to mash The hot water is then added to the milled grains at a temperature above the desired mash temperature because the grain and mash tun will cause the temperature of the water to drop. For a first time brewer the easiest mash would be the single step infusion where water is added once and the grain is held typically held around 153°F. Specific recipes may call for protein rests which may require temperature changes in the mash where additional hot water is added to achieve those step changes.


4.) The grains are then allowed to sit and soak for the length called out by the recipe. The temperature and time is important for determining the body of the beer at this point. This is why it is important to have the mash performed in a good cooler as the insulation helps to maintain the same temperature for 60-90 minutes (depending on the recipe). It is important that the mash is stirred every 10-15 minutes to reduce temperature variability throughout the cooler.

stirring the mash
The consistency should be similar to that of a watered down oatmeal.


5.) Once the mash time is complete it is then sparged with hot water over the grain bed (~170°C). During this time the mash tun is drained into a stock pot that will later be boiled. The continuous slow flushing of hot water through the grain bed extracts additional sugars from the grain bed.

3 tier home brewing There are plenty ways to perform the mash and this step may depend on the equipment you have available and what your personal preference is for mashing. Someone may prefer batch sparging over fly sparging but in the end do what you are happiest with. If you are happy with the malt sugars you have extracted then stick with that. Later you investigate how the differences in mashing affect the final beer.


6.) Once roughly 5-6 gallons of sugar have been extracted from the grain bed the stock pot filled with sugars from the grain (wort) is placed onto the turkey burner and allowed to boil.

Boiling Wort
The key to boiling is to remove unwanted off flavors like DMS from the malt so it is important to vigorously boil the wort at this point. Watch out for boil overs though!


7.) Additions are made to the boil based on the recipes. This may include hops, spices, sugars, clarifying agents, fruits, you name it.

wort boiling additions
Anything and everything can be added at the boil to make a beer unique.


8.) Once the boil time is complete, the beer is chilled as rapidly as possible to a temperature below the fermentation temperature. A chilling unit is used to rapidly reduced the temperature of the wort by connecting to a garden hose.

Wort Chiller You can make your own chiller out of copper coil or purchase one from your local homebrewing store. This step is critical to dropping the temperature of the wort to 70°F or less in 20 minutes so that you reduce DMS formation, risk for contamination, and allow the yeast to be pitched immediately. There are other more advanced ways to chill your wort but this is the tried and true method.


wort chiller in wort


9.) The wort is then transferred from the stock pot to a cleanly sanitized fermentor.

sanitized carboy The carboy is cleaned and then sanitized. Notice in the image the foam that is generated by the use of th sanitizer. Everything that comes in contact with the wort after boiling needs to be properly cleaned and sanitized. The wort that has been cooled is then poured into the sanitized carboy.



10.) The wort is then aerated in the carboy.

oxygenating wort An oxygen tank can efficiently oxygenate wort in a matter of minutes. The alternative is to roll the carboy on the ground for a half an hour to adequately aerate the wort. This is important for yeast health and reproduction.


11.) Yeast is added to the fermentor

12.) Temperature control is enabled to maintain fermentation temperature. Fermentation in this state typically lasts for 1-2 weeks depending on the beer style.

Temperature Controller Homebrewing
A controller can be used to circulate a water bath to maintain +/- 1°F. This is very important to ensure that the yeast are making excellent beer. A good controller can also work to heat a water bath for ales and power a fridge for lagers.

If you are really interested in making your own temperature controller check out the following links:

Simple Love Controller for Brewing
Arduino Data Collection Temperature Controller PID

13.) Beer is later transferred to a secondary fermentation once activity subdues in the primary fermentation. This phase allows the beer to stabilize and clean up any off flavors.

14.) Following secondary fermentation, the fermentor is moved to a fridge to chill the beer. This causes the yeast to drop out of solution and help to clarify the beer as well as stabilize it. Here it will remain in cold storage for a few days to allow the yeast to settle out of solution. It is then transferred to a cornelius keg or bottled (after adding priming sugar).

15.) The keg is then pressurized with CO2 to the appropriate psi setting and allowed to charge for 1 week. If needed beer can be charged in a couple days by increasing the pressure and shaking the keg.

16.) Following a week of carbonation charging, the beer is ready for tasting.

If you have questions regarding this feel free to post them on the forum, we would be happy to answer.


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