Third Batch...  In the bucket.

Well, my third batch went very well.  It was an "all grain" brew.  When I brewed the last one I really loved the way the grain bag smelled while it was steeping.  So, I decided to look into all grain brewing.  After some research, and a trip to the LHBS, I was ready to give it a shot.  I put together a mash tun in an old cooler I had around the house.  A couple of trips to The Home Depot later (and one to Lowe's), and I was ready to give it a go.  I went with a recipe I found on  It's called Bee Cave Brewery Haus Pale Ale.  It was created by "Ed Wort", and, by all accounts it is supposed to be good.  Even better yet,  It's suppose to be easy. 

My Mash tun.

Here are some pictures of my mash tun.  I removed the cooler's spout and inserted a 2 inch brass nipple.  I put a valve on one end and a wire mesh screen on the other.  (The wire screen is a water inlet with the ends cut off and the rubber hose pulled out.)  Most people put a brass plug in one end and clamp it in place with hose clamps.  But, I've read that even the "stainless" clamps have a regular screw to tighten them in place.  And these screws can rust.  So I decided to go with these little "zip ties".  I'm not sure how that will work out.  I'll keep an eye on them and let you know.  The package says that they are good up to 180 deg.  My mash temp was 152 deg.  My strike water was 166 deg.  So I think I'm ok on that.  But, there is a tiny little piece of metal inside these little ties.  They may rust too.  But, they are so cheap, I can just replace them each time I brew.  Just a quick "snip, snip", and a "Zip, Zip" and I'm ready to mash in.

The Ingredients... 

Grain, Hops, Yeast, and Water....  How cool is that? 

8Lbs of 2 Row Pale
2 Lbs of Vienna malt
.5 lbs of Crystal 10L

I was supposed to use Nottingham yeast.  But, my local homebrew supply store was sold out.  (I guess I should be grateful that I have a local homebrew supply store.)  Anyhow, I went with the Muntons ale yeast.  I hope it wont make too much difference.

The Vorlauf...

I'm not sure exactly what that means...  But, I think it means to recirculate the wort until the fine grains get trapped in the grain bed at the bottom of the mash tun.  I never did get it "clear".  But, after about a two gallons, this was as good as it got.

I'm gonna have to get a bigger pot.

Brewing 6 1/2 gallons of wort takes a pretty big pot.  I don't have one...  What I did have was three decent sized pots.  So, I divided up the wort among the three and then tried to distribute the hops according to the size of the individual pots.  (More hops in the larger pots... Less in the smaller ones.)  Here's where I ran into a little problem:  I was supposed to start with 6 1/2 gals. of wort and boil them for an hour.  After "boil off" I should have ended up with about 5 1/2 gals.  But, I guess spreading the boil over three smaller pots caused a lot more to steam off.  I ended up with less than 3 1/2 gals. (See Pic. of bucket above.) So, I added tap water (at the end after cooling and before pitching the yeast) to bring it up to 5 1/2 gals.  I hope that was OK...  I'll have to check on that.

Flame out and Into the Ice bath.

Ok,  Here was the fun part.  Trying to cool three pots full of wort with only two sinks, a limited amount of ice, and temps in the upper 80s was a challenge.  But, It seemed to go alright.  Look at that "plume" of stuff in the middle.  Is that normal?  Man I hope so.

The finished wort.

Wow...  My first all grain brew and look how clear it already is...  I pulled this sample before pitching the yeast and checked it with a hydrometer.  (1.048 @ 60 deg. F.)  I missed my Original Gravity.  It was supposed to be 1.051.  I'm not sure what happened.  I'll have to ask around.  But it was pretty damn close.  I had to give the sample a taste and, believe it or not, it tasted pretty good.