All-grain brewing

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All-grain brewing is a term used by homebrewers to describe a beer made by the homebrewer from grain rather than malt extract. The term may be misleading; all-grain beers may contain sugar or other adjuncts, spices, or flavorings, and of course extract is simply a concentrated all-grain wort.

What all-grain really means in the homebrewing community is that the brewer creates the wort from crushed grain through a process called mashing. Most home brewers begin by brewing their first few batches, at least, using extract, before adding the extra complication (and equipment cost) of all-grain brewing.

Steps of All Grain Brewing

All-grain equipment

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There are a few key pieces of additional equipment needed to make all-grain batches:

Grain mill
The raw grain must be crushed before being added to the mash. If you want to avoid buying this fairly expensive piece of equipment, many homebrew stores will crush your grain for you, or, for smaller batches, you can crush your own using a bottle or rolling pin.
Hot liquor tank
Mashing and sparging (rinsing) the grain requires a large amount of hot water. Because you will be draining the wort out into your boil kettle, you will need a separate vessel to heat and store this hot water (though this can be remedied by using a cube to drain the sparge water into before returning wort to the kettle/HLT).


Mash tun
This is the vessel in which the grains will steep.

MLT Manifold

Lauter tun
Most homebrewers use a single vessel as both a mash tun and a lauter tun. The lauter tun is the vessel in which the sugars are rinsed from the grain.
  • Kettle: A converted keg with a syphon tube and pot scrubber strainer.

Kettle and tap Inside Kettle Aerator

  • Heat source: A 30,000 BTU propane burner.




  • Jug
  • Extra 10L pail
  • Large spoon
  • Digital thermometer
  • Hydrometer and test jar

Milling the Grain

See: Evaluating the Crush, Advanced: Malt Conditioning

Before they can be mashed, the malted grains and adjuncts needs to be crushed to expose the starches to the mashing process. Milling ensures the kernel is broken up but leaves the husk as intact as possible to create a grain bed on the manifold. If the crush is very fine, then it is easier to get high efficiency. However, the downside is that the chances of getting a stuck sparge increase, which requires the use of rice hulls. A coarser crush will mean a lower efficiency, but will mean that the chances of a stuck sparge are lower.

The Recipe

A recipe at its simplest will have water, malt, hops and yeast. Most beers will have a base malt and at least one speciality malt. The hops used will usually be added in 3 stages during the boil for bittering, flavouring and aroma. Other adjuncts can also be added.

The use of grain in this process puts the home brewer as close to commercial beer as one can get. One usually uses 5-15 pounds of grain for one 5 gallon batch. Hop utilization will be greater when doing a full boil so the use of less hops in the recipe is recommended. A yeast starter is suggested to be made 1-4 days in advance to provide a quick fermentation. If brewing for a particular style the brewer might adjust the water to match that of a famous area from which the style is brewed. An example recipe is below-

Hobgoblin Clone

weighing the ingredients

Hobgoblin is a powerful full-bodied copper red, well-balanced brew. Strong in roasted malt with a moderate hoppy bitterness and slight fruity character that lasts through to the end. A full chocolate malt flavour beer by the addition of a small proportion of chocolate malt.

Batch Size 23L (6 gallon US)
Pre Boil Volume 30L (8 gallon US)
Mash 68°C (154°F) For 60 Mins
OG 1056
ABV 5.6%

4.80 kg Maris Otter Pale (2 Row)(10.5lbs)
0.25 kg Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (0.55lbs)
0.20 kg Cara-Pils/Dextrine (0.44lbs)
0.15 kg Chocolate Malt (0.33lbs)
45.00 gm Styrian Goldings (1.6oz)
45.00 gm Fuggles (1.6oz)
Danstar Nottingham Dry Yeast (1 pack)
1 teaspoon Irish moss.


{{ #if: | Main article: [[Mashing|]] | Main article: Mashing }}

See also: The Theory of Mashing, Understanding Mash pH

Mashing is the process of soaking the grain bill in hot water for a period of time to allow the enzymes to convert starch into sugar. It also extracts colors and flavors from the grain. Mashing at cooler temperatures (around 61-64°C) activates the enzymes that convert the starches into simpler sugars. This will ensure a more dry beer. Mashing at 65-69°C activates enzymes that create more complex sugars, which results in a slightly sweeter beer.

After heating the water to the correct temperature, the brewer mixes the grain and water in a specific ratio ranging from 1-2qt/lb of grain. Be sure not to aerate the water to much, hot side aeration can occur at any point the water is above 100°F, although some have argued that the effects of hot side aeration are negligible in small (homebrew-sized) batches. After checking that the mix is at the require temperature the brewer lets the mix mash for a dedicated period, an hour being fairly standard.


{{ #if: | Main article: [[Lautering|]] | Main article: Lautering }}

The process of separating the sweet wort from the grains. Some type of filter medium must be used between the grist and the lauter tun's drain valve to keep husk and other large particulates from entering the boil kettle. The physical media is usually rather coarse as the bed of grain husks compacts to create a more fine filtering during the vorlauf and subsequent draining of wort. The process of lautering usually involves "sparging" as well.


See also: Fly Sparging, Batch Sparging, No sparge method, Batch Sparging, an Analytical Approach

After the mash is complete, the brewer must "rinse" the grains of the sugars. This is done by sparging the grains. There are two common methods of sparging: batch and fly. Fly sparging is the letting out of the water from the bottom slowly and the adding of 170°F water from the top at the same rate. Batch sparging is the draining of the mash/lauter tun as quickly as possible and then adding more water, mixing, letting it settle, and draining again.


After sparging, the collected mixture (now known as wort) is brought up to a boil where hops are added at the prescribed rate and times. the earlier into the boil the hops are added the more bitterness is added to the overall flavour of the beer. As it gets later, the additions emphasise hop flavour and aroma more than bitterness. During this period the wort will be condensed to make the desired amount of beer. Additionally, volatile chemicals that would produce off flavours in the final product will evaporate off.


Cooling 5 gallons of boiling wort to 70°F is no small task since this is to be done as quickly as possible. The use of a wort chiller is recommended to lower the temperature quickly. Since the generation of DMS occurs above 150°F dropping the temperature past this point is of importance.


Once the wort is at 70°F you may transfer to the fermenter. Aerating the wort at this point is highly recommended to raise the amount of oxygen in the wort. This is because the yeast initially processes all oxygen in the wort to multiply and store energy in their cells which they use during the anaerobic fermentation (which is the fermentation that creates alcohol). After aerating pitch the yeast in to the wort.


Please note that this is by no means the only way to brew beer. There are many variations on this method, and brewers are encouraged to find the way of brewing that suits them best.


Pre Boil a kettle of water and leave to cool. (For yeast hydration)

Water Volumes

Grain Bill: 5.4KG (11.9lbs)
Mash Ratio: 2.6L/KG (1.25qt/lbs)
Mash Water: 14L (14.7qts) (First runnings 6L (6.3qts))
Sparge Water: 24L (25.3qts)

Set up the brewing equipment

Set up you HLT, MLT and Kettle. This equipment needs to be clean but not sanitised

Heat the sparge water

heat 14L of water to 77°C this take me around 30 minutes and gives time to prepare grain and hops.

Weigh the ingredients

If you weigh and lay out all you ingredients then it's less likely that you will forget a step in the brewing process. When weighing the hops split into 3 lots of 15g (4oz) of both hops. 15+15 bittering, 15+15 flavour, 15+15 aroma.


Add Mash Water‎
Mash Temperature‎

Mashing at 68°C for 60 minutes will give the correct temperature and time for the enzymes in the malt to convert the starch to sugar.

  • Make sure the manifold is secured correctly
  • Make sure the tap is closed
  • Make sure the mash water is at the correct temp
  • Add the grain to the mash tun
  • Add the water to the mash tun and stir to make sure all the grain is wetted, don't forget the corners
  • Check the temperature to make sure it is 68°C
  • Close the lid and leave for 60 minutes

The time the mash takes can be used to mix a container of sanitiser and rehydrate the yeast

Rehydrate the yeast

Sanitise a glass, add the preboiled water, sprinkle on the yeast, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place until required)
Hydrating Yeast.JPG

Heat your Sparge water

Heat 24L of water to 77°C. Start to heat your sparge water around 30 minutes before the end of the mash.

First runnings

First runnings.JPG

Use a jug to drain off some wort from the mash, return the first few jugfuls back to the mash until the runnings start to come out clearer. Drain all the first runnings into a pail and add to the kettle. In the interest of speeding up your brew day, you may wish to start heating the kettle at this point. If you do then be careful not to heat to vigorously or you'll caramelise the wort

Batch sparging


Depending on the size of you mash tun you will need to add your sparge water in one, two or even three parts. Add the water and stir to mix. Leave for five to ten minutes, mix again then drain, returning the first few jugfuls to the mash until running clearer. Add to the kettle and repeat.

For your first one or two brews to may want to check that the runnings do not drop to a gravity of less the 1.006. This can cause the extraction of tannins from the grain and cause and harsh/astringent off flavour. If the gravity does drop too low, then stop sparging. You can top the kettle up to the required volume with water or just live with the smaller volume.


Hop additions.JPG

When all of the wort is added to the kettle turn up the heat.

Bring to a rolling boil, Start the timer. (B+0 mins)

  • B+00mins : Add Bittering Hops
  • B+30mins : Add Flavouring Hops
  • B+50mins : Add Wort chiller to sanitise
  • B+55mins : Add Irish moss
  • B+60mins : Add aroma hops, turn off flame, turn on wort chiller

Hook up the immersion chiller and cool the wort to below 27°C (Save the water from the chiller to for cleaning)


  • Drain the wort into the fermenter.

Drain kettle.JPG

  • Add hydrated yeast

Happy Yeast.JPG

  • Add cap and airlock or blow off tube.
  • Ferment for 5 - 7 days.
  • Check gravity make sure it's below 1.015
  • Rack to secondary and leave for 10 - 14 days.

Racking to secondary.JPG

  • Check gravity make sure it's finished fermenting.
  • Bottle or keg.
  • Leave to carbonate and condition for 2 - 4 weeks.

Other Methods

Brew in a Bag

Detailed How To Pages