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All-Grain #1 – American Pale Ale (SNPA)

November 13, 2009


Many weeks of reading and researching about different techniques came to fruition last weekend with my first all-grain batch of beer being brewed. It was a lot of fun and went surprisingly well – but not without my fair share of newbie all-grain issues….mainly due to being overly cautious with Beersmith; read on to find out! 🙂

Firstly, lets start with the recipe….

For my first AG, I felt it important that I didn’t go with anything overly fancy but still tried to incorporate some things I have never used in brewing before. I chose a recipe based closely around the notable American brew “Sierra Nevada Pale Ale”.

  • 4.25kg JW Traditional Ale Malt
  • 0.85kg JW Munich Malt
  • 0.45kg JW Wheat Malt
  • 0.25kg JW Light Crystal Malt
  • 21g Pearle @ 90mins
  • 32g Cascade & 1/2 Tablet of Whirlfloc @ 15mins 
  • 20g Cascade @0mins
  • 20g Cascade – Dry Hop after primary fermentation
  • Proculture PRO10 – Sierra Ale (1L Starter)

I mashed in @ 68°C – very happy that I hit my target temp first go (and after a couple of days previous where I was struggling to seal and calibrate my Mashmaster thermometer, I was glad to see it being registered correctly- and without any leaks! :))

I batch sparged for this brew and pulled out the expected pre-boil volume of 29L. About halfway through the boil I started to get a little worried at the rate the boil was evaporating – it seemed to be loosing a lot of volume. I had anticipated a bit more evaporation loss than normal (and I entered this into beersmith to affect sparge volumes) but it seems I grossly underestimated my new burners ability to boil.

At the end of the boil, I ended up with a little under 16L in the cube for no-chilling – that equated to just over 13L(!!!!) evaporated over the course of 90mins!!!! Needless to say, my OG reading was a lot higher than anticipated; approx. 1.082….instead of the planned 1.052. To combat this, I added an extra 3L to the batch which brought the pre-pitch OG to 1.072 (23L in fermenter)…still much higher than anticipated.

At this stage, I realised that I had forgotten to take a SG reading pre-boil. If I had remembered to do this, I would have also found that my efficiency was WAY higher than I had expected from my first AG. After hearing that lots of people tend to undershoot their efficiency on the first AG, I set my ‘Brewhouse Efficiency’ in Beersmith to 60%….biiiig mistake. In the end, my actual efficiency was 83% – great news for my first brew! But bad news for my first brew 😦 hahah

Pitched a large starter of Proculture PRO-10 (Sierra Ale). It shouldn’t have a problem with the higher alchol content. Was off like a light in about 5 hours.

So….what have I learnt from my first AG experience:

  1. Do a test boil with water to see what your evaporation rate is when you get new equipment
  2. Don’t listen to what other people have problems with for their first AG – JUST GET IN AND DO IT!
  3. Don’t fiddle with Beersmith settings that I am not confident about! hahah
  4. Relax, Don’t Worry, Have a Homebrew !! (RDWHAHB)

Overall I had a blast with All-Grain Brewing and I am sure that this brew, whilst no longer a Sierra Nevada style clone, will turn out interesting and could even be a good beer in itself. Keeping the records of this one to make sure I can replicate it if needs be!

Next brew is going to be fairly soon after this one as I really want another crack at this particular recipe now that I have located the issues I had with the first one.

18 November
Racked this to secondary and dry-hopped the remaining cascade –  mmmmm smells great. Sneaked a small taste from the hydrometer sample; not too bad! Quite strong at this stage but the flavours are there. I stumbled upon a nickname for this recipe – it is now known as the SN(I)PA! I is for Imperial ahhahaha


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  1. padden permalink

    Well done Matt, sounds like it all went pretty well! Might have to call this one an IPA though mate with that OG!!! Should be around 7.5% 🙂

  2. nice one mate… i set my efficiency to 65% and seems about right for the numbers im pulling out… i dream of hitting numbers like 83%!!

  3. flash_dg permalink

    good job mate! Can’t wait till I can do my first AG

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