A few pictures of my first all-grain Dubbel, Day Two of fermentation.
The grain bill was 12 pounds of Belgian pale malt, 1 pound of Belgian Special B (an aromatic, similar to a dark crystal malt), and 1 pound of dark Belgian candi syrup. I used the pale ale instead of pilsen because it's more modified, and I think better suited for the kind of single mash I'm set up for.
I used a variety of hops, including Sterling, Saaz, Tettnanger, and Liberty. Just 2 ounces total, low alpha. (I was going to use just the Sterling, but I had the others in the fridge in small amounts, so I threw them in instead.)
Finally, I chose Wyeast's Belgian Abbey II ale. I think it's good for strong dark ales. Because I'm using a whole pound of special B I thought I would try this yeast.
The floculation has been crazy. This is the best kreuzen I've had on an all-grain. I'm optimistic this will be a good batch.
Here are a few things I think I've learned from the last few all-grain batches:
1) Make sure your thermometers work, and take measurements from different places in your mash! I think I had too low a temperature for many of my early batches.
2) Let your mash sit for at least 75 minutes. I think the longer the mash, the better.
3) It's okay to stir the mash near the end of your last sparge to get the last of the good sugar.
4) It's good to brew with a friend. You find yourself rethinking your processes. It especially doesn't hurt if that friend is Larry.
5) The boil needs to be VIGOROUS. And let it go for 90 minutes. I pulled 6.75 gallons from my last mash, and boiled it down to just over 5 gallons.
6) Consider using gypsum, or maybe bottled water, for your beer if you live somewhere the water is soft. I've started using gypsum in my all-grain brews and I think it's helping the fermentation. I'm pretty sure Chicago water is particularly soft.
My OG for this beer was right on the mark - 1.065. If I get it down to 1.012 or so, it'll be the right ABV, about 7%. So far so good! My last two all-grains, my Cascade Ale and Rye Pale Ale, were both pretty good. I hope this one is as well.