After a two-month hiatus in brewing (didn't brew in March, April), I was able to squeeze in a batch of all grain coffee porter yesterday afternoon. It was only my second batch of all grain, so I was still running into unforeseen glitches, but nothing that corrupted the beer - just took up more time than I was hoping for.
Last time, I used a bucket with false bottom for sparging, and I had done the mash in the kettle - applying direct heat for the different temperature rests. Well, this time I decided to try a modified picnic cooler and do a two-step infusion mash; it worked out pretty well! Catches this time included not getting the second infusion temp high enough, so rather than add more water, I scooped out several quarts of thick mash and brought to a boil on the stove. Voila! (I guess that'd be a partial decoction mash??).
Even though I made a dipstick for the keg this time, I still misjudged the evap rate. I had to add in two quarts of filtered water to get the five+ gallons I needed. Other than that, everything seemed to work well. I'm waiting for the bubbling to start.