The refractometer came in very handy today because, unlike a hydrometer, it doesn't require a certain temperature to check the gravity. I took a few readings during the 60-minute mash and at the end, the pre-boil conversion was 11.2 brix which is about 1.045 which was close enough for me. I wasn't sure exactly what the original gravity would be but decided not to add any DME. Once the wort cooled to less than 70F degrees, I dropped a hydrometer in and it read exactly 1.050!
Let's see, what else. I posted my BIAB process a few years ago and still do everything basically the same except now I brew in the garage. This has a few key benefits which you can see in the pictures below. First, I can brew while it's raining. This might not seem like a big deal but trust me, I've brewed in the rain before and it sucks. The next thing that made life easier being inside is I have a pulley to hoist the bag! Now brewing that barleywine won't be such a huge hassle. Finally, my buddy scoundrel suggested I tap off the hot water line from the washing machine since its close to the garage. This was brilliant because we are always trying to find ways to save time and starting with 135F degree water for the mash and when adding hot water to achieve the correct pre-poil volume shaved off some serious time!
Also, during the mash I mounted a timer to the wall behind the kettle!