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Old 06-17-2010, 02:12 PM   #1
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I made my second all grain batch (Patrick's Powerful Pomegranate Saison) and I have a few questions:


Sparge technique - I viewed youtube video recommended on the forum and he sparged by pouring 170 degree water in the mashed grains, mixing them up a bit, then letting them rest for 10 minutes. He then drained into the boiling pot. This is what I did both the first time and the second. After a bit more reading, it seems that other people gently pour the sparge water over the grain bed using a strainer or other device so they don't disturb the grain bed, once the water level is a few inches over the grain bed, they start draining the wort slowly so the water level stays a few inches over the grain bed for as long as possible. I am sure there are many ways of doing this, are these just two of the techniques available or did I do it wrong somehow?

Vorlauf/Filtering - I think next time I will drain through a cheesecloth so I don't have to worry about chunks of stuff getting in the wort. I did the vorlauf procedure this time and as I start the boil and stirred the pot, I notice lots of chunks of stuff. Anything wrong with using cheesecloth like this?

Efficiency - I did not measure the gravity pre boil - is there any way to measure efficiency? I measured after the boil and it came out to 1.064. The grain bill is:

8 lbs Pilsner 2 row Belgian
2 lbs Vienna Malt
1.5 lbs Caravienne
1 lbs Carapils
.5 lbs Acid Malt



Boil off - The recipe called for pre boil volume of 7 gallons boiling down to 5 gallons - I thought 7 was way too much so I started with 5.75. I ended up with 4.1 after the boil. I know I can just add water but I decided against it since I plan on adding about 1.5 gallons of pomegranate juice after fermentation stops. I am planning on pouring this in the primary after about 5 days of fermenting - should I rack this in a different bucket?

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Old 06-17-2010, 02:53 PM   #2
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Sparge technique - I viewed youtube video recommended on the forum and he sparged by pouring 170 degree water in the mashed grains, mixing them up a bit, then letting them rest for 10 minutes. He then drained into the boiling pot. This is what I did both the first time and the second. After a bit more reading, it seems that other people gently pour the sparge water over the grain bed using a strainer or other device so they don't disturb the grain bed, once the water level is a few inches over the grain bed, they start draining the wort slowly so the water level stays a few inches over the grain bed for as long as possible. I am sure there are many ways of doing this, are these just two of the techniques available or did I do it wrong somehow?
Yes, those are two of the options. What you did is batch-sparging (all the AG brewers I know use this method). The slow flowing one is called fly-sparging. There are other options, too.

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Vorlauf/Filtering - I think next time I will drain through a cheesecloth so I don't have to worry about chunks of stuff getting in the wort. I did the vorlauf procedure this time and as I start the boil and stirred the pot, I notice lots of chunks of stuff. Anything wrong with using cheesecloth like this?
No, you can filter it if you want. Instead of vorlaufing, I used to run it through a very fine mesh stainless steel screen. That catches the big pieces of grain.

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Efficiency - I did not measure the gravity pre boil - is there any way to measure efficiency? I measured after the boil and it came out to 1.064. The grain bill is:

8 lbs Pilsner 2 row Belgian
2 lbs Vienna Malt
1.5 lbs Caravienne
1 lbs Carapils
.5 lbs Acid Malt


Boil off - The recipe called for pre boil volume of 7 gallons boiling down to 5 gallons - I thought 7 was way too much so I started with 5.75. I ended up with 4.1 after the boil. I know I can just add water but I decided against it since I plan on adding about 1.5 gallons of pomegranate juice after fermentation stops.
With that grain bill, 4.1 gallons post boil, and a gravity of 1.064, I am calculating that you got an efficiency of only 58%, which is pretty low.

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I am planning on pouring this in the primary after about 5 days of fermenting - should I rack this in a different bucket?
No comment here. I don't know if it matters whether you add juice to it in the primary or whether you should rack it first.
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Old 06-17-2010, 04:25 PM   #3
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With that grain bill, 4.1 gallons post boil, and a gravity of 1.064, I am calculating that you got an efficiency of only 58%, which is pretty low.
Any ideas on why I only got 58% this time? Last time, I did pretty much the same thing and got 73%. The main difference this time is that I went 70 minute instead of 75 and it was a different grain bill. The first was a different recipe and had specific mash instructions - this one I sort of made up. There were no mash instructions with the recipe I butchered.
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Old 06-17-2010, 04:38 PM   #4
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There is a lot of thing that can influence efficiency. Mashing at a wrong temperature, sparging at the wrong temperature or without enough water (I fly-sparge by the way), not crushing the grains enough, etc.

At what temperature did you mash?

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Old 06-17-2010, 05:12 PM   #5
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I used a strike temp of 164 and a sparge temp of 170. It was 13 pounds of grains that were at 78 before I started.

I also started with 3.6 gallons for the mash and got out 2.75 gallons, I then sparged with three gallons and got out three for a total fo 5.75.

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Old 06-17-2010, 05:21 PM   #6
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You're efficiency is so low because your final volume was almost a whole gallon low. Brewhouse efficiency, which I'm assuming is what Walker posted, is based on OG and intended volume. If you had hit your 5 gallon mark and also had the preboil correct, you would have hit intended efficiency.

You also said you didn't do the whole 7 gallons because you thought it was too much, this caused your efficiency to start low.

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Old 06-18-2010, 02:05 PM   #7
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Is there a guideline for how much water to sparge - how much pre boil volume to create in order to get the efficiency around 75%? I know about the 1.25 quarts per pound of grain for mash but after that how much do you use?

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Old 06-18-2010, 02:42 PM   #8
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i personally use a total of 3 quarts of water per pound of grain when I brew.

1.5 qt/lb for the mash, and another 1.5 qt/lb for the sparge.

My efficiency floats around 75%.

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Old 06-18-2010, 02:46 PM   #9
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forgot to add....

my rule of thumb can leave me with adjustments needing to be made depending on the recipe.

If it is a smaller grain bill, I will have to add some top-off water to the kettle so that I have a proper pre-boil volume.

If it is a large grain bill, I might have to boil for longer than 60 minutes.

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Old 06-18-2010, 05:33 PM   #10
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Thanks for the tip - I think I get it now. Should I plan on a certain amount of preboil water for 5 gallons batches? I thought 7 gallons was too much but it seems that I should have had at least 6.75 or so in this last batch.

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