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Old 11-30-2008, 04:20 PM   #1
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Default Adding Water to Carboy

I've read in a couple different sources you should add water to the carboy once you've completed the boil, crashed the temp and transferred to the carboy. I've only done three all-grain brews (and three brews ever) and I'm pretty inefficient with the boil; I'm basically ending up with 2.5-3.5 gallons by the time the beer ends up in the carboy. What am I doing wrong to end up with so little liquid - if anything? Can I make up for it by doing what I've done for the last 2 batches - add water to the carboy to get to 5 gallons? Should I be adding water to the boil kettle, pre-boil instead? Should I not be adding water at all?

As an example - I brewed 5 weeks ago a Dunkle with Champaigne yeast WLP715 (Dunkle-Barley Wine sounded like a good idea at the time). I ended up with about 3 gallons of liquid in the carboy. I added approx 2 gallons of water and have kept it heated at 70 since. The yeast activated in the first 24 hours. 5 weeks into it I'm not getting a gravity reading and it tastes like watery formaldehyde - but smells like booze... maybe my hydrometer is broken... Did I destroy it by adding water?

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Old 11-30-2008, 04:57 PM   #2
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You need to plan for all the liquid you're going to loose to evaporation, grain absorption, dead space in your kettle and mash tun, and anything else. For me, one of the hardest things about the transition from extract to all grain was ending up with the right volumes. We were often short too.

That said you can dilute at any point in the process up to pitching the yeast. With gravity and volume readings you should be able to either calculate how much water to add to get to a certain gravity or what the resulting gravity will be after adding a certain amount of water. I can't explain this math, I just use Beersmith.

I have not actually ever topped off an AG batch, so I'm sure someone with more experience will give a better answer as to when to do so, but my gut would be pre-boil, since you'd get better hop utilization that way (my friends and I like it hoppy).

As for the results of the Dunklewine, well, Champagne yeast will do that sort of thing. Do you mean by "not getting a gravity reading" that it's reading 1.000?

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Old 11-30-2008, 06:20 PM   #3
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The Hydrometer just sinks to the bottom of the reading glass/beaker I'm using. I spin it to get the bubbles out, but I've actually not achieved any real reading on it with my three beers brewed so far. Full disclosure: I've never brewed extract, just all-grain, and with my first batch brewed - a Celis White clone - I did not add water, ended up with 2.5 gallons of decent, drinkable beer after 6 weeks at 68F; a lot of work for little product.

I'm using a three-tier gravity system. The Hot Water Tank is a Keggle, the Mash-tun is a 5 gal water cooler and the Boil kettle is another Keggle. When I'm sparging I frequently run out of space in the mash-tun. I've been pretty good about keeping the temperature, but can't heat up the cooler when I'm 5-10 degrees off - short of the guessing game of adding 170 water (for maintaining 155 in the mash-tun for example). For how long should I be sparging 170 degree water through the mash-tun after I've started transferring the hot wort into the boil kettle? Until I've achieved 7 gallons or so in the boil kettle? Am I just adding mash-flavored hot water at that point?

Should I be using a 10 gal cooler for the mash instead of the the current 5 gallon one? Would that solve the lack of volume issue - in which case I'd just be adding more water to the mash tun (say 7 gallons)?

Thanks for the advice on using the calculator I will do that in the future. I have a feeling that would solve some of these issues.

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Old 11-30-2008, 06:42 PM   #4
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It seems that you are way off on your water volume calculations, let me suggest this, calculate 1.25 quarts of water for every pound of grain you are using for the mash, mash for one hour at the desired temp, drain mash tun completely, measure the vo.ume you collected in the boil kettle, then you will need to measure x amount of water for the sparge to get you to preboil volume, (preboil volume should be app. 6.5 to 7 gallons, to get you down to 5 to 5.5 gallons post boil) dump half of the sparge water in the tun, stir then drain into boil kettle, repeat with reat of the sparge water, the sparge water should be app. 180 *f, this will get your grain bed temp up to fully rinse the sugars, after the boil of 1 hour you should be really close to 5.5 gallons to go into the fermentor, hope this helps.

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Old 11-30-2008, 09:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rackerman View Post
The Hydrometer just sinks to the bottom of the reading glass/beaker I'm using. I spin it to get the bubbles out, but I've actually not achieved any real reading on it with my three beers brewed so far.
If the hydrometer is not floating, add more liquid. If you can't add more liquid, you need a taller sample jar. A good sample jar makes it a whole lot easier to read. I had one that was too narrow (though I didn't know that at the time) and it finally died (bought in ~1995). I got a newer wider one and it was so much easier to read. It's also possible that you have the wrong kind of hydrometer, possible a "Proof and Tralle Hydrometer". See the differences here: NORTHERN BREWER: Hydrometers and Refractometers

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Originally Posted by Rackerman View Post
Full disclosure: I've never brewed extract, just all-grain, and with my first batch brewed - a Celis White clone - I did not add water, ended up with 2.5 gallons of decent, drinkable beer after 6 weeks at 68F; a lot of work for little product.

I'm using a three-tier gravity system. The Hot Water Tank is a Keggle, the Mash-tun is a 5 gal water cooler and the Boil kettle is another Keggle. When I'm sparging I frequently run out of space in the mash-tun.

Wow! You jumped in the deep end! Good for you. I kind of wish I had done that. I only started AG back in Jan of this year.

The 5 gal Mash tun is going to limit you to a certain original gravity. Someone who uses one can fill in the specifics. There's nothing wrong with this, just so long as you know.

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Originally Posted by Rackerman View Post
For how long should I be sparging 170 degree water through the mash-tun after I've started transferring the hot wort into the boil kettle? Until I've achieved 7 gallons or so in the boil kettle? Am I just adding mash-flavored hot water at that point?
Sounds like you're fly sparging. I've never fly sparged, but I gather that the idea is you sparge until you've achieved the pre-boil volume you want or until the specific gravity of the runnings hits some number (is it 1.020?).

You then need to work out the details of your evaporation rates, etc. I like to try to end the boil with 11 gal in the keggle. This makes two nice 5.5 gal ferments and the results minus a hydrometer sample and the yeast cakes' worth of volume fit perfectly into a corny.

Figure out how long you're going to boil, based on the recipe, then collect enough to end up with 5.5 gal (or whatever, if you're bottling ending up with 5 gal isn't as important).


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Thanks for the advice on using the calculator I will do that in the future. I have a feeling that would solve some of these issues.
Look into ProMash, BeerSmith, Beer Tools Pro and all the online and other calculators. Try the demos. You'll learn a lot of various things just doing that. Then pick one. It makes the calcs a lot easier.
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Old 12-01-2008, 04:02 AM   #6
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You need to batch sparge. It's almost as good as fly sparging but MUCH easier. You just need a bit more grain to obtain your target OG. Google "batch sparge" and you will get all the info you need. Also get Beersmith or something similiar.

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Old 12-03-2008, 02:13 AM   #7
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Default Thank you all!

This is great advice all around... I'll put it to work.

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Old 12-03-2008, 11:43 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Skipstr21 View Post
You need to batch sparge. It's almost as good as fly sparging but MUCH easier. You just need a bit more grain to obtain your target OG. Google "batch sparge" and you will get all the info you need. Also get Beersmith or something similiar.
I agree he needs to batch sparge but the 5 gallon cooler is limiting.

I know you already spent a lot of money on the setup but if you could go to a 10 gallon cooler it would make life easier on you. Even better would be a 70qt cooler or something, this would allow for future growth in doing very high gravity 10 gallon batches. Also as others have said Beersmith or another brewing program would help. You tell it what you have for equipment and it will tell you the amount of water you need to use for each step. It's been pretty accurate for me.

Another thing you might try is to get a more experienced brewer to help you out with a batch. I know making the jump to AG from extract was confusing a bit for me so if you haven't done extract that's a steep learning curve to overcome.
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