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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > AG with a 4 gallon boil but a 5 gallon batch size
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Old 05-05-2011, 10:23 PM   #1
Skelator
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Default AG with a 4 gallon boil but a 5 gallon batch size

I've done a couple PM batches and I'd like to step into AG (so cheap!!) however, i only have one 5gal pot and one 5gal cooler to use as a MLT. The recipe im looking only calls for 10.5 pounds of grain which will fit in the MLT.

My problem comes up when we get to boil size, I can realisitcally only boil 4 gallons then add water to it when i put it in primary.

I've been using hopville.com's recipe calculus where it adjusts for batch and boil size. So i guess my first question is "Has anyone else brewed an AG with a 4gal boil?"

This now begs the questions, "how much water do i use for mash AND sparge since boil size is only 4 gallons?" "Is it wrong to mash with 2.5 gallons and sparge with 2.5? (yes 2.5+2.5=5 but im guesstimating i'll lose about a gallon to grain absorbtion collectively)" "Should i just put the AG on hold and do a partial mash?"

Here is the recipe and numbers via hopville.com..

Batch size: 5.2gal
Boil size: 4.0gal
OG: 1.051
FG: 1.013
IBU: 29
ABV: 5.1%
Eff%: 65%

7# American Two-row Pale
2# Chocolate Wheat Malt
.5# Flaked Oats
.5#Flaked Wheat
.5#Black Patent Malt

.5oz East Kent @ 60
.5oz Northern Brewer @ 60
.5oz East Kent @ 10
.5oz Northern Brewer @ 10

Cheers y'all and thanks!

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Old 05-05-2011, 10:28 PM   #2
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Although some folks with flat out say it can't be done, it screws with your efficiency, it makes crappy beer, I do top off ag batches all time. I often do 5 gallon batches dilluting 2.5 gallons of wort with 2.5 gallons of water.

And I've won awards for some of them...

I've been doing quite a lot of them in the winters in the last couple of years.

I do it a lot in the winter when I can't brew outside. I use a pre-boil gravity of 3.5 gallons boiled down to 2.5 and topped off with 2.5 gallons of water, and I've never had an issue with efficiency whatsoever, or hop utilization problems either.

I use beersmith to calculate everything then use their "dillute with water" calculator and hit my numbers all the time. A recipe calculated in a program like beersmith that takes into account for boil size will tell you how much grain you need to achieve whatever your set efficiency is. Basically you are still making a high grav wort, like your extract extract actually is, and then using the calculator dilluting it down.

The only thing I account for is hop efficiency. And I simply up my hopbill by about 18% to overcompensate for poor hop utilization. And I bet you with a better understanding of the formuals and such, you could nail the amount you need to overcompensate more precisely that I do, but 18% more seems to work for me.

I've done everything from IPA's to really light lagers this way and have had some great beers come out of it. My Wit and my Vienna Lager made this way have both placed in comps. And another one, my chocolate mole porter picked up a bronze.

I still do a lot of half sized Ag batches, because there is no extra math involved, but over the last two years I've found that the "you can only do full sized all grain batches, and can't dillute with water," isn't exactly true....it just takes a little finegaling with the maths.

I think the idea that you "can't" is just one of those common wisdom things that folks repeat because they've heard it, and never really give it much thought, or worse yet, just repeat the premise verbatum...

Funny thing is I've discussed this with brewers who own 2 different LHBS's (and have decades more experience than me) and they've been doing the same thing for years. I first thought about it, when I overboiled a 5 gallon batch on my turkey fryer by a gallon, and sat down and played with the dillution ration to top off with water, and it returned to the gravity had I not missed my post boil volume...I started to wonder what if....and it's been fun. Especially finding out that it works for many different styles, from really hoppy to not subtle brews.

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Old 05-05-2011, 10:53 PM   #3
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That's pretty awesome news, I've been wondering the same thing myself...Using DeathBrewer's stovetop partial-mash method but going all the way with grain.... Might be a stress on the nylon paint strainer bags, but then again, maybe not!

Very cool.

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Old 05-05-2011, 10:55 PM   #4
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beersmith beersmith beersmith. Sadly, im at work, i'll have to remember to dl it tomorrow since im working late hours tonight. *sigh* that is unless someone wants to plug my numbers in.

I figured you could do AG and not do full boils, its not 'proper' but its not 'wrong'... its just against the grain. (see what i did there? zing!)

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Old 05-06-2011, 03:18 PM   #5
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Old 05-06-2011, 05:02 PM   #6
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+1 to what Revvy said. I've done it a bunch of times without any issues too.

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Old 05-06-2011, 05:57 PM   #7
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Revvy stated everything I was going to. I've been doing this all winter. I have a 5 gallon pot and start with 4.5 gallons. I only have to top up with 1.5 gallons at the end. I switched to save on Propane costs mostly.

The naysayers can say what they want. Before I tried it, about 90% of the posts on the topic said it wasn't a good idea. This method makes the same quality beer as my non topped up batches did.

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Old 05-12-2011, 06:25 PM   #8
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Revvy, Can you post a simple recipie with instructions using this method to illustrate how it is done??

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Old 05-12-2011, 09:12 PM   #9
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Honestly it's any typical 5 gallon recipe. Nothing really special in the grain bill. It's all in playing with the numbers in BS.

I can try to explain it off the top of my head, but forgive me if I miss a few details. Though it's not difficult.

1) Basically you create a 5 gallon recipe in beersmith.
2) Make note of the og and ibus.
3) Figure out what 18% more of your ibus are, then using the ibu's tab in beersmith let the software recalculate the hopping amount to account for it, or do it yourself.
4) Change the Batch Size to whatever you want to be able to boil on your stove. If it's 4 make it 4- I tend to do 2.5 with a 3.5 pre-boil volume-make sure you adjust BS to the pre-boil volume to reflect your boil off rate.
5) After you change your batch size your og is now going to be quite a bit higher than it was when it was a 5 gallon. Obviously- a thicker wort is going to have a higher gravity. Make a note of this higher gravity.
6 Click on the dillution ratio calculator in your software, beersmith's looks like this-



7) Enter the starting Wort volume (which is your final volume from step 4 above, mine would be 2.5).
8) Enter the specific gravity of the thicker wort.
9) Click on the "dilute with" drop down and select water.
10) Enter the top off amount of water you need to get to your 5 gallons (Volume to add) and you should see that "magically" the calculated "final specific gravity" will be what it would have been if you had done a normal 5 gallon final volume boil. In other words it should match the Og you made note of in step 2.

Now what I do on brew day to take it out of the theory of recipe creation and into the practice of what really happens on brew day is that I mash and sparge into a bucket with graduated measurements so I know exactly what my preboil volume is. Then I take a refractometer reading to see what my real preboil gravity is, then I re run steps 6-10 to see what the real numbers will be.

Or I do it after I cool my wort and before I top it off with water- I just rack my cooled concentrated wort into my bucket or marked carboy to see how much I have post boil, then run steps 6-10.

Then I top off with water, aerate the wort and pitch yeast as normal.

Hope this helps. I think I remembered all the steps.

Now obviously you CAN just wing it. Just take your recipe only mash and sparge enough to get your small batch preboil volume, boil your wort and top off. Whether you actually run the numbers or not really is irrevelant the gravity of the wort is going to be exactly higher by exactly what the missing amount of water would lower to when you dillute it by the right amount. If that makes any sense to you.

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Old 05-13-2011, 12:31 AM   #10
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+1 to the Rev. I actually have been trying lately to set my pre-boil volume so that at flame-out I am just barely under my desired volume. (i.e. for a 5.25 gallon batch I'll try to hit 4.75-5 gallons)

Then measure gravity, use the dilution tool in beersmith to hit desired OG and call it good. Never had an issue.

Also, consider if you're a little under volume it's a lot easier to fix than being over volume!

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