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Old 08-06-2013, 04:46 AM   #1
EasTexan
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Default All grain brewing and beersmith trouble.

Okay, Im new to all grain brewing and I am having trouble understanding beersmith and how to properly use it. I am entering all the info I know, but it still comes up with weird numbers when looking at the mash tab. I know as a rule I can use 1- 1.25 gallons for the mash and .50gallons for the sparge, but I'd like to get precise with brewing. Can I use any of the mash options for any brew? Why is the volume of water I am calculating for the mash and sparge not coming out to a reasonable level for a 5 gallon batch to account for evaporation?

For instance, I put in the info for a 5.0 gallon Citra IPA all grain recipe. I selected the single infusion, full body mash option. Its saying I should mash with 17.69 quarts, mash out with 5.80 quarts, and fly sparge with 3.5 gallons. Thats roughly 9.37 gallons. Does this seem high? The overview of the recipe estimates that the pre-boil volume should be 7.24...?


Thanks for any and all help...

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Old 08-06-2013, 05:05 AM   #2
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There is dead space in your MLT which will hold water that you will never recover and the grain will also retain water, so a little more than 2 gallons "lost" seems about right. I think grain absorption is something like 1 gallon to 1.25 gallons per 10lbs.

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Old 08-06-2013, 05:36 AM   #3
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For your mash you can set your ratio in Beersmith, I use 1.25 qts per pound of grain. Everybody has their preference but somewhere between 1.25-1.75 quarts per pound is a good mash ratio. Your sparge volume is calculated to factor in the items noted above i.e. grain absorbtion, any HLT or MLT deadspace, and your boil-off factor (about 1 gallon per hour is a good starting point for outdoor, propane heating).

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Old 08-07-2013, 01:45 AM   #4
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learn to trust the numbers, once ya use it a few times it will make sence. beersmith is a great program but i find that i always came up short when i entered 5 gallons. since then i program 5.75 gallon batches which gives me exacly 5 gallons in my keg after all said and done. each brew day is gonna be different, fermentation will not be exactly the same, make sure ya add your mlt deadspace, boil off rate, loss to trub and you should be right where ya wanna be..

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Old 08-07-2013, 02:19 AM   #5
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You'll need to brew a batch, something cheap will work, to find out what your values are. I am all electric which made setting the boil strength to 1 gallon per hour easy, I lose 1/2 gallon to trub, and 1/4 gallon to cooling shrinkage; all of which are adjustable. I'm generally a BiaB bag guy but I was able to adjust grain absorption to match my process. After a couple brews, I was able to nail down my numbers so I can routinely hit my target gravity to with a couple points.

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Old 08-07-2013, 04:55 AM   #6
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FWIW i usually just heat up extra water and sparge until i hit my preboil volume in the kettle.

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Old 08-07-2013, 04:13 PM   #7
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Thanks, guys.


I'm starting to understand that it accounts for grain absorption and dead space. I had no idea the grains could soak up so much water.

I really appreciate the tips!

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Old 08-08-2013, 08:05 PM   #8
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Just to check, you're using your own equipment profile, right?
And as others are saying, it's a great program. A lot of the numbers are automated based on values you enter elsewhere, but that can occasionally lead to confusion when you forget to delete a top-up volume here, or adjust a boil-off rate there. If in doubt, look at the volume tab and see if any of the numbers look amiss.

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Old 08-08-2013, 11:14 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Peppers16 View Post
Just to check, you're using your own equipment profile, right?
And as others are saying, it's a great program. A lot of the numbers are automated based on values you enter elsewhere, but that can occasionally lead to confusion when you forget to delete a top-up volume here, or adjust a boil-off rate there. If in doubt, look at the volume tab and see if any of the numbers look amiss.
Yes, I'm trying to get it as close to my equipment as possible. I run a 10 gallon rubbermaid cooler and a ten gallon brew pot. From what I see, it only gives me the choice of a 15 gallon brew pot with the 10 gallon rubbermaid...
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Old 08-08-2013, 11:57 PM   #10
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Couple things I've learned using brewsmith:
One of the hardest things I've worked with is getting a consistent boil off rate. It takes some playing around with boiling water to figure it out, and boiling water looks different than boiling wort because of viscosity. This number is important in the water calculations BS gives you. If ya got that nailed you're well on your way to the outcome ya want-the beer you planned to brew and the right amount of beer in the keg .

Create your own equipment profile that matches your gear and process. The profile page is where you plug in your boil off rate. Be sure to check the box to calculate evaporation as a gals./ hr rate.

Be aware that when you tell BS your system losses to trub, dead space, etc. It just adds water to your sparge to compensate. It doesn't add grain to adjust. This can throw your gravity off by diluting the wort. I just set all of my losses to 0 and make a little bigger batch to compensate. Ya still have to know what your losses are however. This is a well known and annoying issue with the software that will make you nuts. It may not be an issue if you fly sparge, but I found it to be a problem as a batch sparger.

+1 on what everyone else said about just brewing and keeping good records, and trust the calculations BS gives you. You'll figure out what needs tweaking as ya go. Keep a couple pounds of dme on hand for those "oh crap I missed my gravity" brews.

There's a good forum on brewsmith website that can help demystify the details.

Good luck.

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