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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > How much water is enough?
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Old 03-10-2011, 02:28 AM   #1
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Default How much water is enough?

I use beer smith to generate recipes. It gives an amount of water for both mashing and sparging. These volumes are more than my pot will hold. If I was to use less water which end do I take it from? and when my boil is done does it hurt to just top fermenter to 5 gallons like in an extract brew? Thanks for your help

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Old 03-10-2011, 02:38 AM   #2
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How large is your pot?? I primarily use a 32 quart kettle for my boils, which is plenty for either my mash or sparge volumes. I've also used a 20 qt pot for the sparge volumes (when using the BIAB method) without issue. If you can't hold at least one of the volumes, then I would get a larger pot to use. 32 quarts is a good size for most 5 gallon batches, especially if you have a cooler/MLT. If you can get a larger pot, it wouldn't be a bad idea, but I wouldn't go above 40 quarts for 5 gallon batches. I have a brew buddy that has a 30 quart pot that he's used with success, but it can be tight for full boils, getting foam-over when using the propane burner. Some fermcap can help there though.

If you do use less water, you might not get as good a mash/sparge results, meaning you won't be using most of the grains potential. I would want to extract as much as possible from the grain for any all grain, or even partial mash, batches.

You might want to think about just doing smaller batch sizes. No reason you can't brew up 4 gallons instead of 5. You could easily ferment in a 5 gallon carboy that way.

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Old 03-10-2011, 11:06 AM   #3
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i use a 32 quart pot which holds most of the volume. I guess my biggest problem is getting it to come to a full boil. I use a stove top method and it seems it just takes a real long time to heat up that volume of water. I am not sure if I like the idea of brewing beer in the cold garage with my turkey fryer stove.

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Old 03-10-2011, 11:34 AM   #4
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For all grain brewing you need to do full boils (not partial boils and then topping off with water.) You are getting the fermentables out of the grains and you need to mash and sparge to do that. If you cut back on the sparging, you are leaving fermentables in the grain.

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Old 03-10-2011, 01:07 PM   #5
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I am not sure if I like the idea of brewing beer in the cold garage with my turkey fryer stove.
If you have a turkey fryer...use it. When all I had was one 32 qt pot, I would first heat up my mash water. While the mash was going on, I would heat up my sparge water. After the mash, I collected the first runnings in a smaller pot or bucket, and then pour my sparge water in the mash tun. Transfer the first runnings to brew pot, and then collect my second runnings. It worked out pretty well. I now have a 40qt pot to boil in, but I will still use the 32 for heating up mash/sparge water.

I know it's cold out....but spring is on the way.
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Old 03-10-2011, 06:42 PM   #6
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These volumes are more than my pot will hold.

and when my boil is done does it hurt to just top fermenter to 5 gallons like in an extract brew? Thanks for your help
You just need to adjust your equipment and mash profiles until the recipe spits out appropriate volumes. If this gives you lower hop or grain utilization, you can adjust them up to get back to your original numbers.

And no, it doesn't hurt to top up in the fermenter. It's what I've been doing until I get more space for brewing equipment. You end up boiling a higher gravity wort, then dilute it to whatever you're looking for.
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Old 03-10-2011, 06:50 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Pappers_ View Post
For all grain brewing you need to do full boils (not partial boils and then topping off with water.) You are getting the fermentables out of the grains and you need to mash and sparge to do that. If you cut back on the sparging, you are leaving fermentables in the grain.
The other option is upping the grain bill to compensate for not mashing or sparging with the correct volume.

Although how you'd calculate that in Beersmith is beyond my comprehension, as it seems pretty fixed to mashing and sparging the full volume.
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Old 03-11-2011, 12:52 AM   #8
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all great info, maybe I should just do extract brewing, probably not. I like grain brewing and will do something to make this work. thanks again

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Old 03-11-2011, 01:22 AM   #9
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all great info, maybe I should just do extract brewing, probably not. I like grain brewing and will do something to make this work. thanks again
You could so it as a PM but with the vast majority of your fermetables coming from grain, just using enough extract to get your mash and sparge volumes to something you can manage.

I second using the fryer if you've already got it. It will get you to your temps so much faster than your stove top. I work nights and I've been brewing outside usually between 2-5am in sub freezing temps. Even having to shovel off my patio to make room to brew, it's better than brewing in the kitchen, imho. Although going from the kitchen to the outdoors was an adjustment and it took me a few brews to get comfortable with it.
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Old 03-11-2011, 01:40 AM   #10
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all great info, maybe I should just do extract brewing, probably not. I like grain brewing and will do something to make this work. thanks again
Heck no, don't give up! I forgot where you live, but maybe you can get together for a brewday and it won't seem so cold! I know that Homercidal would be not too far away- maybe he could help you out.
I used a 32 quart turkey fryer for years- and I have a couple of tips! One, start with 6.25 gallons for the boil and secondly use Fermcap-S.
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