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Old 02-03-2012, 07:25 PM   #11
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"Remashing" with your first runnings will do nothing as your wort will already be saturated and unable to dissolve any more sugar.
It can be done, and has been discussed on the boards from time to time. The problem is, efficiency goes down sharply during the second mash, as one might expect. The better option is just a thicker mash with more grain, unless it really isn't possible due to mash tun size limitations. Mashing at 1qt/lb of grain is not at all out of the question; it's commonly done for traditional English beers.
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Old 02-03-2012, 07:38 PM   #12
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I found a boil calculator and propane is plentiful. I have enough grains to do upwards of 20 lbs if I want and boil down to 6-6.5 gallons for a 60 minute boil. That's what I wasn't sure about.

I figure I could get it up to 10% . I really don't want to go that high. a nice 7-8% sounds about accurate for what I think of when I think of a nice rich smokey porter.

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Old 02-03-2012, 08:06 PM   #13
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I saw my efficiency increase last week about 10 points to 87% after doing a triple batch sparge and a really thick mash, just to reiterate what others have been suggesting.

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Old 02-03-2012, 09:06 PM   #14
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And just boil off the excess water?
You shouldn't have "excess water". Use 1.25 quarts of water per pound of grain in the mash, and then sparge up to your boil volume. If your boil volume is 7 gallons, stop there.

For example, if you are using 10 pounds of grain, you'd use 12.5 quarts of water in the mash and then sparge up to 7 gallons for the boil. Since you'd probably "lose" 1 gallon of water in the mash, you'd have about 2 gallons of first runnings, so you'd need about 5 gallons of sparge water. For me, if I use 10 pounds of grain, in a 5 gallon batch, I get an OG of 1.060 or so. You may get a different OG, of course, based on your efficiency.

If you are using 15 pounds of grain, you'd still use 1.25 quarts of water per pound of grain. That would be 4.68 gallons (call it 4.75 because then the math is easier). Since you should lose about 1.85 gallons to grain absorption, that should give you nearly 3 gallons of first runnings. You can sparge with 4 gallons to get up to 7 gallons pre boil.

If you're going with 20 pounds of grain, 1.25 quarts of water per pound of grain would give you 6.25 gallons in the mash. The grain should absorb 2.5 gallons or so. That means you can sparge with 3 gallons or so to get to 7 gallons preboil.

The less you sparge, the lower your efficiency may be. But it will save you from boiling for 5 hours!
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:27 PM   #15
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Is it possible to sparge too much in order to hit preboil gravity? My LHBS said not to use too much sparge water, rather just add water to the boil. Why would he say that?

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Old 02-03-2012, 09:32 PM   #16
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because they want to rob you of gravity points and make you buy more grain! (well, probably not, maybe they are just....)

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Old 02-03-2012, 09:36 PM   #17
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My LHBS said not to use too much sparge water, rather just add water to the boil. Why would he say that?
Many brewers believe the first runnings make for a better tasting beer than the second or third (or very late runnings if you fly sparge). So as efficiency goes up, through more sparging, wort quality tends to go down. Some homebrewers have taken to not sparging at all, and sometimes top off water to meet preboil measurements in the event that their strike water calculation was off. Of course, what constitutes "too much" sparge water is completely a function of the brewer and the beer drinker. For some, any sparge is too much, for others, it's when sparging will only bring you minimal sugar additions (and high polyphenol or tannin additions).
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Old 02-03-2012, 09:39 PM   #18
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Mashing again with the first runnings is indeed possible. It's discussed here on HBT and also in Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher. I have never done it, but it was supposedly a technique used in the past to produce a very big beer.

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Old 02-03-2012, 10:06 PM   #19
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Boy, I guess if it works, it works. It just seems very counter-intuitive to me. It seems like, once the water is saturated, you're going to see severe diminishing returns if you try to mash with it. But then again, lots of things seem counter-intuitive to me, and I don't know enough about the biochemical process of conversion to refute any claims to the contrary.

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Old 02-03-2012, 10:21 PM   #20
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It seems like, once the water is saturated, you're going to see severe diminishing returns if you try to mash with it.
You do see highly diminishing returns, as I stated above, but it does work. Mosher gives a quote of this style of mashing being "wasteful of malt and men" (or something like that) due to the long time investment and low efficiency.
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