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Old 06-20-2008, 03:09 PM   #1
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Default Making a high ABV stout

I'd like to make a 10% ABV stout. At the efficiency I get with my cooler MLT, I'll need 20.5 lbs of grain. Mashing at 1 qt/lb, first runnings would be 3 gallons. Batch sparging with .75 qt/lb twice will give me another 7.68 gallons. This will give me 10.7 gallons in the kettle for a 6 gallon batch! Is it normal to need to boil for almost 5 hours for a high ABV beer?

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Old 06-20-2008, 03:37 PM   #2
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Is it normal to need to boil for almost 5 hours for a high ABV beer?
5 hours?!?!?! No, not normal.

If you're maxing out your mash tun, try dropping the base grain a little and substituting some DME in (up to 25%). That'll help you get your abv and keep the mash tun in check. Keep in mind 1 qt/lb is pretty thick.
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Old 06-20-2008, 04:08 PM   #3
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try dropping the base grain a little and substituting some DME in (up to 25%). That'll help you get your abv and keep the mash tun in check.
+1 - Stouts are great candidates for this method.
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Old 06-20-2008, 04:16 PM   #4
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I'm not maxing out the tun, 20.5 lbs will fit fine. In order to keep efficiency up, I have to use X amount of water to sparge. And I wrote 1 qt/lb for mashing in order to keep the amount of first runnings lower so I don't have to boil for as long.
I'd rather not use any DME...not a fan of the flavor it adds.

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Old 06-20-2008, 04:23 PM   #5
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How about raising the ratio and only batch sparging once?

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Old 06-20-2008, 05:08 PM   #6
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I just threw a quick recipe together in beersmith with 20.5lbs of grain and to get a 6gal batch, beersmith suggests mashing in with 6.4gal of water and then sparging with 4.82 gal to get a pre-boil volume of 7.97gal which will boil down to 6gal. I have beersmith setup to use 1.25qt/lb of grain, so you might want to adjust a little bit. But I don't see why you would need to sparge with .75qt/lb twice.

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Old 06-20-2008, 05:14 PM   #7
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But I don't see why you would need to sparge with .75qt/lb twice.
I've been doing that with smaller grain bills (actually 1qt/lb sparging) and getting excellent efficiency. If I change the process, I'm nervous about not hitting all the numbers and winding up with something different than planned.
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Old 06-20-2008, 05:29 PM   #8
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I've been doing that with smaller grain bills (actually 1qt/lb sparging) and getting excellent efficiency. If I change the process, I'm nervous about not hitting all the numbers and winding up with something different than planned.
IMHO, some brewers get way too hung up on efficiency. Shoot for consistency. Your OG and your pitching rate should be your primary goals. After 61 all-grain batches, I know my system will produce an efficiency of 70-75%. I make sure I get my target preboil volume, make sure the preboil gravity is within range, and let 'er rip.

Take a preboil sample. If it's too high, either lose some time or add water (volume capacity in mind, of course) or both. If it's too low, add some time and/or extract (which you've already stated your opposition to).

Being a good brewer means being able to deal with the unexpected.

Good luck!
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Old 06-20-2008, 07:11 PM   #9
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I'd rather not use any DME...not a fan of the flavor it adds.
That's exactly why stouts are the best candidates for it - you can rarely taste that you used some extract in a stout. However, having said that, I don't do that - I just use the heavier grain bill.
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