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Old 04-14-2012, 02:51 PM   #1
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Default Mash consistency

John Palmer specifies 2 quarts water per pound of grain, for a basic mash. This seems very thin. I've been having problems with efficiency, perhaps partly because I must sparge with less water, or my boil volumes are consistently too high. Ive rarely seen as much as 2qt/lb quoted anywhere else - usually more like 1.25-1.5 qt/lb. Thoughts?

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Old 04-14-2012, 03:19 PM   #2
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I use around 2 qt/lb most of the time. It's common in German brewing practices (1.75-2.5 qt/lb). You should read Kai's efficiency write up.
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php...ing_Efficiency
The way to get higher efficiency is not with a bigger sparge, it's with better conversion. Take a SG reading of the first runnings and see how well your doing.

2 qt/lb is what I'd strike with for a 9 pound grain bill. It would run off 14 quarts and I would single sparge with another 14 quarts to get 28 quart boil volume. I'd end up with 5.25 gallons of wort at about 1.053 after boil.

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Old 04-14-2012, 05:19 PM   #3
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I usually mash with 1 qt per lb, but I have also gone as thin as 2 qt per lb. I have never noticed any differences in efficiency caused by the mash thickness with an OG less than 1.060. With an OG > 1.060, it is possible that there is insufficient sparge water to rinse the sugars out of the grains. This is a guess, as I've never tried a thin mash with a gravity > 1.060

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Old 04-14-2012, 05:32 PM   #4
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it is possible that there is insufficient sparge water to rinse the sugars out of the grains.
The only way is is possible to sparge all the sugars out of the grain is to fly sparge all the way down to zero. It would take a perfect lauter tun and you would have to filter out some of the polyphenols. Some commercial operations do and can get laboratory extraction rates. They work with something like a three foot grain bed.

You never can with batch sparging. Ideally you want runoffs nearly the same. Even if they are much different there is still very little loss in efficiency. Your just stealing form Peter to pay Paul. Even going from two to three run offs is worth very little (3%).

Efficiency is always about total conversion and total liquor to malt ratio. It's very predictable. Once I have my first running gravity I can calculate my OG.
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Old 04-14-2012, 05:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malt_man View Post
John Palmer specifies 2 quarts water per pound of grain, for a basic mash. This seems very thin. I've been having problems with efficiency, perhaps partly because I must sparge with less water, or my boil volumes are consistently too high. Ive rarely seen as much as 2qt/lb quoted anywhere else - usually more like 1.25-1.5 qt/lb. Thoughts?
Look at the crush. That's the prime cause of low efficiency.
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Old 04-14-2012, 08:45 PM   #6
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Thanks for all the ideas. So if the mash thickness doesn't affect the conversion all that much, and a thinner mash is filling up the kettle to quick, perhaps I should mash thicker, and sparge bigger for a proper sugar rinse? I don't think my rectangular cooler mash tun and bazooka screen is suitable for fly/continuous sparging, and I might go back to batch sparging. I've wondered about the grain crush - my LHBS does it for me. No stuck mashes at least!

If I leave my spent mash overnight, and collect the quart or so of extra wort that collects at the bottom, I've been boiling it down to make malt extract syrup. Delicious for malted milks etc. Even though it's only a half cup of syrup that results, it tells me I'm leaving sugars behind.

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Old 04-14-2012, 09:19 PM   #7
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Yes you should batch sparge. At the home brew level fly sparging is not any more efficient and your set up is not very good for fly sparging anyway.

A thinker mash will not help either. My typical pilsner is 8 lbs pils malt. By the first running it's at 2.25 qt/lb. The first running is 14 quarts of 14 brix wort. I sparge with another 14 quarts. The sparge gravity is just the dilution of the first runnings absorbed in the gran and dead space. In my MLT that would be four quarts with that grain bill. So my sparge will be 4 brix. ((14x4)/14)

At the end of the sparge all that is left is one gallon of 4 brix (1.016) wort in my tun. It's not worth much (maybe a starter.)

In the kettle I have 28 quarts of 9 brix (1.036) wort. I'll boil it down to 21 quarts of 12P wort (1.048).

The key to this is conversion, not sparge volumes.

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Old 04-16-2012, 12:39 AM   #8
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Yes you should batch sparge. At the home brew level fly sparging is not any more efficient and your set up is not very good for fly sparging anyway.

A thinker mash will not help either. My typical pilsner is 8 lbs pils malt. By the first running it's at 2.25 qt/lb. The first running is 14 quarts of 14 brix wort. I sparge with another 14 quarts. The sparge gravity is just the dilution of the first runnings absorbed in the gran and dead space. In my MLT that would be four quarts with that grain bill. So my sparge will be 4 brix. ((14x4)/14)

At the end of the sparge all that is left is one gallon of 4 brix (1.016) wort in my tun. It's not worth much (maybe a starter.)

In the kettle I have 28 quarts of 9 brix (1.036) wort. I'll boil it down to 21 quarts of 12P wort (1.048).

The key to this is conversion, not sparge volumes.
With a low gravity beer, I'd agree that there isn't much difference between a fly sparge and a batch sparge (in terms of efficiency).
However, as the gravity increases, there can be a considerable difference.
When I used a 5g MLT (Rubbermaid cooler with a false bottom), I couldn't get a gravity > 1.060 with a batch sparge, but I could get up to 1.075 with a fly sparge. That's a 25% increase in efficiency which I consider to be very significant. In both cases, I had complete conversion, so the difference was caused by fly sparging vs batch sparging.

-a.
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Old 04-16-2012, 12:47 AM   #9
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I have to say your failing to stir it enough. It's all about dilution. Every drop needs to be the same gravity before running off. It's not hard to mash 10 pounds in a five gallon cooler. I used to use one...I know.

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Old 04-16-2012, 01:31 AM   #10
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I have to say your failing to stir it enough. It's all about dilution. Every drop needs to be the same gravity before running off. It's not hard to mash 10 pounds in a five gallon cooler. I used to use one...I know.
You don't seem to be able to understand what I'm saying.

If you can get a gravity of 1.075 in a 5g batch with 10 lbs grain, you are getting approximately 100% efficiency. This is not possible.

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