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Old 02-07-2014, 03:43 PM   #1
jsvarney5
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Default Mash water volume vs Sparge water volume (batch sparge)

Hi all,

Ive read a decent amount on batch sparging but one area seems to be tripping me up. Ive read various forum responses (alot of info from Denny - thanks) and have started mashing thinner (last batch I went 1.75 quarts per pound). What I am trying to wrap my head around are the volumes of water to use for mashing vs sparging. Denny has mentioned mashing thinner can help with efficiency (and it's definitely helped me) but he also mentions that the mash water volume and the sparge water volume should be within about a gallon or so of each other.

I dont quite understand how to accomplish this. For example, next weekend I will be brewing a double IPA and the recipe calls for 7.6 gallons of water for the mash to achieve a 1.6 qt/gallon ratio, leaving about 2.18 gallons to sparge with. How do you achieve this thinner mash while having a similar amount of mash and sparge water? 7 gallons for the mash vs 2 for the sparge is a big difference.

I could obviously mash with around 4-5 gallons and sparge with the same amount but then I'm mashing much thicker than I want. Is it OK with there being such a disparity in the mash amount vs sparge amount of water? 2 gallons doesnt seem like much to sparge with but I will be collecting alot off of my first runnings.Thanks for all the help!

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Old 02-07-2014, 05:31 PM   #2
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I agree if you're going to batch sparge the 2 gals is a pretty small volume for what sounds to be about a 19 lb grainbill. On a bigger beer as you have found out you're either going to have to cut down on your sparge, go with a thicker mash, or up your boil volume and boil longer (not counting the option of full volume mash if you've got the room). So many ways to skin a cat. If you're not going to up your boil volume I'd personally go about 6 gal mash and sparge with 3.6 to get a bit more out of the sparge. Realize that you may get a lower efficiency than you're used to with the larger grainbills.

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Old 02-07-2014, 06:40 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by chickypad View Post
I agree if you're going to batch sparge the 2 gals is a pretty small volume for what sounds to be about a 19 lb grainbill. On a bigger beer as you have found out you're either going to have to cut down on your sparge, go with a thicker mash, or up your boil volume and boil longer (not counting the option of full volume mash if you've got the room). So many ways to skin a cat. If you're not going to up your boil volume I'd personally go about 6 gal mash and sparge with 3.6 to get a bit more out of the sparge. Realize that you may get a lower efficiency than you're used to with the larger grainbills.
Would there be a disadvantage to mashing thin with the 7 gallons, then just adding more sparge water (3-4 gallons) than the recipe provides for and cutting the sparge off when i get to my desired pre-boil volume in the kettle? Or will this keep too many sugars in the liquid left behind in the mash tun?
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Old 02-07-2014, 06:56 PM   #4
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In addition to wasting sugars, I'd worry about the diluted mash having a low gravity, giving you problems similar to over sparging in a continuous sparge.

edit.....
Don't forget that if you only use a small amount of sparge water (or none if you no-sparge) your efficiency will take a hit. You'll need to up your grain bill to compensate (even more so than you would for it being a higher than normal gravity.)

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Old 02-07-2014, 07:11 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsvarney5 View Post
Would there be a disadvantage to mashing thin with the 7 gallons, then just adding more sparge water (3-4 gallons) than the recipe provides for and cutting the sparge off when i get to my desired pre-boil volume in the kettle? Or will this keep too many sugars in the liquid left behind in the mash tun?
I don't think I'd intentionally do that, I would be worried about wasting the leftover sugars. I would cut down the mash water a bit like I said, because I'm not sure that any increased efficiency you get between 1.6 qt/lb vs. 1.25 qt/lb is worth doing such a small sparge. Just my opinion of course.
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Old 02-07-2014, 07:28 PM   #6
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The actual point is to get the two runoffs to about equal volume, not necessarily the literal water additions. As your planned OG goes up, you have to mash thicker to leave any sparge volume that makes sense.

Example: 16 pounds of grain @ 1.5 qts per pound would be 24 quarts or 6 gallons. Absorption steals .5 qt/lb so your first runoff would be 16 qts or 4 gallons. If your preboil target was 6.5 gallons, you'd only sparge with 2.5 gallons which is way thick (.625 qt/lb).

Try that again at 1.25 qt/lb. 16 x 1.25 = 20 quarts or 5 gallons. Still absorbs 2 gallons so you run off 3 gallons. Now you have 3.5 gallons to sparge with.

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Old 02-07-2014, 07:45 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bobby_M View Post
The actual point is to get the two runoffs to about equal volume, not necessarily the literal water additions. As your planned OG goes up, you have to mash thicker to leave any sparge volume that makes sense.

Example: 16 pounds of grain @ 1.5 qts per pound would be 24 quarts or 6 gallons. Absorption steals .5 qt/lb so your first runoff would be 16 qts or 4 gallons. If your preboil target was 6.5 gallons, you'd only sparge with 2.5 gallons which is way thick (.625 qt/lb).

Try that again at 1.25 qt/lb. 16 x 1.25 = 20 quarts or 5 gallons. Still absorbs 2 gallons so you run off 3 gallons. Now you have 3.5 gallons to sparge with.
This ^^^^! What you want is your post mash volume and your pre-spagre volume to be similar. I've been following Denny's advice for a few years now and routinely mash at 1.75/gal for average strength beers. Bigger beers of course have to mash thinner and efficiency does suffer.

Another example:

I shoot for 5.25 gal in the fermentor.

12lbs grain mashed @ 1.75qt/lb = 5.25gal in the mash
12lbs grain absorbs .125gal/lb = 1.5gal absorption
5.25 - 1.5 = 3.75 gals post mash
Sparge with 3gals water (not exactly the same as the mash, but close enough)
3.75 + 3 = 6.75 gallons at start of boil.
My boil off over 60min is about 22%.
6.75gal - 22% = 5.265 post boil and into the fermentor.

BOOM!
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Old 02-08-2014, 04:58 AM   #8
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Equal runoff results when strike water equals half the total water required plus half of the grain absorption. Conversely, sparge water will be half of total water less half the grain absorption. For a typical gallon 10 lb grain bill, 5 gallon batch, strike will be about a gallon more than sparge.

Denny also says that merely getting close to equal runoff volumes is "good enough".

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Old 02-10-2014, 12:10 PM   #9
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Awesome info all. Exactly what I was looking for. Thanks for the input.

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