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Old 05-30-2012, 05:02 PM   #171
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I have not quite figured out how to use my dead space under the false bottom. I have a 40 gallon Stout Mash tun that holds 2.5 gallons under the false bottom. I do HERMS and normally add 1.25 qts per pound on top of the 2.5 gallons. I do use batch sparging and always adjust my volume to hit my OG ( Normally by adding boiling water at 15 minutes along with Irish Moss and Nutrient but sometimes have a boil off (normally we always start where we will have to add water so only once have I had not to add water). Do I count the 2.5 gal in the 1.25 qts per pound (I have not)? Also things seem to work better with a wetter mash.

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Old 05-30-2012, 06:11 PM   #172
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Originally Posted by oakbarn View Post
I have not quite figured out how to use my dead space under the false bottom. I have a 40 gallon Stout Mash tun that holds 2.5 gallons under the false bottom. I do HERMS and normally add 1.25 qts per pound on top of the 2.5 gallons. I do use batch sparging and always adjust my volume to hit my OG ( Normally by adding boiling water at 15 minutes along with Irish Moss and Nutrient but sometimes have a boil off (normally we always start where we will have to add water so only once have I had not to add water). Do I count the 2.5 gal in the 1.25 qts per pound (I have not)? Also things seem to work better with a wetter mash.
I was wondering the same thing. I did my first all grain last weekend and I got about 7 gallons out of my mash tun after draining the mash. I was going to sparge twice with 3 gallons each to put me at 13 gallons preboil. I added the three gallons and there wasn't enough liquid to submerge the grain bed, so I added the remaining three gallons, but I don't think I stirred enough. I didn't think I needed to stir if I was running it through the HERMS coil and recirculating though.
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Old 06-06-2012, 02:02 PM   #173
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axeman9182 - the reason to aim for 1/2 of the boil volume as your sparge volume is that volume provides plenty of water to wash the sugars out of the mash. If the sparge volume gets to be too small a percentage, you leave sugars behind in the mash. The first page of this thread has some comments by Kaiser with links to a lot of detail on the impact of the sparge volume percentage to efficiency.
Thanks, that makes sense. So if your first runnings are going to provide less than half your preboil volume you can just mash thinner, I take it if they're going to provide more than half your volume you should just boil longer and sparge more?
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Old 06-06-2012, 04:35 PM   #174
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If I recall Kaiser's information, the sparge efficiency is pretty good (similar) over a range that might be from 40 to 60% (guessing) of preboil volume. At some point it starts to see significant impact. I wouldn't get real specific about hitting 50% but you want to be somewhere around there.

Your suggestions on how to get closer to 50% are correct although remember that changing the mash thickness and/or boiling longer can have other impacts. Whether that matters depends of the specific beer you are making.

Another variable is the temp of the water for the infusion. At times I have raised the infusion temps - to reduce the water volume - which allows for larger sparge volumes. There are a lot of ways to mash, which can provide a lot of variation in the first runnings/sparge ratio.

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Old 06-06-2012, 07:15 PM   #175
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Here's a link http://home.roadrunner.com/~brewbeer.../nbsparge.html to a paper written by Ken Schwartz, the guy I learned batch sparging from many years ago. He shows mathematically why equal runoffs are best. But I have to say that the reality is that if your runoffs are within a gal. or so of each other, it's plenty close enough.

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Old 06-12-2012, 01:20 AM   #176
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I'm struggling to reconcile mash density and efficiency. Denny, in a recent post, you suggested a mash density of 1.66 to 2 qt/lb to improve fluidity. First of all, I assume that this density represents the strike and the sparge volumes separately.

I'm trying to hit 75% efficiency, at least. If I want a 6.5-gal post-boil wort at OG=62, I start with a 14.5# grain bill. To produce 7.75 pre-boil wort, the initial strike calculates at 15.5 qt., plus an additional infusion of 7 qt. toward the end of the mash to make up for absorption (.125 qt/lb for my system). The sparge would also be 15.5 qt. So, there's no way I'm getting a mash density much higher than 1.07.

Do I have to resign to low efficiencies for higher gravity worts? I understand there are other issues related to boiling higher volumes longer to achieve a target gravity, so I'm not inclined to go that way.

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Old 06-12-2012, 06:06 PM   #177
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I'm struggling to reconcile mash density and efficiency. Denny, in a recent post, you suggested a mash density of 1.66 to 2 qt/lb to improve fluidity. First of all, I assume that this density represents the strike and the sparge volumes separately.

I'm trying to hit 75% efficiency, at least. If I want a 6.5-gal post-boil wort at OG=62, I start with a 14.5# grain bill. To produce 7.75 pre-boil wort, the initial strike calculates at 15.5 qt., plus an additional infusion of 7 qt. toward the end of the mash to make up for absorption (.125 qt/lb for my system). The sparge would also be 15.5 qt. So, there's no way I'm getting a mash density much higher than 1.07.

Do I have to resign to low efficiencies for higher gravity worts? I understand there are other issues related to boiling higher volumes longer to achieve a target gravity, so I'm not inclined to go that way.
OK, let's see if I understand what you're getting at.....first, if you haven't worked on your crush, that's the place to start. If you have a poor crush, no other measures will really make a difference. I've started using enough mash water that I don't need to do what you call the "make up for absorption" addition (it's not really that, anyway). Then I simply sparge with enough water to get my total boil volume. Higher gravity worts will pretty much always reduce your efficiency, but mine stays in the mid 80s up to a mid 80s OG. I started by working on my crush. That gained me quite a bit. By fine tuning my water chemistry and amounts I've managed to add the rest of my efficiency increase.
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Old 07-01-2012, 09:05 PM   #178
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OK, so here’s where I am after the June 12 post and reply.

I usually buy the pre-crushed 2-row malt at my LHBS, and it appears to be very fine, then I grind the specialty malts, which comprise about 25% of my grain bill, using their mill. For my next session I noticed that it was still quite coarse after milling so I asked the owner about it and he said that he sets the gap just wide enough to crack the grain, but not too fine to cause a stuck sparge. So then I did something pretty unconventional: I threw the under-milled grain into my Cuisinart at home one small batch at a time and whirred it around until it started looking like the pre-milled malt. Because I’m using a hose braid, I wasn’t particularly worried about a stuck sparge.

Then I mashed using more strike water than usual to increase fluidity, and stirred vigorously after infusion and again after adding the sparge. This time, however, I added quite a bit more sparge water than I needed (after reading several suggestions in this string), and stopped the flow when I hit my preboil volume. No problem with sparge flow, as expected. I took an end-of-running gravity for the first time, and it seemed pretty high at 30; then after mixing the wort thoroughly, I took a total pre-boil gravity reading, and it was still lower than I was looking for at 45. Post-boil OG came in at 55, several points lower than my target of 62, which is what it calculates at 75%, assuming I’ve done everything right.

So still confused, but not discouraged. All of the beer I’ve made so far has been delicious. It’s just frustrating not to be able to predict and achieve the results I want. I just went back to an earlier post and found a link to Ken Schwartz’ article on how to sparge, and I think I’m beginning to understand the water volumes a bit better. I’m going to go back to just adding enough strike water for a “normal" mash then add a little more before vorlauf to increase fluidity, then sparge with just the 50% balance and see what happens.

Make sense?

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Old 07-02-2012, 10:55 AM   #179
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It does make sense. What you found when you over-sparged (and your end-running gravity was 30), was that you still had a lot of sugar left in the mash tun by the time you achieved your pre-boil volume. That obviously hurt your efficiency. Ideally you want to run all the fluid out of the tun exactly as you hit your pre-boil volume.

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Old 08-06-2012, 02:55 PM   #180
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The saga continues with mash efficiency and gravity dilemmas.

I've been working on improving my batch sparge techniques (getting better!), but I'm ending up with irreconcilable gravity readings. Yesterday, I mashed 14.5 lbs of grain crushed at .024", and produced 7.75 gal of wort with a pre-boil gravity of 1.050. Since I was shooting for an OG of 1.062, I calculated the final boil volume before cooling at 6.5 gal, figuring I'd lose another .25 gal when cooled (based on the formula: 7.75 gal x 50 = 387.5 pts; divided by 62 = 6.25 gal cooled). What I actually got after boiling and cooling was 1.058. If you're wondering, I adjusted all gravity readings to 68 F, so that's not the problem.

If the sugar content in the wort is constant, and the density is a function of wort volume, is there something wrong with my math, or are my water or hydrometer calibrations out of whack?

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