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Old 04-19-2007, 12:48 PM   #1
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Default More strike than sparge water... why?

Hopefully, as I type this, I'll figure out what's going on. I've been doing my math like this:

Say I have 13lbs of grains (seems to be my average lately). I stick with the 1.33-1.5qt/lb ratio for my strike water. I'm brewing 5 to 5.5 gals hopefully. That's 17.29 qts or just over 4.25+ gals of water. I usually heat up 4.5 gals expecting a little to go off in steam. I drain that after my mash and get about 3.5+ gals... well, my boil off rate is a little less than 1gal an hour, so it seems, so I want to have about 6+ gals total pre-boil. That means for my sparge water I only need about 2+ to 3 more gals of water. That's significantly less than my strike water.

I've been using this method and getting 60-70% efficiency, usualy around 65-70 but has been lower. Seems to be working out ok for me, but I notice when most people talk about their mashing session they tend to have a significantly larger amount of sparging water than strike water.

What's going on? Why does it tend to be that way for everyone else? Am I calcuating something WAY off here?

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Old 04-19-2007, 01:28 PM   #2
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"I drain that after my mash and get about 3.5+ gals... well, my boil off rate is a little less than 1gal an hour, so it seems"

Don't forget about the water that is absorbed by the grain.

I use a very similar procedure, with very similar efficiencies. I usually aim for 1.25 qts. per pound, drain, then add whatever amount of water I calculate I will need to hit 5 gal. after the boil (usually 25-50% less than 1st runnings). I only recently purchased a refractometer, so I have slowly been trying to modify my procedure to shoot for the gravity and volume I want post boil. Refractometers make gravity readings painless. Once I know the gravty and volume in the pot after sparging, I adjust the boil length (evaporated volume) accordingly. This way, the only thing that my efficiency for that batch affects is the boil length, not the end product.

On another note, I have been looking to a malt mill to take the HBS crush out of the picture as a variable - not sure if you crush your own.

I'll be interested to hear others' response on this topic.

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Old 04-19-2007, 01:31 PM   #3
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Really, with 13 lbs of grain for a 5 gallon batch, if you want to get all the good stuff out you'll have to sparge more, end up w/ more pre-boil volume, and boil longer.

The other thing is you're mashing a little thinner than you have to. For example, Papazian's formula says 1 qt/lb mash + 2 qt/lb sparge. For 13 lbs of grain, that would be 3.25 gal, after absorbtion you're left with ~1.75 gal. The sparge volume would be 6.5 gallons for a total of 8.25 gal pre-boil. So shooting for 6-6.5 gal pre-boil is a little low if you want to fully sparge your grains.

If you want to go this route but your kettle won't hold it, sparge until the kettle's full, and then sparge the rest into another container. Start your boil and add the rest of the wort as you have room. Just be careful and adjust your hop additions accordingly. If you want to stick to the same hop schedule, wait until all the wort has been added and you've got ~ 6.5 gal to start your 60 min clock.

Now, with all that said, if your kettle only holds that much and you don't feel like doing a 90+ min boil, stick to what you've got. The beer will turn out just fine even though you'll be leaving some goodness behind in the mash.

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Old 04-19-2007, 01:32 PM   #4
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That sounds right for batch sparging. If you were doing smaller grain bills, you'd have less strike water and therefore more sparge water.

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Old 04-19-2007, 01:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nealmc
"I drain that after my mash and get about 3.5+ gals... well, my boil off rate is a little less than 1gal an hour, so it seems"

Don't forget about the water that is absorbed by the grain.

I use a very similar procedure, with very similar efficiencies. I usually aim for 1.25 qts. per pound, drain, then add whatever amount of water I calculate I will need to hit 5 gal. after the boil (usually 25-50% less than 1st runnings). I only recently purchased a refractometer, so I have slowly been trying to modify my procedure to shoot for the gravity and volume I want post boil. Refractometers make gravity readings painless. Once I know the gravty and volume in the pot after sparging, I adjust the boil length (evaporated volume) accordingly. This way, the only thing that my efficiency for that batch affects is the boil length, not the end product.

On another note, I have been looking to a malt mill to take the HBS crush out of the picture as a variable - not sure if you crush your own.

I'll be interested to hear others' response on this topic.
Just recently started crushing my own and getting good efficiencies. Now, I did take into account the water absorbed that's why I said I collect about 3.5+ gals when draining after using 4.5+ strike water. I calculate the rest I need to get 6+ and its usually way less then my initial strike water amount.
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Old 04-19-2007, 01:34 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lil' Sparky
Really, with 13 lbs of grain for a 5 gallon batch, if you want to get all the good stuff out you'll have to sparge more, end up w/ more pre-boil volume, and boil longer.

For example, Papazian's formula says 1 qt/lb mash + 2 qt/lb sparge. For 13 lbs of grain, that would be 3.25 gal, after absorbtion you're left with ~1.75 gal. The sparge volume would be 6.5 gallons for a total of 8.25 gal pre-boil. So shooting for 6-6.5 gal pre-boil is a little low if you want to fully sparge your grains.

If you want to go this route but your kettle won't hold it, sparge until the kettle's full, and then sparge the rest into another container. Start your boil and add the rest of the wort as you have room. Just be careful and adjust your hop additions accordingly. If you want to stick to the same hop schedule, wait until all the wort has been added and you've got ~ 6.5 gal to start your 60 min clock.

Now, with all that said, if your kettle only holds that much and you don't feel like doing a 90+ min boil, stick to what you've got. The beer will turn out just fine even though you'll be leaving some goodness behind in the mash.
I've considered that route for sure, adding as some evaporates. I don't mind the long boil, but does 90+ minutes not effect the taste of your wort?? Seems like cooking it longer would adjust the flavor.
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Old 04-19-2007, 01:37 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seefresh
I've considered that route for sure, adding as some evaporates. I don't mind the long boil, but does 90+ minutes not effect the taste of your wort?? Seems like cooking it longer would adjust the flavor.
The only difference will be how much volume you're boiling off as long as you're not burning any of it. The difference in taste will be that you have a higher OG beer.
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Old 04-19-2007, 01:40 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lil' Sparky
The only difference will be how much volume you're boiling off as long as you're not burning any of it. The difference in taste will be that you have a higher OG beer.
Awesome! I'm gonna do that next time. I had about 1.5 gals of extra wort pre-boil 2 brews ago. It felt like such a waste, but I thought too long of a boil would hurt the flavor of my beer.

I'm glad to boil longer times. When I'm boiling wort I have an excuse to sit on my porch, play guitar and puff cigars
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Old 04-19-2007, 01:47 PM   #9
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When I first got into brewing I was visiting some different boards, and I found that a lot of people do standard 90 min boils.

Quote:
When I'm boiling wort I have an excuse to sit on my porch, play guitar and puff cigars
Dude, that's what it's all about.
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Old 04-19-2007, 01:49 PM   #10
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seefresh - I noticed you're in Germany. Are you in the military?

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