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Old 08-24-2013, 06:20 AM   #1
vindee
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Default Need Help Figuring Mash and Sparge Volumes

I'm doing a brew in the morning and I am a little confused on the mash volume.
BeerSmith is telling me to mash in with around 3 gallons and sparge with around 4 1/2 gallons. I was under the impression that the runnings of the mash and the sparge should be of equal volumes.
Should I be adjusting these amounts?
Grains:
4lbs Pale Malt 2 row
4lbs. Wheat Malt
1lbs. Munich Malt
Steve

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Old 08-24-2013, 07:36 AM   #2
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They do not need to be exactly equal volumes, but I've never had a recipe where there was that big of a difference between the mash and sparge volumes. Here's how you'd normally calculate how much mash and sparge water you need.

  • Typical mash can range between 1.25 qts water per lb of grain to 2 qts/lb. At 3 gallons for 9 lbs of grain, BeerSmith is giving you 1.33 qts / lb - that's within a typical water: grain ratio.
  • Typical absorption = 0.125 gallons per lb of grain. At 9 lbs of grain, you'll lose approximately 1.125 gallons of mash volume to grain absorption.
  • That means you'll be yielding about 1.875 gallons of "runnings" from your mash. If you sparge with 4.5 gallons, you will have 6.375 gallons of wort heading into the boil kettle.

I typically try to get about 6.75 to 7 gallons pre-boil for a 5 gallon batch. I also typically have a heavier grain bill with a higher water : grain ratio (1.5ish usually), so I have never had so little runnings coming out of the mash.

So, if it were me, I'd adjust my mash volume up closer to 1.5 to 2 qts / lb to get more runnings from the mash (so maybe like 4 gallons into mash?), and reduce the sparge accordingly to end up with around 7 gallons heading into the boil kettle.
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Old 08-24-2013, 09:19 AM   #3
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1.33 qts/lb is fine. mash/sparge volumes aren't always equal. in fact this part of the method is a defining part of some brewing regions. most european beers are mashed in around 1.25 while american beers typically see 1.5. i've done an english bitter that mashed in at 1.0. super malty.

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Old 08-24-2013, 11:51 AM   #4
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Agreed. 1.33 is fine.

I routinely use that ratio and especially with wheat in the mix, it allows for small additions of mash water to thin it out slightly and I usually end up with closer to 1.5 on my wheat beers

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Old 08-24-2013, 01:14 PM   #5
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There's no problem with more sparge water than mash in. Just don't sparge to the point your runnings are below 1.012 SG or you'll extract tannins...

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Old 08-24-2013, 02:15 PM   #6
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Just don't sparge to the point your runnings are below 1.012 SG or you'll extract tannins...
Just to hijack this thread, I know this is why we typically try and better balance mash and sparge volumes. In practice, has anyone ever run into this problem of "over extraction" in a single infusion batch sparge? I've never sparged so much volume that I've worried about it. Wondering if anyone has run into a breakpoint where they've identfied the over sparging point. I'm guessing its a function of SG and mash to sparge water volume ratio.
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Old 08-24-2013, 02:38 PM   #7
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Admittedly I've never experienced tannin extraction, but I've never sparged below 1.015 or so. I've read that in several books so I don't feel any need to confirm it. I simply figure my recipes for a low efficiency, like 68% and stop the sparge when I've collected enough gravity points for my batch. This saves me time and wastes probably about $2 max on an average batch since I usually get more like 75%. The trouble with assuming a higher efficiency is what to do if you fall short...

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Old 08-24-2013, 05:59 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone,
I'll go with 14qt. which puts me at a ratio of 1.47.
And I'll be keeping a close eye on gravity on my sparge and wont go below 1.012.
Thanks again for the help. I'm getting things underway as we speak.
Steve

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