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Old 11-27-2012, 12:34 AM   #1
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Default Newbie All Grain Questions

I'm trying to figure out what I want to buy for an AG setup. I figure I need 3 containers, at least 10 gallons each. Prior to the boil, at any point, I might be mashing, heating water, and holding collected runnings.

1st question: I figure I should buy a good propane burner, a basic 10 gallon pot for heating water, a 10 gallon mash tun cooler, and a 10 gallon boil kettle fitted with a spigot (and probably a thermometer, because why not). So, does this sound like a basic beginner's setup, or am I missing anything?

2nd question: While trying to figure out what equipment I needed to get, I can't help but see a bit of a paradox between using the ideal amount of mash and sparge water and hitting your final volume, given that the amount of grain (OG) is going to vary from brew to brew. Is the convention here mash at a general volume of 1.25 qt/gal (or whatever you've determined for that particular brew) and then set your sparge volume based on what will get you to that preboil volume that will ultimately get you down to your final volume (say 5.25 gal) based on the boil-off rate of your particular setup? This seems like sometimes your sparge volume may be inefficiently small. So... the alternative would seem to be that you sparge at a larger volume (say the same 1.25 qt/gal) and end up with an oversized preboil volume. As a result, you boil for an additional set amount of time before your 60 minute hop schedule. The major problem I see with this is attaining strong brews. If you're planning on making a RIS over 1.1, with 20+ lbs of grain, you’ll end up with at least 20 gallons of pre-boil volume going this route. Is it reasonable to expect to boil off for hours before your actual hop schedule?

I think a lot of this has started to sound like ramblings. So, thanks in advance for your feedback.

Cheers



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Old 11-27-2012, 12:48 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by TAK
I'm trying to figure out what I want to buy for an AG setup. I figure I need 3 containers, at least 10 gallons each. Prior to the boil, at any point, I might be mashing, heating water, and holding collected runnings.

1st question: I figure I should buy a good propane burner, a basic 10 gallon pot for heating water, a 10 gallon mash tun cooler, and a 10 gallon boil kettle fitted with a spigot (and probably a thermometer, because why not). So, does this sound like a basic beginner's setup, or am I missing anything?

2nd question: While trying to figure out what equipment I needed to get, I can't help but see a bit of a paradox between using the ideal amount of mash and sparge water and hitting your final volume, given that the amount of grain (OG) is going to vary from brew to brew. Is the convention here mash at a general volume of 1.25 qt/gal (or whatever you've determined for that particular brew) and then set your sparge volume based on what will get you to that preboil volume that will ultimately get you down to your final volume (say 5.25 gal) based on the boil-off rate of your particular setup? This seems like sometimes your sparge volume may be inefficiently small. So... the alternative would seem to be that you sparge at a larger volume (say the same 1.25 qt/gal) and end up with an oversized preboil volume. As a result, you boil for an additional set amount of time before your 60 minute hop schedule. The major problem I see with this is attaining strong brews. If you're planning on making a RIS over 1.1, with 20+ lbs of grain, you’ll end up with at least 20 gallons of pre-boil volume going this route. Is it reasonable to expect to boil off for hours before your actual hop schedule?

I think a lot of this has started to sound like ramblings. So, thanks in advance for your feedback.

Cheers
I use a 10 gallon kettle, 10 g Bev cooler for mash and a 10 gallon kettle to heat and boil. The 10 gallon cooler will handle a good 23# of grain batch sparging and the kettle will boil 9 gallons if wort with caution of boil overs(foam control)

I brew 6.25 gallon batches and this takes into accounts for losses and boil off.


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Old 11-27-2012, 01:37 AM   #3
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I use a 10 gallon kettle, 10 g Bev cooler for mash and a 10 gallon kettle to heat and boil. The 10 gallon cooler will handle a good 23# of grain batch sparging and the kettle will boil 9 gallons if wort with caution of boil overs(foam control)

I brew 6.25 gallon batches and this takes into accounts for losses and boil off.
Thanks, but that still leaves me a bit confused on my second point. If you go as low as 1 qt/lb on your mash with 23 lbs of grain, that's 5.75 gal of mash volume. Assuming 0.1 gal/lb is retained in the wet grain, then the 1st runnings are 3.45 gal. So, to get a preboil volume of 6.25 gal, your sparge volume could only be 2.8 gallons. That's 0.49 qt/lb, which seems like your sacrificing efficiency.

If you go up to 1.25 qt/lb for both mash and sparge, preboil volume would be around 13.8 gal. Sounds like your boil-off rate is about 1 gal/hour. But even if it were 2 gal/hr, that'd still be a 4 hour boil to get down to a 5 gallon batch. There's the paradox I'm seeing.

Partyguile might make sense for a real big beer, but I see the same trade-off between efficiency and hitting volume for mid-range gravity beers.
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Old 11-27-2012, 02:13 AM   #4
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Your equipment list sound just fine to me (assuming you're going for 5 gallon batches).
Try not to over think the process until you get a few batches under your belt.
You'll need to figure out boil-off rates, and then you can dial in your pre-boil volumes.
As for sparging, that part is easy after you collect the first running. If you want to do a two-batch sparge, just divide the the amount of make-up volume (volume needed to equal your pre-boil volume) in half.
Sparge twice and collect your total pre-boil needs.

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Old 11-27-2012, 02:34 AM   #5
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Thanks. I did a search on two-batch sparging and I think it brought to light a fallacy in my assumptions. I assumed that a sparge ratio of 1.25 qt/lb, or the same as the mash ratio, was important to efficiency, but I'm not sure that's the case.

For mid to high gravity brews, is it common practice to have less sparge water than mash water?

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Old 11-27-2012, 02:51 AM   #6
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For mid to high gravity brews, is it common practice to have less sparge water than mash water?
Yes, this can be the case. Water to grain ratio applies to the mash not the sparge. But also keep in mind, 23lb of grain on a 5 gallon batch is a huge beer, duboman was giving you the upper limit for that equipment.
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Old 11-27-2012, 02:54 AM   #7
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Tak - we brewed a 24g batch this past weekend. 14g into mash, 8g absorbed by grain, so we got 6g first runnings. We needed 27 pre-boil, so did 2 batch spares of 10.5 each. Make sense?

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Old 11-27-2012, 03:12 AM   #8
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Tak - we brewed a 24g batch this past weekend. 14g into mash, 8g absorbed by grain, so we got 6g first runnings. We needed 27 pre-boil, so did 2 batch spares of 10.5 each. Make sense?
That makes sense. My confusion/concern was when you're in a situation where the amount of sparge water you need to extract the sugars puts you over a manageable boil volume. Your example is the oposite; you need a lot of sparge water to get you up to your boil volume. Thus, sugar extraction is not a concern at that volume.
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Old 11-27-2012, 03:20 AM   #9
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Yes, this can be the case. Water to grain ratio applies to the mash not the sparge. But also keep in mind, 23lb of grain on a 5 gallon batch is a huge beer, duboman was giving you the upper limit for that equipment.
Thanks. That's where I mislead myself. I figured you needed at least as much sparge as mash.

Regarding the huge grain bill, the point is understood. But I will be interested in pushing the limits my AG setup. I recently brewed a 1.111 partial mash RIS, and I have every intention of brewing similar beers AG.
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Old 11-27-2012, 03:24 AM   #10
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There will likely be times where the example you make comes into play. You end up with too much wort which means you need a llonger/harder boil, which is easy to do except for figuring buttering hops timing.



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