New Giveaway - Wort Monster Conical Fermenter!

Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Understanding Calculations for All Grain




Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 10-17-2012, 11:10 PM   #1
Jablestein
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Northglenn, CO
Posts: 80
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts
Likes Given: 38

Default Understanding Calculations for All Grain

Hey all,

So i'm completely new to all grain. I did my first batch last weekend with a friend of mine and while I think it went pretty well, I noticed that there was a LOT information to keep track of than my previous brewing attempts with LME and Specialty Grains. My buddy also suggested I check out BeerSmith in order to help me manage some of these calculations, but so far that's only helped magnify just how uneducated I am when it comes to the different calculations involved with brewing. I've comprised a list of questions that I'm hoping you all might be able to either help me with or at the very least point me in the right direction to find information.

(Also, as a note, I had initially thought of putting this post under the Beer Software forum since it sort of related to questions that came from checking out BeerSmith, but I really feel these are questions more about the actual All Grain process. If necessary though, I can move the thread there.)

So for starters, here's the basic equipment I'm working with right now...

15.5 Gallon Keggle Conversion Mash Tun w/ Bazooka Screen
5 Gallon Boil Pot
Bayou Classic Propane Burner

My initial process for my first AG brew was to heat 4 Gallons of water in the Mash Tun to roughly 160 degrees, and then add the grain (about 12lbs total for the recipe I was using). I let it mash for an hour before while boiling and additional 2 gallons of water at about 170 degrees (for a total of 6 to fight off any losses) that I then add to the mash tun before sparging. Then I sparge into my 5 Gallon Bucket 3 times before starting my boil as usual.

Again, most of these questions are basically right from looking at the Equipment Setup on BeerSmith 2 and not understanding what they relate to or how to estimate them. I did watch the official BeerSmith video on YouTube relating to Equipment Setup, but there are still some areas that I thought were a bit vague and wanted to get confirmation on.

  1. Brewhouse Efficiency - From my understanding this is somehow related to the mashing process and the OG that brewers are able to achieve, giving them an idea of how efficiently they were able to extract fermentables from the grain. Please correct me if that's totally off. This is set to a default of 72% in BeerSmith. I'm not sure under what circumstances I'd actually change it.
  2. Hope Utilzation Factor - Set to 100% by default and the video says this isn't really anything I need to worry about unless batches go well over the size I'm brewing. If anyone would like to speak on this though, the information is welcome.
  3. Mash Tun Volume - Seems straightforward, my Mash Tun holds 15.5 Gallons. I just wanted to make sure this is in reference to it's capable volume and not the target volume of the brew itself since I'm currently only doing 5 gallon batches.
  4. Mash Tun Weight - Not sure just yet. I can throw it on the scale pretty easily, but I'm more curious exactly what this has to do with anything.
  5. Mash Tun Specific Heat - It's a Keggle conversion so I'm going with the 0.12 Stainless Steel guideline given by BeerSmith.
  6. Lauter Tun Deadspace - I believe this is more in reference to people using a false bottom. I'm using a Bazooka Screen, so I'm guessing I don't have as much loss as someone with a false bottom, but i'm a little unsure what to estimate this at. I generally tip the mash tun at the end anyway in an attempt to make sure I get as much out as possible.
  7. Top Up Water for Kettle - Completely uncertain of what this is referring to. I thought it might relate to the extra 2 gallons I add to the mash before sparging but not exactly sure. Any clarification here is appreciated.
  8. Boil Volume - Is this something I should be setting manually or something that should be set for me based on other calculations? I understand that it's the volume of water at the start of the boil, but it seems that will be heavily skewed based on other steps in the process such as mashing and losses associated there.
  9. Boil Time - Simple and straightforward. I've always done 60 minute boils. Not even sure under what circumstances I'd go more than 60 minutes at this point. I assume this is based on beer styles and recipes?
  10. Boil Off - Again, not entirely sure how I should be calculating this myself. The video I watched mentioned a boil off of about 1 gal, (roughly 15% an hour). I'm not sure if that's a good estimate or really what all goes into determining that value. Also not entirely sure how this might be affected by things like altitude since I live in Colorado.
  11. Cooling Shrinkage - Video says 4%. Completely left this alone for the time being as I'm unsure of what it relates to. I assume something to do with the chilling process?
  12. Loss to Trub and Chiller - I totally understand where the loss comes from but as with most of these numbers, i'm a little unsure of how to calculate this. Default was set to 0.75 gallons so i've left it as so for now.
  13. Top Up Water - This is a little more clear to me than the Top Up Water for Kettle, but i'm a little uncertain as to whether or not this is something I should even be doing since I'm brewing All Grain.
  14. Batch Volume - I assume this relates to the target volume of beer you aim to have by the time you go into primary fermentation.
  15. Fermenter Loss - Another one that I actually understand where it comes from but am a little unsure of how to accomodate for this.
  16. Also, on a random note...I'm curious if given my process I'm actually doing Partial Mash Brewing or not? Seems like that would be helpful to know when discussing these matters with other brewers.

Thank you all in advance for any tips or information you can provide. Again, I apologize if this thread is completely out of place or filled with seemingly ignorant questions. I just wanted to make sure I completely understand everything that goes into this stuff so I'm not just reading off a set of instructions without learning anything. Also, if you have tips or suggestions relating to my process all together, those are very much welcome too!


__________________
Jablestein is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-17-2012, 11:40 PM   #2
FATC1TY
Feedback Score: 1 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Atlanta Area, GA
Posts: 1,598
Liked 126 Times on 106 Posts
Likes Given: 24

Default

[/COLOR]

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jablestein View Post
Hey all,

So i'm completely new to all grain. I did my first batch last weekend with a friend of mine and while I think it went pretty well, I noticed that there was a LOT information to keep track of than my previous brewing attempts with LME and Specialty Grains. My buddy also suggested I check out BeerSmith in order to help me manage some of these calculations, but so far that's only helped magnify just how uneducated I am when it comes to the different calculations involved with brewing. I've comprised a list of questions that I'm hoping you all might be able to either help me with or at the very least point me in the right direction to find information.

(Also, as a note, I had initially thought of putting this post under the Beer Software forum since it sort of related to questions that came from checking out BeerSmith, but I really feel these are questions more about the actual All Grain process. If necessary though, I can move the thread there.)

So for starters, here's the basic equipment I'm working with right now...

15.5 Gallon Keggle Conversion Mash Tun w/ Bazooka Screen
5 Gallon Boil Pot
Bayou Classic Propane Burner

My initial process for my first AG brew was to heat 4 Gallons of water in the Mash Tun to roughly 160 degrees, and then add the grain (about 12lbs total for the recipe I was using). I let it mash for an hour before while boiling and additional 2 gallons of water at about 170 degrees (for a total of 6 to fight off any losses) that I then add to the mash tun before sparging. Then I sparge into my 5 Gallon Bucket 3 times before starting my boil as usual.

Again, most of these questions are basically right from looking at the Equipment Setup on BeerSmith 2 and not understanding what they relate to or how to estimate them. I did watch the official BeerSmith video on YouTube relating to Equipment Setup, but there are still some areas that I thought were a bit vague and wanted to get confirmation on.
  1. Brewhouse Efficiency - From my understanding this is somehow related to the mashing process and the OG that brewers are able to achieve, giving them an idea of how efficiently they were able to extract fermentables from the grain. Please correct me if that's totally off. This is set to a default of 72% in BeerSmith. I'm not sure under what circumstances I'd actually change it.
    You will keep it at 72% and then once you are done brewing, put in your actual OG with the correct volumes of wort. Keep track as it might change, from there you can pretty much dial it in. I get 75 pretty much normally, and I get 70-71 when I mash over 18lbs of grain or more, and try to get a 90 point or higher OG.
  2. Hope Utilzation Factor - Set to 100% by default and the video says this isn't really anything I need to worry about unless batches go well over the size I'm brewing. If anyone would like to speak on this though, the information is welcome.
    Keep it at 100%. Nothing really to change here.
  3. Mash Tun Volume - Seems straightforward, my Mash Tun holds 15.5 Gallons. I just wanted to make sure this is in reference to it's capable volume and not the target volume of the brew itself since I'm currently only doing 5 gallon batches.
    Correct.
  4. Mash Tun Weight - Not sure just yet. I can throw it on the scale pretty easily, but I'm more curious exactly what this has to do with anything.
    Not much, just leave it be.. Atleast thats how I take it.
  5. Mash Tun Specific Heat - It's a Keggle conversion so I'm going with the 0.12 Stainless Steel guideline given by BeerSmith.
    Correct again, it will help calculate how much heat loss can take place.
  6. Lauter Tun Deadspace - I believe this is more in reference to people using a false bottom. I'm using a Bazooka Screen, so I'm guessing I don't have as much loss as someone with a false bottom, but i'm a little unsure what to estimate this at. I generally tip the mash tun at the end anyway in an attempt to make sure I get as much out as possible.

    Somewhat. Yes for the false bottom, but for instance, I use a 10gal round cooler. You WILL have deadspace simply because you aren't getting all the water/wort out of the tun. I lose roughly 1/2 gal, and you might want to just measure it. If you are a tipper, see what you can get out and what you leave. I'd put .25 gal to be safe if you manage to get most out of there.
  7. Top Up Water for Kettle - Completely uncertain of what this is referring to. I thought it might relate to the extra 2 gallons I add to the mash before sparging but not exactly sure. Any clarification here is appreciated.
    Water you need to get back to the correct volume. If you sparged, and for some reason did sparge enough to get your pre boil volume, you will need to top up. I don't know why anyone would do this unless they are getting .010 or less from their wort anyways. Leave it at zero.
  8. Boil Volume - Is this something I should be setting manually or something that should be set for me based on other calculations? I understand that it's the volume of water at the start of the boil, but it seems that will be heavily skewed based on other steps in the process such as mashing and losses associated there.

    You will lose water added initially to your grain. So for instance, you'll lose .1 gal roughly for every pound of grain. 10 lb of grain will absorb 1 gallon of water and won't give it back. There is a section in the "mash" portion of your recipe that will show that. So if you mash with 3.5 gal roughly for the initial mash for 10lb of grain, you'll only get 2.5 gallons of wort for the 1st running. If you know you boil off 1 gal an hour, and are doing a 60 min boil, then you need one more gallon of wort, to finish at your 5 or 5.5 gallons once you are done. So you will drain the tun, and sparge with whatever you need to make up the difference. So you would need 4 gallons to sparge with, to get your 6.5 pre boil, and lose 1 gallon to boiling off for 60 minutes.

    It will be set based on YOU deciding how much you want to end up with at the end of the brew day. Based on a couple of things. Do you want 5 gallons in the fermenter, and lose a bit to transfer and sludge in the bottom, or do you want 5 gallons in the keg/bottle when done? In which case you'll want more than 5 in the fermenter. It's a trickle down... or up case.
  9. Boil Time - Simple and straightforward. I've always done 60 minute boils. Not even sure under what circumstances I'd go more than 60 minutes at this point. I assume this is based on beer styles and recipes?

    Yeah, mostly. If you are doing something with pilsner matl, you want 90 min boil, and in some cases a longer boil will help for a couple of reasons. One you could be collecting MORE wort than you need in order to boil for say 30 minutes with no hop additions. This will raise your OG a bit, as you will be boiling off more and concentrating the wort. Most are 60 minutes, and be sure to pay attention to this, as it will make a difference in your finished volume.
  10. Boil Off - Again, not entirely sure how I should be calculating this myself. The video I watched mentioned a boil off of about 1 gal, (roughly 15% an hour). I'm not sure if that's a good estimate or really what all goes into determining that value. Also not entirely sure how this might be affected by things like altitude since I live in Colorado.

    Depends on climate, and your pot, and how vigorous you boil. 12-15% is a good estimate. Use a CPVC stick, and fill your keg with known volumes of water. Mark the stick. You can use this as a guideline when you are brewing if you need help. Boil of makes a difference, as I mentioned above. Too little, or too much accounted for, and you'll end up with the wrong volume at flame out, bad IBU calculations, and you will have OG's all over the map in some cases.
  11. Cooling Shrinkage - Video says 4%. Completely left this alone for the time being as I'm unsure of what it relates to. I assume something to do with the chilling process?

    Leave it be. When water is heated, it will expand and you will appear to have slightly more volume that you do once it's cooled. This accounts for the fact that 5.25 gallons will be slightly less once you chill it.
  12. Loss to Trub and Chiller - I totally understand where the loss comes from but as with most of these numbers, i'm a little unsure of how to calculate this. Default was set to 0.75 gallons so i've left it as so for now.
    Depends. If you have a screen, and whirlpool, or siphon, or any means, you could be getting less or more at the end. This accounts for your original volume. If you leave .75 in the kettle, and want 5.5 in the fermenter, then the program will automatically tell you to make .75 MORE wort, simply because you are leaving it behind. Measure what you leave behind next time, and average it out. I lose roughly .5 gallon or so, and leave it around there. Depends of your process, equipment and how greedy you want to be.
  13. Top Up Water - This is a little more clear to me than the Top Up Water for Kettle, but i'm a little uncertain as to whether or not this is something I should even be doing since I'm brewing All Grain.
    Not really. You should account for your volumes correctly from the start and shouldn't need to top up anything.
  14. Batch Volume - I assume this relates to the target volume of beer you aim to have by the time you go into primary fermentation.
    Yes, the amount you want to put in the fermenter once it's been cooled and done.
  15. Fermenter Loss - Another one that I actually understand where it comes from but am a little unsure of how to accomodate for this.
    Again, this is whats left in the carboy/bucket after you rack to the keg, or secondary or bottling bucket. You'll lose some to hops, break material, yeast, etc. I put mine at .5 gallon roughly, and it seems to be close to right. I leave more in the kettle so I have cleaner wort in the fermenter, so I get less loss here, than I would in the kettle. It's a trade off you can balance around.
  16. Also, on a random note...I'm curious if given my process I'm actually doing Partial Mash Brewing or not? Seems like that would be helpful to know when discussing these matters with other brewers.

Not sure what you are asking. If you are using extract, and then mashing your specialty grains with some base malt, then you are partial mashing. If you are using extract and special grains, and steeping them, then it's extract brewing. If you are mashing everything, sparging, and doing full boils, then it's all grain.

Thank you all in advance for any tips or information you can provide. Again, I apologize if this thread is completely out of place or filled with seemingly ignorant questions. I just wanted to make sure I completely understand everything that goes into this stuff so I'm not just reading off a set of instructions without learning anything. Also, if you have tips or suggestions relating to my process all together, those are very much welcome too!
No problem at all. I'd suggest watching the videos on Beersmith. It's a good program to build with, and learn, but ultimately, you will be better off running a bit by feel when you brew, IMO. Use the temps and volumes on the BS and leave the rest to just learning from doing.


__________________

----------
Bubba's Backyard Brewery

FATC1TY is online now
3
People Like This 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-18-2012, 02:43 AM   #3
SpeedYellow
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 914
Liked 71 Times on 60 Posts
Likes Given: 11

Default

If you're just starting out in all grain and haven't used Beersmith, you may want to do a couple batches without software first. I did my first 20+ AG beers with just hand calcs. And to be totally honest, doing the calcs by hand saves a lot of time and gives you a much better perspective on what you're doing since you don't get so bogged down in the details. All you need to know is the potential of each grain. So if you have 10 lbs of 1.036 malt, that's 360 points, divided by 5 gal is 72 points at 100%. So at 70% efficiency you get about 50 points, I.e. 1.050 OG. Water balance is similarly easy, just need to know water absorption is 0.12 qt/lb of grain. Done.

__________________
SpeedYellow is offline
Jablestein Likes This 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-18-2012, 11:58 AM   #4
william_shakes_beer
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Maryland
Posts: 1,811
Liked 80 Times on 73 Posts

Default

From the beginning I chose to record my brew recipies and do the calculations with my own excel spreadsheet. Not because I beleive its better than brewing software (the software is better, and probably a wise investment) but because I wanted to understand the relationships at an intuitive level. Each time I do a batch I learn a little more and I refine the spreadsheet. I still use tasty brew to calculate OG and FG, then compare to what my sheet calculates. Its usually very close. Like any hobby, you can make it as simple or as complex as your sensibilities require. For me its not as important to reach (for instance) a certain effeciency as it is to be consistent. I usually end up with 75-80% extract effeciency on my mash. If I suddenly did a batch that was far lower, (or higher) I'd look over my process to see what was different. The values in the software are there fdor those brewers that choose to calculate everything to the gnat's a&&. (probably because that's the mentality that chooses to write software for brewing) That may or may not be where your mind leads.

__________________
william_shakes_beer is offline
Jablestein Likes This 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-18-2012, 06:53 PM   #5
vinylicious
addicted.
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
vinylicious's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Buffalo, NY
Posts: 52
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts
Likes Given: 2

Default

I found this post to be very helpful when I setup my Beersmith profile for the first time:

__________________
vinylicious is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-19-2012, 01:37 AM   #6
Jablestein
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Northglenn, CO
Posts: 80
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts
Likes Given: 38

Default

Wow! Sorry for the late reply but thank you all so much for the awesome in depth responses and advice. A few of these have prompted some follow ups as well.

7. Top Up Water for Kettle - Completely uncertain of what this is referring to. I thought it might relate to the extra 2 gallons I add to the mash before sparging but not exactly sure. Any clarification here is appreciated.

Water you need to get back to the correct volume. If you sparged, and for some reason did sparge enough to get your pre boil volume, you will need to top up. I don't know why anyone would do this unless they are getting .010 or less from their wort anyways. Leave it at zero.

I think i'm a little confused by the answer. If I did sparge enough to hit my pre-boil volume, why would I need to top up? I guess this is also something I need to pay more attention to. In the first AG brew I did, I didn't really pay attention to how much volume I got from sparging anyways. I basically waited until the end to top up when going into primary fermentation. Part of the reason is because my brew kettle is only 5 gallons but I think my preboil volume needs to be 6 to accomodate for the roughly 1 gallon loss during boiling. Does it really matter at what stage in the process you make up for this? Couldn't you just wait until the end and top off your primary fermenter to the desired batch volume?

8. Boil Volume - Is this something I should be setting manually or something that should be set for me based on other calculations? I understand that it's the volume of water at the start of the boil, but it seems that will be heavily skewed based on other steps in the process such as mashing and losses associated there.

You will lose water added initially to your grain. So for instance, you'll lose .1 gal roughly for every pound of grain. 10 lb of grain will absorb 1 gallon of water and won't give it back. There is a section in the "mash" portion of your recipe that will show that. So if you mash with 3.5 gal roughly for the initial mash for 10lb of grain, you'll only get 2.5 gallons of wort for the 1st running. If you know you boil off 1 gal an hour, and are doing a 60 min boil, then you need one more gallon of wort, to finish at your 5 or 5.5 gallons once you are done. So you will drain the tun, and sparge with whatever you need to make up the difference. So you would need 4 gallons to sparge with, to get your 6.5 pre boil, and lose 1 gallon to boiling off for 60 minutes.

It will be set based on YOU deciding how much you want to end up with at the end of the brew day. Based on a couple of things. Do you want 5 gallons in the fermenter, and lose a bit to transfer and sludge in the bottom, or do you want 5 gallons in the keg/bottle when done? In which case you'll want more than 5 in the fermenter. It's a trickle down... or up case.


Alright, so I think this is starting to make sense. I guess cause for part of the confusion is just determining where all the losses are and where the additions should be to make up for everything. I guess this is also magnified by the fact that everyone probably does things their own way. So I guess the question here is if there's any real pros or cons to when you make the additions. Does it make sense to top off during the sparge to get up to 6.5 gallons before you start boiling? Or does it make sense to just boil with what you have after the sparge and then top off before going into primary? In my case, I have to adjust for the fact that my brew kettle is only 5 gallons and i'm going to lose probably another gallon during the boil (possibly more to whole hop leaf absoprtion?). So I might be forced to top off after the boil while going into primary.

13. Top Up Water - This is a little more clear to me than the Top Up Water for Kettle, but i'm a little uncertain as to whether or not this is something I should even be doing since I'm brewing All Grain.

Not really. You should account for your volumes correctly from the start and shouldn't need to top up anything.

Again, I think I might be locked in here a bit given the fact that my boil kettle is only 5 gallons, so I can't boil all 6.5 together at once in order to get down to the 5.5 I'm shooting for. Correct me if I'm misunderstanding this.

16. Also, on a random note...I'm curious if given my process I'm actually doing Partial Mash Brewing or not? Seems like that would be helpful to know when discussing these matters with other brewers.

Not sure what you are asking. If you are using extract, and then mashing your specialty grains with some base malt, then you are partial mashing. If you are using extract and special grains, and steeping them, then it's extract brewing. If you are mashing everything, sparging, and doing full boils, then it's all grain.

Ya, I guess I interpreted it as, if I'm not mashing with all 6.5 gallons right from the bat then that's "partial mash". Just a bad reading of the terminology on my part.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SpeedYellow View Post
If you're just starting out in all grain and haven't used Beersmith, you may want to do a couple batches without software first. I did my first 20+ AG beers with just hand calcs. And to be totally honest, doing the calcs by hand saves a lot of time and gives you a much better perspective on what you're doing since you don't get so bogged down in the details. All you need to know is the potential of each grain. So if you have 10 lbs of 1.036 malt, that's 360 points, divided by 5 gal is 72 points at 100%. So at 70% efficiency you get about 50 points, I.e. 1.050 OG. Water balance is similarly easy, just need to know water absorption is 0.12 qt/lb of grain. Done.
Ya, I'm probably putting a little too much thought into it at this point but details drive me crazy and I figure that understanding exactly what each of the calculations does will help me in the future. I do appreciate the efficiency calculations though, that's another thing I've been pretty ignorant about and wanted to read up on.

Quote:
Originally Posted by william_shakes_beer View Post
From the beginning I chose to record my brew recipies and do the calculations with my own excel spreadsheet. Not because I beleive its better than brewing software (the software is better, and probably a wise investment) but because I wanted to understand the relationships at an intuitive level. Each time I do a batch I learn a little more and I refine the spreadsheet. I still use tasty brew to calculate OG and FG, then compare to what my sheet calculates. Its usually very close. Like any hobby, you can make it as simple or as complex as your sensibilities require. For me its not as important to reach (for instance) a certain effeciency as it is to be consistent. I usually end up with 75-80% extract effeciency on my mash. If I suddenly did a batch that was far lower, (or higher) I'd look over my process to see what was different. The values in the software are there fdor those brewers that choose to calculate everything to the gnat's a&&. (probably because that's the mentality that chooses to write software for brewing) That may or may not be where your mind leads.
Definitely appreciate the advice! Going to start taking lots of notes from now on so that I can gauge how the process works for me. One thing I need to do for sure though, is get a good idea of where certain measurements end up in my equipment cause thus far I haven't been tracking it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vinylicious View Post
I found this post to be very helpful when I setup my Beersmith profile for the first time:
Sweet! Thanks so much for the link, checking it out now.
__________________
Jablestein is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-19-2012, 02:21 AM   #7
FATC1TY
Feedback Score: 1 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Atlanta Area, GA
Posts: 1,598
Liked 126 Times on 106 Posts
Likes Given: 24

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jablestein View Post
Wow! Sorry for the late reply but thank you all so much for the awesome in depth responses and advice. A few of these have prompted some follow ups as well.

7. Top Up Water for Kettle - Completely uncertain of what this is referring to. I thought it might relate to the extra 2 gallons I add to the mash before sparging but not exactly sure. Any clarification here is appreciated.

Water you need to get back to the correct volume. If you sparged, and for some reason did sparge enough to get your pre boil volume, you will need to top up. I don't know why anyone would do this unless they are getting .010 or less from their wort anyways. Leave it at zero.

I think i'm a little confused by the answer. If I did sparge enough to hit my pre-boil volume, why would I need to top up? I guess this is also something I need to pay more attention to. In the first AG brew I did, I didn't really pay attention to how much volume I got from sparging anyways. I basically waited until the end to top up when going into primary fermentation. Part of the reason is because my brew kettle is only 5 gallons but I think my preboil volume needs to be 6 to accomodate for the roughly 1 gallon loss during boiling. Does it really matter at what stage in the process you make up for this? Couldn't you just wait until the end and top off your primary fermenter to the desired batch volume?
You are correct here. If you didn't sparge enough, or did, and boiled off more than you accounted for, then at the end of the boil, for whatever list of reasons such as not enough volume pre boil, boiled longer than planned, or whatever, you will have to top up. Some people use this feature for partial boils and extract brewing. In all grain, you would benefit greatly from getting the flavor and sugar content from the grain, rather than topping up with plain water at the end. Ultimately this program isn't going to change anything for you if you can't boil enough wort. Part of the problem is you have a 5 gallon pot. It's simply TOO small for a full volume boil. Hence the fact you can't sparge enough, and your efficiency will be lower in the end as you have to dilute your wort to get the final volume in your fermenter. Bottomline is, don't worry about this feature. It's easy enough to add water at the end if you need it. Complicating something simple enough.

8. Boil Volume - Is this something I should be setting manually or something that should be set for me based on other calculations? I understand that it's the volume of water at the start of the boil, but it seems that will be heavily skewed based on other steps in the process such as mashing and losses associated there.

You will lose water added initially to your grain. So for instance, you'll lose .1 gal roughly for every pound of grain. 10 lb of grain will absorb 1 gallon of water and won't give it back. There is a section in the "mash" portion of your recipe that will show that. So if you mash with 3.5 gal roughly for the initial mash for 10lb of grain, you'll only get 2.5 gallons of wort for the 1st running. If you know you boil off 1 gal an hour, and are doing a 60 min boil, then you need one more gallon of wort, to finish at your 5 or 5.5 gallons once you are done. So you will drain the tun, and sparge with whatever you need to make up the difference. So you would need 4 gallons to sparge with, to get your 6.5 pre boil, and lose 1 gallon to boiling off for 60 minutes.

It will be set based on YOU deciding how much you want to end up with at the end of the brew day. Based on a couple of things. Do you want 5 gallons in the fermenter, and lose a bit to transfer and sludge in the bottom, or do you want 5 gallons in the keg/bottle when done? In which case you'll want more than 5 in the fermenter. It's a trickle down... or up case.


Alright, so I think this is starting to make sense. I guess cause for part of the confusion is just determining where all the losses are and where the additions should be to make up for everything. I guess this is also magnified by the fact that everyone probably does things their own way. So I guess the question here is if there's any real pros or cons to when you make the additions. Does it make sense to top off during the sparge to get up to 6.5 gallons before you start boiling? Or does it make sense to just boil with what you have after the sparge and then top off before going into primary? In my case, I have to adjust for the fact that my brew kettle is only 5 gallons and i'm going to lose probably another gallon during the boil (possibly more to whole hop leaf absoprtion?). So I might be forced to top off after the boil while going into primary.

Exactly, in the end everyone has their constraints with skill, time, equipment and ingredients. If you can't have a full boil, then you can't really go with the "stock" settings. Look up the video on putting your equipment profile in there. Put the size of your pot in there, and it'll be able to help you calculate that you can or can't do certain size batches and grain bills. Once you realize that you boil off, say 1 gal an hour, and can't get but 4 gallons in the pot safely without a boil over, and that you will end with 3 gallons of wort at the end of the boil, you will the be able to adjust your recipes based on that information, knowing you have to top up with 2 gallons of water to get to your 5 gallons. This will help you tailor grain bills and such to make sure it all works out in the end. Beersmith is all about putting YOUR equipment in there, it's worthless to just use a generic process function and input in there. You are better off using paper and pencil in the end, and keeping it simple if thats the case.

13. Top Up Water - This is a little more clear to me than the Top Up Water for Kettle, but i'm a little uncertain as to whether or not this is something I should even be doing since I'm brewing All Grain.

Not really. You should account for your volumes correctly from the start and shouldn't need to top up anything.

Again, I think I might be locked in here a bit given the fact that my boil kettle is only 5 gallons, so I can't boil all 6.5 together at once in order to get down to the 5.5 I'm shooting for. Correct me if I'm misunderstanding this.

Correct. If you have a 5 gallon pot, you can't boil even 5 gallons safely. Put that in your equipment profile. It will help you. You won't be able to boil full boils and hence you can't sparge enough, and will leave plenty of good sugar behind in the mash, lowering your efficiency. It is what it is, and once you know what [I]it[/I is, you can start moving forward and making even greater beer.]

16. Also, on a random note...I'm curious if given my process I'm actually doing Partial Mash Brewing or not? Seems like that would be helpful to know when discussing these matters with other brewers.

Not sure what you are asking. If you are using extract, and then mashing your specialty grains with some base malt, then you are partial mashing. If you are using extract and special grains, and steeping them, then it's extract brewing. If you are mashing everything, sparging, and doing full boils, then it's all grain.

Ya, I guess I interpreted it as, if I'm not mashing with all 6.5 gallons right from the bat then that's "partial mash". Just a bad reading of the terminology on my part.

You are somewhat right. You can't do a full boil, but you aren't adding extract to get back to what the gravity should be. You are working with an ultra diluted wort and bring it back down to where it should be post boil. It's still all grain.



Ya, I'm probably putting a little too much thought into it at this point but details drive me crazy and I figure that understanding exactly what each of the calculations does will help me in the future. I do appreciate the efficiency calculations though, that's another thing I've been pretty ignorant about and wanted to read up on.



Definitely appreciate the advice! Going to start taking lots of notes from now on so that I can gauge how the process works for me. One thing I need to do for sure though, is get a good idea of where certain measurements end up in my equipment cause thus far I haven't been tracking it.



Sweet! Thanks so much for the link, checking it out now.
Check out the videos for sure. They will help. The biggest part, is getting your equipment and your process down in the program. Once you have it dialed in, and can reproduce it over and over close enough, will it be able to tailor and change ANY recipe from one you took from someone to one you made off the top of your head to YOUR process and YOUR equipment.
__________________

----------
Bubba's Backyard Brewery

FATC1TY is online now
Jablestein Likes This 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-19-2012, 12:01 PM   #8
william_shakes_beer
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Maryland
Posts: 1,811
Liked 80 Times on 73 Posts

Default

One thing to remember, that for me cut through a lot of the clutter; Once you have finished mashing and sparging, and your grains are disposed of, you are not going to gain or loose any sugars. The SG variances from there forward are a result of gaining or loosing water. Boil off water and the SG goes up. Add tap water and the SG goes down. Thats why there are so many variables related to water throughout the process. If your SG into the kettle is too high, you add more water. If its too low, you can boil for 30 minutes or so to boil, off water and raise the SG. Next batch, decide during your planning whether your intent is to hit a SG or a volume and concentrate on that.

When I started AG i decided that the SG was most important. I did a make up calculation at the start of the boil and added DME as required to hit the proper SG after the boil.

__________________
william_shakes_beer is offline
Jablestein Likes This 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-19-2012, 12:51 PM   #9
FATC1TY
Feedback Score: 1 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Atlanta Area, GA
Posts: 1,598
Liked 126 Times on 106 Posts
Likes Given: 24

Default

Good advice. It's really about volume when you do AG in most all cases. You have to know how long you plan to boil and how much you will lose to start with enough. It's not the end of the world if you have to top up, but it's not something you want to keep doing.

__________________

----------
Bubba's Backyard Brewery

FATC1TY is online now
Jablestein Likes This 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 10-19-2012, 02:09 PM   #10
SpeedYellow
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Posts: 914
Liked 71 Times on 60 Posts
Likes Given: 11

Default

Good point about volume being so important. I found that my volumes were always nice and consistent UNTIL I started using Beersmith. There are just so many variables that i kept screwing up my pre- and post-boil volumes. It's hard to have any perspective when you're there in the weeds.

Yes I still use Beersmith, but everything related to water volumes I do by hand.



__________________
SpeedYellow is offline
Jablestein Likes This 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply


Quick Reply
Message:
Options
Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Grain Spec: Confused on Brix/Plato vs SG calculations malweth Brew Science 4 03-10-2012 02:44 PM
First All Grain Complete - Need Help Understanding Efficiency chays99 All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 4 02-25-2012 02:13 AM
Water calculations for first all grain mash... perschml All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 5 05-19-2011 12:25 AM
Grain Bill Calculations - This CAN'T be right can it? Doc Robinson All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 27 12-24-2009 02:24 PM
First All Grain -- Mash/Sparge Calculations bolts All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 3 09-24-2009 03:21 PM