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Old 06-12-2007, 12:47 PM   #1
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Default Mash and Sparge water

I've been reading everything I can get my hands on about this as I'm getting ready to step into AG and I'm getting a bit confused.

As I understand it, the mash water is about 1.25qt or so per pound of grain. And the sparge is supposed to be 1.5qt per pound of grain. With some of the bigger grain bills this can work out to be 7 or 7.5 gallons (and I have seen higher) of run off in the pot (allowing for grain absorption). I only brew 5 gallon batches so thus I only need 6- 6.5 gallons for my boil. What do I need to do about the extra wort?

Should I sparge with what I need to get to my boil volume? Do I have to extend the boil to get down to what I need to go into the fermenter? What if I need to do a second sparge?

Thanks everyone.

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Old 06-12-2007, 01:37 PM   #2
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How big of a grain bill are you talking? 14 pounds of grain is pretty big and that only comes out to 5+ gallons. I would say that if your brewing regular beers not doubles or Imperials, sparge until you get what you need. Because of the size of my cooler (5-gallons) I only do beers that are 1.062 and under and always use about 5-5.5 gallons on a batch sparge, which is usually right on the money @ about 7.25 gallons. I always loose alot in the boil. Good job on the reading, I think you'll see its not nearly as hard as you think its going to be. Getting your mash temp right can be tricky at first but even that is not that bad, I have a neat little program someone wrote, which gets my mash temp right on the money every time, beersmith is usually about 5 degrees lower. Anyways good luck and dont worry too much. 5-5.5 gallons should be fine for the sparge, I did calculate at first but now I just heat 5.5 gallons for the mash, because my beers are usually around 1.050 -1.058 SG. Bigger beer more absorbtion more sparge.


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Old 06-12-2007, 02:04 PM   #3
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If you sparge to boil volume, you'll have lower efficiency. 99% of the time an extra pound of base malt will compensate.
An alternative is to do a longer boil & add the extras as it boils down.
Or boil the extra separately and use it to top off the fermenter.
Or use extra grain and save the final runnings for starters.

Lots of options.
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Old 06-12-2007, 02:13 PM   #4
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Thanks folks.

"An alternative is to do a longer boil & add the extras as it boils down." I kinda like this idea.

I'm already figuring on 90 min boils. What is the accepted grain absorption rate? If I'm figuring this wrong, that could explain my confusion. Maybe I've read too many different guides and gotten the formulas screwy.

I was plugging in the numbers for a 5gal batch and the spreadsheet indicated there would be 8.75 gals in the pot for a 90 min boil. This seemed like a major case of waste, which is something I want to avoid.

Thanks for the help and keep them coming.
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Old 06-12-2007, 02:25 PM   #5
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A couple things:

Boil-off rates can vary. I usually shoot for collecting about 7.5 gals and boiling down to 6 gals, because I primary in a 7 gal bucket, so 6 gals is a good amount in the fermenter. (Plus, it's usually a little less than that, with hops absorbtion and whatnot.) It'll take a few batches to get your boil-off rate dialed in.

Also, grains absorbion and tun loss are3 system specific. Many brewers cite about .1 gallon per pound of grain loss. I tend to lose more than that, more like .16666 gal per pound of grain.

I batch sparge, which allows me to measure how much wort I collect on the first batch and then add exactly the amount opf sparge water needed on the second batch to total 7.5 gals (or whatever my target is) of wort.

Again, after a few batches, you'll get your system dialed in and can determine your boil-off rate, grain absorbtion + tun loss, hops absorbtion, etc.
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Old 06-12-2007, 02:46 PM   #6
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I like cweston method as well. I collect initial runoff in a bucket with gallon marks on it. Just subtract your runoff volume from the amount you wanted in the kettle because the grain does not absorb any more water after the mash. What you sparge with will equal the runoff of that sparge.
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Old 06-12-2007, 02:55 PM   #7
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I make 5.5 gallon batches so that I end with a good 5 gallons when bottling. I start with 8 gallons of wort and it does boil down to 5.5 after 60 minutes so you will need that kind of volume. Grain absorbtion is .15 qts. per pound.
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Old 06-12-2007, 04:03 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone, that clears up a lot of my wonders.

1st AG is on the 30th. w00t!


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