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Old 06-26-2007, 08:26 PM   #1
Lost Brews
Dec 2006
Grand Forks, ND
Posts: 71

I have read several differnt things on the qty of water needed for an all gain batch and am very confused. I have 9.5lbs of grain and am going to be using a step mash for the first time and of course i am shooting for 5 gallons of beer. according to my figures I should be using 9 gallons and that seems a little much to me. also if there is any advice for doing a step mash for a American Wheat Style of beer it would be appreciated.

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Old 06-26-2007, 08:37 PM   #2
FSR402's Avatar
May 2007
Jenison, MI
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yeah that does not seem right to me either and I don't know crap.. But I would like to know the answer too.

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Old 06-26-2007, 08:42 PM   #3
bradsul's Avatar
Sep 2006
Ontario, Canada
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I do 23L batches (6 US gallons I believe) and for a 'normal' beer I usually have around 15-17L of strike water for the mash and then 23L for sparging. I usually have about 30-32 or so litres in the kettle. 9 gallons does sound like a little much for a 19L batch.

I don't have any advice on a step mash unfortunately. I've tried decoction a couple times without a lot of success so far. Depending on your recipe I would suggest a step mash is probably not necessary most of the time anyway (other opinions will no doubt vary ).
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Old 06-26-2007, 08:46 PM   #4

Actually, that sounds correct if we're talking total gallons - mash & sparge.

Part of it depends upon how thick you want your mash to be. Using 1.25 qts/lb. of grain (a bit thin IMHO), you're looking at 2.96 gallons (call it three) for your mash volume. I can't figure sparge gallons of the top of my head, but mine usually end up ~7 gallons for most 5 gallon batches. So, 9 gallons total is not far off at all. Keep in mind grain absorption and water lost thru boil-off. Effeciency and other factors play a part, too. Better to have too much water on brew day than not enough!

I step mash by using a bit thinner mash water volume, then add near-boiling water, stirring, until I reach my desired temp. Most times it works, but not always.

Hope that helps. I'm sure smarter brains than mine will chime in!

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Old 06-26-2007, 08:46 PM   #5
FlyingHorse's Avatar
Mar 2007
Evanston IL
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Assuming you want 5.5 gal in the fermenter, and you do a 60-min boil that evaps a gallon, that's 6.5 gal to the brewpot.

9.5 lbs of grain will absorb about a gallon. So the very minimum you could expect to use is 7.5 gallons. Your mash schedule and sparge technique will probably increase that. Potential mash sched:

Add 9.5 quarts of 132F water, hold at 122 for 30 min (protein rest)
Add 5.7 quarts of 212F water, hold at 152 for 60 min (saccarification)
Add 6.2 quarts of 212F water, hold at 168 for 10 min (mash out)
Sparge with 4.75 gallons 170F water.

That would be just over 10 gallons of water. You could reduce that by eliminating the mash out (or decocting for it), or by reducing the sparge water amount (possibly at the expense of efficiency).
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Old 06-26-2007, 08:56 PM   #6
Lil' Sparky
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Feb 2006
Honolulu, HI
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Simple answer:

volume needed = strike water + infusion(s) - amt absorbed/lost in MLT + sparge - evap

Using that equation, you can figure out whatever unknown you have. Assuming your protein rest is at 122', you could use the following profile. If your protein rest isn't 122', then it won't work quite right.

strike: 9 qts @ ~132' (~1 qt/lb, rest at 122')
infustion: 6 qts @ 211' (~1.5 qt/lb, rest at 154')
sparge vol: 4.5 gals
grain absorption: ~ 1.25 gal
preboil volume = 3.75 gal + 4.5 gal - 1.25 gal = 7 gal
evap volume: ~ 1.5 gal
postboil volume = 7 - 1.5 gal = 5.5 gal

Total water needed = 8.25 gal

Notice that you're getting a lot of different answers. Each will result in good, although slightly different beer because of different final volumes and efficiencies. Just pick a method and roll with it.

May I suggest a program like Beer Smith for your brewing pleasure?!?
If not, then check out the formulas in Papazian book or Palmer's website (

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Old 06-28-2007, 02:09 PM   #7
Oct 2006
Boston, MA
Posts: 220

Not to try and talk you out of it, but maybe you should just give it the old single infusion this time. I'm also newer to AG brewing and found step mashing very very difficult when I brewed my Hefe. After talking about it with a brewer I know, I learned that many breweries basically use only Single Infusion, even for wheats. And damn does his beer taste great!

Why not try SI this time and maybe step-mashing later, once you've got a really comfortable handle on the process. Then you can compare the two beers and decide for yourself if it's neccessary. Good luck!

P.S. I'm brewing an American Wheat today with 50% Wheat and skipping the step mash. I'll let you know how the mash turns out!
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Old 06-28-2007, 03:18 PM   #8
Jun 2007
Posts: 259

Originally Posted by SkaBoneBenny
learned that many breweries basically use only Single Infusion, even for wheats. And damn does his beer taste great!

I too love a good experiment, but there certainly is some truth to "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

I have never done a step mash. Ever. But then again, I've never brewed a weizen
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Old 06-28-2007, 11:20 PM   #9
Apr 2007
Posts: 93

Looks good to me.. I've never done anything but a step mash... Still fairly new but I use 10 1/2 gal for a 6 1/2 gal batch with a 14 pound bill. Just make sure you know how much is in the pot by looking at it.I boil for a half hour before any hop adds. Hope this helps

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Old 06-28-2007, 11:58 PM   #10
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Oct 2005
Long Island
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On a brew with 9.5 - 10 lbs grain, I need a lot more water than that.

2.5g for the mash. (I do a single infusion mash)
1g for mash out. (I fly sparge, and find the mash out helps my efficiency considerable.)
8g for the sparge.
Now admittedly, not all that sparge water gets used. I have a lot of dead space in my HLT so I get a certain amount of waste there.
I also use whole hops, and some water gets absorbed by the hops.
With fly sparging, I stop the sparge when I have collected 6.75g in the kettle (which allows me to collect 5.25g wort after a 75 minute boil). At this point, there is a lot of sparge water left in the MLT, which gets thrown away.
My point is that some water will be absorbed by the grain, some will be absorbed by hops, some will be boiled away, and some will be left in the equipment.
It's always better to have a bit more water than necessary, rather than not enough. After a few brews you should have a better idea about how much water you need with your equipment.


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