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Old 03-26-2012, 06:44 PM   #1311
kickrjason
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Old 03-26-2012, 09:05 PM   #1312
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I have a couple of questions about batch size limits with my current equipment. The biggest pots I have access to are a 3 gallon and a 2 gallon. Obviously this will mean a partial boil. Also, I assume the 2 gallon would have to be the Mash pot, and the 3 gallon one for sparging.
1) What is the maximum amount of grain I could realistically mash in the 2 gallon pot? (including both grain and water)
2) How much water could I sparge with using that max amount of grain?

Finally, looking ahead at buying a new, bigger brew pot:
3) What is the maximum volume I could realistically boil using a gas stove top in the kitchen (not a propane burner)?
4) Any leads on an adequate brew pot that won't cost a fortune?


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Old 03-28-2012, 12:55 PM   #1313
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I use 5-6lb with two 15qt pots. With the 'tea bag' sparging, I use a lot of water and I usually start the boil with around 3-3 1/4 gallons of combined mash wort and sparge water.

I mash in 1.75 gallons water for around 1.33 qt/lb. I sparge in about 2 gallons water. I use fermcap to prevent boilovers.

Given those ratios, you might be able to try mashing about 3.25lb in 4.25 quarts with 5 quarts for sparging.

My brewing buddy puts his mashed grain in a colander and pours water over it until it runs clear. I'm not sure if that method uses less water.

You can get a 15 qt stock pot from Walmart for under $25.

I think the primary limiting factor in boiling larger volumes is the weight. 5 gallons of wort at 1.050 weighs almost 44 lbs. You don't want to move around that much boiling water.
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Old 03-28-2012, 03:31 PM   #1314
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Buffalo,
I am in a similar situation, but my pots are 3gal and 4 gal. I am new so I am still revising my process, but I agree with what ludo said. That being said, LME is expensive and I wanted to do as much grain as I could so I pushed the limits on my last try:

I actually mashed 7lbs on my last batch. I used DeathBrewer's BIAB tea-bag method, and I mashed in the smaller pot, just as you had mentioned. I knew the grain would take some water with it, and didn't want to overflow. I didn't get very good efficiency this way (62%), so I'm going to try using a little thinner mash in the larger pot with a smaller sparge next time to see if that helps. I had gotten some advice in another thread that it may be better to max your efficiency in the mash and just sparge with what you can. We'll see how it goes!
This link is awsome for the “can I mash it” calculator:
http://rackers.org/calcs.shtml/
Looks like you could do at least 5.5lbs of grain with that equipment at 1qt/lb if you watch your water volumes. Problem is you risk your efficiency by taxing your water/grain ratio.
I have also tried the colander method, and had mixed results. I had a spill incident that pretty much turned me off to that.

As far as bigger pots, my vote is to get a turkey fryer kit w/pot (WalMart ~$50) and move outside with that much water (that's my plan.) As ludo said, working with more than 4 gal of water on the stovetop is tough. My big canning pot is probably 4.5-5 gal when full of quarts and my poor stove is maxxed out trying to keep it boiling.
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Old 03-28-2012, 09:44 PM   #1315
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Thanks for the help. Last weekend, I brewed a pale ale with what I thought was this method, but realized afterward that I totally overlooked the key step of sparging. That's what I get for reading too much too quickly. I used 4.35 lbs. DME and 5 lbs. of grain. When I took my OG reading after combining with regular water bringing the level up to 5.25 gallons, my reading was only 1.034. It seems like it should be higher than that. I heard that it can be way off because the wort and water might not have been mixed well enough when I took the reading. Anybody else experience this before?

As far as the turkey fryer idea, and some ideas that others have said, does it make a big difference if the pot is aluminum. I have heard some say that you should only use stainless steel. Others say that the cheaper pots are too thin, and can risk burning the wort. Any thoughts from those who use aluminum?
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Old 03-31-2012, 01:09 PM   #1316
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Well, after searching around a little more, I found the answer to my own question about aluminum vs. stainless steel in one of the other forum thread with the clever title of "Aluminium vs Stainless Steel Brew kettles." I actually just ordered a 32 quart stainless pot last night. It should be here in time to brew next weekend. Now I can adjust my recipe back to AG.

From what I am reading, it seems like you can mash in a couple of different pots (i.e. 2 gal. and 3 gal.) then combine both with the sparge water in the 8 gal. pot. Is that correct? Also, if I need to split the mash up, should I mix all of the grains first so they are evenly distributed in both mashes? That would help the efficiency be consistent right?
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Old 03-31-2012, 01:50 PM   #1317
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BuffaloBeer1 View Post
Well, after searching around a little more, I found the answer to my own question about aluminum vs. stainless steel in one of the other forum thread with the clever title of "Aluminium vs Stainless Steel Brew kettles." I actually just ordered a 32 quart stainless pot last night. It should be here in time to brew next weekend. Now I can adjust my recipe back to AG.
The true controversy is cost. No one says aluminum is better... just that it might be just as good. If money was not an object, everyone would use stainless, I believe.

Quote:
From what I am reading, it seems like you can mash in a couple of different pots (i.e. 2 gal. and 3 gal.) then combine both with the sparge water in the 8 gal. pot. Is that correct?
You can do this. Is it a good idea? I dunno. Pouring hot water can be messy and risky. At least it's only at mash temps, though, and not boiling, so maybe it would be alright... but still. I'd try to think of a better way.

Quote:
Also, if I need to split the mash up, should I mix all of the grains first so they are evenly distributed in both mashes? That would help the efficiency be consistent right?
Just make sure both have enough of the 2-row so they have converting enzyme. If you are using sour grain, also make sure that is in both kettles to manage the pH. After my grain is milled at the LHBS, they put it all into one bag and then it gets shaken around a bit, so it's pretty well mixed for me just going through that. If I were to be mashing in more than one pot, though, I personally would try to make sure the grain was well-mixed, but I wouldn't think it was strictly necessary.

You might know this already, but mashing in multiple vessels is usually done for something called a "decoction", and there are plenty of threads on that if you do a search.
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Old 04-01-2012, 04:28 AM   #1318
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Brewing my first minimash tomorrow and plan on using this method. I will let you know how it goes for me, but looks great.
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Old 04-07-2012, 01:00 AM   #1319
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DB, thanks for your help. IPA II came out nice, got my estimated OG!! Great thread.
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Old 04-08-2012, 06:21 PM   #1320
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or you could use an icy salt water bath...


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