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Old 09-17-2008, 12:01 AM   #1
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Default mash water/sparge water ammounts?

Hi, I've been doing all grain for about 10 batches now, and I have a question for any experienced brewers. How important is it to get the correct ammout of liquid in the mash tun? When I brew, I get about 5-6 gallons of water heated up to 160-165, fill my mash tun about half full, add the grains, stir well, then top it off with the same water. Then when I sparge, I use enough 170 deg water to get me up to 6.5-7 gallons for the boil. I've read that you should only use a set ammount for each step, depending on how many pounds of grain you use, but I've never had any trouble that I'm aware of. My beer always tastes fine. In my opinion, I'd rather use more water at the start than have to worry about adding purified/clean water to the fermentor to get an even 5 gallons. I don't follow the 'rules' for all grain exactly, but I've never had a problem. Why only 1.5 liters per pound, or whatever is the norm?

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Old 09-17-2008, 01:04 AM   #2
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This is exactly how we get so many different beers out of the same ingredients. If you add the recommended 1.33 quarts of water per pound of grain you will notice a certain consistency of the mash that can be visually duplicated on future brew days. The thicker the mash (less water), the more favorable the environment for the enzymes that break down the proteins for yeast nutrients and head retention. The thinner the mash (more water added) provides a better environment for the enzymes that break down starches into sugars. I would do what your doing now, not worry about it much, and mash the way you like it. You can use mash calculators available somewhere on the forum or brewing software to take the guess work out of it all.

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Old 09-17-2008, 01:57 AM   #3
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I would probably guess that your efficiency is lower then it should be and if you take gravity readings, they would be lower then you would expect. It is important when sparging to use two equal amounts to get all those fermentable sugars out of the tun. As for having a thicker or thinner mash I do not know the logistics but the better your sparge technique, the more sugars. But then again if you are happy with your beer keep doing it that way. But if you want to try and gain a better perspective and gain more control of your process all you have to do is ask and there are plenty of people here that will be willing to help analyze and give pointers.
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Old 09-17-2008, 03:08 AM   #4
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While mash thickness does have an effect on fermentability and conversion times, the main thing I focus on is making it thin enough to stir well and thick enough to leave enough pre boil volume for sparging so my efficiency isn't crushed. That magic number is somewhere between 1.1 and 1.3 quarts of strike water per pound of grain. It's not that hard to calculate and doing so will lead to repeatability and consistency. I wrote a little all grain primer that has been well received around here. Hopefully it will give you some perspective. down there \/
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