concentrated all grain wort

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

mendozer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2009
Messages
749
Reaction score
17
Location
Seattle
I'm aching to make another batch of beer but my usual brew buddy is working things out with his keggle. I want to make a 5 gallon batch (or 4 gallon) but i only have a 4 gallon stock pot and 10 gallon mash tun. I was fine because I was doing extract and partial mashes before. Now that i have my tun, i wanna go AG with every batch. How can i make this batch with my small stock pot?

*i have boiling pots, dutch ovens, etc to make up sparge water if needed.

Can i make a small 3 gallon wort concentrated then dilute to 4 gallons to fill my bucket? this is how i made my extract beers
 

Revvy

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Dec 11, 2007
Messages
41,296
Reaction score
3,727
Location
"Detroitish" Michigan
I've posted this several times.

Although some folks with flat out say it can't be done, it screws with your efficiency, it makes crappy beer, I do top off ag batches all time. I often do 5 gallon batches dilluting 2.5 gallons of wort with 2.5 gallons of water.

And I've won awards for some of them...

I've been doing quite a lot of them in the winters in the last couple of years.

I do it a lot in the winter when I can't brew outside. I use a pre-boil gravity of 3.5 gallons boiled down to 2.5 and topped off with 2.5 gallons of water, and I've never had an issue with efficiency whatsoever, or hop utilization problems either.

I use beersmith to calculate everything then use their "dillute with water" calculator and hit my numbers all the time. A recipe calculated in a program like beersmith that takes into account for boil size will tell you how much grain you need to achieve whatever your set efficiency is. Basically you are still making a high grav wort, like your extract extract actually is, and then using the calculator dilluting it down.

The only thing I account for is hop efficiency. And I simply up my hopbill by about 18% to overcompensate for poor hop utilization. And I bet you with a better understanding of the formuals and such, you could nail the amount you need to overcompensate more precisely that I do, but 18% more seems to work for me.

I've done everything from IPA's to really light lagers this way and have had some great beers come out of it. My Wit and my Vienna Lager made this way have both placed in comps. And another one, my chocolate mole porter picked up a bronze.

I still do a lot of half sized Ag batches, because there is no extra math involved, but over the last two years I've found that the "you can only do full sized all grain batches, and can't dillute with water," isn't exactly true....it just takes a little finegaling with the maths.

I think the idea that you "can't" is just one of those common wisdom things that folks repeat because they've heard it, and never really give it much thought, or worse yet, just repeat the premise verbatum...

Funny thing is I've discussed this with brewers who own 2 different LHBS's (and have decades more experience than me) and they've been doing the same thing for years. I first thought about it, when I overboiled a 5 gallon batch on my turkey fryer by a gallon, and sat down and played with the dillution ration to top off with water, and it returned to the gravity had I not missed my post boil volume...I started to wonder what if....and it's been fun. Especially finding out that it works for many different styles, from really hoppy to not subtle brews.

Someone asked me once for a detailed overview of the process-

Honestly it's any typical 5 gallon recipe. Nothing really special in the grain bill. It's all in playing with the numbers in BS.

I can try to explain it off the top of my head, but forgive me if I miss a few details. Though it's not difficult.

1) Basically you create a 5 gallon recipe in beersmith.
2) Make note of the og and ibus.
3) Figure out what 18% more of your ibus are, then using the ibu's tab in beersmith let the software recalculate the hopping amount to account for it, or do it yourself.
4) Change the Batch Size to whatever you want to be able to boil on your stove. If it's 4 make it 4- I tend to do 2.5 with a 3.5 pre-boil volume-make sure you adjust BS to the pre-boil volume to reflect your boil off rate.
5) After you change your batch size your og is now going to be quite a bit higher than it was when it was a 5 gallon. Obviously- a thicker wort is going to have a higher gravity. Make a note of this higher gravity.
6) Click on the dillution ratio calculator in your software, beersmith's looks like this-



7) Enter the starting Wort volume (which is your final volume from step 4 above, mine would be 2.5).
8) Enter the specific gravity of the thicker wort.
9) Click on the "dilute with" drop down and select water.
10) Enter the top off amount of water you need to get to your 5 gallons (Volume to add) and you should see that "magically" the calculated "final specific gravity" will be what it would have been if you had done a normal 5 gallon final volume boil. In other words it should match the Og you made note of in step 2.

Now what I do on brew day to take it out of the theory of recipe creation and into the practice of what really happens on brew day is that I mash and sparge into a bucket with graduated measurements so I know exactly what my preboil volume is. Then I take a refractometer reading to see what my real preboil gravity is, then I re run steps 6-10 to see what the real numbers will be.

Or I do it after I cool my wort and before I top it off with water- I just rack my cooled concentrated wort into my bucket or marked carboy to see how much I have post boil, then run steps 6-10.

Then I top off with water, aerate the wort and pitch yeast as normal.

Hope this helps. I think I remembered all the steps.

Now obviously you CAN just wing it. Just take your recipe only mash and sparge enough to get your small batch preboil volume, boil your wort and top off. Whether you actually run the numbers or not really is irrevelant the gravity of the wort is going to be exactly higher by exactly what the missing amount of water would lower to when you dillute it by the right amount. If that makes any sense to you.

Quite a few folks on here do it.
 
OP
mendozer

mendozer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2009
Messages
749
Reaction score
17
Location
Seattle
ok i did fiddle with me dilution tool but didn't think about hop usage. thanks
 

forstmeister

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 15, 2011
Messages
1,193
Reaction score
177
Location
Madison
I have been brewing for about 1.5 years and have 15-20 batches under my belt. I honestly never thought about this possibility before now. I may try it so that I can use my smaller brew pot that actually has a lid and will boil faster than my large pot which I haven't found a lid to fit yet.

Any idea if the dillution feature if still in Beersmith 2? I have been using it for a few months now, but still haven't been able to figure it all out quite yet. I finally got my efficiency figured out, but it is low (66%) and I haven't had a chance to look into the other features yet.

Thanks Revvy!
 

jfrizzell

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 4, 2007
Messages
665
Reaction score
13
Location
Iowa
forstmeister said:
I have been brewing for about 1.5 years and have 15-20 batches under my belt. I honestly never thought about this possibility before now. I may try it so that I can use my smaller brew pot that actually has a lid and will boil faster than my large pot which I haven't found a lid to fit yet.

Any idea if the dillution feature if still in Beersmith 2? I have been using it for a few months now, but still haven't been able to figure it all out quite yet. I finally got my efficiency figured out, but it is low (66%) and I haven't had a chance to look into the other features yet.

Thanks Revvy!
Keep in mind that you don't want to do your boil with the lid on. It's ok to start with it on to get to a boil faster but once you are boiling, you should take the lid off. During the boil, there are things being boiled off that you want out of your beer, not condensed on the bottom of your lid and dripping back in.
 

forstmeister

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 15, 2011
Messages
1,193
Reaction score
177
Location
Madison
jfrizzell said:
Keep in mind that you don't want to do your boil with the lid on. It's ok to start with it on to get to a boil faster but once you are boiling, you should take the lid off. During the boil, there are things being boiled off that you want out of your beer, not condensed on the bottom of your lid and dripping back in.
I know, but thanks. I just meant to speed up the "getting to a boil" part.
 

hnsfeigel

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2012
Messages
98
Reaction score
3
Location
Boise
K, so I'm still a little confused. Forgive my newb-ness.
I think I get the adjustments for the boil, but what about the mash? Are you just dropping the water volume(s) of the mash/sparge or are you doing a no-sparge? I don't have BS so hopefully I'm not missing somthing else, but you're not scaling the grain... right?
For example, a recipe I was looking at has 11.75 lb grain bill. To run off 3.5 gal of wort, my calculator puts that that as a .7qt/lb mash. Wouldn't that just be one big dough ball?
 

dcp27

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2010
Messages
4,126
Reaction score
131
Location
Medford
For example, a recipe I was looking at has 11.75 lb grain bill. To run off 3.5 gal of wort, my calculator puts that that as a .7qt/lb mash. Wouldn't that just be one big dough ball?
how'd you get that mash ratio? obviously you're limited to the size of your mash tun, but even in a 5gal kettle you could mash @1.25 qt/lb and then sparge with nearly 1.5gals to have 3.5gal wort
 

hnsfeigel

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2012
Messages
98
Reaction score
3
Location
Boise
how'd you get that mash ratio? obviously you're limited to the size of your mash tun, but even in a 5gal kettle you could mash @1.25 qt/lb and then sparge with nearly 1.5gals to have 3.5gal wort

Well, that was kinda where I was running into issues... I was accounting for even mash/sparge volumes. I am new, so please correct me if my logic is flawed. The way I understood, you would want to sparge with at least as much water as you mashed with. I guess in this circumstance it may be done differently. So in tight situations, would it be better to get as much efficiency as possible from the initial mash, and just take what you can get from the sparge?

Formulas I was using:
Accounting for 1.5gal absorption (brewzor uses .13gal/lb), 2.5 gal each mash/sparge (10qts/11.75lbs) = 3.5 gal total runnings.
 

dcp27

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 12, 2010
Messages
4,126
Reaction score
131
Location
Medford
the 1:1 mash/sparge is a fine guideline, but its not fundamental. typically i would mash at 1.25-1.5 qt/lb and then sparge to volume. after quickly running some numbers, it doesn't look like theres really much efficiency difference between the two tho (~0.5%). However, I'd bump up your mash ratio so its not like mixing cement.
 

hnsfeigel

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2012
Messages
98
Reaction score
3
Location
Boise
Awesome, that's what I was wondering. Thanks for helping me understand that, I was figuring it would be worse like mixing cement on the sparge with 1.5gal. BTW, what calculator are you using to figure the potential efficiency difference?
 

fearwig

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 2, 2013
Messages
1,111
Reaction score
193
I thought it better to revive this thread than make a new one, since Revvy's helpful post is up there on page one--but I think there is a simpler way to do your calculations in BeerSmith (or any similar program, I should think), and I've started doing it to make large batches of a number of small beers (an 8 gal belgian pale the other week, a 9 gal dry stout this week) in my 7 gal MLT-kettle. Here's the way I do it:

1) Draw up your recipe for a full batch (9 gal in this case), with the correct post-dilution OG.
2) Adjust your recipe volume (and nothing else) down to your *pre-boil* volume to see your target preboil gravity (fig 2). You don't need to save the file like this, this is just so you can see what you're shooting for.
3) Boil as usual to whatever volume you want (i.e. don't worry about postboil volume, only do a 90 minute boil if you feel like it for DMS or hop utilization).
4) Do any wort chilling now so you can aerate the cold wort while transferring/diluting
5) Dilute in your fermenter(s) until you hit the desired OG or volume (go by volume to preserve correct IBU, but I underestimated efficiency and added about .25-.5 gal extra water to hit my target OG--which I felt OK doing because my IBU is on the high side and .5 gal only brings it down 1-2pts).

And the real bonus of this is that I don't need more 6.5 gal brew buckets, because I can make an 8, 10, 12 gallon batch and put it in multiple $4 food-safe 5-gal buckets from Lowes. So my primary fermenter capacity is quintupled without having to make pissy little 4 gallon batches, one per brew. I had enough MLT volume to make this a 12 gallon batch I think, with no trouble. I could probably make 15 gallons of ordinary bitter.

Image 3.jpg


Image 5.jpg
 
Top