Grain to Water Ratio

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Graeme

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I've read a couple of conflicting ratios online, is there a general water to grain ratio? I'm a little worried about my upcoming partial mash. I only have a capacity of around 5L for the partial mash itsefl, and my grain bill is 4lbs. Thanks in advance!
 

JVD_X

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You need to find what works best for you in your brewery.

Personally, I have been using two quarts per pound but this produces a lot of wort that needs to boil off. This means much longer boil times, more gas wasted, etc. I am moving back down to 1.5 since I really didn't see any difference in either my efficiency or in my mashing process.
 
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Graeme

Graeme

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Thanks Fingers! Looks like I'll be lucky with this one. It's actually really difficult to find large pots here! I don't really want to buy a small picnic cooler mash tun, I'd rather wait until I'm brewing AG and get a big one then
 

kanzimonson

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I don't think you'll have enough space if you only have a 5L pot. First, using 1.25qt/# means you'll need 5qts. That's more volume than 5L. Second, you're not accounting for the volume of the grain as well.

Check out this calculator:
http://www.rackers.org/calcs.shtml

It estimates you'll need a mash-tun just over 6qts to mash 4# at 1.25qts/#.

I wouldn't recommend going any lower than 1.25qts/#... the grains absorb so much liquid that by the end of the mash it will be very thick.
 
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Graeme

Graeme

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Well, 1 Quart is 0.9L, but I take your point regarding accounting for grain volume. I'm going to check the exact volume of my pot, it might be around the 6L mark, if not I'll just have to buy a larger one I guess!
 

Brewsmith

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Use less water then. Go 1 qt (or L) per pound.

Look into getting a bigger pot. In my kitchen we have a pot that easily holds over 10 qts.
 

david_42

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No conflict. Like everything else in brewing there are different methods, that product different results. I've seen ratios from 2.2:1 (by weight) to 7:1. Homebrewers tend to use lower ratios, partially because of lack of space.
 

kanzimonson

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Yeah it definitely sucks when you realize you've maxed out your system. I built a lauter-tun out of two 6gal buckets which holds about 13.5# of grain. Then I realized I'd need something bigger if I wanted to make bigger beers. So I found a couple 7.5gal buckets and now I can sparge 16.5#. But I'm at that cusp where if I could just fit another 3-5 pounds, I could easily make 10gallon batches... but then I'd have to upgrade my brewpot as well.

Lesson learned: wait until you can buy the biggest thing you think you'll ever need. Since you're getting into partial mashes now, there's a pretty good chance you'll go all-grain at some point, so be patient and try to scavenge the biggest equipment you can find.
 
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Graeme

Graeme

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Well I checked this out and I can hold 6L with a bit of space, so I should be ok this time, but I hear what you guys are saying, it's going to get to the point where I am doing all grain or even bigger partial mashes, so I'll have to look in to a large cooler. Cheers for all the replies, helpful as always.
 

kanzimonson

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I was just thinking - if you have a pot big enough to mash 4# of grain, surely you have a pot bigger than that for boiling?

If so, I'm curious what your lauter/sparge setup will be. Because if the logistics work out, you can do what I do and mash in your brewpot, then pour into a lauter-tun, then runoff back into the brewpot. Or if you absolutely don't have any kind of lautering device, you could try the "brew in a bag" technique.
 

rico567

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I was fortunate in moving to AG in that my son, who introduced me to brewing, uses a rather high ratio. What I use is 1.5 qt. / lb. of grain. This lauters well, boils down to a good volume after an hour, and makes good beer. I think a 10 gallon MLT (I have the Rubbermaid conversion) is about essential to be using these higher ratios on anything but the lowest-gravity beers.
 

The Pol

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You need to find what works best for you in your brewery.

Personally, I have been using two quarts per pound but this produces a lot of wort that needs to boil off. This means much longer boil times, more gas wasted, etc. I am moving back down to 1.5 since I really didn't see any difference in either my efficiency or in my mashing process.
Why would a thin mash equal more wort to boil off? Wouldnt you reduce your sparge volume by the same ammount?

I switched from 1.25:1 to 2.0:1 this year. I saw a marked increase in conversion eff. It didnt increase my runoff, pre-boil volume or boil time required. I just adjusted my sparge volume accordingly.

Mashing thin will only benefit you if you need to boost conversion eff. If you are already near 100% there, then all it does is decrease your sparge volume, which can actually end up reducing your lauter and brewhouse eff.
 

JVD_X

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I'd rather wait until I'm brewing AG and get a big one then
OK - I am a little confused.... are you doing a partial mash?

Why would a thin mash equal more wort to boil off? Wouldnt you reduce your sparge volume?
I suppose you could but at a certain size grain bill at a two quart ratio you end up with as much first-runnings as you would need for your boil. I am reluctant to leave any sweetness behind.

A better solution is to reduce the grain bill not your sparge. However, I don't want to do that either because I don't always hit my desired gravity. Besides, it leaves behind a little for a parti-gyle.
 

The Pol

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OK - I am a little confused.... are you doing a partial mash?

I suppose you could but at a certain size grain bill at a two quart ratio you end up with as much first-runnings as you would need for your boil. I am reluctant to leave any sweetness behind.

A better solution is to reduce the grain bill not your sparge. However, I don't want to do that either because I don't always hit my desired gravity. Besides, it leaves behind a little for a parti-gyle.
I can sorta see what you are saying... but not really.

12 pounds of grain (this is a 1.069 beer) will need 6 gallons of mash water at 2.0 : 1 (
Your grain will absorb almost 1.5 gallons
Leaving you with 4.5 of first runnings
If I boil for 90 minutes I boil off 2.1 gallons
To obtain 5.5 after the boil (losses to trub and shrinkage) I need 7.6 pre boil
7.6 - 4.5 is still 3.1 gallons of sparge water to meet the pre-boil volume

Can you give me an example of a brew that would require you to collect so much that you have to extend the boil? I have never heard of anyone mashing at 2.0 qts that had to actually collect more and boil longer.
 

JVD_X

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I can sorta see what you are saying... but not really.

12 pounds of grain (this is a 1.069 beer) will need 6 gallons of mash water at 2.0 : 1 (
Your grain will absorb almost 1.5 gallons
Leaving you with 4.5 of first runnings
If I boil for 90 minutes I boil off 2.1 gallons
To obtain 5.5 after the boil (losses to trub and shrinkage) I need 7.6 pre boil
7.6 - 4.5 is still 3.1 gallons of sparge water to meet the pre-boil volume

Can you give me an example of a brew that would require you to collect so much that you have to extend the boil? I have never heard of anyone mashing at 2.0 qts that had to actually collect more and boil longer.
I don't collect 5.5 after boil - I collect 7.5 into my 15 gallon conical. then lose about a gallon to trub and 3 quarts to the fact I don't have an adjustable arm. oh... I also don't extend my boil to 90.... too long for me.
 

kanzimonson

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I should have specified what I am using for my boiler it is an electrim mashing bin with an element...

It wouldn't be practical to do a mash in this at all, temperature would be hard to keep consistent
I've never heard of this but I just read a little about it online. Is it really that difficult to keep consistent mash temperatures in there? Like I mentioned, I use my aluminum brewpot as my mash-tun and I have to add heat to the mash maybe twice in 60 minutes. I'd guess my metal pot has greater heat loss than the plastic of the electrim, and you could probably wrap it in a towel to conserve heat even better. Of course, this doesn't solve your lauter and sparge problem.

As I write this I'm realizing that if you're mashing only 4# of grain, you'll experience more heat loss than I do with 13-16#, but still I think people underestimate water's thermal retention.
 
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Graeme

Graeme

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yeah I see what you are saying, but the sparge issue is obviously there as well, and with the element right in there in there it might burn the bag when coming in contact with it. I think I will be ok for now, I think 4# is definitely my limit at the moment, but I can see myself buying the cooler at some point
 
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