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Pre-Boil Volumes

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BWRIGHT

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So, I'm stepping up to AG very soon. I still need to get a burner, thermometer, and cut my keggle, but I'm getting there. I've constructed FlyGuy's 10G MLT from an Igloo cooler. I've read the sticky about efficency for first time AG'ers and I'm now more confused than I was before. I've read that I should not concern myself with efficency on my first AG batch, but eventually I will need to know and there is no time like the present. I want to do 5G batches. I will need to recalculate my boil off rate when I get my keggle up and going but right now I need 6G pre-boil to hit 5G on my stove top. I plan to batch sparge. Probably using the double sparge method. I now have no idea how much water to use. Should I sparge using recommended amounts and then just cut off the flow when I reach my desired amount? If I take the advice of the people who are getting good efficency then it sounds like I might be boiling for hours. Is there some middle road here?
 

Aspera

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Grain is relatively inexpensive when compared to extending your boil for another hour. Unless their is some style characteristic you desire, I would just bite the bullet and use that extra $2.00 of grain. Even no sparge methods may be reasonable depending on your goals.
 

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1. Make brew software a part of your AG plan. That makes eff. and boil volumes 1000000% easier to understand. Most of us don't calculate it either. Just to a brew like brewsmith software tells you to, then if you are over, input less boiloff for next time.
2. Keep some DME on hand and if you have really bad efficiency, dump some of that in until the eff. comes out correct. I learned that the hard way and had to boil off an extra gallon. That added quite a bit of time to my brew day.
 

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Your evaporation will be determined after a couple a batches but 6 gallons seems a little short to me. There will be some trub loss during transfer as well. As long as your doing grain batches consider 5.5 gallon batches so that you have a solid 5 clear gallons after transfering.
 
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BWRIGHT

BWRIGHT

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my goal is to come out with a beer that taste like it is supposed to and has the proper ABV. How do you determine how much more grain to use? I plan on keeping some DME on hand, but doesn't that change the flavor of the beer? Any suggestions on which software to use?
 

Blender

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BWRIGHT said:
my goal is to come out with a beer that taste like it is supposed to and has the proper ABV. How do you determine how much more grain to use? I plan on keeping some DME on hand, but doesn't that change the flavor of the beer? Any suggestions on which software to use?
Try Beersmith. I think there is a 21 day free, fully functional trail period.
Beersmith
 

freyguy

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I use beersmith and I just tell it how much pre-boil volume I want because I don't have my evap rates down hard yet. I know that I need 7gal pre-boil to end up with 5 after a 60min boil. Thats all in a 9gal pot on a turkey fryer burner.

Effeciency depends alot on your grain crush. I planned for 65% on my first AG with my Corona grain mill, and was very close. Your efficency will calculate your OG. So if you have a recipe thats calling for 1.050 at 75%, you'll just have to add some more grain so you'll hit the same 1.050 at 65%. This is all very easy calulations once you have beersmith.

It will then tell you all your temps, how much water, etc. Super easy and worth the cash. :)
 

ohiobrewtus

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Another vote for BeerSmith. You can adjust your estimated efficiency and all of the water volume calculations are made for you.
 
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BWRIGHT

BWRIGHT

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Does Beersmith, or any of the software, take into account what and how you are boiling? What I mean is, does it take into consideration what kind of brewpot you are using. If you are using a tall narrow brewpot with a burner, your boil-off rate would be different than using a very wide brewpot on the stovetop.
 

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It's gonna be a little different for everyone, you just need to figure it out for your system. Try to always have a rolling, vigorous boil and be consistent with it each time. You might try a test run just to see if you're not sure, but I would estimate around 1 gallon/hr. I am more like 1.25 gallon an hour. I usually collect around 6.5 gallons of pre-boil wort and then get down to 5.5-5.25 gallons. As someone else said, it's good to have a little over 5 for transfers and such down the road. And if there's a little extra at the end, it's better to always have a little more beer than a little less :D
 

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BWRIGHT said:
Does Beersmith, or any of the software, take into account what and how you are boiling? What I mean is, does it take into consideration what kind of brewpot you are using. If you are using a tall narrow brewpot with a burner, your boil-off rate would be different than using a very wide brewpot on the stovetop.

Actually it does, but not really for that reason. It needs to know how much volume you can hold and boil at a time. Beersmith takes into account just about everything. Download the freebie and check it out. You just have to do a few batches to get everything tweeked in. Great excuse to brew!
 

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Beersmith can accomodate different boil off rates as a percentage of liquid at the begining of the boil. It is pre-programmed at 9% but I have adjusted mine up to almost 15%. You just need to measure out the amount of water your going to boil, and let er rip for 60 min and measure what is left.

I started using Beersmith with PM brews and got a feel for it, but as I brew more with it I love all the features and recipe storing.
 

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BWRIGHT said:
my goal is to come out with a beer that taste like it is supposed to and has the proper ABV. How do you determine how much more grain to use? I plan on keeping some DME on hand, but doesn't that change the flavor of the beer? Any suggestions on which software to use?
For the amounts that you might be adding I doubt you'd notice any real difference in the flavor. I'd start by assuming a fairly low efficiency like 60% or 65%. If you are better than that you can dilute your beer with water to get the OG you want and you shouldn't be much lower than that. If you are, your choices are to have a smaller batch by boiling it down or add a bit of DME to bring your OG up. Personally, I'd add the DME. You're probably looking at less than 1/2 pound and as I said you probably wouldn't notice the difference in flavor.
 

ohiobrewtus

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BWRIGHT said:
why should I assume a low efficency %?
I know that I was so worried about messing up when I did my first AG that I probably made multiple mistakes. I didn't calculate my efficiency though, so I couldn't tell you for sure.

If you're that concerned about it, you could add another pound or two of malt to offset poor efficiency.
 

IowaStateFan

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BWRIGHT said:
why should I assume a low efficency %?
1. As a first-timer you are in the learning mode and you're efficiency will probably be low.

2. You said you are concerned about a flavor change by adding DME. If your actual efficiency comes in lower than planned you have two choices - add DME or boil it down and get less beer. If you overshoot your planned efficiency, you can add water to dilute your wort and get more beer.
 

Bearcat Brewmeister

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IowaStateFan said:
1. As a first-timer you are in the learning mode and you're efficiency will probably be low.

2. You said you are concerned about a flavor change by adding DME. If your actual efficiency comes in lower than planned you have two choices - add DME or boil it down and get less beer. If you overshoot your planned efficiency, you can add water to dilute your wort and get more beer.

Both of these are sound advice. I have made dozens of AG batches and still keep DME on hand just in case (I prefer adding a small amount of DME than boiling it down further).

I don't think your other question has been addressed yet.

How much water?
Work backward from your post boil volume (I use 5.5 gallons for the reasons mentioned by others). Since you have no reference for boil off loss, you will have to make a guess. A gallon an hour is probably close enough, so if you do a 60 minute boil, you would want 6.5 at the beginning of the boil. Next, you have to figure out how much water will get left in your mash tun due to absorption of the grain. Figure for about a half quart per pound of grain, so for example, if you have an 12 pound grain bill, you will lose 6 quarts of water in the mash tun. Now you are up to 8 gallons needed. Some goes in for the mash and the rest is for your batch sparges. An average mash thickness is 1.25 quarts per pound of grain, so in the example above, you would need 12 x 1.25 quarts, or 3.75 gallons of mash water. The rest (8 - 3.75 = 4.25 gallons) is your sparge water, which you can split into 2 batches.
 
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