Volume Problem (aka not enough beer)

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kjm13

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So... I'm having a consistent volume issue. I keep ending up with only about 4.25g of wort going into my primary when shooting for a 5g batch. Last weekend I brewed a Hoppy Wheat. All grain, 11lbs in a 5g mash tun. Mashed in with 13.75 quarts of water, fly sparged with 18.6 quarts. Ended up with roughly 6.7g in the brew pot. Took 38 minutes to bring to a rolling boil then boiled for 60min. let rest after boil to 182 deg before starting active cooling (I didn't time this step but roughly 15 minutes) I have a very efficient cooling system (plus it's cold as f#@k in New England right now), so it only takes about 17 minutes to cool from 180 to 70 deg. Then when I poured from the pot to the carboy, there was only 4.25 gal. OG goal was 1.060 and I was at 1.058 as I let some of the extra final runings from the sparge go into the pot as I've been low on vol and over on gravity in the past. Same issue when I did a stout the weekend before with 12.5lbs of grain, Mashed in with 15.6 quarts and fly sparged with 17.4 quarts. 6.5g of wort in the brewpot before the boil, 4.25g into the fermenter at the end.

Any Ideas as to what my problem ? I'm at a loss...
Any and all comments appreciated.
thanks.
 

helibrewer

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So... I'm having a consistent volume issue. I keep ending up with only about 4.25g of wort going into my primary when shooting for a 5g batch. Last weekend I brewed a Hoppy Wheat. All grain, 11lbs in a 5g mash tun. Mashed in with 13.75 quarts of water, fly sparged with 18.6 quarts. Ended up with roughly 6.7g in the brew pot. Took 38 minutes to bring to a rolling boil then boiled for 60min. let rest after boil to 182 deg before starting active cooling (I didn't time this step but roughly 15 minutes) I have a very efficient cooling system (plus it's cold as f#@k in New England right now), so it only takes about 17 minutes to cool from 180 to 70 deg. Then when I poured from the pot to the carboy, there was only 4.25 gal. OG goal was 1.060 and I was at 1.058 as I let some of the extra final runings from the sparge go into the pot as I've been low on vol and over on gravity in the past. Same issue when I did a stout the weekend before with 12.5lbs of grain, Mashed in with 15.6 quarts and fly sparged with 17.4 quarts. 6.5g of wort in the brewpot before the boil, 4.25g into the fermenter at the end.

Any Ideas as to what my problem ? I'm at a loss...
Any and all comments appreciated.
thanks.
Are you using brewing software? If so, review your equipment setup and boil off. You have 6.7 gal in the kettle, what was in there post boil? Looks like your mash ratio is 1.25qts/lb. With 11lbs of grain, it absorbs 1.65 gallons. You are sparging with 4.65 gallons + 1.8 gallons from the MLT puts 6.4 into the kettle.

If your boil off is 1 gallon per hour or more you are right on the edge of getting 5 gallons into the fermenter, and that assumes no loss anywhere (MLT deadspace, BK deadspace, etc.).

The observation that you are low on volume AND low on OG suggests that your mash is not as efficient as it should be. At a 1.25 mash ratio your first runnings (MLT gravity) should be 1.096, if it's not at least in the 1.090 range then you have mash efficiency problems (temp, crush, time, etc.).
 

blizzard

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You could be boiling a lot harder than you need to. Also, is this a seasonal issue? Recently some people were talking about how they have significantly more boil off when the humidity is low. I had never really considered that since I live in an area that is always very dry.

Are you putting everything in the fermenter, or leaving some trub behind in the kettle?
 
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kjm13

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Are you using brewing software? If so, review your equipment setup and boil off. You have 6.7 gal in the kettle, what was in there post boil? Looks like your mash ratio is 1.25qts/lb. With 11lbs of grain, it absorbs 1.65 gallons. You are sparging with 4.65 gallons + 1.8 gallons from the MLT puts 6.4 into the kettle.

If your boil off is 1 gallon per hour or more you are right on the edge of getting 5 gallons into the fermenter, and that assumes no loss anywhere (MLT deadspace, BK deadspace, etc.).

The observation that you are low on volume AND low on OG suggests that your mash is not as efficient as it should be. At a 1.25 mash ratio your first runnings (MLT gravity) should be 1.096, if it's not at least in the 1.090 range then you have mash efficiency problems (temp, crush, time, etc.).

I'm using beer smith. I think I was low on OG this time as I was only suppose to sparge to a vol of 6.5g but let it go long to 6.75 because I have bee over my OG targets and low on vol in the past. I usually mash right around 152deg. I have a pretty efficient mash on this batch with a first running gravity of 1.092 and end runnings of 1.019. At the end of the boil there was about 4.5g in the brewpot.

When I did the stout the week before I was low on vol but over on my OG target. Was aiming for 1.064 and got 1.070, so I used some top off water (which I hate to do). I added .5g to get to a total of 4.75g in fermenter at 1.064og.
 
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kjm13

kjm13

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You could be boiling a lot harder than you need to. Also, is this a seasonal issue? Recently some people were talking about how they have significantly more boil off when the humidity is low. I had never really considered that since I live in an area that is always very dry.

Are you putting everything in the fermenter, or leaving some trub behind in the kettle?
This does not seem to be a seasonal thing. It's happened on just about every beer I've done over the past year + (5 or 6).

What do you mean by boiling harder? A boil is a boil right? I don't get much over 215deg during the process.
 

blizzard

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This does not seem to be a seasonal thing. It's happened on just about every beer I've done over the past year + (5 or 6).

What do you mean by boiling harder? A boil is a boil right? I don't get much over 215deg during the process.
Well, a simmer is less boiling than a hard boil, yes? But both turn liquid into gas. You use energy to heat the liquid to boiling temp then you use more energy to vaporize the liquid to a gas. More energy = more liquid to gas = faster boil off. Meaning, you might have your burner turned up to a 10, when an 8 would suffice.
 
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kjm13

kjm13

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Hi All,
I'm still having this issue volume issue. I consistently end up with 4.5gal of wort going into the fermenter . My guess is that beersmith is just not accounting for some type of equipment loss I am having. (I'm sure this is because I'm entering something wrong, but can't figure it out) So, I'm just going to add 2.5 quarts to my total water volume that beersmith tells me to use. My question is should I add it all to the sparge water, or split it between the mash and the sparge. Or do something different all together?
Thanks!
 

thekraken

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I'd try to zero in on where your unaccounted for loss is. If you just add water and change nothing else you will miss your target gravity. Do you currently hit your target gravitys?
 

kh54s10

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It seems that you need to adjust something in your equipment profile to get you more preboil volume. I know that I need just over 7 gallons in my system to get just over 5 gallons into the fermenter and 5 gallons kegged.

If you are leaving any wort in the system it needs to be accounted for. For example if you leave anything in your boil kettle when done you need to allow for that in the software. I don't fly sparge so I don't know it you can just collect more wort preboil.

Look at the equipment profile and adjust things so that the final volume is what you need.

As thekraken stated you can not just add more water without making some changes. If you make the right changes Beersmith will adjust the recipe to account for the added water.
 
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kjm13

kjm13

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I'd try to zero in on where your unaccounted for loss is. If you just add water and change nothing else you will miss your target gravity. Do you currently hit your target gravitys?
I'm usually pretty close. Been over a few times, which is why I was thinking more water in the sparge. I'm just getting back into brewing after a > 1 year layoff due to injury I'll look at the software again and see if I can figure out how to account for the loss.
thanks!
 
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kjm13

kjm13

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It seems that you need to adjust something in your equipment profile to get you more preboil volume. I know that I need just over 7 gallons in my system to get just over 5 gallons into the fermenter and 5 gallons kegged.

If you are leaving any wort in the system it needs to be accounted for. For example if you leave anything in your boil kettle when done you need to allow for that in the software. I don't fly sparge so I don't know it you can just collect more wort preboil.

Look at the equipment profile and adjust things so that the final volume is what you need.

As thekraken stated you can not just add more water without making some changes. If you make the right changes Beersmith will adjust the recipe to account for the added water.
I dump pretty much everything into the frementer and let it settle out there, but usually end up with about an inch if sludge left in the bottom of the kettle, but I don't think it;s a half gal worth...
thanks!
 

philosofool

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Hi All,
I'm still having this issue volume issue. I consistently end up with 4.5gal of wort going into the fermenter . My guess is that beersmith is just not accounting for some type of equipment loss I am having. (I'm sure this is because I'm entering something wrong, but can't figure it out) So, I'm just going to add 2.5 quarts to my total water volume that beersmith tells me to use. My question is should I add it all to the sparge water, or split it between the mash and the sparge. Or do something different all together?
Thanks!
This sounds like the right solution to me. Assuming you're batch sparging, you should probably roughly split it 50/50 between the mash and sparge. Equal volumes of extract from each sparge gets the highest efficiency, or so I've read.

Note that you will probably need to lower your system efficiency 2-3% since you are basically diluting your wort.
 
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kjm13

kjm13

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This sounds like the right solution to me. Assuming you're batch sparging, you should probably roughly split it 50/50 between the mash and sparge. Equal volumes of extract from each sparge gets the highest efficiency, or so I've read.

Note that you will probably need to lower your system efficiency 2-3% since you are basically diluting your wort.
I'm fly sparging actually...
 

Beerthoven

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Hi All,
I'm still having this issue volume issue. I consistently end up with 4.5gal of wort going into the fermenter . My guess is that beersmith is just not accounting for some type of equipment loss I am having. (I'm sure this is because I'm entering something wrong, but can't figure it out) So, I'm just going to add 2.5 quarts to my total water volume that beersmith tells me to use. My question is should I add it all to the sparge water, or split it between the mash and the sparge. Or do something different all together?
Thanks!
Set the water-to-grain ratio for the mash where you want it to be, then add any extra water that is necessary to reach your final volume to the sparge.

Also, are you using whole leaf hops? They suck up a surprising amount of wort, but it sounds like you're not straining out your hops and just dumping it all in the fermenter.
 
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kjm13

kjm13

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Set the water-to-grain ratio for the mash where you want it to be, then add any extra water that is necessary to reach your final volume to the sparge.

Also, are you using whole leaf hops? They suck up a surprising amount of wort, but it sounds like you're not straining out your hops and just dumping it all in the fermenter.
I've used both, and ended up with the same issue. When using whole hops in the boil, I will use a muslin bag, but I've converted to all pellet foe the time being...
thanks!
 
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kjm13

kjm13

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Well... The low volume strikes again! I got 4g into my fermenter today, but the good news is, I finally think I know why! Thanks to everyone who commented on this thread. It really made me look at everything, and I learned a ton from my brew day today. Here's what I think I know now...

I have roughly a 12% boil off rate, a 7 to 8% cooling loss, and think I had roughly 1.25g trub loss today. (guess that's what happens with 4oz of hop pellets at 5min and another 4oz hopstand).

Will adjust my equipment profile and see how it goes when I brew this recipe again in 5 weeks!
 

kpr121

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This might be a dumb thought but I figured I'd throw it out there...have you calibrated/checked the volumes of your vessels? The fact that is happening on every brew make me think that could be it... Don't trust the volume lines on fermenter buckets either.
 
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kjm13

kjm13

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This might be a dumb thought but I figured I'd throw it out there...have you calibrated/checked the volumes of your vessels? The fact that is happening on every brew make me think that could be it... Don't trust the volume lines on fermenter buckets either.
No - I measure everything with a 2qt container, that I know is accurate by weight (there is that control freak thing again :eek:) and fill with that, (yes it takes a while) The issue was me not learning from my mistakes, and not really using the software properly . I think I have spent about 40h in the past 3 weeks researching and studying brewing techniques (a fair amount of it here on HBT), and watching some beersmith tutorials. I just adjusted my equipment profile in beersmith. It says I should have started with almost exactly 1g more in my BK then I did
 

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