Water to grain ratio

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acleanthous

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I'm sure this has been discussed elsewhere in the forum and if so please direct me there. But I have a question about what to set my water to grain ratio for mashing at? I know there is science behind it and will affect the amount of fermentable sugars available, but I'm confused on picking a number.

I had one friend who has been brewing that told me setting it at 1.25 is to high, so I have been doing 1.1 for my last couple batches. Mash and sparge go smoothly but my efficiency is sticking around 58-60%. Alright I suppose. But, I feel like I should be getting more efficient mashes given my setup and our temperatures are holding fine.

Any opinions or recommendations? Thanks.
 

malkore

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what he said. 1.25-2qt per pound is the normal range.

I find in my system that 1.3-1.4qt/lb for strike water is right. I batch sparge til I get the final pre-boil volume.
 
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acleanthous

acleanthous

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Okay, follow up question. Looking at blogs and others recipes in various steps throughout the mashing process the water to grain ratio raises. For example:

Temp Ratio Time
145F 1.0qt/lb 20min
158F 1.5qt/lb 20min
169F 1.9qt/lb 20min

So, at each of these steps am I adding cold water and then raising the mash temp to that step, or is there another method to the maddness?

Thanks again!!

- Alex
 

Palefire

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There've been a lot of discussions about water/grain ratio here. 1.25 qt/lb used to be standard, but now lots of people use a higher ratio. I usually do 1.5 qt/lb, do a mash-out and a single sparge, and get a very consistent 74% efficiency. Lots of people mash higher (up to and even sometimes over 2 qts/lb) and find that doing so raises their efficiency with no detrimental effects to the final product. At very least, using more water makes it easier to stir and break up doughballs. I'd say try using more water and see what happens!


Okay, follow up question. Looking at blogs and others recipes in various steps throughout the mashing process the water to grain ratio raises. For example:

Temp Ratio Time
145F 1.0qt/lb 20min
158F 1.5qt/lb 20min
169F 1.9qt/lb 20min

So, at each of these steps am I adding cold water and then raising the mash temp to that step, or is there another method to the maddness?
This sounds like a step-mash, which basically means adding hot water at each step to raise the temp of the mash. It's a more advanced technique, one that's not necessary for most beers (since the malting process today is more advanced than it used to be, or something like that - I'm sure there are lots of people on the forum who can explain it properly). IMO, not something to worry about until you get your system pretty well figured out.
 

shortyjacobs

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I do all mine with 1.5 qt/gal, single infusion, (no water addition to raise temps...just put it in at 1.5 qt/gal, drain 1st runnings, add sparge water, etc...)....I tried 1.2 qt/gal, and lost 10% efficiency.
 

david_42

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Step mashing isn't necessary for most beers, wheats are the exception. Use really hot water to raise the temperature, if you do.

Mash ratios between 5:1 and 7:1 by weight will give you better efficiency. In theory, a thick mash gives you a faster conversion, but with modern malts and a 60 minute mash, this really doesn't matter. Fermentability is also a consideration, but it is better controlled through mash temperatures.

Many homebrewers end up with thick mashes because they are pushing the limits of their equipment.
 

menschmaschine

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I know there is science behind it and will affect the amount of fermentable sugars available, but I'm confused on picking a number.
Just a note on this. I had done variable mash thicknesses and never noticed a difference in wort fermentability. My suspicions were affirmed when Kaiser did some experiments on mash thickness and wort fermentability. The conclusion is that with modern malts, mash thickness doesn't seem to have much of an effect, if any, on wort fermentability.
 
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