water to grain ratio

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natehilde

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I just did my first two batches of AG a few weeks ago. There are some things about it that are bothering me though.
What is the importance of ensuring the proper water to grain ratio. I understand that if it is too little you will have more of a paste than a mash, but what is so bad about having too much water in the mash?
Also, after dough-in, how many times should you stir the mash? Should you minimize stirring to reduce heat losses?
Thanks
Nate
 

Professor Frink

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If you have too much water, you can end up extracting too much tannins, as well as the problem of having too much of a volume before you get a complete sparge, depending on how big your kettle is. Typically, I'll stir my mash once at about 30 minutes, that usually seems to be sufficient.
 

Thalon

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Palmer in How To Brew said:
The grist/water ratio is another factor influencing the performance of the mash. A thinner mash of >2 quarts of water per pound of grain dilutes the relative concentration of the enzymes, slowing the conversion, but ultimately leads to a more fermentable mash because the enzymes are not inhibited by a high concentration of sugars. A stiff mash of <1.25 quarts of water per pound is better for protein breakdown, and results in a faster overall starch conversion, but the resultant sugars are less fermentable and will result in a sweeter, maltier beer. A thicker mash is more gentle to the enzymes because of the lower heat capacity of grain compared to water. A thick mash is better for multirest mashes because the enzymes are not denatured as quickly by a rise in temperature.
http://www.howtobrew.com/section3/chapter14-6.html
 
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natehilde

natehilde

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Wow, good to know! Thanks for the help. I guess I will see how these batches turn out. It can't be too bad, it's still beer.
 

CBBaron

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I think the primary reason to keep the mash water in the volume range suggested is to ensure a sufficient concentration of enzymes. If you dilute it too much then the enzymes will be less effective and your efficiency will suffer. In addition you will not have as much sparge water which further reduces efficiency.
Craig
 

the_bird

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Mash thickness has an impact on alpha- and beta-amalyse activity, somewhat like the impact of mash temp but less dramatic. IIRC, thin mashes tend to produce a slightly more fermentable wort. I tend to stick to around 1.25 qts/lb, pretty much a medium thickness, and work with the temperature variable for fermentability. I will add some sparge water prior to taking my first runnings to loosen things up a bit, though.
 

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