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What's up with my water amounts?

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I"m getting sick of being way over or way under my target gallon size. I was shooting for 5 gals most of the time, but lately I've been shooting for 5.5 thinking that was somehow the problem.

Well,today I ended up at 7 gals, this is unbelieveable.

Around 11.6 lbs of grain.
Mashed in with 14.5 qts of water
Sparged with 5.5 gals of water (2x 2.75gals)

That's over 9 gals of water, but using brewsmith it's what I got. I figured with the amount of water the grain sucked up and the boil off that it was about right.

Anyway, after a 75 minute boil, because I could tell it was too much water, I had almost 7 gallons.

This sucks, luckily I hit over 80% efficiency and still have a 1.050sg pumpkin brew, but still pretty pissed off. I mashed the pumpkin, and have yet see what kind of trub I got, but I still think 7 gals is waaaayyyy over.
 

Professor Frink

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I've had the same problem using ProMash, after I'm done sparging I'll be way off on volume. Lately I've been mashing in with the volume that I need, and heating up a bunch of sparge water, then I'll subtract my first runnings from the pre-boil volume that I want and add that. Not very scientific, but I end up with the volume that I want and my efficiency is usually about the same.

EDIT: I just realized you made a pumpkin - I don't know if that came through after the mash, but when I've added pumpkin to the boil, I've had over a gallon of trub at the bottom of the fermenter.
 
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Professor Frink said:
EDIT: I just realized you made a pumpkin - I don't know if that came through after the mash, but when I've added pumpkin to the boil, I've had over a gallon of trub at the bottom of the fermenter.
Yea, I'm considering that, even if it is that, I'm still way off. I've thought about the method you mentioned with waiting to see what you get, but I like to double sparge to hit good efficiency so that makesit a little more confusing. I just wish these brew programs would be a little more accurate.
 

sudbuster

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seefresh said:
<.............>
This sucks, luckily I hit over 80% efficiency and still have a 1.050sg pumpkin brew, but still pretty pissed off. I mashed the pumpkin, and have yet see what kind of trub I got, but I still think 7 gals is waaaayyyy over.
Seefresh Dude, You know i'm an old fart, right? But some time's it's better to just work it out on your own, know what i mean? Remember the old "garbage in, garbage out" Stuff? Well, I don't trust the input on some of the brew programs as much as others do. I just like to do my own computation. Please, no offense............:)
 

BierMuncher

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I'll use BeerSmith to formulate recipes, but trial and error to get my sparge volumes right. I know my boil-off rate and that's pretty consistent, so it' just a matter of getting that wort up to my "mark" in the kettle.
 
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OldFarmer said:
Seefresh Dude, You know i'm an old fart, right? But some time's it's better to just work it out on your own, know what i mean? Remember the old "garbage in, garbage out" Stuff? Well, I don't trust the input on some of the brew programs as much as others do. I just like to do my own computation. Please, no offense............:)

I hear ya OF, but I just have no idea how to calculate how much water my grains are gonna soak up or my boil off rate. I just have no clue. If I did, I'd probably do my own math, but where do I find those forumlas?
 

woosterhoot

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I have the same problem. It seems to make it trickier when I switch between using whole hops and pellets. I use brewsmith, but have stopped using it for my sparge water. I essentially shoot for a 7 gallon boil for whole hops and 6 gallons for pellets, but am still have problems getting it exactly right. What compounds my problems is that Im still scrappin by with two pots which makes figuring boil off much harder, one small burner and one big burner (gotta get a bigger pot). I think its going to be a trial and error, zen type practice thing. Not much help other than I feel your pain, lol.
 

malkore

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promash free trial version can calculate grain absorption.

and I don't think pumpkin will absorb much (if any) water, so if that's part of your grain bill, its probably why you ended up with too much water on this batch.
 

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I use promash's "water needed" tool. I've calibrated it by back-calculating my typical evap rate (both for single- and dual-pot boils). So let's say I started with 8 gallons preboil volume and it took me 80 minutes of boiling to get to 5.5 gallons rather than 60. I go back into my recipe, adjust the boil time to 80 minutes, then go back into the "water needed" tool and adjust the evap rate until it shows 5.5 gallons in the final volume box. After a few times, I've figured out roughly what my evap rate is, so I can plug that into my new sessions and figure out how long I'll need to boil for. It's never perfect, but it gets me within spitting distance.
 
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Evan! said:
I use promash's "water needed" tool. I've calibrated it by back-calculating my typical evap rate (both for single- and dual-pot boils). So let's say I started with 8 gallons preboil volume and it took me 80 minutes of boiling to get to 5.5 gallons rather than 60. I go back into my recipe, adjust the boil time to 80 minutes, then go back into the "water needed" tool and adjust the evap rate until it shows 5.5 gallons in the final volume box. After a few times, I've figured out roughly what my evap rate is, so I can plug that into my new sessions and figure out how long I'll need to boil for. It's never perfect, but it gets me within spitting distance.
Good call, I've been keeping good notes, so in brewsmith so I should be able to go in and figure this stuff out. It's just a pain right now, I had to dump about 1/2-1 gallon of wort last night because it wouldn't fit in my friggin primary. Still got way more than I was shooing for, but I hate wasting beer :(
 

Evan!

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I hate wasting beer too. I'd have racked the extra into a sanitized old juice jug or something, though, and maybe played around with it a little bit...oak...more spices...etc.
 

rod

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i never waste beer either - as i always end up with too much wort for my ale pail - i sanitize a 1 gallon jug and/or a 2.5 gallon carboy to be prepared.
after the first few days of violent ferment calms down i carefully siphon the excess to the ale pale. and yes i add yeast to the overflow so it has fermented in the smaller containers.
 
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I was pretty buzzed and getting super pissed off. I put my cork into my better bottle and it got pushed down too far and I couldn't get it out. I sat there, drunk, with a butter knife and a bent up coat hanger for the better part of 15 minutes trying to get it out. Finally I got it out, put some tinfoil over it and ran to lowes for a blow off tube... all of this after I'd already pitched half my yeast, the other half of the starter wouldn't fit because the thing was already full.

So I got my blow off tube, installed it, then poured the rest of my yeast in down the top of the blow off tube, I looked at it and thought "this is going to fail miserably" So, I shook it up, hoping the yeast would get mixed in, then ripped the blow off tube off in a fit of anger, spillin beer on the floor, siphoned about 1/2 -1 gal out from the middle of hte beer into a bucket, then put the blow off tube back on and went to bed. Iw as pissed, waited til this morning to clean up all the beer on the floor.

Wow, that was a nice rant, felt good to write it down. Needless to say, I considered sanitizing a jug and siphonning into it, but decided I'd rather shoot myself in the foot then put any more time into saving this beer.

It's fermenting STRONG this morning and smells spectacular, so luckily it was saved :D
 

PseudoChef

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I calculated a recipe for 5.5 gallons last time, boiled for 90 minutes, had 5.5 gallons as measured by a measuring stick (w/ 3.5 oz whole leaf hops) and siphoned into the fermentor had 4.5ish gallons. WTF.
 

adx

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Whole leafs love to hang on to some of the liquid. Also, that amount of whole hops would have made your measuring stick off by taking up some of the volume in the pot. I just bottled an APA that I dry hopped with 2 oz of whole leaves. I lost about .25 - .5 gallon when I put it into my botteling bucket.

I'm terrible with hitting my marks. I have a safety net in that in doing PM so I can make up the difference.
 

Lil' Sparky

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I think it's really just a matter of getting your equipment dialed in through trial and error. I use Beersmith, too. I think their defaults values for the variables are a good starting place, but everyone's system will be different. Your dead space in your MLT is probably a little different than mine. Maybe the boil off rate will be slightly different. Like adx said, if you're using whole hops you've got to account a little for that. 10 gal batches will be slightly different than 5 gal batches (in more than one aspect).

My last 11 gal batch I hit the final volume right on the nose (although my efficiency sucked). I only knew I needed to short the sparge water a little because I was 1/2 gal over on my previous 11 gal batch. If I'm within 1/2 gal / fermenter, then I'm a happy camper.
 

iamjonsharp

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Use the software as rough estimate. The software treats procedures as an exact science, and brewing is anything but. The best bet with sparging techniques is to always hit a desired volume pre boil. Say you usually have 1 gallon lost between evaporation, cold and hot break, hops, etc. and are making 5.5 gallons, then make sure you hit about 6.5 gallons preboil. If you are going to make a very hoppy beer, compensate with more sparging water (and grain). The most important thing to make a note of when brewing to make future brewing easier, is how much water is lost from pre boil to into the fermentor.

If you end up with less volume than desired (and OG is higher than expected), you can top off in the fermenter with sanitized or pre boiled water.
 

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