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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: DrewG on June 19, 2012, 05:39:03 PM

Title: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: DrewG on June 19, 2012, 05:39:03 PM
I normally mash with 1.5 quarts per pound of grain. I calculate my strike water temp using the equation in Palmers book for a preheated tun:

tw= (.2/water to grist ratio) (target mash temp - grain temp) + target mash temp.

I batch sparge, and from what I understand I will have my best efficiency if my first and second runnings are an equal volume. Depending on the total grain in my recipe, which changes all the time, I get different runoffs every batch. For instance, I'm brewing today and my total grain bill is 11 pounds, adding in my dead space and grain absorption my strike water will be 6.5 gallons, giving me a 1st runnings volume of 4.5 gallons, then I'd sparge with 3 gallons to get my 7.5 desired preboil volume.

My question is this:
Can I just adjust (reduce in this case) my grist/water ratio to make my  first runnings 3.75 gallons? How will different ratios effect my beer? My ultimate goal is to get consistent efficiency batch to batch, will my extraction be all over the place if I change up the grist/water all the time?
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: roguejim on June 19, 2012, 06:20:54 PM
I do exactly what you are suggesting you want to do.  I try and keep my first runnings, and sparge within a 1/2 gal of each other with no concern for the grist:water ratio.  If my memory is correct, I don't recall Gordon Strong being too concerned with this ratio either.  I've also found that a thinner mash makes it easier for me to hit my strike temps dead on.  I batch sparge.
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: euge on June 19, 2012, 06:38:21 PM
My ultimate goal is to get consistent efficiency batch to batch, will my extraction be all over the place if I change up the grist/water all the time?
Yes.

Mash thickness and grain-bed depth both have impact on your efficiency. One aspect of it is that if you use less water you will rinse less sugar out.

The best way to get consistency is not change your variables too much. I wouldn't expect to get the same eff with an 11# grist vs a 21#. And the same goes with the water. Reduce your overall water and eff will suffer. I try to use the same bill, same ratio and amount of water to gain consistency. Then you can extrapolate what will happen if you increase/reduce the amounts.
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: hubie on June 19, 2012, 07:01:49 PM
The short answer, I believe, is for the level changes you're talking about (which if I did the math correct is changing from 1.5 qts/lb to 1.2 qts/lb) is that you wouldn't notice much difference and you shouldn't worry about it.

Kai Troester did some nice experiments on mash thicknesses http://braukaiser.com/download/Effects_of_mash_parameters_on_attenuation_and_efficiency.pdf (http://braukaiser.com/download/Effects_of_mash_parameters_on_attenuation_and_efficiency.pdf).  His results, and the results of others he cites, suggest that mash thickness has little effect on attenuation.  He did see a temperature effect of mash thickness on overall efficiency.  He was comparing mashes done at 1.2 qts/lb and 2.4 qts/lb and found that the thin mash had better efficiency at higher temperatures.  I suspect that for the amounts you want to change and the temperatures you'll most likely be at, batch-to-batch variations in your efficiencies will depend more on your measurement accuracy than changes in your mash thickness.
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: mabrungard on June 20, 2012, 12:04:40 AM
Depending on the water chemistry and grist composition, mash thickness can substantially alter the mash pH. That might have more to do with the differences in efficiency and attenuation than the thickness or thinness.
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: DrewG on June 20, 2012, 06:16:30 PM
Thanks Martin. Water is my next hill to climb.
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: DrewG on June 20, 2012, 06:20:20 PM
Quote
I try to use the same bill, same ratio and amount of water to gain consistency. Then you can extrapolate what will happen if you increase/reduce the amounts.

This sounds like a good approach. The problem is brewing the same grain bill more than once  ;D
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: denny on June 20, 2012, 06:22:06 PM
Quote
I try to use the same bill, same ratio and amount of water to gain consistency. Then you can extrapolate what will happen if you increase/reduce the amounts.

This sounds like a good approach. The problem is brewing the same grain bill more than once  ;D

IMO, that's one of the keys to learning to be a great brewer.
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: DrewG on June 20, 2012, 06:24:51 PM
Quote
IMO, that's one of the keys to learning to be a great brewer.

I need to find one beer I really like, then. This could work out great for my friends
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: euge on June 20, 2012, 07:26:34 PM
Quote
IMO, that's one of the keys to learning to be a great brewer.

I need to find one beer I really like, then. This could work out great for my friends

You can vary the hops and yeast up and have a different beer quite easily without altering anything else.
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: DrewG on June 20, 2012, 07:28:19 PM
Quote
You can vary the hops and yeast up and have a different beer quite easily without altering anything else.

Good point. Session IPA maybe?
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: thebigbaker on June 20, 2012, 08:57:55 PM
Quote
You can vary the hops and yeast up and have a different beer quite easily without altering anything else.

Good point. Session IPA maybe?

I think I just heard Denny scream!
Title: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: denny on June 20, 2012, 10:41:15 PM
AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: ccfoo242 on June 20, 2012, 11:29:01 PM
AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH!


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk HD

Introducing, the Denny Conn AAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH! Session IPA!
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: wamille on June 21, 2012, 07:07:53 AM
Session IPA = Pale Ale?
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: saintpierre on June 21, 2012, 11:28:11 AM
Session IPA = Pale Ale?
+1
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: DrewG on June 21, 2012, 12:38:44 PM
That seals the deal on naming that beer.

In Gordons book I pretty sure theres a recipe using the same base malts to create an amber, pale and brown ale by just changing up the character malts. If I remember he wrote that you can add them in after the 1st run off. That might be the way to go
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: ccfoo242 on June 21, 2012, 12:48:07 PM
That seals the deal on naming that beer.

In Gordons book I pretty sure theres a recipe using the same base malts to create an amber, pale and brown ale by just changing up the character malts. If I remember he wrote that you can add them in after the 1st run off. That might be the way to go

Yep. I tried something similar last weekend but added cold-steeped malts to the boil. It made calculating the pre-boil volume interesting, and adding a gallon of room-temp liquid stopped my boil for about 5 minutes. Not sure I'm going to bother with that again and may just do like you mentioned and add them after first runnings.
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: denny on June 21, 2012, 04:18:57 PM
Session IPA = Pale Ale?

Yep, AFAIAC.  Or "Extra Hoppy Pale Ale".
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: DrewG on June 21, 2012, 05:08:38 PM
Mine is only 4% ABV, so it doesn't even qualify as a Pale Ale.
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: micsager on July 09, 2012, 05:03:50 PM
Session IPA = Pale Ale?

I'm unsure of that.  "IPA" generally means lots of hops, lots of bitter.  "Session" generally means low alchohol.

I've "tried" to brew a session IPA.  Came out at 5.5%ABV.  But for me, that IS a session. 
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: erockrph on July 09, 2012, 06:02:51 PM
Session IPA = Pale Ale?

I'm unsure of that.  "IPA" generally means lots of hops, lots of bitter.  "Session" generally means low alchohol.

I've "tried" to brew a session IPA.  Came out at 5.5%ABV.  But for me, that IS a session.

The lines between Pale Ale, IPA and IIPA are really starting to get blurry. My "session IPA" is probably closer to a session DIPA, although I've just come to think of it as a hoppy pale ale. Every time I brew it it gets dryer and dryer. At this point I don't even want any crystal malt in the same room as I brew it. And while my IBU's may not be in the 80's, my BU:GU ratio is a bit over 1.

It may not work for judging, but for my tastes I pretty much see the hoppy American ales as a continuum, and as long as the malt bill is balanced (not too thin/not too malty or sweet), then there is a wide range of gravities and hopping levels that will work.
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: micsager on July 09, 2012, 08:35:42 PM
Session IPA = Pale Ale?

I'm unsure of that.  "IPA" generally means lots of hops, lots of bitter.  "Session" generally means low alchohol.

I've "tried" to brew a session IPA.  Came out at 5.5%ABV.  But for me, that IS a session.

The lines between Pale Ale, IPA and IIPA are really starting to get blurry. My "session IPA" is probably closer to a session DIPA, although I've just come to think of it as a hoppy pale ale. Every time I brew it it gets dryer and dryer. At this point I don't even want any crystal malt in the same room as I brew it. And while my IBU's may not be in the 80's, my BU:GU ratio is a bit over 1.

It may not work for judging, but for my tastes I pretty much see the hoppy American ales as a continuum, and as long as the malt bill is balanced (not too thin/not too malty or sweet), then there is a wide range of gravities and hopping levels that will work.

Hard to disagree with any of that.  I was re-listening to an old episode of "Can You Brew It" where they cloned the Maharaja From Avery.  The brewer had an interesting statement.  Basically he said an IIPA would be high in ABV, with normal IPA bitterness.  Whereas a DIPA would have normal ABV, but high bitterness.

I liked that way of saying things.  What do the rest of you think?

Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: denny on July 10, 2012, 04:05:42 PM
I think it makes no sense....
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: Alewyfe on July 10, 2012, 04:56:47 PM
I think it makes no sense....

You and my DH. Before the NHC I specifically tried to instruct him to pay attention and not order the "D"s
and the "I"s. (He's a session bitter and IPA drinker and has little idea or interest in what all the other stuff is)
He spent a lot of time on his own and sure enough I found him slurring ;-).......but happy.
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: gordonstrong on July 10, 2012, 04:58:41 PM
IIPA and DIPA mean the same thing.  We picked IIPA in the Style Guidelines in 2004 when they were relatively new to the market, but it seems like the market has settled more on DIPA.  So it could change in the future.  If you read the comments of the guidelines, it basically says we just picked something arbitrarily since we needed to call it something and there didn't appear to be standardized usage in the industry.

No matter what name you pick, people will always pick something else just so they can say they are different and special.  Expect it.
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: jeffy on July 10, 2012, 06:42:27 PM
IIPA and DIPA mean the same thing.  We picked IIPA in the Style Guidelines in 2004 when they were relatively new to the market, but it seems like the market has settled more on DIPA.  So it could change in the future.  If you read the comments of the guidelines, it basically says we just picked something arbitrarily since we needed to call it something and there didn't appear to be standardized usage in the industry.

No matter what name you pick, people will always pick something else just so they can say they are different and special.  Expect it.
Watch of for the Cross Dressing Amateurs.
Title: Re: How much of a difference does mash thickness make?
Post by: DrewG on July 10, 2012, 07:03:55 PM
When I get home I'm going to ponder all this over a Session ESB