Homebrewers Association  AHA Forum
General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: flbrewer on February 07, 2015, 02:15:22 PM

The last batch I made I was able to hit my mast temp. within a degree. The one caveat is that I didn't stir the grain very long, which I plan to do this go around. My fear is that I'll undershoot my temp.
Do you have a good rule of thumb on what temp. to heat the strike water up to to hit a particular mash temp?
FWIW, I'm using a 10 gallon rubbermaid round MT and my mash temp. target will be 153.

Each system is different. It also depends on how you transfer the water. On average, my strike temp is 16 degrees over my target mash. If my mash is thinner, I'll drop the strike a couple degrees. If it's thicker, I might raise it. I think it's just something that you get a feel for.

Just to confirm...it's easier to just let it cool naturally vs. trying to heat up correct? Maybe I'll err on the hotter side just to be safe until I know.

It would help to know your strike liquor to grist ratio (i.e., quarts per pound).

It would help to know your strike liquor to grist ratio (i.e., quarts per pound).
I think I'm using 1.5. Actually, at this point I Just try and get equal volumes of water for my strike and sparge water to simplify my process at this point which normally is around 1.5 based on my inputs.

Just to confirm...it's easier to just let it cool naturally vs. trying to heat up correct? Maybe I'll err on the hotter side just to be safe until I know.
Yep. Stir until you drop it to your goal. I've overshot by quite a bit a couple times, and I just added a bit of cool water, then subtracted this quantity from my sparge volume. A little bit goes a long way.

I would rather come in a couple degrees under with a uniform mash temperature than take a measurement that appears right but came out of a mash with pockets or layers of different temperatures.

What is your grain temperature?
Here's the basic formula for calculating strike temperature.
strike_liquor_temperature = (.2 / hot_liquor_to_grist_ratio_in_quarts_per_pound) x (desired_strike_temperature  grist_temperature) + desired_strike_temperature
Example
grist_temperature = 25C/77F
strike_temperature = 66C/151F
hot_liquor_to_grist_ratio_in_quarts_per_pound = 1.5
strike_liquor_temperature = (0.2 / 1.5) * (151  77) + 151 = 0.13 * 74 + 151 = 161F (72C)
The trickiest part of calculating a strike liquor temperature value is determining the thermal loss to the tun itself. You will need to add 4 to 6 degrees Fahrenheit to strike_liquor_temperature to account for this heat loss. I would add 6 because you are using a large tun for the amount of grist that you are using. As an alternative, you can preheat your tun, and then just go with strike_liquor_temperature. If you do not mind overshooting a bit, I would use strike liquor that is 16 degrees (18 degrees will definitely give you room to adjust down) hotter than your desired rest temperature. As you have assumed, it is better to overshoot and cool than to undershoot and have to calculate the amount of hot liquor at 100C/212F necessary to hit your strike temperature.
strike_liquor_temperature_accounting_for_tun_loss (approximate) = (.2 / hot_liquor_to_grist_ratio_in_quarts_per_pound) x (desired_strike_temperature  grist_temperature) + desired_strike_temperature + 6 (Fahrenheit)
strike_liquor_temperature_accounting_for_tun_loss (approximate) = (.2 / hot_liquor_to_grist_ratio_in_quarts_per_pound) x (desired_strike_temperature  grist_temperature) + desired_strike_temperature + 3.3 (Celcius)

Just to confirm...it's easier to just let it cool naturally vs. trying to heat up correct? Maybe I'll err on the hotter side just to be safe until I know.
Keep some ice cubes handy. If you overshoot, stir a few into your mash.

Just to confirm...it's easier to just let it cool naturally vs. trying to heat up correct? Maybe I'll err on the hotter side just to be safe until I know.
Keep some ice cubes handy. If you overshoot, stir a few into your mash.
Good idea. My SOP has been to add room temperature water which can take quite a while. Some times I give it up when I get kinda close. Luckily I know my system pretty well and usually get pretty close on the first shot.

Good idea. My SOP has been to add room temperature water which can take quite a while. Some times I give it up when I get kinda close. Luckily I know my system pretty well and usually get pretty close on the first shot.
I always have a bowl of ice handy anyway for my "Cheap'n'Easy" hydrometer reading technique.

Keep some ice cubes handy. If you overshoot, stir a few into your mash.
+1
Denny is correct. Ice is better than water when it comes to cooling a mash with a minimal increase in volume. It takes almost as much heat energy to thaw a gallon of water in ice form at 32F to liquid form at 32F as it takes heat a gallon of water from 32F to 212F. This amount of heat energy is called the latent heat of fusion. Latent heat of fusion is covered in the "Heat transfer and refrigeration" chapter of "Brewing" by Lewis and Young.

You guys are ok.

You guys are ok.
+1

Good idea. My SOP has been to add room temperature water which can take quite a while. Some times I give it up when I get kinda close. Luckily I know my system pretty well and usually get pretty close on the first shot.
I always have a bowl of ice handy anyway for my "Cheap'n'Easy" hydrometer reading technique.
Denny what is the cheap and easy
Hydrometer reading method?

Latent heat of fusion is covered in the "Heat transfer and refrigeration" chapter of "Brewing" by Lewis and Young.
Somehow, I had not heard of this book. Amazon says it's on its way. Thanks!

Somehow, I had not heard of this book. Amazon says it's on its way. Thanks!
You're welcome. It's one of my favorite brewing textbooks. While not for the beginning brewer, one can tell that the authors are experienced teachers as well as experienced researchers.

I do BIAB and find that I just need to heat the water to the recommended mash temp. Any more than the prescribed temp and it is too hot. And I am using a digital thermometer which is presumably fairly accurate.
I'm puzzled that one of the guys posting above said he needs to go 16 F above to get to the mash temp. Is this because you are adding water slowly into your mash tun?
Thanks

Heated up to 175 (22 degrees higher) than I needed to this morning. Found out quickly that that was way too high. Stirred for about 10 minutes on and off and added a little ice to remedy it. Made some good notes for next time.

Denny what is the cheap and easy
Hydrometer reading method?
Put about 8 oz. of boiling wort into a metal cocktail shaker. Swirl it in a bow of water for 4560 seconds. It will be down into the mid 60s at that point so you can take a hydrometer reading.

I'm puzzled that one of the guys posting above said he needs to go 16 F above to get to the mash temp. Is this because you are adding water slowly into your mash tun?
No, it's because we are raising the temperature of the grain and the tun to mash temperature with the hot liquor infusion, and the hot liquor infusion has to carry this additional heat energy into the tun. This problem is an exercise in applied thermodynamics. Let's examine the equation that I posted.
strike_liquor_temperature = (0.2 / hot_liquor_to_grist_ratio_in_quarts_per_pound) x (desired_strike_temperature  grist_temperature) + desired_strike_temperature
There's a concept in thermodynamics known as specific heat capacity. Specific heat capacity is the ratio of the amount of heat energy added to an object to the rise in temperature resulting from the addition of the heat energy. Twenty pounds of grain has the same amount of heat capacity as 1 gallon of water, that is, the amount of heat energy necessary to raise the temperature of a gallon of water 1 degree is equal to the amount of heat energy required to raise the temperature of 20 pounds of grain 1 degree.
The value 0.2 in the equation shown above represents the specific heat weighting factor for a pound of grain with respect to a quart of water. If 20 pounds of grain has the same specific heat capacity as a gallon of water, then 1 pound of grain has the specific heat capacity of 1/20th of a gallon of water, which equals 0.05 in decimal. As there are four quarts in a gallon, we have to multiply this value by 4 to convert it to specific heat capacity with respect to a quart of water, which equals 0.05 * 4 = 0.2.
Now, because we generally mash with a grist ratio of one than one quart per pound of grain, we need to further scale the grainweighting factor. We perform this step by dividing 0.2 by the number of quarts per pound that we use during mashin (i.e., hot_liquor_to_grist_ratio_in_quarts_per_pound in the equation shown above).
In the next part of the equation, we calculate the difference between the strike temperature (our rest temperature) and the grist temperature. The subexpression "(desired_strike_temperature  grist_temperature)" accomplishes that goal.
Now, we need to convert the temperature difference that we just calculated to specific heat in quarts because one pound of grain only has as much specific heat capacity as 1/5th of a quart of water. That's where the weighting factor that we previously calculated comes into play. In the example that I gave earlier in the thread, the temperature difference between the grist before mashin was 77F. The desired strike temperature was 151F, resulting in a temperature differential of 74 degrees Fahrenheit. We are using 1.5 quarts per pound; therefore, the weighting factor 0.2 gets reduced to 0.13.
strike_liquor_temperature = (0.2 / 1.5) * (151  77) + 151 = 0.13 * 74 + 151 = 161F (72C)
Hopefully, I have not lost the members of the forum at this point. The subexpression "0.13 * 74" shown in the equation above represents the amount of heat energy as water necessary to raise the temperature of the grist to 151F. Every quart of water that we infuse must carry the heat energy necessary to raise a quart of water 10 degrees above the strike temperature because that heat energy will be absorbed by the grist, resulting in the grist temperature rising to 151F.
The next part of the problem is the most difficult to approximate, which is why it is best arrived at empirically. The tun itself has a specific heat capacity, and it is not sitting at strike temperature when we mashin; hence, we have to add additional heat energy to cover this thermal loss. Whereas the amount of heat energy necessary to raise a pound of grain X number of degrees given V volume of strike liquor to a given strike temperature remains linear as long as the ratio of quarts to pounds remains the same, the amount of heat energy required to raise the tun to strike temperature remains static because the tun's mass does not change with respect to mash size. In effect, the amount of additional heat energy per quart necessary to raise the tun to strike temperature decreases as the volume of the mash increases.

FWIW, I normally go 1315 degrees above mash target, depending on time of year ( I keep my cooler in the garage, bring it in the night before).

I'm puzzled that one of the guys posting above said he needs to go 16 F above to get to the mash temp. Is this because you are adding water slowly into your mash tun?
No, it's because we are raising the temperature of the grain and the tun to mash temperature with the hot liquor infusion, and the hot liquor infusion has to carry this additional heat energy into the tun. This problem is an exercise in applied thermodynamics. Let's examine the equation that I posted.
strike_liquor_temperature = (0.2 / hot_liquor_to_grist_ratio_in_quarts_per_pound) x (desired_strike_temperature  grist_temperature) + desired_strike_temperature
There's a concept in thermodynamics known as specific heat capacity. Specific heat capacity is the ratio of the amount of heat energy added to an object to the rise in temperature resulting from the addition of the heat energy. Twenty pounds of grain has the same amount of heat capacity as 1 gallon of water, that is, the amount of heat energy necessary to raise the temperature of a gallon of water 1 degree is equal to the amount of heat energy required to raise the temperature of 20 pounds of grain 1 degree.
The value 0.2 in the equation shown above represents the specific heat waiting factor for a pound of grain with respect to a quart of water. If 20 pounds of grain has the same specific heat capacity as a gallon of water, then 1 pound of grain has the specific heat capacity of 1/20th of a gallon of water, which equals 0.05 in decimal. As there are four quarts in a gallon, we have to multiply this value by 4 to convert it to specific heat capacity with respect to a quart of water, which equals 0.05 * 4 = 0.2.
Now, because we generally mash with a grist ratio of one than one quart per pound of grain, we need to further scale the grainweighting factor. We perform this step by dividing 0.2 by the number of quarts per pound that we use during mashin (i.e., hot_liquor_to_grist_ratio_in_quarts_per_pound in the equation shown above).
In the next part of the equation, we calculate the difference between the strike temperature (our rest temperature) and the grist temperature. The subexpression "(desired_strike_temperature  grist_temperature)" accomplishes that goal.
Now, we need to covert the temperature difference that we just converted to specific heat in quarts because one pound of grain only has as much specific heat capacity as 1/5th of a quart of water. That's where the weighting factor that we previously calculated comes into play. In the example that I gave earlier in the thread, the temperature difference between the grist before mashin was 77F. The desired strike temperature was 151F, resulting in a temperature differential of 74 degrees Fahrenheit. We are using 1.5 quarts per pound; therefore, the weighting factor 0.2 gets reduced to 0.13.
strike_liquor_temperature = (0.2 / 1.5) * (151  77) + 151 = 0.13 * 74 + 151 = 161F (72C)
Hopefully, I have not lost the members of the forum at this point. The subexpression "0.13 * 74" shown in the equation above represents the amount of heat necessary to raise the temperature of the grist to 151F. Every quart of water that we infuse must carry the heat energy necessary to raise a quart of water 10 degrees above the strike temperature because that heat energy will be absorbed by the grist, resulting in the grist temperature rising to 151F.
The next part of the problem is the most difficult to approximate, which is why it is best arrived at empirically. The tun itself has a specific heat capacity, and it is not sitting at strike temperature when we mashin; hence, we have to add additional heat energy to cover this thermal loss. Whereas the amount of heat energy necessary to raise a pound of grain X number of degrees given V volume of strike liquor to a given strike temperature remains linear as long as the ratio of quarts to pounds remains the same, the amount of heat energy required to raise the tun to strike temperature remains static because the tun's mass does not change with respect to mash size. In effect, the amount of additional heat energy per quart necessary to raise the tun to strike temperature decreases as the volume of the mash increases.
This^^^
I wasn't and still not this scientific when determining my strike temp. It was a trial on error type a deal when I first started my system. It only took a few brews to dial it in close enough. There are several determining factors for me. 18 degrees over was the original baseline. This is usually was when I was mashing at about 1.5 qts/lb. However, I mash much thinner than that now. A lot of the times I'm mashing at 2 qts/lb. I do gravity feed my mash water. This transfer does take about 5 minutes or so. Also, the time of the year plays a factor. I'll keep my tun inside at room temp before I'm ready to mash, but my grain is stored in the basement. Basement temps can get down to 50 degrees in the winter. So, in the winter, my strikes have to be a touch higher to hit my desired target. I also rather be a degree or two high on my target mash temp instead of being a degree or two low. It's much easier to stir for a few minutes or add a few ice cubes to the mix instead of adding a 1/2 gallon or so of boiling water. A lot of my brewing calculations are done by feel and experience. It's what works for me, and I make good beer ;D.