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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: brewmasternpb on April 25, 2011, 10:16:51 pm

Title: Mashing for high gravity
Post by: brewmasternpb on April 25, 2011, 10:16:51 pm
I wanted to ask a question related to high gravity brewing.  Every time I've tried to hit gravities above 1.080, I've noticed that my efficiency plummets.  Usually, if I'm making a belgian strong ale, I'll just use sugar to bump up the gravity, but I am making a double IPA (a la Majaraja).  My plan is to use somewhere around 14# of grain (5 gal batch) and use 4# of LME and 1# of sugar to bump up the gravity.  Is there a better way out there?
Title: Re: Mashing for high gravity
Post by: nateo on April 25, 2011, 10:19:59 pm
Use more grain. Boil longer.
Title: Re: Mashing for high gravity
Post by: a10t2 on April 25, 2011, 10:46:38 pm
In order to keep efficiency constant, you have to keep the ratio of mash and sparge liquor to grist weight constant. That means boiling longer to end up with the same final volume. As a practical matter, it's better just to use more grain (or extract, if you prefer) and take the efficiency hit associated with keeping the boil time constant.
Title: Re: Mashing for high gravity
Post by: tygo on April 26, 2011, 05:19:48 am
Or split the difference.  Reduce your water to grain ratio a bit and boil a bit longer.  That way your efficiency won't take quite as big a hit.  Tinker around with the numbers until you get it to a place where you're comfortable.  I can hit up to around 1.130 without using extract but that's on a beer that I boil for two hours.

But I wouldn't be hesitant to use DME as an alternative solution if I didn't want to boil that long.
Title: Re: Mashing for high gravity
Post by: brewmasternpb on April 26, 2011, 09:39:55 pm
Using more water and boiling longer does make sense... However, with a 7 month old baby, I count my lucky stars when I'm able to take up an entire morning to brew, so I'm not sure that prolonging my brew time is in the cards :P.  I've used LME to augment second running beers, and I never notice negative results, quite the opposite really.  When I do have more time, I'll definitely use your method.
Thanks for the info!
Title: Re: Mashing for high gravity
Post by: SpanishCastleAle on April 27, 2011, 05:57:42 am
Another thing you might try is to use some rice hulls.  For some rigs, using a bunch more malt increases the mash bed depth enough that it just doesn't flow very well.  Rice hulls can get it flowing better.  But to be honest I'd probably just use some DME.
Title: Re: Mashing for high gravity
Post by: morticaixavier on April 27, 2011, 08:39:25 am
Using more water and boiling longer does make sense... However, with a 7 month old baby, I count my lucky stars when I'm able to take up an entire morning to brew, so I'm not sure that prolonging my brew time is in the cards :P.  I've used LME to augment second running beers, and I never notice negative results, quite the opposite really.  When I do have more time, I'll definitely use your method.
Thanks for the info!

A couple of others have mentioned this but I thought I would highlight it. You might want to use DME instead of LME and the lightest you can get as well. when doing a high gravity the LME can add a lot of unfermentables that can result in an overly sweet beer IMO. Sugar works to. I often bump the gravity with plain table sugar or honey for higher gravity beers
Title: Re: Mashing for high gravity
Post by: a10t2 on April 27, 2011, 10:00:45 am
You might want to use DME instead of LME and the lightest you can get as well. when doing a high gravity the LME can add a lot of unfermentables that can result in an overly sweet beer IMO.

I think that in general LME would be more fermentable, actually. I don't have any personal experience, but that was Ray Daniels' conclusion in Designing Great Beers. He found only one manufacturer's (M&F) syrup was less fermentable than their DME.
Title: Re: Mashing for high gravity
Post by: morticaixavier on April 27, 2011, 10:52:07 am
You might want to use DME instead of LME and the lightest you can get as well. when doing a high gravity the LME can add a lot of unfermentables that can result in an overly sweet beer IMO.

I think that in general LME would be more fermentable, actually. I don't have any personal experience, but that was Ray Daniels' conclusion in Designing Great Beers. He found only one manufacturer's (M&F) syrup was less fermentable than their DME.

okay then I will remember that! I guess it makes sense as the DME has been processed longer
Title: Re: Mashing for high gravity
Post by: brewmasternpb on April 27, 2011, 08:53:11 pm
That does bring up a good question, with a DIPA, I don't want it too sweet.  I could just lower my mash temp a couple of degrees, to allow for more sweetness with the LME.
Title: Re: Mashing for high gravity
Post by: tygo on April 28, 2011, 04:51:13 am
That does bring up a good question, with a DIPA, I don't want it too sweet.  I could just lower my mash temp a couple of degrees, to allow for more sweetness with the LME.

Or sub in some sugar for part of the LME.
Title: Re: Mashing for high gravity
Post by: tomsawyer on April 28, 2011, 06:13:12 am
I think DME is your better bet for a dry finish.  LME, being a concentrated solution, has the chance to continue to crosslink and form more unfermentables over time.  DME is fixed in this respect, less change over time.  Maybe it starts out with slightly higher levels, I doubt it.