# Homebrewers Association | AHA Forum

## General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: dons on July 08, 2011, 05:10:34 PM

Title: Mashing Ratios
Post by: dons on July 08, 2011, 05:10:34 PM
I thought I could find an answer to my question (it is SO basic), so I looked a ways through the forums and, REALLY, I couldn't.  So, I will once again display my newbness and ask the following:

It seems as though the amount of water to use in the mash is anywhere between 1.25-2 quarts per pound of grain - depending on "something" (grains? beer style? perference?).  For example, Beersmith for my latest brew (to be done tomorrow), calls for 14 quarts for 11.5 pounds of grain.  That is just about on 1.25 (if I know how to divide).  That is workable for me.  However, some recipes that I've read (and some experts) call for 2 quarts per pound.  Okay, here's my question:

If you have 10 pounds of grain and use the 2 qts/pound suggested, you end up with 5 gallons of mash water.  If you use the, iirc, suggested 150% of mash water for sparge water, you will have to use 7+ gallons for the sparge.  If 10 pounds of grain absorbs 1 gallon of water, that leaves you with a final result of over 11 gallons of water.  If you boil out a gallon, that leaves you with 10 gallons.  Exactly how do I fit 10 gallons of wort into a 5 gallon carboy?

I KNOW I'm missing something here.  Help??
Thanks.
Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: denny on July 08, 2011, 05:29:58 PM
I thought I could find an answer to my question (it is SO basic), so I looked a ways through the forums and, REALLY, I couldn't.  So, I will once again display my newbness and ask the following:

It seems as though the amount of water to use in the mash is anywhere between 1.25-2 quarts per pound of grain - depending on "something" (grains? beer style? perference?).  For example, Beersmith for my latest brew (to be done tomorrow), calls for 14 quarts for 11.5 pounds of grain.  That is just about on 1.25 (if I know how to divide).  That is workable for me.  However, some recipes that I've read (and some experts) call for 2 quarts per pound.  Okay, here's my question:

If you have 10 pounds of grain and use the 2 qts/pound suggested, you end up with 5 gallons of mash water.  If you use the, iirc, suggested 150% of mash water for sparge water, you will have to use 7+ gallons for the sparge.  If 10 pounds of grain absorbs 1 gallon of water, that leaves you with a final result of over 11 gallons of water.  If you boil out a gallon, that leaves you with 10 gallons.  Exactly how do I fit 10 gallons of wort into a 5 gallon carboy?

I KNOW I'm missing something here.  Help??
Thanks.

Where did the recommendation to use 150% of mash water volume for the sparge come from?  I've never heard that one before!

I don't know if you fly sparge or batch sparge.  Here's what I do for batch sparging.  First of all, I kinda work backwards (like much in my life!)  I decide what I want my boil volume to be.  In my case, that's 7.5 gal.  I want, as closely as possible, to get about half of that volume from the mash runoff and the other half from the sparge runoff.  So, I use a mash ratio that will get me into that area.  Typically, that's about 1.6 qt./lb., but I'll accept anything from 1.25 to 2 for most mash circumstances.  That means that I'll sparge with enough to get to my total boil volume.
Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: theDarkSide on July 08, 2011, 05:34:31 PM
First of all, I kinda work backwards (like much in my life!)

It's not working backwards, it's called Reverse Engineering.  Kind of like it's not being cheap, it's being pragmatic.  ;D
Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: aviking427 on July 08, 2011, 05:44:21 PM
That seems like a ton of water for a final volume. I'm an all-grain newb to so take this with a grain of salt unless someone confirms I'm correct. Regardless of wether i want a thicker or thinner mash for whatever reason, I just make sure i have enough hot liquor to sparge with so i wind up with the correct amount if liquid i need in my boil kettle (i fly sparge). I've learned that i will need about 12 gallons of water for a 5 gallon batch so i have left over that i use to clean my pumps and such after.

This might be a helpful article too. I just found it.

http://www.brew365.com/technique_calculating_mash_water_volume.php
Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: morticaixavier on July 08, 2011, 06:05:10 PM
Are those recipes calling for 2qt/lb no-sparge recipes? If you start with 10lbs of grain at 2qt/lb you mash in with 20 qts or 5 gallons. approz .125 gallons per pound will be retained by the grain leaving first runnings of 3.75 gallons, so if you then sparge with 3.75 gallons (balance first and second runnings is another good ROT) you get the starting 7.5 gallons pre boil.

For no sparge you use more grain as you will not get the same efficiency because you are leaving lots of sugars behind so

20lbs of grain at 2qt/lb is 10 gallons with 2.5 left behind in the grain for your pre-boil of 7.5.
Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: dons on July 08, 2011, 08:53:05 PM
Thanks, guys.  I'm fly sparging, but doubt it makes very much difference.  I'm not sure where I saw the ratio of sparge to mash water, but clearly it was wrong.  I've seen the 2qts/lb somewhat frequently, but might have been no-sparge.  That would make the most sense.

Bottom line is that backing into the quantity is what I have been TRYING to do, I just didn't understand what I'd been hearing.

Denny, if your boil goal is 7.5 gallons, are you really boiling off 2.5 gallons, or are you making bigger batches than 5?  If the former, that's a lot of boiling - or else my stovetop is just not vigorous enough.  I'm getting MAYBE a gallon per hour boil-off.

Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: Slowbrew on July 08, 2011, 09:51:58 PM
I would never speak for Denny but I can easily boil off 2.5 gal. doing a 90 minute boil.  60 minute boils will typically drop 1.75 gal.  I usually have fairly hard boil rolling.

Paul
Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: morticaixavier on July 08, 2011, 09:53:42 PM
Thanks, guys.  I'm fly sparging, but doubt it makes very much difference.  I'm not sure where I saw the ratio of sparge to mash water, but clearly it was wrong.  I've seen the 2qts/lb somewhat frequently, but might have been no-sparge.  That would make the most sense.

Bottom line is that backing into the quantity is what I have been TRYING to do, I just didn't understand what I'd been hearing.

Denny, if your boil goal is 7.5 gallons, are you really boiling off 2.5 gallons, or are you making bigger batches than 5?  If the former, that's a lot of boiling - or else my stovetop is just not vigorous enough.  I'm getting MAYBE a gallon per hour boil-off.

I generally aim for 5.5-6 gallons into the fermenter to account for losses to sampling and racking.  I figure with 5.5 into the fermenter I can take a couple of 3 oz samples and leave behind nearly .5 gallons and still end up with 5 gallons of beer.
Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: Will's Swill on July 08, 2011, 10:16:01 PM
Just to throw in some loose change, I always mash in at 1.25 qt/# and fly sparge with 1.75 qt/# regardless of OG.  I just boil longer for big beers or dilute for small beers to get to my target gravity.  Keeps things simple and makes my efficiency predictable.  (I used to use 1 qt/# strike and 2qt/# sparge, but I've found that my mash converts more reliably at 1.25 qt/#.)  Of course, everyone else should do what's best for their process and their beer.
Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: malzig on July 09, 2011, 01:59:01 AM
I frequently use 2 qts/pound for a batch sparge.  For 5.5 gallons at the end of boil, I'd start with 7 gallons into the kettle (for 1.3 gallons evaporation plus shrinkage from 212°F to 60°F).

That means I might add 5 gallons strike water, and drain off 3.8 gallons (after 1.2 gallons absorption).  Then I could add 3.2 gallons to sparge.  The equal volume 1st and 2nd runnings is approximate, and ±1 gallon will have a negligible effect on efficiency.
Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: dons on July 09, 2011, 03:19:35 AM
Well, 2 points:

1.  I clearly need to look at shelling out \$ for a 6.5 gallon carboy.  Sigh.

2.  Found my source of 1.5 times mash water = sparge water.
John Palmer "How To Brew" - 3rd Edition (?) 2006
Page 181, What Is Sparging: "Typically, 1.5 times as much water is used for sparging as for mashing".

Not that I'm trying to argue, but I KNEW I saw it someplace and I'm thinking most people would agree
that this is a credible source.

But, thanks for the feedback!!!
Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: denny on July 09, 2011, 03:56:42 PM
Denny, if your boil goal is 7.5 gallons, are you really boiling off 2.5 gallons, or are you making bigger batches than 5?  If the former, that's a lot of boiling - or else my stovetop is just not vigorous enough.  I'm getting MAYBE a gallon per hour boil-off.

I shoot for 5.5 gal. in the fermenter.  I also boil in a converted keg on a propane burner, so I assume my boiloff i a lot higher than boiling on a stove.  The 7.5 gal. also accounts for the absorption of a normal hop schedule.  If I'm using more or less hops, I adjust the volume.
Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: denny on July 09, 2011, 03:58:23 PM
Not that I'm trying to argue, but I KNEW I saw it someplace and I'm thinking most people would agree
that this is a credible source.

Geez, you must not know Palmer.....;)

That's a JOKE, people!   ;D
Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: malzig on July 09, 2011, 04:48:16 PM
2.  Found my source of 1.5 times mash water = sparge water.
John Palmer "How To Brew" - 3rd Edition (?) 2006
Page 181, What Is Sparging: "Typically, 1.5 times as much water is used for sparging as for mashing".
There is the potential for an efficiency advantage to fly-sparging with more water.
For batch sparging, equal volume runoffs are ideal, give or take 20% or so of the total volume.
Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: sailortodd on July 12, 2011, 12:08:17 AM
What would the point be of sparging with 1.5x the mash volume (as opposed to sparging with equal amount, or with volume necessary to reach boil volume if you work backward like Denny)? Better efficiency? Get more of the good stuff out? I really think, at least for home brewing purposes, Denny's approach makes the most sense. I don't think you'd lose enough in efficiency not using exactly 1.5x mash water to sparge.
Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: denny on July 12, 2011, 03:56:29 PM
You can definitely increase your efficiency by sparging more, but it can come at the expense of beer quality.   Remember, you have to thin in terms of both conversion efficiency and lauter efficiency.  You can have poor conversion efficiency but sparge more or great conversion effieincy and sparge less and still end up whit the same overall efficient.  But the wort that's produced via a higgher conversion effieincy will be of a better quality.  For more info, see...

Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: Will's Swill on July 13, 2011, 03:03:22 AM
The 1.5x was probably intended for fly spargers, for batch sparging it may not make as much sense.  But there's something to be said about having a consistent method of sparging, so that your mash quality and efficiency are always known within some tolerance.  Excepting, of course, if you're altering your mash/sparge schedule based on style.
Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: Kirk on July 13, 2011, 03:23:34 AM
A lot of that 1.5 is going to stay behind in the MLT, never making it to brew kettle heaven.
Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: Will's Swill on July 13, 2011, 03:56:00 AM
Then that's a poorly designed MLT.  ;)
Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: morticaixavier on July 13, 2011, 06:12:54 AM
Then that's a poorly designed MLT.  ;)

not if you are fly sparging. You never want the liquid level to drop below the grain bed so you keep adding water till you get your boil volume in the kettle or the SG of the runnings drops below the desired level
Title: Re: Mashing Ratios
Post by: Will's Swill on July 14, 2011, 12:42:22 AM
I do fly sparge.  And I keep my liquid level above my grain during the sparge, but then I let the last of the sparge drain out of the lauter tun.  And I use the same amount of sparge water per pound of grain independent of target volume.  That way I never under- or over-sparge (assuming that my sparge amount does not cause over-sparging) and my wort quality and efficiency is reasonably predictable.  I avoid checking the gravity of the runnings by acidulating (acidifying?) the sparge water to prevent tannin extraction.

Your way works, too, but then most of the 1.5x will make it to the kettle I would wager.