Author Topic: wort quality and water ratio question  (Read 4376 times)

Offline dzlater

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wort quality and water ratio question
« on: November 21, 2009, 11:13:24 AM »
I have read / heard that the "first runnings are the highest quality wort".
Which leads me to believe that no sparge brewing would produce the
best wort because essentially you are only using "first runnings"
So that makes me think that if I mash with the most water I can fit
in my tun I will use less sparge water, which would be closer to no sparge
and thus produce better wort.
Does this logic make sense? ???

Offline denny

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Re: wort quality and water ratio question
« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2009, 11:24:35 AM »
Yes, the logic makes sense, but there are a few caveat...first, although most people these days are using larger liquor/grist ratios than they used to, there's a limit to how high you want to go.  Second, keep in mind that by sparging less you may be limiting your efficiency.  Finally, even it you accept that less sparging produces a "higher quality wort", it certainly doesn't mean that some sparging will produce a low quality wort.  I find batch sparging is a perfect tradeoff between all the factors.
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Offline dzlater

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Re: wort quality and water ratio question
« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2009, 12:02:36 PM »
Yes, the logic makes sense, but there are a few caveat...first, although most people these days are using larger liquor/grist ratios than they used to, there's a limit to how high you want to go.  Second, keep in mind that by sparging less you may be limiting your efficiency.  Finally, even it you accept that less sparging produces a "higher quality wort", it certainly doesn't mean that some sparging will produce a low quality wort.  I find batch sparging is a perfect tradeoff between all the factors.

I think I get what you're saying , by sparging less one would leave more sugars behind?
Leading to a lower efficiency?
How would the wort differ between a batch mashed at 2 quarts per lb. versus 1 quart per lb?

Offline denny

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Re: wort quality and water ratio question
« Reply #3 on: November 21, 2009, 12:56:56 PM »
I think I get what you're saying , by sparging less one would leave more sugars behind?
Leading to a lower efficiency?

Yep.

How would the wort differ between a batch mashed at 2 quarts per lb. versus 1 quart per lb?


In that case, there would be little difference.  I guess I thought you were talking about going to a much higher ratio.  For years, I mashed at about 1.25 qt./lb. and added water to the mash before I did my first runoff (batch sparging), in order to get 1/2 my wort from each the mash and the sparge.  These days I usually use a ratio in the 1.6-2 qt./lb. area, whatever will get me 1/2 my total boil volume without that pre mash runoff addition.
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Offline woody

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Re: wort quality and water ratio question
« Reply #4 on: November 21, 2009, 03:01:49 PM »
I always use 1.5-2 qts per pound.    Balance the runoffs like Denny said, plus its easier to work with. 
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Offline Kaiser

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Re: wort quality and water ratio question
« Reply #5 on: November 21, 2009, 04:06:56 PM »
This is one of the reasons why I have been advocating thinner mashes. The more water you use in the mash, the less you'll be using during the sparge and the less sparging you will be doing. I was pointed to that conclusion by brewing texts that said exactly that. Some German brewers even say to use 2/3 water in the mash and 1/3 for the sparge. I have been doing that (or close to that) for German Pilsner and other light beers.

As for how thin you can go, there seems to be no practical limit. Just look at the Australian Brew-In-A-Bag process where all the water is used in the mash and the mashes are as thin as 3 qt/lb. Brewers often cite that thin mashes inhibit enzyme reaction b/v the enzymes are too far away from the substrate. In my experience that is not true. It may happen in mashes much thinner than 3 qt/lb but those mashes can only produce worts below 1.044 (11 Plato) and are therefore unpractical anyway.

Someone, way back, started the idea that 1.25 qt/lb is the best mash thickness and ever since many home brewers have accepted that as the gospel when in fact thinner mashes have many advatages and can make brewing easier. Just think about how difficult it is to stir a 1.25 q/lb mash vs. a 2.0 q/lb mash. You'll have to use thick mashes when you are brewing really high gravity beers.

Kai

Offline woody

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Re: wort quality and water ratio question
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2009, 04:18:02 PM »
I used a 1.25/ lb ratio the other weekend  for a higher gravity IPA and it sucked trying to stir it compared to the thinner mashes I'm used to
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Offline wilypig

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Re: wort quality and water ratio question
« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2009, 07:00:12 AM »
I find that a dough in at 1 qt/lb with added water to adjust temp gets me about a 1.3 qt/lb mash. I then Mash out with 2 gallons to get the initial run off thinning I am looking for. For clarity sake I use a 60 qt cooler with slotted copper manifolds. I make 10 gallon batches with about 22# of grain. This works very well for me. I have my system dialed in where I start with 20 gallons of water and run 10 gallons of sparge water to get my 13 or so gallons of starting wort. Knowing my system will run 10 gallons of sparge with an ending run off of 4-6 brix gets me exactly what I need in the kettle. I can set it an forget it. This approach would work for batch sparging for me very well if I wanted to do it that way.
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Offline NorthernIke

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Re: wort quality and water ratio question
« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2009, 07:56:12 AM »
This is one of the reasons why I have been advocating thinner mashes. The more water you use in the mash, the less you'll be using during the sparge and the less sparging you will be doing. I was pointed to that conclusion by brewing texts that said exactly that. Some German brewers even say to use 2/3 water in the mash and 1/3 for the sparge. I have been doing that (or close to that) for German Pilsner and other light beers.

Kai -

Like Denny said above (and based on his posts in particular) I've always aimed for 50% of runnings come from the mash, with the other 50% from the sparge.

Now I simply adjust my water:grist ratio in order to make the first and second runnings equal.  So lower gravity beers have a much thinner mash; higher gravity beers have a much thicker mash.

Are there any downsides to doing 2/3 water in mash and 1/3 in sparge?  Do you find your efficiency suffers from this?

Ideally, I'd always want a thinner mash.  I guess I've been scared to deviate from the 1:1 ratio of mash and sparge runnings.

Any input you could provide would be appreciated.

Ike
« Last Edit: November 23, 2009, 07:58:49 AM by NorthernIke »

Offline Kaiser

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Re: wort quality and water ratio question
« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2009, 08:08:29 AM »
Are there any downsides to doing 2/3 water in mash and 1/3 in sparge?  Do you find your efficiency suffers from this?

Efficiency may suffer, but that is part of the idea of getting higher quality wort through thinner mashes. The less you sparge the less undesirable compounds you get into the kettle but the lower your efficiency will be. This being said there is little change in the batch sparhing efficiency unless the run-off sizes are out of balance by quite a bit. Just look at this graph which plots batch sparging lauter efficiency over the ration between first running volume and total kettle volume (the wording in the chart is misleading). This is for a 1 sparge batch sparge:



(http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Batch_Sparging_Analysis)

Kai

« Last Edit: November 23, 2009, 08:10:28 AM by Kaiser »

Offline denny

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Re: wort quality and water ratio question
« Reply #10 on: November 23, 2009, 09:52:20 AM »
[This being said there is little change in the batch sparhing efficiency unless the run-off sizes are out of balance by quite a bit.

This is what I discovered thorough experience, and you've proven it.  I never worry about trying to equalize runoff volumes unless I predict more than a 1 gal. difference.
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Offline jcsbeer

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Re: wort quality and water ratio question
« Reply #11 on: November 23, 2009, 10:43:24 AM »
This is a great thread, hence my first post here.

Generally speaking, unless you have a super high lautering efficiency, like, approaching big factory rates above 95%, you won't extract husk tannins, undesireable levels of protein, etc. For most homebrewers like me, the very best I can do is about 90% on a great day.

The tradeoff here is between leaving extract behind, vs. paying a price for getting more extract out. For most brewers, you won't be paying the price since you don't lauter efficiently enough in the first place to get your final runnings extract level low enough.

There is however a much more significant reason to consider your mash thickness carefully. This has to do with wort attenuation relative to mash thickness.

The rule of thumb is: "All other things being equal (and this is a very big wild card), a thinner mash will yield a wort that will attenuate more than a thicker mash". There is a lot going in in this statement. Your pH will be different, your temperature ramp may be very different. But if you can control those, then the above statement is true. The reasons for this are complicated and have to do with the amylase enzyme family - one is a relatively thermodynamic enzyme, the other is relatively kinetic, and they have solubility differences as well that a thicker mash can accentuate.

Some of the posts above talk about using 1.25 or 1.3 quarts per pound of malt. This is a pretty thick mash, and will yield a wort that ultimately will maintain some residual body in the finished beer.

You'll see a big difference if you mash in using, say, 1.5 quarts per pound of malt - the mash would be a lot thinner, easier to stir, probably won't pull air. And, all other factors being equal (again,assuming your mash pH is the same, your temperature ramp is the same, etc.), compared to the thicker mash example from above, will yield a wort that attenuates further - the finished beer will have a bit more alcohol, and a somewhat lower apparent extract. This may or may not be what your're looking for - this can make a very big difference in how the final beer tastes, especially when using very hot (highly modified) US malts when trying to approximate an overseas beer style that has some residual body.

There is a big range of mash thickness you can try. There is nothing sacred about any ratio of water to malt. Ultimately, you have to decide if your mash thickness is appropriate for the taste profile you're looking for. This post does not advocate a thicker or thinner mash. It's just to make you aware that changing the mash thickness will in fact change your flavor profile, and provide a tool for folks who want to try to tweak a recipe.

Enjoy!

- Chris

Offline Kaiser

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Re: wort quality and water ratio question
« Reply #12 on: November 23, 2009, 11:32:57 AM »
Jscbeer, Welcome to the board 

The rule of thumb is: "All other things being equal (and this is a very big wild card), a thinner mash will yield a wort that will attenuate more than a thicker mash". There is a lot going in in this statement.

This is not what I have found and many brewing authors agree with me on that. Mash thickness has very little effect on the fermentability of the produced wort. My own experiments on that subject are documented here:

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Effects_of_mash_parameters_on_fermentability_and_efficiency_in_single_infusion_mashing#Mash_thickness

And even if we use the effect of mash thickness on the heat sensitivity of mash enzymes, in particular b-amylase, the opposite what you stated should be true. This is because b-amylase is more stable in thick mashes and should therefore be able to produce more fermentable sugars compared to thin mashes where it doesn’t live as long. But that isn’t true either. My explanation is that starch conversion in thick mashes is slower and there are other inhibiting factors that cause b-amylase to work slower thus compensating the fact that it lives longer.

And even if that wasn’t true wouldn’t we be able to compensate for the higher fermentability of thin mashes by simply mashing a bit higher?

Kai

Offline dzlater

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Re: wort quality and water ratio question
« Reply #13 on: November 23, 2009, 03:42:29 PM »
Damn look what I started  :o
You all lost me about 5 messages ago.
I just have a 5 gallon mash tun,
and I thought maxing out the mash water
might make better beer.
With a five gallon mash tun I can't
really get to a super large water grain ratio any way.
With ten lbs of grain , the highest ratio I can use is
about 1.66 quarts per pound.
I have also been fly sparging.
but thanks for all the info anyway
DS

Offline bonjour

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Re: wort quality and water ratio question
« Reply #14 on: November 23, 2009, 05:17:51 PM »
gee Kai,  spoken like an imperial brewing geek

thanks

Fred
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