Author Topic: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.  (Read 32331 times)

Offline mabrungard

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Re: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.
« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2011, 01:19:37 PM »
What's the downside to going above ~2 qts lb?  pH?

Mash pH can be a problem if you're dealing with an alkaline water source.  There is only so much acidity provided by the grain bill and so much alkalinity from the mash water.  If you bump up the amount of water, you're also increasing the quantity of alkalinity and the mash pH will end up higher than it would if the water to grist ratio was thicker. 

Reducing the mash water alkalinity is one way to account for thinning the water to grist ratio.  Bru'n Water users have the capability to assess this effect and correct for it easily. 
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Offline hokerer

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Re: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.
« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2011, 04:50:47 PM »
What's the downside to going above ~2 qts lb?  pH?

I'd think you'd also be driving the enzyme concentration too low
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Offline quest4watneys

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Re: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2011, 07:46:53 PM »
Would a nice cream stout be too ambitious for a first all grain?
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Offline oscarvan

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Re: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2011, 08:01:00 PM »
What's the downside to going above ~2 qts lb?  pH?

Can't give you the science, but was told the conversion process starts suffering if it gets too thin.
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Offline malzig

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Re: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.
« Reply #19 on: March 14, 2011, 08:16:18 PM »
What's the downside to going above ~2 qts lb?  pH?
I'd think you'd also be driving the enzyme concentration too low
Nope.  I know brewers who regularly go over 3 qts/#.  Out of curiosity, I thought I'd give it a try.  So, I made a few batches of no sparge beer at over 3 qts/#.  The grain converted quickly and with very high efficiencies for no-sparge.  It also made delicious beer.

I have very soft water and I made amber and brown beers, which might have helped, but I had absolutely no pH issues or tannin problems.  I just finished a run of Lagers, all of which were mashed at 2-2.6 qts/#, and every one is clean, malty and everything I hoped they would be.

Supposedly, a thick mash can help with the low prevalence and poor stability of proteinases during a preotein rest.  I think intentionally mashing thick is mostly just a hold-over from the days of under-modified grain and brewers using mash tuns that were too small.  I don't know how it ever became seen as "best practice" for starch conversion among homebrewers,  

Offline tygo

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Re: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.
« Reply #20 on: March 15, 2011, 03:53:34 AM »
What's the downside to going above ~2 qts lb?  pH?

I'd think you'd also be driving the enzyme concentration too low

The enzyme concentration might be a bit lower but the enzymes probably have been access to the starches in a thinner mash.
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Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.
« Reply #21 on: March 15, 2011, 05:18:37 AM »
I've seen reports of as much as 3qt/lb, I think that was from commercial breweries.  I don't think it would be a problem from a pH perspective unless your water was off-the-charts hard, nor an enzyme/conversion problem since your substrate and enzymes are present at 2/3 the level of the 2qt/lb and thats really not significant either.  Mostly it'd be a volume constraint for a homebrewer in some situations.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.
« Reply #22 on: March 15, 2011, 05:49:40 AM »
  I don't think it would be a problem from a pH perspective unless your water was off-the-charts hard,

Lennie, hardness is a brewer's friend.  It's alkalinity that is the brewer's enemy.  Let's get in the habit of looking at alkalinity first and discussing its impact as our main criteria.
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Offline tomsawyer

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Re: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.
« Reply #23 on: March 15, 2011, 06:21:20 AM »
 I don't think it would be a problem from a pH perspective unless your water was off-the-charts hard,

Lennie, hardness is a brewer's friend.  It's alkalinity that is the brewer's enemy.  Let's get in the habit of looking at alkalinity first and discussing its impact as our main criteria.


Sorry, used the wrong term.  Though I suppose theres a correlation between hardness and alkalinity?  I suppose the key is that you can have alkalinity without hardness.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 06:26:35 AM by tomsawyer »
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.
« Reply #24 on: March 15, 2011, 07:29:09 AM »
As of lately I have been adding grain to water for ease of doughing-in. I aim for 1.5qts/lb for my mash thickness as it seems to give me good results and allows for a fairly loose mash. I have used 1qt/lb for large grain bills but my numbers have shown it to negatively affect the mash efficiency.

From my experience, anything 1.25-1.75qt/lb is the sweet spot (no pun intended) for the best mash efficiency.
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Offline kgs

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Re: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.
« Reply #25 on: March 15, 2011, 07:56:33 AM »
Would a nice cream stout be too ambitious for a first all grain?

My first AG was a stout. You're not worried about clarity or dry-hopping or anything like that, and stout is fairly forgiving. If it's a little bland after it ferments, there are numerous ways to doctor a stout with vanilla, coffee extracts, etc.

I also shoot for as close to 2 qts/lb as I can get in my 5-gallon mash tun. I add water to grain because it's much easier. I did it the other way once.

My only other suggestion is to limit your variables while you get used to AG (and yes, once you do you won't go back -- the beer just tastes better and the process is more interesting). In other words, if you're going to AG and you've always used dry yeast, don't decide this is the time to move to making yeast starters. Just my 2 cents.

Oh, and give yourself a nice full day.  Don't open your first homebrew until you've pitched your yeast. Clean everything as you go along. And consider organizing your ingredients:

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Re: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.
« Reply #26 on: March 15, 2011, 08:13:14 AM »
Would a nice cream stout be too ambitious for a first all grain?

For a dark beer, you may have to deal with water issues.  If you're prepared to deal with that, go for it.  Otherwise, something middle of the road like a pale ale may be a better choice.
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Offline quest4watneys

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Re: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.
« Reply #27 on: March 15, 2011, 03:03:04 PM »
Would a nice cream stout be too ambitious for a first all grain?

For a dark beer, you may have to deal with water issues.  If you're prepared to deal with that, go for it.  Otherwise, something middle of the road like a pale ale may be a better choice.

My water is definitely hard which is good for dark beers, correct? Any other water issues I should be worried about?
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.
« Reply #28 on: March 15, 2011, 04:11:16 PM »
Would a nice cream stout be too ambitious for a first all grain?

For a dark beer, you may have to deal with water issues.  If you're prepared to deal with that, go for it.  Otherwise, something middle of the road like a pale ale may be a better choice.

My water is definitely hard which is good for dark beers, correct? Any other water issues I should be worried about?

Yes...typically "hard water" is good for brewing dark beers.
Ron Price

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Re: Water to grain ratio for mash tun.
« Reply #29 on: March 15, 2011, 07:51:15 PM »
I certainly appreciate all the informed info! I'm now a couple of steps closer to AG :0) BTW, I'm now the proud owner of 3 nice, empty 1/2bbl SS kegs!  God I love Craig's List. I was looking for kegs for a month. Posted an ad on Craig's List last night at 9pm, had 3 kegs in the backseat of my car at 4pm today! The internet ROCKS!!!
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