Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com

All grain calculations and mashing out

I am about to do my first 5 gallon all grain brew. I have done small batch all grains before, as well as plenty of 5 gallon extract brews. I have 4 questions:

  1. I have read I need about 1.3 quarts of strike water per pound of grain. Is this true for most/all recipes? How can I make sure?

  2. When heating the strike water, I have read that I need to get it to about 10 degrees above the sacch rest temp. Is this just a general rule of thumb, or is there a way to figure it out each time?

  3. When I mash out, is there a certain volume and temperature of water to add? Obviously I don’t want it to get too hot, so I don’t want to add 5 gallons of boiling water. Is it just “guess and check” until I reach the proper mash-out temperature?

  4. When sparging, I imagine I should empty all of the water out of the lauter tun (once the wort is clear looking), and then rinse the remaining mash with as much water as needed to collect around 7 gallons of water. Is this true? Or do I just cycle the wort around until clear, and then just open up both valves (hot liquor tank and lauter tun) and let it “run” until I get the proper volume? Basically, I always assumed I emptied all the water from the mash (giving the best concentration of wort), then sparged until I got the right volume (slightly less concentrated wort) , but obviously I will have a lot more volume of water in the mash than normal due to the mashing out.

I batch sparge, for reference.

  1. That’s about average. Good place to start. You can play with mashing thicker or thinner, but you won’t go wrong with 1.3qts/pound (unless you start getting into weird sized grain bills that make the math iffy).

  2. 10 degrees is average… I actually go fifteen degrees hotter, add the water to the mash tun to heat it, then stir to get down to temp. There are calculators if you want to get exact- see Mash Infusion and Rest Schedule Calculator | Brewer's Friend I’m in the “within a couple of degrees, I’m not worrying about it” camp.

  3. Mash out is kind of not a thing I worry about. I heat my sparge water to 160-170, so I guess I’m kind of doing it, but I don’t really worry about it.

  4. I vorlauf, empty all the wort out of the mash (at least everything I can), then close the valve and add my sparge water, stir, vorlauf, and drain off. Again, I’m not exact, but I have gotten to the point where I can guestimate my volume close enough. If you add a ton of sparge water, your efficiency could suffer… think about it this way. You have a finite amount of sugars left in the grain bed when you add sparge water. Those sugars are now distributed in the water. If you leave half of that in the mash tun because you already have your starting kettle volume, you’re leaving sugar behind.

When I batch sparge I drain the first run completely then only add enough sparge water to get my volume. Depending on how much grain I had would determine how much mash water . More grain thicker mash my mash tun only holds so much. Never really worried about mash thickness never noticed any difference when I mashed 1.25 or 1.5 except how hard it was to stir.

1 Like

What ratio you mash in at depends on your system. Try the same recipe at 1.25 then try it at 1.5 and see if it makes a difference.

Your strike temps are trial and error as well. It depends on your MT, it’s thermal capabilities, the temp of the grain. I use an SS direct fired MT. My loss with grains at 70° is about 3-4°. Yours could be totally different.

If you batch sparge don’t worry about mashout. You’ll get through your sparge and start heating your wort so quickly that you’ll essentially hit your mashout temps within minutes. With batch sparging you don’t really need to worry about setting fermentability.

I fly sparge so I’ll let the batch sparges answer that.

1 Like

Great questions. My answers:

  1. Strike water ratio just simply does not matter all that much in the big scheme. 1.3 qt/lb is an old number from years ago that didn’t end up being as important as we originally thought. Nowadays, people mash at all different ratios and can make great beer with any of them. Personally I aim for about 1.5-1.75 qt/lb these days, the reasons being that it makes a mash that is more fluid and holds heat better. But you can do whatever you like. Play around with it and see what you prefer.

  2. Yes, aim for about 10 to 12 degrees F higher than you want to hit, unless you preheat your mash tun. That’s extra work and I’ve never done it. Aim high and you’ll be fine.

  3. Mashout is unnecessary in a homebrew setting. Sparging isn’t a bad idea, use water at 190-195 F for a batch sparge, or 170 F water for a fly sparge. But if just trying to bring up the temperature to kill enzymes? That’s what a mashout really is, and you don’t need to mash out, because you’ll be able to bring the wort up to a boil pretty fast anyway, and the enzymes will be killed off soon enough. Wasted effort, unless you were really talking about sparging. I sparge for efficiency and consistency but even that is optional.

  4. Your option. Pick your own sparge method. Either way works fine, although batch sparging requires infinitely less equipment and effort.

Cheers, good luck, and enjoy the process!

4 Likes

Sometimes it takes a long post to explain something that’s simple. Life is to short to worry about mash/water ratios

1 Like

I have always used 1.25 qt/lb grist. I also fudge the numbers if using a lot of grain so it will fit in the MT.

Skip mash out.

My MT is a mash lauter tun so preheating is not needed because the water is heated in it but if you are using a cooler it’s easy to just run the hottest tap water you have in then slosh it around to heat it up a little then dump it. Shoot a little high in the mash in. It’s easier to add cold water and/or stir to bring it down than heat it up.

It’s not the exact science some agonize over. Get it close and it will come out beer. Tweak it after you get settled in.

There as many theories as there are perhaps, brewers… BIAB, I use full volume. One kettle. Nothing else… I still sit in the 80% efficiency with my grain bill… Sneezles61

Read Denny Conn’s “Cheap ‘n’ Easy Batch Sparge Brewing” at: http://dennybrew.com/

Then,

Read John Palmer’s on-line version of “How to brew” at http://howtobrew.com/
There’s also a more up-to-date print version available.

These two should answer your questions.

2 Likes

+1 on those sources. I used John Palmer’s calculations to build my own spreadsheet to calculate a strike water temperature based on grain temperature and a cold cooler MLT. Bottom line, I factor in some number of degrees above my strike water temperature based on size of grain bill and volume of water in the cold cooler. I haven’t quite gotten it perfect for my cooler yet, but that’s OK because all I do is dump the heated strike water in the cooler MLT when it reaches the calculated temperature, give it 5 minutes to heat up the cooler and drop to my strike water temperature, and then add my grain. Usually, I’m within a degree or two of my mash temperature when I do this. I’ve also used different water to grist ratios and haven’t had any issues with efficiency.

Interesting what @dmtaylo2 mentioned about the more liquid holding heat better. I notice when I kettle sour which obviously is all wort I’m able to hold the temperature between 100 and 90 for 18hrs in my kettle just wrapped in a blanket. Biab I’m able to hold the temp in my pot easier than a thicker mash in my tun.

Yup. The technical terms that make the difference are called “thermal mass” and “heat capacity”.

1 Like

Dave, are you a scientist? The way you through out them technical words for alot of hot water, and . wrap it up tight!!:grin: Sneezles61

I was thinking specific heat (if my memory serves, 1.8 joules per degree per something or another), but yes…

You’re probably right.

Yes, I have a degree in chemical engineering. That was a looong time ago.

2 Likes
Back to Shopping at NorthernBrewer.com