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How do you calculate recipes before brew day?

I am trying really hard to use Beersmith properly so that I can store and reproduce recipes and so that I can feel fairly comfortable approaching different beer styles with reasonable results the first time. I brewed my second ag beer a few days ago and missed my og by 10pts…so pissed! I was shooting for 1.064 with 5.5g in the fermentor and ended up with 1.054 with 6.25g in the fermentor (had to leave some behind). I thought for this time, I would really follow the mash directions provided and see what happens. It told me to add 28 qts of strike water to my 13.5 lbs of grain…then to sparge (batch) with 3.25 gallons of water. I ended up with 9 gallons of wort prior to boiling, which seemed too much. I am not experienced enough to know that I should have done a 90 min. boil to bring up the gravity. My 15 gal. kettle boils off an astounding 1.8 gallons per hour…so I thought that it could still work out (with loss to shrinkage and trub). I was obviously wrong. I just want to be able to hit my numbers…the water volumes for mash and batch sparging are definitely my problem…I have been doing extract for over a year prior. Do most of you who use beer smith just ignore the mash and sparge directions or am I doing something wrong? I chose the “single infusion, medium body, batch sparge” profile for my mash and have updated my equipment profile to reflect my .5g loss to deadspace in the tun and my ridiculous evaporation rate. Please help, I feel like an idiot…I know this isn’t that hard.

http://onebeer.net/batchspargecalc.shtml

I trust beersmith for the temp of the strike but that’s it water wise.
-using the strike water tool and the correct volumes

well, it looks like you efficiency is about right, the reason you missed you OG is because of the final volume like you said.

personally i DO ignore the beersmith mash instructions. i calculate all of that out by hand using 1.30-1.40 gallons per pound of grain. then after the first runnings, i determind how much more water i need to get my pre-boil volume, then i batch sparge with the amount of water i need. beersmith can be kinda funky when it comes to mash scheduals because everyones system is slightly different.

also another helpful tip is to take a gravity reading before you start the boil. this will tell you how much longer you will need to boil to hit your volume/desired gravity. theres a boil-off calculater in beersmith that i use for this

it took me a while to get used to my system. there are a lot of variables to keep in mind. taking really intense notes is a good way to improve on mistakes

I assume you are mashing in a 10 gal cooler. I add what Beersmith says I will loose to grain absorbtion to my target boil volume amount plus 1/2 gal to hit my 5.5gal in fermenter every time. I don’t know why I need the extra 1/2 gallon but I need it with my equipment to get the proper amount to my fermenter. I try to adjust my mash and batch water volumes so that I will lauter equal amounts into my BK.

I use the “Water Needed” function in Beersmith to figure out my sparge water. Seems to work well.

Brew more and keep good records. Instructions are slightly helpful but what you really need to know is how your system functions with respect to temps, time, and effeciency.

I just brewed my second all grain batch and second using beersmith.

First batch I did not believe beersmith on the water amounts and ended up with way less in the fermenter, about 4 gallons. But the gravity was high so I topped off and it was perfect.

Second batch, I followed BS very closely and was almost dead on. I cannot be 100 sure because when I added the strike water to my cooler, I quickly discovered that the drain valve on the back was open and I lost what I think was about a gallon. I went ahead and mashed and added that gallon plus a little back in.

My volumes were nearly perfect this time and my gravity was just a touch high.

You do know that you can adjust grain absorption rates and boil off rates in beersmith under your profile, right?

If you have trouble with volumes, do it the easy way…after you run off your mash, measure how much you have in your kettle. Subtract that from the amount you want to boil. The answer you get is how much sparge water to use. Since the grain is already saturated, you don’t have to deal with grain absorption in the sparge. VOILA!

Denny,

Is the goal to get close to equal amounts of wort from each of the mash and sparge?

I didn’t realize that brewers had trouble with this in BeerSmith.
You might want to give the free trial of BeerTools Pro a spin. It gives me very accurate volume predictions.

[quote=“560sdl”]Denny,

Is the goal to get close to equal amounts of wort from each of the mash and sparge?[/quote]

I’m not denny, but for me the goal is 5 gallons AFTER the boil. so, using denny’s advise (he’s provided it several times before), here’s what i do:

Desired post boil: 5 gallons
loss during 60 min boil (known from past experience): 2 gallons
total pre boil needed: 5 + 2 = 7
first running: 4.0 gallons
sparge: total - first running = 7 - 4.0 = 3.0 gallons need for sparge

:cheers:

[quote=“560sdl”]Denny,

Is the goal to get close to equal amounts of wort from each of the mash and sparge?[/quote]

Ideally, yes, but it’s not a real big deal. If my mash and sparge runoffs are within a gal. or so of each other, it’s good enough for me.

Beer Smith is a great tool as far as I’m concerned. It will and does take some time to get your equipment set up in it properly, in addition to you getting to know what your equipment does. I know it took me a lot more than 2 AG batches before I started feeling comfortable with how my equipment is set up. I would encourage you not to give up on Beer Smith. That being said, previous posts from Denny and others here have given you the simplest way to make sure you at least start out with what you think you need for a pre-boil amount.

[quote=“Denny”][quote=“560sdl”]Denny,

Is the goal to get close to equal amounts of wort from each of the mash and sparge?[/quote]

Ideally, yes, but it’s not a real big deal. If my mash and sparge runoffs are within a gal. or so of each other, it’s good enough for me.[/quote]
The last beer I brewed I split the sparge in half and double batch sparged. I saw a pretty nice jump in efficiency.

[quote=“Beersk”][quote=“Denny”][quote=“560sdl”]Denny,

Is the goal to get close to equal amounts of wort from each of the mash and sparge?[/quote]

Ideally, yes, but it’s not a real big deal. If my mash and sparge runoffs are within a gal. or so of each other, it’s good enough for me.[/quote]
The last beer I brewed I split the sparge in half and double batch sparged. I saw a pretty nice jump in efficiency.[/quote]

Interesting. When I’ve tried it, my efficiency jumped maybe 1-2%…not enough to warrant the effort. Were you using a recipe you’d done before so you could directly compare?

I nearly always get close to equal runoffs.

I shoot for 6.5 gallons pre boil. On a batch with 10 pounds of grain, I mash in with 3.25 gallons (half of 6.5) plus the amount the grain will absorb, in this case around 1.2 gallons (with my crush I absorb about .12 gallons/pound) for a total of 4.45 gallons which I’d round up to 4.5 gallons for simplicity. Sparge with 3.25 gallons. This has worked great for me for years, so when I got Beersmith a few years ago I never even bothered with their water calculators.

OK. That sounds pretty simple and reasonable…but how do you know what pre-boil gravity you are going to hit? Do you just boil off until you hit it right before you add hops? If so, how do you know how long to boil? I don’t have a refractometer…so it takes too long to cool my test tube to get a gravity.

This is what I do…pull a 6-8 oz. gravity sample with a Pyrex measuring cup and put it in a metal cocktail shaker. Put the lid on the shaker. Swirl the shaker around in a bowl of ice water. In just a minute or so, it will be down to the 60s and you can get a reading with your hydrometer.

[quote=“GoldenTrout”]how do you know what pre-boil gravity you are going to hit?[/quote]Once you have a few batches under you belt you should know what your efficiency is. By this time too, you’ll know what the boil off rate is for your set up so you’ll be able to reasonably predict your post boil volume. Plug those variables into Beersmith and you’ll be able to adjust your IBUs.

For new AG brewers I would recommend brewing simple recipes for your first 3-4 batches, like pales, ambers, porters,etc. until you get you system and process dialed in.

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