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Mash Thickness and Efficiency

I noticed an interesting pattern today. In the all-grain batches that I’ve brewed, mash + lauter efficiency has–to a point–gone up and down as mash thickness (quarts of water to each pound of grain) has changed. See the table below.

When using a ratio of 1.5, my median efficiency is 86%. When using a smaller ratio, my efficiency has dropped quite significantly. There was no difference between a ratio of 1.5 and 2.

I wonder if others have had the same experience. By the way, I batch sparge.

M&L Eff. - Water/Grain Ratio
67.3 - 1.5
69.2 - 1.25
79.5 - 1.4

90.6 - 1.5
88.5 - 1.5
84.1 - 1.5
85.9 - 2
85.2 - 1.5
84.9 - 1.5
89.7 - 1.5
86.3 - 1.5
77.5 - 1.25

I would guess that your lower water:grain ratio happens with bigger beers because your MT volume is limited and you need to cut the water to make the grain fit. If correct, then logically your efficiency will drop when doing this.

I’ve never come close to maxing out my MT. I was only using 1.25 on my earlier all-grain batches, because I read somewhere that I should mash between 1 and 1.5, so I figured I’d just split the difference. The early ones were all 1.050ish recipes. The last one was slightly bigger at ~13.5 pounds, but I could have easily mashed at 1.5. I didn’t realize the recipe was set at 1.25.

I’ve just found this, which also suggests that a thinner mash leads to better extraction:

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?ti ... _thickness

[quote=“kcbeersnob”]I’ve just found this, which also suggests that a thinner mash leads to better extraction[/quote]Yep, that’s why I assumed you are MT limited because sticking with a 1.5+ qt/lb ratio is the way to go if you have the volume. Obviously you begin to negatively impact efficiency as you move to thinner mashes and smaller sparges, but with normal-strength beers it doesn’t have as big an impact and the thinner mash holds temp better and is much easier to thoroughly mix and get a constant temp.

When I moved from 1.25 qt./lb. to 1.75 my efficiency went up about 5 points.

I have never went above 1.3 for my ratio. I usually am between 0.8 and 1.3 leaning towards 1.0. I fly sparge 25 gallons and my efficiencies are mid to upper 80’s on 6-7% beers and 90-94% on 5-6% beers.

I don’t think mash stiffness has a whole lot to do with anything except enabling people to stir the mash easier.

[quote=“MullerBrau”]I have never went above 1.3 for my ratio. I usually am between 0.8 and 1.3 leaning towards 1.0. I fly sparge 25 gallons and my efficiencies are mid to upper 80’s on 6-7% beers and 90-94% on 5-6% beers.

I don’t think mash stiffness has a whole lot to do with anything except enabling people to stir the mash easier.[/quote]

I think our 2 experiences show that mash thickness can make a difference in efficiency, but there are a lot of other things that can, too.

[quote=“Denny”][quote=“MullerBrau”]I have never went above 1.3 for my ratio. I usually am between 0.8 and 1.3 leaning towards 1.0. I fly sparge 25 gallons and my efficiencies are mid to upper 80’s on 6-7% beers and 90-94% on 5-6% beers.

I don’t think mash stiffness has a whole lot to do with anything except enabling people to stir the mash easier.[/quote]

I think our 2 experiences show that mash thickness can make a difference in efficiency, but there are a lot of other things that can, too.[/quote]
I think mash thickness effects efficeincy far more when batch sparging then it does when fly sparging.

[quote=“gregscsu”]I think mash thickness effects efficeincy far more when batch sparging then it does when fly sparging.[/quote]Good point Greg

when you up your mash water, do you decrease your sparge water?

Yes, at least I do. The overall amount of water doesn’t change, because it is based on grain weight and boil time.

I was trying to find out if the mashing temp. is a standard temp and found this web site

http://www.brewsupplies.com/mashing_temperatures.htm

I wonder if that affects it?

On that same note I have a recipe guide book and it does not give madh temps. is there a standard temp or how do you decide what temp to mash at?

[quote=“Jon462”]
On that same note I have a recipe guide book and it does not give madh temps. is there a standard temp or how do you decide what temp to mash at?[/quote]You mash between 149-160. The lower end produces thinner, more fermentable wort and the higher end produces a thicker beer with more unfermentables. I shoot for 153 unless it’s something special.

when you up your mash water, do you decrease your sparge water?[/quote]

Not exactly. I don’t have to make the pre mash run off addition (which some incorrectly refer to as a mashout) but I still use the same amount (basically) of sparge water.

[quote=“MullerBrau”][quote=“Jon462”]
On that same note I have a recipe guide book and it does not give madh temps. is there a standard temp or how do you decide what temp to mash at?[/quote]You mash between 149-160. The lower end produces thinner, more fermentable wort and the higher end produces a thicker beer with more unfermentables. I shoot for 153 unless it’s something special.[/quote]

Greg Doss of Wyeast presented the results of a mash temp study he’d done at NHC this summer. His conclusion was that he reached maximum attenuation with a mash temp of 153F. If you;re an AHA member, you can read the results here…

http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/p ... inars/2012

I get about the same efficiency with 3.5qt/L with a no-sparge, as I do with a 1.5-2 with sparge. But it does take longer to get full conversion. Just to add a data point to the discussion.

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