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Mash thickness vs equal runnings?

I’m planning a fairly light saison (1.040). I batch sparge and generally shoot for equal volume runnings. But with such a light grain bill my mash will be very thin to achieve this (about 2.0+ qt/lb water/grain). So what’s more important: equal runnings or mash thickness? Thanks y’all.

I regularly mash thinner than 2qt/lb with no issues, but if it bothers you, just mash normally, then add the amount of water you need to get to equal runnings right at the end of the mash.

Good idea. Sort of a “pseudo-mashout”?

You could make it a real mash out if you mash thick enough so there’s enough to add to bring you up to 168. I keep meaning to do that, but circumstances keep contriving to keep me away from the mash too long, leading to lower temps, so it ends up being more of a step mash. I’ve actually been using greater total mash volume than sparge volume in pursuit of a mash out. Not ideal, but I hit 80% for the first time last weekend, which works for me.

When I do a no-sparge I mash at 3.5qt/lb so 2 qt/lb isn’t pushing any limits.

Do a mash-out as others have suggested! Most infusion mash calculators will do this automatically.

Batch sparge run-offs anywhere between 30-70% will give you within 1% the same efficiency.

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?ti ... -off_sizes

[quote=“TG”]Batch sparge run-offs anywhere between 30-70% will give you within 1% the same efficiency.

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?ti ... -off_sizes[/quote]

Yep, I’ve found the same thing.

[quote=“Denny”][quote=“TG”]Batch sparge run-offs anywhere between 30-70% will give you within 1% the same efficiency.

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?ti ... -off_sizes[/quote]

Yep, I’ve found the same thing.[/quote]
So basically, mashing thin and having a smaller runnings for the sparge doesn’t affect anything? I’ve been doing this lately. So if I have a batch that has 10 lbs of grain, I mash thin with 16qts for the mash and 10 qts for the sparge, this is fine… I guess I haven’t noticed a problem or change in efficiency.

[quote=“Beersk”][quote=“Denny”][quote=“TG”]Batch sparge run-offs anywhere between 30-70% will give you within 1% the same efficiency.

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?ti ... -off_sizes[/quote]

Yep, I’ve found the same thing.[/quote]
So basically, mashing thin and having a smaller runnings for the sparge doesn’t affect anything? I’ve been doing this lately. So if I have a batch that has 10 lbs of grain, I mash thin with 16qts for the mash and 10 qts for the sparge, this is fine… I guess I haven’t noticed a problem or change in efficiency.[/quote]

Yeah, that’s exactly what I found, too. Equal runnings may up your efficiency a bit, but they won’t make a world of difference.

Would I gain more from equal runnings or a step mash (beta > alpha) with 60/40 runnings? What about equal runnings vs. single infusion + mash out with 60/40 runnings? Would the latter be 6 of one, half dozen of the other?

I have found that a 10-minute rest in the 160-165F range boosts efficiency by a couple of points, perhaps because it gets the enzymes a little boost of energy (that’s an assumption on my part, not a proven cause). I think if you do a 60/40 split with a higher-temp rest at the end of the mash, you’ll get a little more sugar out of the grain versus a 50/50 single infusion.

I agree 100%! I’m a BIAB’er and routinely do about a 60/40 split. The 40% is a batch sparge for about 10-15min in water that is usually somewhere around 165F. I brewed a few batches without doing a sparge and my efficiency suffered. Dropped to about 65%. I went back to sparging and got my efficiency back up to 75%.

As far as efficiency is concerned I dont think it makes a difference. I constantly mash around 2qt/lb because my boil off rate is 2 gal/hr. The only thing that changes is my salt additions to the mash/sparge as I add separately and the amount of water matters for that reason.

Now, some (smarter, more experienced people) may have something to say about the finished product being better with a thicker mash compared to a thin mash. I’m not sure. I havent done enough brewing to know the difference yet. Hopefully someone else can chime in on that front

To clarify, I was talking about 3 water additions, comprising a 2-step mash and a sparge. The two mash infusions would occur pre-first runnings and give you 60% of your pre-boil volume, and the sparge would give you 40%. So, 60/40 in terms of runnings, but 30/30/40 in terms of additions, where 30/30 is just used for convenience. That will change based on your temp targets for each infusion, with an assumption on my part that ~1.0 qt/lb mash thickness dictates the minimum volume for your initial infusion (that assumption is based on Kai’s conversion chart
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Troubleshooting_Brewhouse_Efficiency#Determining_Conversion_Efficiency
only going down to .96 qt/lb).

+1 and it seems clearer. Perhaps the rest of the starches get gelatinized?

+1 and it seems clearer. Perhaps the rest of the starches get gelatinized?[/quote]
I get this too but the few extra opints also remain in the FG so I think its strictly beta amylase acting.

I also get similar efficiencies with no sparge, or using a very small sparge. I know that the no sparge should give you 85% since you can start with 3.5qt/lb and 0.5qt/lb (=0.125gal/lb) stays in the grain. I seem to get in the range of 75% no matter what I do. I guess those extractions that favor increased efficiency must have a negative effect on conversion. I never have read the article that is supposed to prove the equal runnings concept.

[quote=“tom sawyer”]
I also get similar efficiencies with no sparge, or using a very small sparge. I know that the no sparge should give you 85% since you can start with 3.5qt/lb and 0.5qt/lb (=0.125gal/lb) stays in the grain. I seem to get in the range of 75% no matter what I do. I guess those extractions that favor increased efficiency must have a negative effect on conversion.[/quote]
You are leaving out the volume added by the dissolved sugar in your calculation. For mashes I’ve calculated this for, ~75% is the maximum efficiency you can get from a no sparge mash of a moderate gravity beer.

I’m not sure what you mean by that last sentence, do you have an example?

I agree 100%! I’m a BIAB’er and routinely do about a 60/40 split. The 40% is a batch sparge for about 10-15min in water that is usually somewhere around 165F. I brewed a few batches without doing a sparge and my efficiency suffered. Dropped to about 65%. I went back to sparging and got my efficiency back up to 75%.[/quote]
When you did your no-sparge did you use your entire amount of water in the mash? Or did you add water to the kettle? One thing I did find was that the mash takes a little longer to convert. I think I saw an increase in sugar levels up to 90min before it leveled off. Strictly speaking though, using 3qt/lb and leaving 0.5qt/lb in the grain should give you 83% efficiency. Somehow I always manage to ge around 75%, there must be competing factors that lower conversion when the extraction goes up.

Isn’t it alphas operating at the higher temps, and turning out more unfermentables?

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