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Paralysis by analysis

I’m doing my first All-grain Saturday.
I will be batch sparging, because it is an easier transition for the equipemnt I have.
Went to class, bought an all grain kit at NB, made my Mash tun.
Some of my readings said that you need to upgrade the grain bill 10% when you batch sparge. When I bought the kit I just bought the grains in the recipe ( Farmhouse Biere DeTable).
1, Should I just use the grains I already purchased?
2, Should I go get an additional lb. of the primary grain?
3, Should I just add an additional amount of DME at the start of the boil and how much?
4, Has anybody used the “Brewheads” software for batch sparging because it really seems straight forward for a novice like me?
Thanks.

All else being equal, fly sparging will give slightly higher efficiency, but it’s by 5% at most. Other factors (the crush, in particular) will have a much bigger impact.

Given that this is your first batch, you don’t really know what your efficiency will be, so all you can do is take good notes. That way you’ll know for next time and can adjust the recipe if necessary.

[quote=“flytyer”]I’m doing my first All-grain Saturday.
I will be batch sparging, because it is an easier transition for the equipemnt I have.
Went to class, bought an all grain kit at NB, made my Mash tun.
Some of my readings said that you need to upgrade the grain bill 10% when you batch sparge. When I bought the kit I just bought the grains in the recipe ( Farmhouse Biere DeTable).
1, Should I just use the grains I already purchased?
2, Should I go get an additional lb. of the primary grain?
3, Should I just add an additional amount of DME at the start of the boil and how much?
4, Has anybody used the “Brewheads” software for batch sparging because it really seems straight forward for a novice like me?
Thanks.[/quote]

  1. Yes.
  2. No.
  3. No.
  4. no me.

In my experience, this: “…you need to upgrade the grain bill 10% when you batch sparge,” has not proven true in actual brewing. Not once.

:cheers:

You need to just go with it for the first one to see where it gets you. That said, if you’re super low for some reason or another it wouldn’t hurt to have some DME on hand. You could take your gravity reading at the end and then dump the appropriate amount in (having been boiled and cooled) to compensate considering that you may not want to drop below an already low gravity beer. But I wouldn’t add anything right off the bat.

I recently added DME to the boil to deal with low efficiency. I calculated the OG I was headed for, calculated how much DME would be necessary to bring that up to my target OG, and added it to the boil. Hit my target OG right on the money.

^yeah, they could do that. I just thought that since it was the first time I would be more inclined to just let take it the whole way to see where it gets you and then adjust if you need to. Without knowing your system I think those calculations would a bit tricky.

It can definitely be a little frantic making adjustments on the fly, particularly if you already have the boil going. But, I just use a calculator to determine mash efficiency and potential OG at varying volumes. The only wildcard here is accurately knowing your pre-boil volume.

I use this calculator to determine mash efficiency

(stated as brewhouse on the site, but description suggests mash). I’ve found this calculator jibes closely with hand calculations.

I also use hopville’s beer calculus
http://beercalculus.hopville.com/recipe
to build out all my recipes and get predictions for various parameters (SRM, potential OG at varying volumes/efficiency, IBU, etc.). So, if efficiency is significantly lower than what I used to build the recipe, I go back to the recipe, drop efficiency to the actual amount, and add extract to the grain bill until I’m back to my target OG.

I know some people don’t like beer calculus, but I find that it does a pretty good job of predicting the more objective aspects of brewing for a given recipe. Whether or not the ingredients go well together is another matter entirely :wink: .

I checked the Brewheads calculation against Mashwater3.3
http://suburb.semo.net/jet1024/beer/software/beer-software.html
. Very similar.

Nice!

John

When I first started AG, I had to do exactly what you are suggesting. Efficiency was WAY low (around 58%.) So I’d calculate how much DME I needed to get back to my target gravity and be on my way. Later, I started just adding more grain to compensate.

Eventually, through help from this forum, I figured out it was the crush I was getting from my LHBS. I bought a barley crusher and my efficiency jumped to about 82%.

Good luck and have fun! :cheers:

A quick and easy way to feigure DME additsions on the fly…each lb. of DME will add about 9 gravity points to a 5 gal. batch.

[quote=“PPDude72”]
Eventually, through help from this forum, I figured out it was the crush I was getting from my LHBS. I bought a barley crusher and my efficiency jumped to about 82%.

Good luck and have fun! :cheers: [/quote]
I hear people saying this all the time. I have my mill set to .0035" and I still get around 70-73% efficiency, even with proper water additions, etc. I could sparge more, but then I’d be boiling for 3 hours to get down to my batch size.
It’s probably because I have an orange cooler…

EDIT: don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind getting 70% efficiency, as long as it’s consistent (which it is). But I just don’t get why I didn’t get that huge boost when I bought my mill, is all I’m saying.

What’s your conversion efficiency?

Mine is also set at .0035"

I batch sparge with the same 48qt cooler I started with. I do equal runnings. I usually mash for 60 but sometimes do 90. I’ve done mashout and no mashout. I basically followed Denny’s instructions from the get go. The only change I made (that I can think of) that bumped the efficiency was the crusher.

That is strange that you aren’t seeing better efficiency.

What’s your conversion efficiency?[/quote]
Well, I don’t know that…

I have seen better efficiency than what I was getting when Midwest milled the grains for me, but it’s not enormously better like everyone else says when they bought a mill.

The subject line says a lot. Grab a pound or two of dme, and brew the beer. Measure carefully what you can (volumes and gravities) along the way. Adjust gravity if you want using Denny’s advice. Be sure to enjoy yourself along the way and enjoy the beer when its ready. Analyze with that first brew finished in front of you, it might tell you what to analyze and what to let go.

Awesome. That’s one less calculation to induce chicken-with-its-head-cut-off-itis on brew day :cheers: .

We’ve also experience a ever so slight boost from our new grain mill which is set around .0038 but not as much as expected. My last batch hit 75% and is consistently right around 73% so I’m not too upset but I was expecting more of a boost. I guess we could try running them through twice.

Well, I don’t know that…[/quote]
My point being that unless you know where you’re losing efficiency, you can’t take steps to improve it.

I can think of 2 places: mash pH and crush. I feel like I’ve got both in a good place…but must not be. I adjust the water using Bru’n water and crush at .035". Something must be off somewhere.

I guess I’m gonna go start working on it.

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