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Water to grain ratio for Mash

After 3 years of Extract brewing, tomorrow I am brewing my first 5 gallon all grain. A Belgian Blond Ale with the following:
OG: 1.073 FG: 1.014 IBU:26 SRM:6 ABV:7.5%

13.5 bls Pilsner Malt

SPECIALTY GRAINS
4 oz Aromatic Malt
2 oz Biscuit Malt

Mash schedule of:
Sacch Rest: 150 for 60 min
Mash Out 170: 10 min

I am targeting to begin the boil with 7 gallons. Once I get to this point I am familiar with the schedule etc…

A few questions:

  1. How much water to add for Mash? using 1.2 quart/lb comes to about 5.2 gallons. is that the right amount?
  2. What temperature is the water I add for the Mash Out to raise Mash to 170?
  3. How much water will I need to add to raise temp from 150 to 170 ?
  4. Approximately how much water should I have for the Sparge?

thank you for your time and advice!

Look at brewersfriend.com they have a mash water calculator that will help you. Your 14 lbs of grain should take 17.50 qts of water and your mash out temp is 170. You need to get to know your system to know how much water you will need to get the volume. For instance my mash tun for 5.5 gallon of 1.050 gravity beer i collect 6.5 gallons the gain retains water so I loss about a half gallon there. Takes me seven gallons of water to get 6.5 gallons of wort. Your system might be different but brewersfriend mash calculator will help you

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Before you begin…

First, fill your pot with say, 5 gallons of water, bring it to a nice rolling boil for an hour. After an hour, cover it and once it’s cool, measure what’s left. The difference between what you start with and what you end up with is your boil-off volume. For the sake of argument let’s say you get 1.5 gal/hr as your boil-off volume.

For a 5-gallon batch you want to END an hour’s boil with 5-gallons so you should START the boil with 5-gallons + your boil-off volume in the kettle. Call this your pre-boil volume. Given the made-up assumption above that’s 5 + 1.5 = 6.5 gal.

When you mash shoot for ~1.25 - 1.5 qts mash water per pound of grain. Given your ~14 lb grain bill that’s 17.5 to 21 qt, or 4.375 - 5.25 gal. Remember the grain will absorb some of the water, so you won’t get it all back when you’re done the mash. Let’s just say you go with 18 quarts or 4.5 gal, because easy numbers.

When you’re done with the mash and drain into the kettle, the amount of water you need to reach your pre-boil volume is how much you need for the sparge.

So if you put 4.5 gal in the mash, and you drain to find 3.75 gallons in the kettle; and you already figured you need a 6.5 gallon pre-boil. So sparge that mash tun with 6.5 - 3.75 = 2.75 gallons of water. The grain has already absorbed all the water it can you’re basically guaranteed to get out the same volume you put in. Once you get the hang of it try to get “equal runnings” which is where you get 1/2 your pre-boil from the mash and 1/2 from the sparge.

And don’t forget to read http://dennybrew.com

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Are you using a mashtun? If so, what size? Or maybe you’re going BIAB?
There’s a website ‘Greenbay mashers’ that can take you through the calculations.
I use a 5G mashtun, and add enough water to fill it to the top (usually almost 4G of strike water). I’m using shooting for a strike temp of 145-147, so the water temp is 166-167. I used to do the calculations every time, but they haven’t changed in years, so I wing it now.
Keep in mind that the grains will soak up and retain about 1-1.5 gallons of your initial strike water. So, you’ll drain out about 2-2.5g in the initial drain. Subtract that from your total planned boil (7G). This will equal your amount of sparge water. Remember, the grains are completely soaked and won’t retain any further water, so sparge water in= same amount out.
I don’t bother with mashout, but sparge with 170* water. The mashout at 165 is to stop the enzyme action and ‘lockin’ your malt profile. Sparging at 170 does the same.
Important- mix your wort well and take a preboil SG. You can use that to calculate your mash efficiency, but also to do the calculations to see what your postboil SG will be. Is it where you want it to be? If not, either boil longer, or add some DME, or sugar or honey.
Good luck. Based on your questions, it looks like you have done your research, which will help enormously. Have a good plan, WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN, and be prepared to change things on the fly as conditions pop up. Above all, relax and have fun!

thank you all for your response and advise!! I think i have what I need here. will see what happens on brew day!!

Four letters for you…B I A B

Brew in a bag.

Also you don’t really need to mash out. Mash for 60 minutes, sparge for your preboil volume and go.

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No mash out for me either. It’s a PIA to get the mash up to 170 even with a HERMS system. I also sparge with 168-170°

I have done a total volume mash a few times in the past, which kinda worked. So for you, you could do that, then drain to the boil kettle and as the wort heats you could vorlauf (rinse) with the hot wort to extract a bit more sugars… Or, be satisfied with what you have and add table sugar at the end of the boil to up the OG, and dry it out, kinda how I feel a good belgium strong golden can be… Sneezles61

This is directly out of HOW TO BREW by John Pamler:
The grist/water ratio is another factor influencing the performance of the mash. A thinner mash of >2 quarts of water per pound of grain dilutes the relative concentration of the enzymes, slowing the conversion, but ultimately leads to a more fermentable mash because the enzymes are not inhibited by a high concentration of sugars. A stiff mash of <1.25 quarts of water per pound is better for protein breakdown, and results in a faster overall starch conversion, but the resultant sugars are less fermentable and will result in a sweeter, maltier beer. A thicker mash is more gentle to the enzymes because of the lower heat capacity of grain compared to water. A thick mash is better for multirest mashes because the enzymes are not denatured as quickly by a rise in temperature.

I don’t do a mash out anymore either. At the homebrew level it’s a waste of time. Just use the ratio you want drain your tun and sparge with the exact amount of water you need for your preboil volume. Doesn’t have to be hard

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