Batch 1 The KBS Clone - Russian Imperial Stout
The first batch went almost exactly as planned. The only little hick up was with our strike water. We forgot to preheat the mash tun (freaking rookie mistake) So our mash temperature was 138 to 140 F. But when we do no sparge brewing we always hold back 15%-20% of the water to either cool the mash, or heat the mash, or to sparge rinse at the completion of the mash. So we had 1.5 gallons of treated water hanging around. We brought the 1.5 gallons of water to a quick boil on the monster and added it to the mash tun. The mash rose to 154 F where it stayed for the next hour. (60 minutes is overkill on most mashes but there was a lot of roasted grain, and 2 lbs of flaked oats in this batch so we wanted to be safe) So when you do a no sparge brew... my best suggestion is that you make your calculations based on 80% / 20% or 85% / 15%. Now if you are a mash wizard and you never screw up anything at all... and you never forget anything at all... more power to you. But we will be following this practice. So if you are making a 5 gallon RIS and using 20.4 lbs of grain and 9.75 gallons of water... yes that much with absorption and waste... It looks like this.
- 9.75 gallons = 39 quarts
- 39 quarts x 80% = 31.2 quarts (so call it 32 quarts)
- 32 quarts / 20.4 = 1.568 quarts per pound in your software
- You can hold back the other 1.75 gallons for a mash out or for a temperature adjustment.
But what would that look like for a lower gravity beer... like for instance a Champagne Lager? OK, Well let's look at that. Champagne Lager 5 gallon batch has 7.5 lbs of grain, and uses 8.5 gallons of water. It looks like this.
- 8.5 gallons = 34 quarts
- 34 quarts x 80 % = 27.2 (call it 28)
- 28 quarts / 7.5 = 3.73 quarts per pound in your software
- You can hold back the other 1.5 gallons for mash out or for temperature adjustments.
Now, we do not get, or plan on efficiency in the 80s for no sparge brewing. We don't care. The goal of brewing is not to maximize efficiency... it is to maximize flavor... and fun. And this is a way, way easier method for brewing. Don't believe me? OK well maybe you'll listen to The mad fermentationist. Now one thing you need to realize is that when you no sparge... the grain is buffering the mash like crazy... so it takes more acid to drop the pH to ideal. If you use that much acid, your beer can taste kinda... acidic. So We shoot for 5.5 pH. Haven't noticed any off flavors.
That is the easy way to do water calculations for no sparge brewing. And we are big fans of no sparge brewing, or minimal sparge brewing. Now having said all of this, it is important to remember that a degree or two either direction on a mash makes virtually no difference in the final flavor and mouth feel. So don't sweat it if you are a degree or two off. I know award winning home brewers who just mash everything at 150F...light lager...150 F...huge stout...150 F...bret or sour 150 F...
|5.31 exactly what the|
software predicted. A little
low for us.
So... yes I said it "the amount of mash water is not that important" Yes, I said it, yes I stand by it. The arcane and mystical alchemy of home brewing water calculations must be simplified because... well because it is all BS. Yes thicker and thinner mashes can have an impact on your brew... but not really. A thin mash just takes longer to convert. But it still converts. And it isn't really very perceivable on a home brew level. So if exact water calculations are not that important...what is important? What is important is the total amount of water used. What is important is pH. What is important is temperature of the mash. What is important is fermentation temperature... and sanitation. These are the factors that are important. Once again, the grains have no idea that they are being mashed. They have no idea what the water to grain ratio is, they start soaking in the right temperatures... the enzymes become active. When the enzymes are active... the conversions occur.
|The mash fluctuated between|
153 and 154 F for an hour
So if you haven't tried no sparge brewing yet... give it a try, it gives you so much flexibility in terms of water and temperature. So if you are one of those guys who believes your beer is better because you can absolutely nail what it says for water calculations on BeerSmith... good for you. We can do that to... but what we have learned it that it does not have an impact on our final product. Whenever we can we no sparge. And whenever we brew a big beer, we tend to partigyle, more on that in a minute.
The grains mashed for an hour, pre boil gravity was 1.078...final gravity... 1.093... exactly what was predicted by the software... so Mr. Smartypants who thinks mash thickness is critical to efficiency... what do you think now? We got 72.2% efficiency on a huge no sparge batch of beer.
The boil went well, and we made all of our hop and chocolate and coffee additions. The keggle was gross when we were done. Loads of chocolate, We chilled the wort with our Jaded hydra..Jake and I used one of our favorite trick for aeration... a sanitized mixing paddle on a drill. This batch is fermenting in a 7.5 gallon plastic pale. It needs the space. The yeast was pitched, 2 packs of re hydrated US 05. This batch received a blow off tube and the blow off bucket was set inside of another bucket, just in case it is epic. Which I think it probably will be.
Batch 2 the Surly Bender inspired Brown Ale
We have covered what partigyle is on a previous post (or 4) but basically when you make a huge beer, there are so many sugars left in the beer that you might as well use them and make another beer. That is all we are doing here. And as you can see it is really easy.
Alright, I kinda caught John off guard... so sue me. But the point is still valid. To make a partigyle. Just add water to your previously mashed grains and let them soak for a while. Jake poured 6.5 gallons of water into the mash tun. Now, the water was treated to remove the chlorine, but no other water treatments are necessary. Do they help? sure... I guess... but they are not necessary. The grains have already absorbed water so... just add what you want to boil.. it will be very close.
1.045? Ok...you see... uh... well that measurement came from the bottom of the mash tun. And as I have told you before, unless you vorlauff or recirculate... your gravity readings can be wildly different at different levels in your mash tun. Sugar is heavy... it sinks... do not argue the physics of this with me. It is a simple fact. But it was 1.032. Which boiled up to 1.042 So that is still a really nice brown ale. If we do this again without recirculating, we will certainly vourlauff the entire batch before taking a gravity reading. Vourlauff the entire batch? yes... a couple of times... you are trying to rinse the sugars out anyway... and the dang grains only soaked for 10 -15 minutes so just do it. It improves everything.
The recipes will be posted this week in the recipe links on the right. It was a really fun brew day. We tried some fantastic beers that the team assembled and did some planning for up coming batches.