Not quite MAXI / Sparge / Thicker mash efficiency question

Any method that is not a 'full-volume' mash. Usually, but not always, requires more than a single vessel or heat source. Includes traditional, three-vessel brewing.
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Not quite MAXI / Sparge / Thicker mash efficiency question

Post by laserghost » 3 years ago

Hi guys, sorry if this has been covered but I did not find a clear answer in the search.

I typically do standard BIAB in my 47 L (50 qt) kettle and 20.8 L (5.5 gal) wort into fermentor. I want to do a split batch and start out with as much boil volume as possible, around 41.6 L (11 gal), which should let me split about 32 L (8.5 gal) of wort.

I'm not trying to continually top up during the boil, but simply start with a full kettle. I was thinking I could mash with the maximum kettle capacity, which is (12 gal) for a 32 L (8.5 gal) batch size (into fermentor) and then use the rest of the required water volume to do a batch sparge. For example, I would plan the recipe as if I had a large enough kettle to mash at the 5 L/kg (2.4 qt/lb) water:grist ratio. Since I don't have that much volume, I'd subtract the overflow water and use it to sparge with, adding to kettle pre-boil. This means I'll have a thicker water:grist ratio in the mash, closer to 3.8 L/kg (1.8 qt/lb).

Would I need to drop my efficiency some? Or would the sparge step, likely only 7–11 L (2–3 gal) keep my efficiency where it is for typical BIAB brews? If I need to drop my efficiency how much should I drop?

My typical efficiencies are around 77–79% into kettle. Thanks, and I have read the sweet liquor shop posts!

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Post by mally » 3 years ago

laserghost - congrats on the homework, shows you have been doing some reading up!

I would recommend you plug your details into the BIABacus spreadsheet, once setup you can alter your procedure much as you like to suit your requirements.
Sparge, top up into kettle, top up fermenter, whatever you prefer (sparging is just more buggering about though)!
The BIABacus will also adjust your efficiency automatically based on the grain bill/water ratio, the only bit of software (I believe) that can do so.

How good is that? :luck:
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Post by laserghost » 3 years ago

mally – that's pretty awesome. i just pulled down the latest bacus and have been toying around. i really like the auto efficiency feature, which is essentially exactly what i was wondering about. i agree that the sparge is a little more effort, but according to bacus, with a 3 gallon sparge i can get 74% efficiency into kettle, vs 57% with topping up water to a larger grain bill. that's 25 lbs of grain vs 32 for 8.5 gallons of wort.

which leads me to another question. if i were to skip the sparge and go with the larger grain bill and topping up the kettle pre-boil (premium liquor), how well would the bag drain? it's at a 2.37 l/kg (1.14 qt/lb) water:grist.

bacus is a great reason for me to start learning metric! i would say that i would use this exclusively, however, for some recipes there just aren't enough inputs for hops. i am a hop head, and one of my double ipa recipes has over 16 hop additions, but there are only 8 spaces. for most recipes 8 spaces will be enough, but it would be great if there were a separate area (or tab) where i could input my "overflow hop additions". especially with late hop bursting, and using lots of varieties together, i could use some more space!

in the meantime, i'll start using bacus for less hoppy brews, and then for recipes with loads of hop additions, i'll use bacus to generate the grain bill and then input the recipe into beersmith for dealing with hops.

really like what's happening here, keep up the great work!

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Post by Mad_Scientist » 3 years ago

laserghost wrote: which leads me to another question. if i were to skip the sparge and go with the larger grain bill and topping up the kettle pre-boil (premium liquor), how well would the bag drain? it's at a 2.37 l/kg (1.14 qt/lb) water:grist.
1.14 qt/lb is even thicker than traditional 3 vessels brewers, it would not drain, that's why the sparge.

This is what I do. (the pre-boil dilution) and withhold about 10 - 15 % of my water, because I'm maxing out my kettle for a double batch.

I've averaged my last three brews and found;

1.068 og
1.068 og
1.065 og
with 80% end of boil efficiency(BIABacus), is a 1.97 qt/lb / 4.12 l/kg and my bag drains nicely.

IMPO, this mash thickness of mine is the thickest I would go.

:peace:
MS
Last edited by Mad_Scientist on 10 Nov 2013, 08:37, edited 2 times in total.


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Post by laserghost » 3 years ago

MadScientist, how big is your kettle and what is the EOBV for your double batch?

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Post by Mad_Scientist » 3 years ago

I have a converted keg. I don't count any of the space/volume over and above the top welded seam. I have calibrated it to the BIABacus, it comes in at 55.5L

I have a set of photos there in my signature below.


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Post by laserghost » 3 years ago

Thanks everyone, I greatly appreciate your time and expertise. I have read as much info as I could find, as well as that which has been supplied. I posted two Bacus files, which both indicate I will hit the target either way. One is a very thick mash with about 6 lbs more grain, topping up with water pre-boil ("BIABacus_test_8.5galEOB_57eik"). The other is less thick of a mash, but involves a batch sparge ("BIABacus_test_8.5galEOB_batch_sparge_75eik").

I am not sure which method I will use for this brew (yes it will have hops, but I'm only worried about the grain bill right now). I'd be interested to hear which way people recommend. I would love to test both methods, but if someone sees a hideous error here, then I'd love to know about it before :salute: :)

:drink:
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Post by PistolPatch » 3 years ago

Hi again LG,

I know a wrote a very long post to you here. It's a long post for many reasons but let's concentrate on just one to start with...
Remember, when you stray from full-volume brewing, you enter a complete juggle... The BIABacus can juggle the balls without defying the laws of "brewing physics" like other programs do.
In the two files you have posted, one requires that you use only around 11 kgs of grain while the other requires you to use about 14.2 kgs. Were you aware of this is my first question.

Understanding the juggle is very important and this will take some slowing down and many re-reads of those sweet liquor shop posts mentioned in the above link.

Also...

The BIABacus is in pre-release form and the one you are using is throwing you a warning on your mash volume but not on your Volume into Kettle. If you look at your VIK, it is about the same as your kettle capacity. So, it is too high. You need to reduce something.

;)
PP
Last edited by PistolPatch on 14 Nov 2013, 20:34, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by laserghost » 3 years ago

Thanks, PP! I did indeed read all of that post, including your linked posts. Thanks for your thoughtful responses and concerns. I am aware that the two recipes I posted require different amounts of grain for the same EOBV and SG – I also talk about that in the third post in this thread, which is what lead me to questions about mash thickness and draining the bag when using a very thick mash with low extract efficiency into kettle.

I see that the VIK is too high, looks like I'll either need to drop the desired OG a bit or drop the VIF a bit to make some room (or do a 60m boil, hehehe jk!).

I still had questions after Mad Scientist's post where he states that 1.97 qt/lb / 4.12 l/kg is as thick of a mash he would recommend. However, the Bacus is indicating I could use more grain, a 1.15 qt/lb mash, top up the kettle pre-boil, and still hit the numbers.

From here, I suppose I'll just put my faith in what the Bacus tells me, try and see what happens. Maybe starting with the 57% EIK version as a test – I'll get that premium liquor and won't have to sparge :smoke:


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Post by PistolPatch » 3 years ago

That reply above puts any worries I had to rest LG. It shows that you are fully aware of the maxi-BIAB "juggle". Great work :thumbs:.

In traditional brewing, the liquor to grain ratio varies from around 1 to 4 L/kg. You are on 3.34 L/kg on the batch sparge one so I think all should be okay there. The pure dilution one is 2.38 L/kg and so we are heading towards areas we don't visit much and it sounds like Mad-Scientist has had a few problems there as have I. (I think the BIABacus prevents you from going below 2 L/kg but I know that warning went missing on some pre-release versions. Maybe we need to raise it?)

Anyway, go the pure dilution method* because we need some more numbers at that end of the scale but are lacking in pioneers :lol:.

Looking forward to hearing how you go LG. Try and take a few readings of the mash etc if you get a chance whichever method you use.

:luck:
PP

* Maybe have a plan ready to go if this thick ratio causes you problems. In other words be prepared to pull half of your mash into a bucket or something whilst you add more water to get things draining.
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Post by laserghost » 3 years ago

gonna give this a go this weekend. i will be doing a thick mash at 2.77 l/kg (1.33 qt/g) with 12.674 kg (27.94 lb). no active sparge. BACUS is predicting a 62.2% EIK. i plan to take thorough notes, so we shall see. am going to mash out and then pull the bag and let it drip as much as possible into a bucket, and will probably give it a squeeze, then add those runnings to the kettle and stir it good before taking my pre-lauter reading. then i'll top up with water for boil volume and take another reading for into kettle. will adjust with dme at the end of the boil if i come out too low.

IF for some reason the pre-lauter gravity is just absurdly low, should i pour my top up water through the grains while they're draining in the bucket just to try and salvage some of the sugar that's left behind? i plan to heat the top up water to 170 before adding it to the kettle.

for 8 gal into fermentor, 8.94 gal end of boil (ambient).

OG: 1.070
81.8 IBUs (Tinseth) / 73.7 (Rager)

mash @ 150

going to split the batch and pitch WLP001 and WY1272 to compare the differences.

ferment at 66, raise to 70 for dry hop (which i haven't added to the recipe yet).

maybe centennial and citra?

Amt Name
73.0 % Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)
14.0 % Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)
7.0 % Carapils (Briess) Organic (1.5 SRM)
4.0 % Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM)
2.0 % Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM)

1.00 oz Pacific Jade [13.10 %] - First Wort 20.0 min 17.6 IBUs
0.50 oz Mosaic (HBC 369) [11.60 %] - First Wort 20 min 7.8 IBUs

0.65 oz Herkules [15.70 %] - Boil 90.0 min 22.0 IBUs

1.00 oz Columbus (Tomahawk) [14.40 %] - Boil 15 min 14.4 IBUs

1.00 oz Nelson Sauvin [11.40 %] - Boil 10.0 min 8.3 IBUs
0.50 oz Citra [12.50 %] - Boil 10.0 min 4.6 IBUs

1.00 oz Mosaic (HBC 369) [11.60 %] - Boil 5.0 min 4.7 IBUs
0.50 oz Pacific Jade [13.10 %] - Boil 5.0 min 2.6 IBUs

1.00 oz Centennial [9.80 %] - Boil 0.0 min 0.0 IBUs
0.50 oz Citra [12.50 %] - Boil 0.0 min 0.0 IBUs
0.50 oz Mosaic (HBC 369) [11.60 %] - Boil 0.0 min 0.0 IBUs
0.50 oz Pacific Jade [13.10 %] - Boil 0.0 min 0.0 IBUs
Last edited by laserghost on 21 Nov 2013, 22:17, edited 2 times in total.


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Post by PistolPatch » 3 years ago

Running out of time today LG but two things...

1. Good on you!
2. Yes, if the Pre-Lauter Gravity is absurdly low, do as you say.

Look forward to hearing how you go ;).
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Post by laserghost » 3 years ago

Just a quick follow up – I brewed this on Sunday, and everything went pretty well and according to plan! I did this as no sparge – a thick mash at 2.8 L/kg (1.35 qt/lb).

The most trying part of the brewday was pulling the massive bag of grain and stringing it up to drain. My wife had to help me out, definitely a two person job. I was standing on the stove above the kettle holding the extremely heavy bag while she held a large Rubbermaid bin (PP recycle #5) for me to hoist it into.

Here are some of the specs:

- Mashed at 149.5 (65.28 C) F for 105 minutes, then mashed out at 169 F (76.1 C) for 10 minutes. I used a mash paddle to frequently stir the thick mash, there were no doughballs, and perhaps it was a factor of the mash being more dense, but it seemed to hold temp a little better than my regular BIAB mashes.

- Had 9.26 gallons (35 L) of strike water in the mash and 3.83 gal (14.5 L) reserved for topping up the kettle for boil. Mash volume was 12 gal (45.42 L). I pulled the bag and let it drain a little, then transferred to the Rubbermaid bin. Then tied the bag up on a stepladder to continue draining, and did some squeezing. At this point I had 5.5 gallons (20.82 L) in the kettle, and needed 11.4 gal (43.2 L) for boiling. I did not take a pre/post-lauter gravity reading. After about 10–15 min of draining, I transferred the bag to my bottling bucket to continue draining, and poured the runnings from the Rubbermaid into the kettle, bringing me to 7.2 gal (27.25 L), then poured in my reserved 3.83 gal (14.5 L) of water ... now at 11 gal (41.6 L), about .5 gal (1.9 L) short. Bringing up to boil and expecting a little bit of thermal expansion to occur. Added about a .25 gal (.95 L) of tap water, and stirred everything thoroughly. Pulled a sample of the wort and chilled it down to take a pre-boil gravity reading. Just short of my boil volume by a hair, added a last splash of runnings that were in the bucket, got it up to 11.4 gal (43.2 L).

- chilled pre-boil reading was 1.056 @ 11.25 gal (42.6 L) (hottt) – pretty close!

- post boil was 1.072 @ 8.9 gal (33.7 L) (ambient) – pretty close!

Overall I think the Bacus did a great job with its estimations. Maybe with this massive amount of grain and thick mash it retained a bit more wort than estimated, only about 1 L or so, but maybe it would have drained had I given it more time. I still came out a few points higher in gravity than expected, and transferred a full 8 gal, split by two fermentors.

The only other changes to the recipe above were the hops. I took out the Nelson Sauvin altogether, and replaced it with .5 oz of Herkules, reduced the 90m Herkules to .5 oz, bumped the Columbus back to 25m, and added .25oz Motueka to FWH and .25oz @ 5m.


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Post by PistolPatch » 3 years ago

laserghost wrote:Here are some of the specs:
Good stuff LG :thumbs:.

Is there any chance you can post your BIABacus file up with your actuals? Maybe any variations from the initial plan you could write in The Checklist? I really want to see this brew in file format.

:salute:
PP
Last edited by PistolPatch on 27 Nov 2013, 21:00, edited 2 times in total.
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Post by laserghost » 3 years ago

here you are, good sir.
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Post by PistolPatch » 3 years ago

Thanks lg :peace:,

Nice, honest figures in the file I can see there lg :salute:. Your figures have the real life discrepancies I expect but also fall nicely within the ball park. Nothing you need to worry about figure-wise.

I think the only thing to worry about is lifting your bag. I'd say your bag is fairly fine and so you need to have some way of lifting it up gradually out of the wort. My current bags are fine but my first was a little coarser and would drain very quickly so I could double-batch and pull the bag on my own although a bit uncomfortable :whistle:. Finer bags rally do need a gradual pull.

So that's the only thing I'd be concentrating on. Good on you lg :clap:,
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Not quite MAXI / Sparge / Thicker mash efficiency question

Post by laserghost » 3 years ago

Thanks, PP. Thats interesting about the gradual pull for finer bags. Why is that? This bag is my second and is finer than the first and the pull was not elegant.

I wonder of there is some correlation to the fact that my electric element was covered in a black char at the end of the boil.

Maybe I'll make a new bag with a coarser weave.


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Last edited by laserghost on 28 Nov 2013, 23:36, edited 2 times in total.


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Post by PistolPatch » 3 years ago

No probs lg. The fine bag needs a gradual pull just because they take more time to drain. Same principle as if you had a bucket of water and had it draining through a half inch hole versus an inch hole. I reckon concentrate on the pulley thing rather than making a new bag.

I would imagine that a coarser bag is more likely to give you black char but then again, I think all eBIABers get black char. Could be worth starting a new, 'Black Char' thread in the Electric BIAB forum. Why not?

;)
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