Defining my Calculator’s Terms

Hoping to make this easier for new brewers, and wanted to clarify a couple things about my Calculator which can be found at the top of this page.

Going from Top to bottom, and left to right.

Default BIAB values for my equipment.
Default BIAB values for my equipment.

Enter your details

Batch Size Gallons

This is the volume into the fermenter, and will equal Post boil volume once chilled.

Grain Bill in Lb

Total weight of all grains, exclude any additional sugar adjuncts (table, sucrose, corn, belgian candy etc) added during the boil

Hop Bill in Oz

For now this is the total amount of all hops in any form. Pellet, dry, or wet, doesn’t matter.
    If I can find the requisite data, I would like to seperate these as they absorb different amounts of water.

Length of Boil in Min(s)

Self evident.

Boil-Off Rate (Gal/Hr)

Self Evident. I highly recommend you do a test boil, measuring your starting water volume and temp, and your final water volume and temp. I’m going to make another little calculator to figure out your boil off rate.

Grain Temp in Fahrenheit for Imperial, and Celsius for Metric

This is important, I know I’ve been guilty of not checking it but it can change your mash temp about a half degree.

Mash Temp in Fahrenheit for Imperial, and Celsius for Metric

This is your mash temp, after dough in, and mixing thoroughly. If different locations have different temps, you haven’t stirred enough.

Sparging Volume in Gallons

Amount of water you’re sparging with, at 68F, This can either be batch sparge, dunk sparge, or pour over.

How Big is your Kettle/Mashtun? (Gallons)

Maximum volume of your mash tun if mash in a bag, or Brew kettle if BIAB.

How Wide is your Kettle/Mashtun? (Inches)

Diameter of your brew kettle, used for determining water volume heights.

Trub Loss (Gallons)

Trub loss is currently trub loss from brew kettle after chilling, and before racking to fermenter.

Grain Absorption (Gallons/Lb)

How much water your grain absorps, and does not release from squeeze/sparging.
Hard Squeeze is the default, you may get very close if allowed to drain naturally and suspended.
If allowing to drain in a bucket with no self pressure from suspending the bag I recommend 0.1
If doing traditional mashing in a cooler, and not squeezing or allowing the bag to drain I recommend 0.125.

Hop Absorption (Gallons/oz)

Amount of wort your hops absorb. This absorption rate was cited for dry leaf hops, I know pellets and wet will be slightly different, but haven’t found a credible source for them yet.

General Results

Total water needed

8.50 Gallons
18.114 Inches high
This is the total amount of water used to end at desired batch size into fermenter. Assumed at 68F

Strike temp

163.64 F
 Calculated Strike temp for Strike volume.

Mash Thickness

1.70 Quarts/Lb
 Calculated mash thickness from grain bill and strike volume @ mash temp.

Total volume loss

3.00 Gallons
Total amount of wort/water lost, from trub, grain absorption, and hop absorption.

Gallon height

2.1303 Inches high
 Height of each gallon, assuming straight walled perfect cylinder.

Minimum Sparging Volume

2.83 Gallons
Recommended minimum sparging volume given pot size and mash volume.

Water Volumes and Heights

Water volume at 68F

8.50 Gallons
18.114 Inches high
Total water needed, calibrated for 68F and calculated height.
Strike water volume (temp. adjusted at strike temp)
8.54 Gallons
18.203 Inches high
Strike water needed, calibrated for strike temp and calculated height.

Volume of mash with grains (temp. adjusted at mash temp)

10.3 Gallons
21.985 Inches high
Mash water needed and grain volume after dough in, calibrated for strike temp and calculated height.

Pre boil (temp. adjusted at 212F)

7.21 Gallons
15.350 Inches high
Desired pre boil volume, at boil temp. If different and you trust your boil off rate, boil down to this volume.

Post boil (temp. adjusted at 212F)

5.74 Gallons
12.230 Inches high
Post boil volume, at boil temp, This is about 4.4% higher than desired batch size due to thermal expansion at boil.
Alternative calculator form for entering mash thickness instead of sparging volume is the exact same terms besides those two variables.

Mash Thickness (Qt/Lb)

Desired Mash thickness after dough in.dangers from happening.

Default BIAB values for my equipment.
Default BIAB values for my equipment.

Maximum Mash Thickness (3.35 Qt/Lb)

Maximum Mash thickness determined from your grain bill, batch size, losses, and pot size. Would recommend keeping Mash Volume .5 gallons below Pot size, for ease of dough in, stirring, and to keep any potential
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1350W heat stick review

I bought two of these heat sticks from amazon last week for 6.78 each, and have cut over 45 minutes off my brew day when using just one of them. About an hour cut off of my brew day using both. This is mostly due to a stove top that while able to boil 6 gallons, it takes far too long to get there on it’s own.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00FO8FY68?pc_redir=1413886912&robot_redir=1

Heating times:

From 140F tap water to a rolling boil it took my stovetop about an hour and a half. With one heatstick, in additon to the stovetop, I went from 70F tap water to boil in 36 minutes! I also timed to strike temp, 70F to 170F in 16 minutes! That’s faster than my propane burner was, and a lot cheaper.

Using a single heat stick to speed up the heating times, I completed a brew day in 3.5 hours. A half hour of that was spent dealing with draining and sparging the sparge buckets then I had to boil down .4 gallons after the 60 minute boil and that added about 20 minutes. So using both heat sticks, no chill, and a no sparge full volume mash I might be able to complete my next brew day in under 3 hours.

FIrst use and a word of warning

So there are two things to remember when dealing with these psuedo heat sticks.

1) These must ALWAYS be used on a GFCI protected circuit, one per heat stick. NO doubling up, no using with appliances. These must be dedicated and separate all by themselves. Moreover, 1 outlet does NOT mean one circuit.

2) Submerge before plugging in, and do not remove from the liquid without unplugging and waiting a bit to allow the  stick to cool. Failure to do either of these things risks failure and breaking the heating elements one time fuse.

20141104_121816
The top is slightly gray, this is what it should look like after boiling in water for an hour. The bottom has a much darker color, I had to boil the wort down a little after the typical 60 minutes as I was .4 gallons too high 😦

3) Run it in water for an hour, and allow to cool. The fake chrome will burn off, exposing the aluminum heating element and developing a layer of passive aluminum oxide. When you pull it out the stick should be a dark gray.

4) Do not expose to cleaning, or sanitizing agents. You don’t need to, and it’ll ruin the passive patina layer on the aluminum. No PBW, oxyclean, starsan, iodophor, bleach etc. Just wash it off when you’re done and dry off. It’s used in the pre-boil side anyway so no need to worry about it.

One more thing, I would recommend measuring your boil off again with these, as you can create local hot spots in the water before a real boil is reached.

Recommendation:

All in all I’m very happy I bought these up. However at the current price ($18~) I would be more inclined to build one instead.  At the original price they were amazing, cutting my time down significantly each brew day. Recommendation is to buy at least one of these once the price drops down again, if you use an amazon price tracking service it’ll alert you when the price drops back down to a reasonable amount.

https://thetracktor.com/detail/B00NJ156B0/

https://thetracktor.com/detail/B00FO8FY68/

Introduction

I made my first batch of beer at my parents house last winter, November 2013. Over the 6 months or so I only brewed a couple times until I upgraded my setup to a BIAB all grain setup in the summer. More on this later. I’m still attending undergrad, with a Physics and Math double major. I currently brew 5 gallons or so once a month since it’s usually just me drinking it with a a couple beers shared amongst friends.

I had a great opportunity recently to brew for a friends wedding. I jumped at it. It allowed me to do them a favor, get a lot of feedback from a huge crowd (200~ people) and allowed me to brew some more and learn more about this great hobby. Probably the biggest task about this endeavour was that I don’t keg, so we had to bottle some 400ish bottles of homebrew and cider.

My taste preferences currently learn towards malty rather than hoppy. Favorite styles are browns, porters, stouts, in addition to most belgian ales. While I don’t prefer hop bombs, I’ll have a nice pale ale, or esb as long as it isn’t too bitter it rips my face off.

I have great admiration for Brulospher, http://brulosophy.com/, and seem to share a similar goal and attention to brewing. I’d love to say I have as great a setup or the flexibility of his tools but I’m in an apartment and an undergrad student working at a certain swedish furniture retail store.

Anyways, much like brulospher, “Perhaps more than brewing itself, I have this obsession with simplification, efficiency, and experimentation. I like to research and rethink parts of the process that seem outdated or simply fallacious.”  Due to my drinking habits, and apartment brewing, I’m selling off some of my larger equipment and going to be focusing on split batches of 4G of wort between 2 5G buckets filled with 2G of wort. This will allow me to test and validate some of the things Brulosopher has done, as well as some of the things I’ve been interested in that hasn’t come up yet.

This blog is my way of keeping notes of my brews, as well as sharing my setup and experiences of homebrewing with my friends and fellow brewers. If you have anything you’d like to see, or any questions or comments please feel free to leave them below!

Coming up next, my BIAB calculator.