I'm just about to try my first all grain brew this weekend... Slightly nervous :)

I'm going to make the Black Sheep Ale recipe available from the hop and grain database... Being in Yorkshire it seems appropriate and I think it should suit my water.

The brew details are these:

Batch Size: 21.00 L Boil Size: 29.68 L Estimated OG: 1.046 SG Estimated Color: 28.2 EBC Estimated IBU: 35.9 IBU Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 % Boil Time: 90 Minutes

Other than an ingredients list this is the only information provided by the recipe... so...

My main question at this point is, out of the 29.68 litre boil size, how much do I mash with? And how much do I sparge with? Do I just work it out if a 1.5qt to 1lb ratio (or similar)?

Also... I'm going for a 66C single temperature mash... Is that appropriate?

I assume, also, that if I boil 29.68 litres for 90 minutes I will arrive at a final volume of 21 litres?

2 Answers 2


You can work out the mash volume based on a 1.5 qt/lb ratio, sure. Then use the remainder of the volume for sparge. What you'll see after doing that a bunch is that you're going to use basically half the volume for mash, and half for sparge.

66C is a reasonable "middle of the road" single-infusion mash temp.

A reasonable boil-off estimate is 10%/hour … ~30L is a bit much for a 21L post-boil target, even with a 90 minute boil. Though, you'll also need to factor equipment losses/deadspace into the volumes. And it won't be as important for this recipe, but on hop-heavy ales, the hops themselves can absorb a good deal of wort. It's always better to have a bit too much than not enough; I'd use the volumes you've indicated and keep notes to refine your volumes in future batches.

  • 1
    Thanks for your help. The brew went very well with a little bit of tweaking and improvising :) My strike temp was too low so had to hit it with much hotter water to achieve a mash temp of 66C, so with 21L of water added the mash was quite runny (I think). After sparging I ended up with 23L before the boil (lost about 7L to the mash pixies... is that about right?) and 18.5L of 1.058 after the boil. As @mdma says, this is all part of "dialing in" my equipment. I plan to repeat this same recipe a few times to get the process more accurate.
    – Doug
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 11:33
  • 1
    Another "loss" to account for is grain absorption; about 0.2 gl/lb is average, but it will depend on your crush, the grain, &c. As for software, I can toot my own dull horn with brew-journal.com/calc/mash-sparge
    – jsled
    Commented Dec 11, 2013 at 4:57

All grain brewing is a bit like fingerprints - everyone's is different, and it's usual to do a few batches to "dial in" your equipment.

Brewing software can help you calculate grain absorption and water needed for mash thickness. For your first brew, I would aim less than 30l pre-boil - probably closer to 27l. You can always add more water if you boil off too much.

  • Thanks - I intend to use brewing software eventually but I'd like to understand the process first before relying on automation to do my calculations... I guess a bit like learning to read a map before relying on SatNav :) I've commented on @jsled's answer - your opinions will be welcome if you have any.
    – Doug
    Commented Dec 9, 2013 at 11:38

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