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Old 07-06-2013, 01:42 PM   #1
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Default Anyone know how to stir mash in cooler without opening?

I've had consisted efficiency… 60 to 62%! I had an igloo cube cooler 60 quart. I've insulated the top with great stuff. I stir four or five times during the mash and I have batch and fly sparged. I also use an SS braid.

I'm thinking if I automate the stirring to be constant it may help.


Any thoughts would be helpful, automated or not on getting better efficiency.

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Old 07-06-2013, 01:48 PM   #2
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IMHO automated stirring is not going to miraculously bring you higher efficiency!

How is your crush???

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Old 07-06-2013, 02:43 PM   #3
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I don't own the grain mill, the LHBS does. I have to say that I trust them as they just took home a gold in the US Open Beer Comp. I also have gotten the same efficiency from a lot from Austin HBS. AHBS seemed courser, none of my buddies have the same issue as me and they get their grain at the same place. I

s it the cooler? The valve is a bit higher than the floor on a slant. It's the original drain spigot hole and a Bargain Fittings conversion kit.

All that being said, I'm a bit of a noob as I've only got 7 AG batches under my belt with no other point of reference.

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Old 07-06-2013, 03:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nosnhojm20 View Post
The valve is a bit higher than the floor on a slant. It's the original drain spigot hole and a Bargain Fittings conversion kit.
Are you leaving a lot of wort behind? The height if the spigot shouldn't matter as long as you dip down to the bottom with a tube before attaching to what ever you're using to filter the husks. With the drain tube lower than the tun a siphon action should get all the wort out.
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Old 07-06-2013, 03:48 PM   #5
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Easier yet, tip the cooler to completely drain b/w batch sparges.

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Old 07-06-2013, 04:01 PM   #6
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Those are great insights. I usually tip and usually am leaving about a quart behind is my guess. I wouldn't think that little is much of an issue though. I am starting to think it is the crush, nothing else makes sense to me! Frustration doesn't quite come through while typing.

I really don't want to invest in a mill yet as I just, after many homebrews, ordered all the parts for a keezer (which just got built). I promised I wouldn't spend more than 40 dollars on anything homebrew related except ingredients until I paid the keezer off.

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Old 07-06-2013, 04:11 PM   #7
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I second the suggestion on batch sparging. Although if your beer is good and efficiency is constant I would let it be and account for it in recipe formulation (ie. Add a bit more grain)

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Old 07-06-2013, 04:44 PM   #8
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A friend of mine also uses a 60 qt igloo cube cooler for 5 gallon batches and he's really been struggling with consistency (and efficiency). He has seen efficiencies from about 54% to 76% and they're never the same. It makes for a real hard time designing a recipe and a frustrating brew day. It's hard to balance a recipe when you never know what OG you're going to achieve.

He uses an unsoldered copper manifold with a piece of silicone tubing that dips down from the spigot to the manifold. He has noticed that if he takes the time to wrap each and every copper joint on the manifold with teflon (to take up any space) then he gets much better inconsistent efficiencies (65-75%) whereas if he does NOT wrap the joints with teflon then he can vary anywhere in that larger range but usually ends up on the poorer side of things (55-65%).

Just a note: Draining a cooler of water as opposed to a cooler of mash are drastically different. The water will always drain significantly better than the mash. One easy way of checking how much mash wort is not draining on a batch is after draining your first runnings, dig down in the grain with your spoon and take note of when you encounter wort/liquid. When doing this on my buddy's MLT we started seeing liquid that was several inches above the manifold which equates to 1-2 GALLONS of missed wort. IIRC, 1-1.5" of vertical distance in those things equates to a gallon so if you have wort that's 3" above a manifold then it could be 2 gallons of wort leftover (giver or take).

It's the first and second running where I think you take the biggest hit. For instance, if you were supposed to get 3.5 gallons of the highest sugar wort and you leave behind 50%, then your second runnings that drain as poorly as the first will only get you some of that back (half of 50%) so you're still leaving behind 25% of the first runnings PLUS a bunch of the second runnings (which should still be fairly high in terms of sugar content). This is what I suspect is causing my buddy issues in his MLT.

Also, it seems that specifically in these cooler setups (60 qt cube with elevated spigot) you are at the mercy of the siphon, especially as it gets lower and lower. Once you're down to ~3" above the bottom of the cooler you need to ensure that the siphon doesn't break otherwise you cannot get it going again.

I have a feeling that a possibly good solution for these coolers is a single line soldered copper manifold (cpvc would also be fine) that runs side-to-side along the bottom corner of the cooler closest to the spigot with the cooler tilted under the front so the slope descends to the single-line manifold. Also, I think the draining should be moderate speed (not too fast) so as to allow the wort to keep making it's way to the manifold without ever allowing air to channel in.

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Old 07-06-2013, 05:09 PM   #9
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A couple things come to mind for me that boosted my efficiency;
What kind of heat loss are you experiencing in your mash?
Why use such a big cooler for 5 gallon batches? My 6 gallon batches in high OG brews only need 40 qt tun. That's a lot of head space to lose heat to. I'm staunch in my belief that temperature control in the mash is dang near as important as temperature control in fermentation if you want consistency in your OG for the same recipes.

I never stir during the mash...only at mash in and mash out. I have a form of fly sparge.....it's a plexiglass plate that sits in the cooler lip for the top and has lots and lots of little holes in it (took about an hour to drill them all ). I gravity drain sparge water on the plate through a tube with more holes in it at the same rate as I empty the tun. That helped my efficiency.

You could ask your grain grinder to make a couple different grinds for the same recipes and see how that works. A bit time consuming but it would tell you if the grist is right or not.

I've used both manifolds and ss braids. Seems to me the manifolds have a larger effect depending upon the layout and such. I tinkered around with designs so much trying to improve that I quit and went to the SS braid no matter which tun I use just for convenience and predictability sake.

And I do put my mash tun on an incline even though my outlets are the kind that are in the indented drain....because I want every last drop I can get.

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Old 07-06-2013, 09:00 PM   #10
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When you first drain the liquid it will slow to a trickle or drip but the grain has not released all that it is going to, you still might be able to get quite a bit out of it. I fly sparge and have sight glass. I have noticed after I sparge and the spigot is closed that there will be a build up of liquid in the sight glass. With a fly sparge this liquid has very little sugar but with batch it might be considerable. I would leave the valve opened and let it slowly drain into a pitcher or other container and add it to the boil as it accumulates up until the last 15 minutes or so.

You definitely need to tilt your MT. If you are using a manifold, is it sitting at the bottom or is it suspended at the level of you drain hole?

You can check if you are leaving excess amounts of wort in the MLT after sparging by weighing your MLT and also the grains before you mash. When you are finished sparging, weigh the MLT (with the spent grains still inside). Subtract the before and after sparge weights and divide that amount by the pre-sparge grain weight. You want this number to be fairly close to 0.13 gal/lb.

(Pre-sparge weight of MLT and grains - post-sparge weight of MLT and grains) / pre-sparge weight of grains = grain absorbtion factor

Hope this helps.

Paul

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