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Marcorpheus 02-08-2013 08:07 PM

Brewing big beers
 
I'm interested in brewing big imperial IPAs and imperial stouts with my 10 gallon water cooler mash tun and 8 gallon brew pot. The problem is I only get about 60% mash efficiency at best when I load up the mash tun with grains. Should I adjust recipes to be partial extract to get the ABV? Any advise is appreciated.

Toga 02-08-2013 08:34 PM

Extract? NOoooooooo!!!!!!........Your extraction issue could be related to two things.
1. The crush of your grain.
2. Your method of sparging.

Your grain should be fully crushed. No intact grains. Here is a link to some good examples of a good crush. http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Evaluating_the_Crush

For your sparge describe your method.

aiptasia 02-08-2013 08:37 PM

Adjust the length of your mash to 70 mins, too. And if you're using American 2 row, consider a temperature stepped mash.

ktraver97ss 02-08-2013 08:51 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by aiptasia (Post 4881525)
Adjust the length of your mash to 70 mins, too. And if you're using American 2 row, consider a temperature stepped mash.

I doubt its time, everything I read tells me conversion is done in less than 60min. Why would you step mash if your using 2-row?

Im guessing its sparge related or too deep of a grain bed. If it only happens with big beers Id upgrade your mash tun.

norsk 02-08-2013 11:59 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Marcorpheus (Post 4881391)
I'm interested in brewing big imperial IPAs and imperial stouts with my 10 gallon water cooler mash tun and 8 gallon brew pot. The problem is I only get about 60% mash efficiency at best when I load up the mash tun with grains. Should I adjust recipes to be partial extract to get the ABV? Any advise is appreciated.

Until you adjust your procedures and equipment, adding the appropriate amount of DME would work like a charm. Looks like going to a larger mash tun would be in order if you plan on making bigger beers. I just brewed two big beers with 26 and 23 lbs of grain and space was tight in my 48 qt mash tun as well.

beertroll 02-10-2013 03:09 AM

If you're running out of mash capacity in your tun and you have another container (2nd cooler, food grade bucket, etc), you could do two mashes. Divide your recipe in half, mash once, and lauter into your extra container. Then, clean out your tun, mash again, and lauter into your kettle. Add the extract from the first mash and boil as normal.

phenry 02-10-2013 01:13 PM

What exactly do you mean by "load up the mash tun with grains"? When you're doing a big mash, or just regular mash? You'll almost always see a decrease in efficiency with big beers due to the decreased amount of available sparge water, still though, 60% is kinda low. Do you crush your own grains?

When I brew a beer north of 1.080 I just account for the decreased efficiency with more grain, and I have yet to max out my 10 gallon cooler. Starting a boil with 7.5 gallons in an 8 gallon kettle is definitely an experience though. I figure a pound of grain is just as expensive, if not less, than an extra hours worth of propane for boiling, so I usually just adjust up the grain bill.

thisone 02-10-2013 01:43 PM

boil longer to increase the amount of sparge water that you can use

I also saw my efficiency jump when I switched from a SS braid to a false bottom (now I'm rinsing the grain bed better)

Marcorpheus 02-10-2013 07:38 PM

Thanks for all the useful advice. I've been ordering the grains already crushed from northern brewer and my mash tun has the braided hose instead of a false bottom. Would either of those be contributing significantly to mash efficiency issues? Usually I put all the grains in the mash tun at once. Would splitting it into two mashes help?

Toga 02-10-2013 08:52 PM

I use a stainless steel braid in my tun and average 75% efficiency when batch sparging. Are you batch sparging? If you are not switch over to batch sparging.


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