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Old 05-12-2011, 05:28 PM   #1
manoaction
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Default Darnit, I just suck at this.

My efficiencies with all grain seem to be wildly inconsistent.

5 1/2lb 2 Row
5 lb Vienna
1 lb Crystal 10L
1/2 lb Carapils

I'm using a cooler with a braid for my mash tun.

I crushed my grains at the store. Heated eight gallons of water to 160 for a 2:1 mash ratio. I added my salts based on my city water report, the EZ Water Calc spreadsheet, and Palmer's how to brew chart.

I then mashed in and the temperature adjusted to 153 in short order. I stirred the mash every 15 minutes or so.

Sixty minutes later I drained off 6 gallons to find that my gravity was at 1.035 instead of the 1.053 I was planning on. I multi-tasked yelling and cursing while sparging an additional 3 gallons.

I boiled for an eternity and left the burner on high to bleed off as much as possible and ended with 1.045 OG.

This was the fourth time through on this recipe, they always taste good, friends and family ask for more, but the wild inconsistency is hugely frustrating.

I'm trying to think of problems with my technique and could use some help. I guess my temp might be a little high, but I thought that would mainly cause problems with attenuation, not the mash.

I'm trying to keep accurate notes and be detailed about what I do, but I can't pin down why my mash is so inconsistent.



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Old 05-12-2011, 05:34 PM   #2
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Are you doughing in 12 lbs of grain into 8 gallons of water or did I misread your post?



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Old 05-12-2011, 05:47 PM   #3
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Yeah, I had the same question. 8 gallons is more like the TOTAL amount of water you'll need for that much grain - 3 to mash with, 5 to sparge with.

I like this for calculating my water amounts:
http://brew365.com/mash_sparge_water_calculator.php

This is also a great reference that I think will help you. Maybe skip to the end where it's the Bobby_M method and try that for 1-2 brews and then tweak it to your style if needed:
http://www.suebob.com/brew/Bobby_Mallgrainprimer.pdf

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Old 05-12-2011, 05:58 PM   #4
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To each their own, but I wouldn't mess with salt additions until you get the rest of the process down. That is unless there is something seriously wrong with your water. I would calibrate all thermometers, pay closer attention to volumes/mash thickness (i use 1.4 ratio for mashes) and try to keep everything else as simple as possible.

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Old 05-12-2011, 06:06 PM   #5
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Stirring the mash seriously reduces the amount of heat in the mash. By varying the amount of time you stir your mash you vary how much heat you lose which affect the amount of starch that is converted. On top of what else has been said I would stop stirring during the mash.

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Old 05-12-2011, 06:10 PM   #6
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One other thing to consider (aside from the above) is the mash time.

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Old 05-12-2011, 06:13 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ayoungrad View Post
One other thing to consider (aside from the above) is the mash time.
It looks as though his mash time is 60 minutes, which I'd say is pretty normal.
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Old 05-12-2011, 07:00 PM   #8
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Do you fly or batch sparge?

You mentioned that you crushed the grain at the LHBS. Do you have control over the mill's settings?

+1

8 gal would be 2.66:1

6 gal would be 2:1

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Old 05-12-2011, 07:08 PM   #9
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Sorry for the mistype. I meant I mashed with 6 gallons for a 2:1 ratio.

I had my floating thermo in the mash the whole time and the temp at the end was within two degrees of starting. Palmer says to stir to help wash the water over the grains, so that's what I was doing.

60 minute mash, 30 minute fly sparge are my times.

Because my tun has the space, I was thinking a thinner mash thickness would help prevent stuck sparges and have better temp stability. No?

I don't have control over the mill setting at the shop, but the crush didn't look any less fine than usual.

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Old 05-12-2011, 07:20 PM   #10
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That ratio still seems pretty high to me. Also, I'd imagine with that much in the mash, you collected a ****load of 1st runnings + then you said you prepped another 3 gallons for sparging with... it's no wonder you had to boil down forever. All your wort seems like it would be really really diluted by then. Mashing with 6 gallons of strike water like that - you're almost doing like brew-in-a-bag grain/water ratio - where they typically wouldn't even sparge.

What I would suggest is to shoot for something like 1.25 qts/lb for your ratio. Then, your sparge volume can be "pretty much" what you want your final batch size to be (as a quick guideline) - say 5 gallons. That way, you'll collect a few gallons from your first runnings, then collect your second runnings til you're at a target pre-boil volume that can be boiled down to 5 gal in an hour, rather than running the burner forever.

It makes no sense to me to collect so much wort and then have to boil forever. I understand your reasoning, but I just don't think you'll have as much to worry about as you think as far as holding temps and stuck sparges.



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