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Old 06-14-2009, 06:23 AM   #1
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Default efficiency

Ok, so ever since I've brewed AG, I've always had 70-75% efficiency. Anymore I'm always dead on 71%. I've been ok with this as it really doesn't effect my beer, but I figured I should change it.

So today when I brewed a hefe I took gravity samples every .5 gallon. I though the results were interesting.

First runnings (each number representing a half gallon):
1.085
1.082
1.066
1.065
Now I batch sparge(rubbermaid cooler and SS braid) and here is where the first 2 gallons of hot water was added:
1.030 (notice the massive drop)
1.027
1.024
1.018
Second 2.5 gallons:
1.018
1.017
1.017
1.016
1.016

Recipe was 4lbs german pils, 4lbs wheat, 2lbs honey malt. Mash at 1.33 qt/lb Sparge 1.6qt/lb 175*F water. Single infusion at 155.

So I'm looking at that and it seems there was sufficient conversion and the first running were spot on where they should be. Now on the sparge of the first hot liquor addition, the points drop through the floor so there has to be something wrong with my sparge technique. I pour in the 2 gallons, stir really well, let it sit a few minutes and drain. The only thing I can think of is, let it sit longer and then drain slower.

Anyone want to look at those numbers and conclude something different?

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Old 06-14-2009, 02:22 PM   #2
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It looks like you are not stirring enough before taking the runnings.
If you stir really well, and let it settle for 5 - 10 minutes before vorlaufing and then draining, then the sugars in the wort will be dissolved in the water and the runnings will remain almost constant until you add more water. When you do add more water, the gravity for the next batch of runnings will be lower because the extra water dilutes the sugar concentration.
From your figures, the gravity of each batch drops as the runnings proceed which indicates that the water at the top has less sugars dissolved in it than that at the bottom.
I'd try stirring better, and try to mix it from top to bottom to get an even distribution of sugars in the wort before draining.
You could also increase you sparge water temperature a bit (say 180F). This should not cause any problems providing the grain bed temperature does not exceed 170F.
Edit. Ignore the settling time of 5 - 10 minutes. That's what I usually do, but I don't really think it is required. End edit
-a.

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Old 06-14-2009, 02:41 PM   #3
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I'm really confused. If you batch sparge, the incremental runoff measurements should not change at all. Batch sparging relies on diffusion of sugars into solution. Basically you should be stirring the mash one more time before you vorlauf and runoff. After that, you infuse the batch sparge, stir really well, vorlauf and runoff. I just realized I just basically repeated what ajf said, but it's true so....

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Old 06-14-2009, 02:41 PM   #4
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I guess that I would expect a large drop in the SG between sparges. I mean, you are draining your first wort, which is massively laden with sugar... then adding 2.5 gallons of pure water. MUCH of the sugar was gone with the first runnings right? Then you are diluting what is left in 2.5 gallons of pure water.

I mean some people SINGLE batch sparge and get like 60-65% which means that much of the sugars run with the first runnings.

I was actually surprised to see that your second and third runnings ended and began, respectively, at the same SG... I would think that again, batch sparging, that the ending gravity of one sparge, and begining of another would be much different, because you were diluting what sugar was left, again, in 2.5 gallons of water.

This is all well and good, and I am not a batch sparger, but it seems that with each water infusion the SG would drop significantly.

How is your crush? How is your water? How long are you letting the water sit in the grain before running off? 5 minutes? 10 minutes? 2 minutes? I am not a batch sparger, but I know the water needs to be HOT, the grain bed 165F or so and that the water infusions have to sit for a while, 5 minutes or so, along with a good stir, to get good lauter eff.

I also agree with the above post, when you are batch sparging, the wort in the mash should be pretty homogenous, there should not be a large sugar gradient when running off. Fly sparging is a bit different, but you should see a pretty homogenous runoff.

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Old 06-14-2009, 05:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Pol View Post
I guess that I would expect a large drop in the SG between sparges. I mean, you are draining your first wort, which is massively laden with sugar... then adding 2.5 gallons of pure water. MUCH of the sugar was gone with the first runnings right? Then you are diluting what is left in 2.5 gallons of pure water.

I mean some people SINGLE batch sparge and get like 60-65% which means that much of the sugars run with the first runnings.

I was actually surprised to see that your second and third runnings ended and began, respectively, at the same SG... I would think that again, batch sparging, that the ending gravity of one sparge, and begining of another would be much different, because you were diluting what sugar was left, again, in 2.5 gallons of water.

This is all well and good, and I am not a batch sparger, but it seems that with each water infusion the SG would drop significantly.

How is your crush? How is your water? How long are you letting the water sit in the grain before running off? 5 minutes? 10 minutes? 2 minutes? I am not a batch sparger, but I know the water needs to be HOT, the grain bed 165F or so and that the water infusions have to sit for a while, 5 minutes or so, along with a good stir, to get good lauter eff.

I also agree with the above post, when you are batch sparging, the wort in the mash should be pretty homogenous, there should not be a large sugar gradient when running off. Fly sparging is a bit different, but you should see a pretty homogenous runoff.
Yes I would think each sparge should be significantly lower, but then after the 2nd and 3rd came up I got confused about it as well and figured that the 1-2 had something wrong with it.

Crush... I could probably go a touch finer without getting a stuck sparge. Not much though. Water is 175*F. That should be plenty warm enough. I give it a good stir, wait probably 2mins and drain. That may be it, I need to wait longer.

Also it could have nothing to do with the sparge technique and more on the crush like you said. With 10lbs of grain, is that 1.085-1.065 high enough? If not, I need to start there. If those numbers aren't high enough the following sure aren't going to be.
Run-off speed should make no difference in batch sparging....

*I'm going to go re-read kaiser's efficiency page.

Last edited by z987k; 06-14-2009 at 05:51 PM.
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Old 06-14-2009, 07:01 PM   #6
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If your crush is that fine already, then I agree... you should be able to pull 80+ percent eff. Perhaps the batch sparge infusions are not getting managed well enough. 2 minutes is not enough. I dont batch sparge, but have done some research and written on the topic... Id say your temp is good, but mix it well and let it sit longer, 5-10 minutes for each sparge. Also, you are right, runoff speed is of little concern.

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Old 06-14-2009, 08:15 PM   #7
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I'm not yet an all-grain brewer, but I've done a few partial mashes. All the other posts have some good suggestions, but here's one I haven't seen mentioned, and I believe it lowered my efficiency on my last batch. I was using a new copper manifold and had checked the dead space in my 5 gallon Igloo cooler MLT to be about 1/2 cup, using only water and just letting the outlet tube drain off into the sink. When I did the first actual mash, with the outlet tube lying on the bottom of the brew kettle to drain, as the runoff approached the end, I lifted the end of the tube out of the wort in the brew kettle to check the flow. What I wasn't thinking about was that the flow rate was much reduced because of the grain in the MLT - there wasn't enough flow to keep the outlet tube filled when I lifted it, and once it emptied, this allowed air into the tube, breaking the siphon, and leaving a lot more than the expected 1/2 cup of liquid in the MLT, effectively increasing the dead space. The fact that you were taking frequent hydro samples makes me wonder if you might have done the same thing. Of course, this wouldn't explain your efficiency problems with earlier batches where you weren't taking samples, unless you weren't keeping the end of the outlet tube submerged until the siphon broke normally from air entering from the inside of the MLT.

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Old 06-15-2009, 12:59 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeafSmith View Post
I'm not yet an all-grain brewer, but I've done a few partial mashes. All the other posts have some good suggestions, but here's one I haven't seen mentioned, and I believe it lowered my efficiency on my last batch. I was using a new copper manifold and had checked the dead space in my 5 gallon Igloo cooler MLT to be about 1/2 cup, using only water and just letting the outlet tube drain off into the sink. When I did the first actual mash, with the outlet tube lying on the bottom of the brew kettle to drain, as the runoff approached the end, I lifted the end of the tube out of the wort in the brew kettle to check the flow. What I wasn't thinking about was that the flow rate was much reduced because of the grain in the MLT - there wasn't enough flow to keep the outlet tube filled when I lifted it, and once it emptied, this allowed air into the tube, breaking the siphon, and leaving a lot more than the expected 1/2 cup of liquid in the MLT, effectively increasing the dead space. The fact that you were taking frequent hydro samples makes me wonder if you might have done the same thing. Of course, this wouldn't explain your efficiency problems with earlier batches where you weren't taking samples, unless you weren't keeping the end of the outlet tube submerged until the siphon broke normally from air entering from the inside of the MLT.
No I don't mess with the mash once I start draining.
The samples were all taken with a refractometer out of the 1/2 gallon bucket I was draining into once it was full.
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Old 06-15-2009, 01:32 AM   #9
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I think that 2 minutes is plenty of time. I double batch sparge and I vorlauf immediately after I stir (which takes a couple minutes) and then drain. I have been consistently getting 88 percent efficiency. My friend does not stir when he batch sparges. He is careful to not disrupt the grain bed when he adds water until the grain bed is covered and then he drains it off. He too gets around 90 percent efficiency using this method.

My theory is that it doesn't take much to dissolve the sugars if they are converted.

What is your mash pH? We both use 5.2 stabilizer. We also both use barley crushers FWIW. We've been joking that 5.2 stabilizer + barley crusher = 90 percent efficiency.

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Old 06-15-2009, 02:15 AM   #10
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I didn't test the pH of this mash. That was stupid if I was using it as a troubleshooting batch.

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