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Old 08-19-2007, 06:20 AM   #1
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Default Help my batch sparge technique

I have searched for help on this topic, but I couldn't find specifically what I was looking for, so I apologize if I overlooked anything.

I brewed my "Moktoberfest" Ale today and I continue to be plagued with what I consider to be poor efficiency and I am looking for some help on improving that practice. Here is a breakdown of my procedure:

Mash in @ 1.25 qts/lbs for 60 minutes. After conversion, I stir, recirculate until clear and then drain the MLT. I then do two rounds of batch sparging in equal volumes, stirring and recirculating before draining, the sparge water is 170 degrees. I currently use a round cooler w/ a SS braid for my MLT. Where am I going wrong?

For those interested here is the grain bill for 3 gallons which gave me 1.054 @ 61%:

4.00 lb Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM) Grain 50.0 %
2.50 lb Munich Malt (9.0 SRM) Grain 31.3 %
1.25 lb Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 15.6 %
0.25 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 3.1 %

Thanks!

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Old 08-19-2007, 10:52 AM   #2
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To me the one thing that sticks out is that a sparge of 170 is not going to raise the grainbed temp all that much. You might consider doing a mashout with a a gallon of boiling water prior to first runnings (should get you to at least 160F). Sugars are more soluable at higher temps so you'll get higher efficiency. The other option is to make the sparge water hotter.

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Old 08-19-2007, 02:08 PM   #3
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Bobby is right, that is probably your problem. But you might consider accomplishing the aforementioned mashout with a decoction. I find that is lends itself well to batch sparging.

I find that I start to use too much water when I add another gallon of boiling water to the cooler. Plus, it takes a lot of hot water to increase the temperature of a cooler, it has really poor thermal conductivity.

What I've started doing is using a take on a decoction. I use this for step mashing, too, but you can consult your Charlie Papazian book for that.

So let your mash rest for 45 mins.
Then pull 1 gallon of clear wort.
Get it boiling like crazy for a few minutes.
Add it back to your mashtun to mashout @ 165-168.
Recirculate and drain.
Single batch spare and drain.

Like magic, your efficiency will be great.
And, you know what, if it's still "low" after that, just spend an extra $2 and buy more grain next time and don't worry so much.

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Old 08-19-2007, 02:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sixbillionethans

So let your mash rest for 45 mins.
Then pull 1 gallon of clear wort.
Get it boiling like crazy for a few minutes.
Add it back to your mashtun to mashout @ 165-168.
Recirculate and drain.
Single batch spare and drain.


I'll give that a shot for my next brew, sounds like a great idea. Thanks!
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Old 08-19-2007, 02:33 PM   #5
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Have you tried taking the gravity of your final runnings? If this is much above 1.020, then the problem is probably in the sparge.. If the gravity is less than or close to 1.020, and the sparge water was stirred well, then the problem is probably in the mash (poor grain crush, inaccurate thermometer etc).

-a.

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Old 08-19-2007, 04:58 PM   #6
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1) Are you testing for conversion with iodine?
2) Who crushes your grain?
3) Increasing the temp of your sparge to 168-170 will help - a little

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Old 08-19-2007, 07:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajf
Have you tried taking the gravity of your final runnings? If this is much above 1.020, then the problem is probably in the sparge.. If the gravity is less than or close to 1.020, and the sparge water was stirred well, then the problem is probably in the mash (poor grain crush, inaccurate thermometer etc).

-a.
I would imagine most of your problems are in the crush. I crush until I'm scared ( using a porkert) and my efficiency ranges from 77% to 85%.
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Old 08-19-2007, 07:26 PM   #8
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Your braid is probably fine....I would recommend NOT stirring after your rest for the first time. Just wait your 60 mins, then recirc, then drain off your wort. Don't stir before you recirc, because most of the goodness will have moved to the bottom of the tun in 60 mins. You want to get those first runnings right out the box! Then, when you've done that, add your sparge water, stir it in, wait 15 mins, recirc, and collect.

Everyone has a slightly different method, I just don't like messing with my first runnings, because that's as good as it gets!

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Old 08-19-2007, 08:46 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ScubaSteve
Your braid is probably fine....I would recommend NOT stirring after your rest for the first time. Just wait your 60 mins, then recirc, then drain off your wort. Don't stir before you recirc, because most of the goodness will have moved to the bottom of the tun in 60 mins. You want to get those first runnings right out the box! Then, when you've done that, add your sparge water, stir it in, wait 15 mins, recirc, and collect.

Everyone has a slightly different method, I just don't like messing with my first runnings, because that's as good as it gets!
Hey Steve -- you might try an experiment sometime and actually do a stir about 10 mins before each recirc. I get higher efficiency this way, and you might too.

I think your advice might be more appropriate to fly sparging than batch sparging. In batch sparging you want to get as much sugar dissolved in your mash and sparge water as possible, so (in theory) the most even distribution of sugars in the mash is most desirable. But that's not to say that everyone's system works like it should 'in theory' either. Just a suggestion in case you hadn't experimented.
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Old 08-19-2007, 09:04 PM   #10
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Yeah, like I said, that's just what I know from my own methods. I base this on the fact that I get nothing but pure syrup out of the valve. I actually do stir before I pull my second runnings, and that seems to work well in comparison to not stirring. I'll give it a shot, and let you know how it turns out.

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