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Old 02-19-2009, 01:55 PM   #41
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Originally Posted by menschmaschine View Post
I need to reconfirm, but I've been playing with water:grain ratios and lost about 5% (brewhouse) as well (93 to 88)


This is basically what I was explaining to Bobby. The bump you are getting from conversion efficiency is much less than the reduction in lauter efficiency that you get from not having as much sparge water. As a result your efficiency suffers. Only brewers with low efficiencies should see decent efficiency benefits from going to a thin mash.

Bobby, even though it may not come through as that I always greatly appreciate when brewers report experiences that don’t match other brewer’s experiences. It makes me think about what I’m saying and a sound theory should be able to cover all these experiences. For all who want to go really deep into this subject of figuring out where efficiency is lost, have a look at this: http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Troubleshooting_Brewhouse_Efficien cy#Example:_Making_sense_of_the_numbers . It’s an example on how to dissect your efficiency into the kettle (or even into the fermenter if you measure the volume of trub left in the kettle). If you do that for a thick vs. thin mash experiment you may see the changes in conversion and lauter efficiency and how they are affected by the mash thickness.

Thin mashing is as little a fix-all as crushing finer or mashing longer is.

OPINION: I think that a certain amount of efficiency needs to be lost during the lauter for good beer sake. Sparging always produces less quality wort than the first wort and I want to minimize the amount of wort gained from sparging as much as reasonable. As a result I actually prefer using more strike water than sparge water in most cases. I feel that a reasonable amount of sacrifice is 10-15% when batch sparging, which is what you get when you use 1 sparge for beers between 11 and 15P and 2 sparges for beers above 16P. Note that this is lauter efficiency and it not necessarily translates into 10-15% loss of efficiency into the kettle. No experiments have been done by myself to demonstrate that reducing the lauter losses below 10% will actually yield an inferior beer.

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Old 02-19-2009, 02:04 PM   #42
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Kaiser,
I had a question on that example in your Troubleshooting Efficiency page so I'll ask it here:

In the beginning you say that there are unconverted starches in the spent grain and say; “these 5% are still in the spent grain” …but then towards the end you say that “11% remained in the spent grain”. So I’m a bit confused. Is this 11% purely in the liquid that is still absorbed by the spent grain?

So is there 5% (which is starch) that "never got out of the individual grains" and then another 11% (which is sugar) that “never got out of the grain bed”?

Another question I had was about the addition of cold water to the spent grain to determine what was left behind. Did you use cold water specifically to keep those two numbers above separate? That is, you wanted to ONLY remove any residual sugars left in the grain bed but NOT convert any of that 5% of unconverted starch?

I think I may have answered my own question here…but I’ll ask anyway just in case I’m wrong.

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Old 02-19-2009, 02:49 PM   #43
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So is there 5% (which is starch) that "never got out of the individual grains" and then another 11% (which is sugar) that “never got out of the grain bed”?


Yes, that’s what I mean and I’ll be more clearly in the article.

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Another question I had was about the addition of cold water to the spent grain to determine what was left behind. Did you use cold water specifically to keep those two numbers above separate? That is, you wanted to ONLY remove any residual sugars left in the grain bed but NOT convert any of that 5% of unconverted starch?


The water can be any temperature. Cold water is easier b/c that’s what comes out of the tap. But thinking of it, you are correct that there is a benefit in not counting the unconverted starch as it was included in an earlier measurement and should not be included in a subsequent measurement.

Another test that I read about actually boils a sample of the spent grain to gelatinize all the starch and then adds a-amylase after cooling it down. This way you can also test how much unconverted starch was left in the grain. This is a little more robust than my method of measuring the FW gravity b/c it eliminates the effect of the actual extract potential of the grain but it is much more involved and we don’t need the accuracy that would be gained with this test.

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Old 02-19-2009, 03:04 PM   #44
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I plan on using 2qt/LB of grain on my first Lager attempt tonight but that is because I am doing a single decoction and will be taking a 1/3 out to boil.

Hope it goes well.

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Old 02-19-2009, 03:34 PM   #45
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This is quite the interesting topic considering I am quite efficiency minded (I always look for ways to make everything better.... its a downfall in some cases and a blessing in other situations.)

Either way, I would have thought there would have been some crazy calculations listed out in this thread about absolute potential of extracted sugars of "x"lbs of grain vs. actual amount of extracted sugars. Or some sort of volumetric efficiency degradation on a linear scale or chart. etc.

One of the things about AG brewing that I do not comprehend is why is it stated and accepted in many circles that a 75% efficiency rate is a really good target and there is really no need to try to get any higher (Jamil), but then there are all of you guys shooting for 90's and while there are some dissenters in the bunch and others bickering about this that or the other thing, you'd think that after over 2000 years of doing this, we would have figured out what is best by now.

But then I have to remind myself that there isn't always a "best" and that there is a grey area in many things. I would think that this method would help ME in MY brewing because I usually undershoot my OG with my setup. Not by miles, but by like a half a point. Then again, on my last brew, cramming 13.5qts of water and 12lbs 4oz of grain in a 5gal SS pot (stovetop AG method), there was about 1/4" of room before the top of the pot was reached with my mash. I calculated about 67% brewhouse eff on this one. It looked like I was making enough oatmeal to feed a batallion, and I couldn't help but thinking that at just north of 1qt/lb of grain, it was very "dry" in there. I would like to contribute to this notion, and once I get a larger pot or a cooler for a MLT (finally) I will try to go to 2qt/lb and see what happens.

Thanks Pol

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Old 02-19-2009, 03:47 PM   #46
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I think trying to qualify a realistic threshold between wort quality and efficiency is almost impossible to do unless you were insanely motivated to do so. It would involve brewing several otherwise identical batches and deriving the wort from mashes of varying efficiency. Of course, the OG would have to remain the same along with every thing else, but the lauter efficency (likely by differing sparge volumes) would have to change. After an identical fermentation, you'd have to blind taste the samples and rate them in order.

I don't have any problem with Kai's assertions because they make sense. I have been concerned with pulling 92% Mash/Lauter efficiency. I have been only using a single bulk sparge on OG targets of 1.045 or less and assuming 80% efficiency instead. I don't know for sure if my wort quality has improved but it's only a dollar more worth of grain to try it out for a while.

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Old 02-19-2009, 03:59 PM   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RedIrocZ-28 View Post
would have thought there would have been some crazy calculations listed out in this thread about absolute potential of extracted sugars of "x"lbs of grain vs. actual amount of extracted sugars. Or some sort of volumetric efficiency degradation on a linear scale or chart. etc.
Quote:
Originally Posted by RedIrocZ-28 View Post


If you want we can generate crazy data as well

Quote:
One of the things about AG brewing that I do not comprehend is why is it stated and accepted in many circles that a 75% efficiency rate is a really good target and there is really no need to try to get any higher (Jamil), but then there are all of you guys shooting for 90's and while there are some dissenters in the bunch and others bickering about this that or the other thing, you'd think that after over 2000 years of doing this, we would have figured out what is best by now.


That’s the thing with brewing. Everyone has his/her own opinion and their own process which is influenced by their experiences and what they have heard. Jamil is one voice (although a quite large and well respected one) but he is not very strong on the technical side of brewing. 75% is a good efficiency if it comes from a high conversion efficiency and a low lauter efficiency. The latter means that sparging was kept to a minium. I may say that 80-85% is better as you use your grains better and have higher bar for what your conversion efficiency should be. But you’ll have to crush more finely which may mean slower run-off.

In the end you need to see the whole picture and then it all will become clear to you and you may find that shooting for efficiency in the 90s is not worth it. But a lot of brewers have a higher is better attitude towards efficiency and I want to curb that a little bit in raising awareness for what contributes to efficiency and that 75% for one brewer is not 75% for another brewer.

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Old 02-19-2009, 04:07 PM   #48
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From my experience: I usualy stick to 70% efficiency. I crush fine, mash long (1h), but fly-sparge with limited amount of water 7-9 Ltr (~7 quarts).

Last batch I did with thin mash (1kg:4Ltr) and efficiency jumped up almost to 80%. If it keeps going on like that, I will be able to back-off on sparge water even further.

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Old 02-19-2009, 04:17 PM   #49
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Quote:
Either way, I would have thought there would have been some crazy calculations listed out in this thread about absolute potential of extracted sugars of "x"lbs of grain vs. actual amount of extracted sugars. Or some sort of volumetric efficiency degradation on a linear scale or chart. etc.

One of the things about AG brewing that I do not comprehend is why is it stated and accepted in many circles that a 75% efficiency rate is a really good target and there is really no need to try to get any higher (Jamil), but then there are all of you guys shooting for 90's and while there are some dissenters in the bunch and others bickering about this that or the other thing, you'd think that after over 2000 years of doing this, we would have figured out what is best by now.
2000 years? I thought it was closer to 5000. We haven't figured out the 'best' music either after all these years.

Sometimes I wonder what numbers we all use for points/pound/gallon. I just use whatever published numbers I find but even they don't always agree.

For the longest time I specifically AVOIDED trying to go higher than 80% (into the fermenter) and tried to stay at around 75%. But that was with LHBS crushed grain. Now that I have a barley crusher the exact same brewing process yields ~83%-84% (into the fermenter) and that's with only a .040" crush. So I consider that a 'good' increase (just intuitively...no proof) because my 'losses' were mostly due to a poor crush (my sparge:mash water ratio is usually ~3:2 so I don't think I'm over-sparging).
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Old 02-19-2009, 04:36 PM   #50
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I did my first double decoction thin mash(2qt/lb) last weekend and saw my efficiency jump from the low 70's to mid 80's. I was surprised by the increase. There's something to this. I was making a Vienna lager w/ Vienna malt.

Is a thin mash still considered a good method for ales w/ 2 row? Or is this better used with German lagers and their different grains(Vienna, Munich, Pils)

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