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Old 12-01-2010, 02:35 PM   #1
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Default 85% efficiency! woo whoo!

I've completed 3 all grain batches, summed up as:

1) NB Psuedo-Pils recipe: Pilsner grain bill with some carahel and carafoam, but a kolsch yeast. Came out fantastic! Early addition Magnum hops gave it a very distinct bitterness that almost perfectly nails the Hofbrau original recipe, which I was not expecting. I think I am going to start calling it a Hofbrau clone, cause' it is dead on! 75% efficiency, pretty happy about it as my first all-grain!

2) NB Dunkelweizen. Screwed the pooch on this one and ended up with ~55% efficiency. May have been a bad crush or poor sparge technique. Cracked open the first bottle last night; tastes slightly watered down, and I am really surprised that the wyeast 3068 didn't create a stronger ester profile, temps must have been too low: next time, I am not going to transfer to a secondary, and not cold crash! All in all, it's a pretty boring beer, which is disappointing because it's one of my favorite styles!

3) Black IPA. 85% efficiency! I couldn't believe it! Just brewed it this weekend, so no report on how it turned out, but I am ecstatic about the boost in efficiency! Due to poorly predicted boil-off the bitter addition ended being in the boil ~75 min. instead of 60, but we will see how it turned out!

Why the huge boost? I basically changed my sparge technique. The first two batches I did a fly-sparge by constantly pouring sparge water into the MLT, keeping ~2 inches on top of the grain bed at all times. With the Black IPA I did a batch sparge: vorlauf, collect first runnings, then 2 sparges. The batch sparge took about 90 minutes, but I hear that is okay...

Anyhoo, I am very excited to be nailing down a technique that works well with my equipment. Almost everything I learned I got off this site, so thanks everyone! This forum is phenomenal!

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Old 12-01-2010, 02:48 PM   #2
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Are you doing your own crush? I haven't changed my sparge style at all and have only been playing with the settings on my home-made crusher and have had my efficiency bounce all over the place. I got my own crusher after the third straight 55% efficiency from a certain online vendor's horrible crush.

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Old 12-01-2010, 05:15 PM   #3
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No, I am not doing my own crush. I was highly suspicious of the dunkelweizen crush upon arrival, but I went ahead anyways. The Black IPA crush was picture perfect, which I am sure added greatly to my efficiency.

You are right, in my case it only took one bad crush and I am already considering buying my own mill! I think SWMBO feels otherwise at the moment...

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Old 12-01-2010, 05:42 PM   #4
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Crushing your own grains adds a bit more time to the brewday, but it allows for much better control over the process. IMO, the quality of the crush is by far the most important factor in efficiency.

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Old 12-01-2010, 05:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ernst-Haeckel View Post
Why the huge boost? I basically changed my sparge technique. The first two batches I did a fly-sparge by constantly pouring sparge water into the MLT, keeping ~2 inches on top of the grain bed at all times. With the Black IPA I did a batch sparge: vorlauf, collect first runnings, then 2 sparges.

FYI: I typically get 75% efficiency with batch sparging, except for when I make a 10 gallon batch. For those larger batches, I am forced to do two sparges because I can't get all of the sparge water into the HLT in one shot like I can on a 5 gallon batch.

For the three 10 gallon batches that I have done, my efficiency has been in the 82-85% area because of the 2 sparges vs 1 sparge.
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Old 12-01-2010, 05:58 PM   #6
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I've only done 3 AG batches myself and the first one I got terrible efficiency (55% or so) with a single batch sparge... the second and 3rd batches both were in the 85% range with a 2 batch sparge... assuming there are no off tastes from tannins etc in my beer I'll be sticking with a 2 batch sparge. I like the high efficiency.

Does has anyone had issues with off flavors and 2 batches of sparge water?

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Old 12-01-2010, 06:36 PM   #7
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As far as I know, it's pretty hard to drive the pH high enough to extract tannins when batch sparging, unless your pH was too high all along. I think it's easier to do when fly sparging, by sparging too much.

But I wouldn't know for sure. I double batch sparge and have not noticed any off flavors. Unless your water is highly alkaline, you should be good.

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Old 12-01-2010, 07:37 PM   #8
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there is no woo whoo in having your efficiency numbers all over the place. It is not hitting the high efficiency numbers you seem to be elated with. It is hitting consistent numbers every brew.
So if you get 76, 75, 77, 75, 76, 77%, then that is the woo whoo!

It is just knowing how your equipment and process performs on a consistent bases that allows you to tweak, and formulate your favorite recipes that matters.

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Old 12-01-2010, 08:22 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OLDBREW View Post
there is no woo whoo in having your efficiency numbers all over the place. It is not hitting the high efficiency numbers you seem to be elated with. It is hitting consistent numbers every brew.
So if you get 76, 75, 77, 75, 76, 77%, then that is the woo whoo!

It is just knowing how your equipment and process performs on a consistent bases that allows you to tweak, and formulate your favorite recipes that matters.
Well, you were not in the kitchen with me when I calculated the 85% efficiency. Believe me, it was a woo whoo moment, and it felt great! In fact, I didn't even consider your overly conservative woo whoo criteria when I said it! Can you believe I truly felt elated? If that's not a true definition of a woo whoo moment, then I think you need to watch more of The Simpsons. Never deny yourself a woo who moment.

When you are just learning and you end up with 55% efficiency, it can be discouraging. When you then look for ways to improve your technique, and employ what you learned successfully, it is indeed a woo whoo moment.
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Old 12-01-2010, 08:31 PM   #10
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It's just that people try to put high efficiency as a must to do. When you get higher efficiency numbers, sometimes you take away from the flavor profile

Don't worry about how high you go in extraction, just try to hit whatever numbers you run consistently

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