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Old 02-06-2013, 08:01 PM   #11
TastySalmon
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I guess I always have to scratch my head when small-batch brewers make a stink about efficiency.

Efficiency matters if you're brewing 15bbl batches and need to maximize efficiency for your budget's sake. It doesn't matter when you're brewing 5 gallon batches and only need to increase your base malt by a 1/2 pound to make-up for poor efficiency.

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Old 02-06-2013, 08:07 PM   #12
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I guess I always have to scratch my head when small-batch brewers make a stink about efficiency.

Efficiency matters if you're brewing 15bbl batches and need to maximize efficiency for your budget's sake. It doesn't matter when you're brewing 5 gallon batches and only need to increase your base malt by a 1/2 pound to make-up for poor efficiency.
True, but he's not making a stink about it and he doesn't care about the number.

He's trying to be consistent. That's important. It's hard to be 75% in one brew, and 50% in another. He's trying to hit a steady % each time, whatever that number is.

I hit 72% all the time when I batch sparge, always. And 75% when I fly sparge. Always. The actual efficiency isn't important, as grain is cheap, but being consistent IS important.

Anyway:
What kind of braid/false bottom/manifold do you have?
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:05 PM   #13
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I hit 72% all the time when I batch sparge, always. And 75% when I fly sparge. Always. The actual efficiency isn't important, as grain is cheap, but being consistent IS important.

Anyway:
What kind of braid/false bottom/manifold do you have?
That's the consistency I'm looking for!

I've got one of these in a Rubbermaid:

http://www.amazon.com/Bazooka-Screen.../dp/B003ISY2DC

Never yet had a stuck sparge.

-Rich
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:27 PM   #14
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One thing that might help, if it wasn't brought up, is to pull the wort to your boil pot slowly, like one gallon every 12 minutes or so. I regularly pull 7.5 to 8 gal of wort, so this should be at least an hour to hour and a half process. My efficiency is always 80-85%, though I do crush my own grains. I also use Beersmith, which has done me well. As far as your vorlauf, I would pull at minimum at least 5 quarts, or about 15-20 minutes worth. Though I now have a pump, I always used this method and was close to 80% even then. Something to consider.

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Old 02-06-2013, 09:46 PM   #15
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One thing that might help, if it wasn't brought up, is to pull the wort to your boil pot slowly, like one gallon every 12 minutes or so.
I know this is so for fly sparging, but my understanding is that a slow runoff makes no (or very little) difference when it comes to batch sparging. All the batch advice I've gotten is to vorlauf and set the grain bed, and then let it rip wide-open.

I do know that adding an additional 90 minutes to my brew day isn't happening. My process is already in the 5-6 hour range. Moving to 7-8 hours for a few more efficiency points just isn't worth it to me.

As was said above, consistency is the point of this post, not maximum efficiency. I should probably edit the FP to state that more clearly.

-Rich

[Edit: edited the first post to make the consistency point better.]
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Old 02-06-2013, 09:49 PM   #16
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One thing that might help, if it wasn't brought up, is to pull the wort to your boil pot slowly, like one gallon every 12 minutes or so. I regularly pull 7.5 to 8 gal of wort, so this should be at least an hour to hour and a half process. My efficiency is always 80-85%, though I do crush my own grains. I also use Beersmith, which has done me well. As far as your vorlauf, I would pull at minimum at least 5 quarts, or about 15-20 minutes worth. Though I now have a pump, I always used this method and was close to 80% even then. Something to consider.

But for batch sparging, which doesn't rely on the principle of diffusion like fly sparging does, a longer lauter isn't beneficial. Neither does a super long vorlauf.
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Old 02-06-2013, 10:15 PM   #17
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Let me get this straight...your LHBS _won't_ double crush? I mean, whose grain is it anyway? You're paying them, right? Crush is the #1 factor in efficiency and until that's right, none of the other stuff will help all that much.

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Old 02-06-2013, 11:09 PM   #18
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Let me get this straight...your LHBS _won't_ double crush? I mean, whose grain is it anyway? You're paying them, right? Crush is the #1 factor in efficiency and until that's right, none of the other stuff will help all that much.
I am telling the thread three times: I'm not going for maximum efficiency, but for maximum consistency. I apologize for doing a poor job of making that point from the start.

I also mentioned in the FP that I'm happy with his standard crush, because it doesn't change. The fact that I can't change a crush that yields 70-75% efficiency doesn't bug me. I mentioned it to make the point that I can't change it.

Anyway, if it was his crush that was going all over the place, then double-crushing with an inconsistent gap wouldn't improve consistency either.

-Rich

PS. Thanks to everyone trying to help with my efficiency, but that's a battle for another time, once I know I can do the same thing twice running.
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Old 02-06-2013, 11:31 PM   #19
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I am telling the thread three times: I'm not going for maximum efficiency, but for maximum consistency. I apologize for doing a poor job of making that point from the start.

I also mentioned in the FP that I'm happy with his standard crush, because it doesn't change. The fact that I can't change a crush that yields 70-75% efficiency doesn't bug me. I mentioned it to make the point that I can't change it.

Anyway, if it was his crush that was going all over the place, then double-crushing with an inconsistent gap wouldn't improve consistency either.

-Rich

PS. Thanks to everyone trying to help with my efficiency, but that's a battle for another time, once I know I can do the same thing twice running.
That's not really how it works, though. A coarse crush (even a consistently coarse crush) is exactly the kind of thing that can give you significant variation in efficiency, especially in a non-recirculating system. The purpose of a fine crush is to get you complete conversion. Everyone, regardless of system type and sparging method, should be getting 95%+ conversion on every batch regardless of recipe. If you're not getting that, something isn't working right. If your LHBS's crush is coarse, you become very vulnerable to efficiency drops brought on by variations in grist composition, malt protein content, and even just your own stirring.

From there, lautering efficiency is mostly just a matter of time, system, and personal preference. (Likewise, if you really want to diagnose efficiency problems, you might consider doing some diagnostic work to figure out *where* exactly you're getting variation. Check out Kai's troubleshooting guide for a very comprehensive checklist: http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php...use_Efficiency)
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Old 02-07-2013, 04:18 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Echoloc8

I am telling the thread three times: I'm not going for maximum efficiency, but for maximum consistency. I apologize for doing a poor job of making that point from the start.

...

PS. Thanks to everyone trying to help with my efficiency, but that's a battle for another time, once I know I can do the same thing twice running.
I think what people are alluding to is that you will almost certainly find that to start with, they are one in the same. Consistency starts with efficiency and they are inextricably linked. Not to imply that you need to go for peak efficiency straight away, but to nail consistency, you need to start with finding the core of the efficiency issue.

As others have said, crush is the first thing to look at. Invest in a malt mill if you can, otherwise beg your LHBS to double crush or search around for a brew club where you can ask someone to use their mill (you could also probably ask another customer at the brew shop - strike up a conversation, and then bribe them with a couple of beers in exchange for using their mill .
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