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Old 08-15-2012, 07:49 PM   #1
46binder
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Default AG efficiency help

Brewed third AG batch today. First two were Centennial Blonde, and 1st one grind was way off and didn't hit the numbers. Second batch we did good and got the OG on target, everything went good. Our setup we got off C-list, from someone who used to brew alot but was back in the 80s-90s. We have an igloo cooler with a plastic bucket 'falsebottom'. Also have a Phil Mill, and Phils Sparge Arm. Today we brewed the Holly Christmas beer. Mashed at 152, and the 13 lbs were to the top of the cooler. Sparged water was 170. Sparge arm kept stopping, and had to stand there and make sure it spun. Stopped sparging when we got 6.5 gallons. Did not take a gravity reading at that point, should have I know. Boiled 60 min, and OG reading was 1.068, supposed to be 1.077. Beautiful color, smelled great. Pulled the grain out of the bucket after it all drained and there was another 1/2 gallon of oh so sweet looking wort still. Should we have kept sparging to get more? We stopped when we hit the 6.5 gal even though the wort was still nice and dark. My brother in law and I plan on some 10 gallon batches, and are going to buy a 10 gal igloo. Should we go with batch sparging with it and forget the phils arm? Already have parts for the SS supply hose for it. The rate of sparging was set by the flow from the arm, just enough to get it spinning, but with no stuck sparge, we got 6.5 gallons in 35 mins. Any ideas on what could be off or improve on?

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Old 08-15-2012, 08:06 PM   #2
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Here is a link for the size mash tun you might want to consider. HERE

If you are planning on making 10 gallon batches you are going to be limited on the OG you can get with a 10 gallon cooler.

First I would look at the crush of your grain.. How does it look? and whole grains still?
Also since you are fly sparging are you keeping about an inch or two of water above the grain bed. Alot of people are just using a plain old tube, nothing fancy. Also you may want to slow the sparge down so it takes closer to 50min-1hour..

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Old 08-15-2012, 08:29 PM   #3
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You could certainly have collected a bit more wort and just boiled longer to get down to your batch size. Not a biggy though and the beer will probably still be great.

Going forward, every system is going to have some points of loss - eg that last quart left in the bottom. As you get more consistent in your process, you can just account for that when you build the recipe. eg add an extra half lb of grain. Predictability is more important than squeezing every last ounce of wort out.

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Old 08-16-2012, 01:58 AM   #4
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Don't forget about mash pH. When you start obsessing about efficiency and how to improve it, pH needs to be a parameter to look at. Enzymes need a certain pH range to work efficiently so low mash conversions could be partially due to a being out of that window.

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Old 08-16-2012, 03:05 AM   #5
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Bah, I say scrap the fly sparge and just batch sparge. (but I'm not looking to start a war on this folks! ) Easier and faster, and very good efficiency can be obtained; proven by many.

It seems to me that fly sparging could indeed be the most efficient method (though not time-wise, God knows), but you have to get your system finely tuned to make it work well. And when you add the time factor, it's not worth it, IMO. Unless you just like to tinker with these things and want the challenge of making it work.

Lots of good info on batch sparging out there, but you can take a look at this: http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/
or search for Bobby M's profile and get his primer (PDF).

Good luck.

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Old 08-16-2012, 04:37 PM   #6
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I'm only on my 5th batch of AG, and my last two I have started hitting my OG right where I want it. The main three things it took for me to get this down were:

1. Grain crushing. I didn't realize how important it was to adjust the grain mill at the homebrew store just right, and took the employee's word for it that the little white mark lining up meant it was set up right. Luckily I ran into an experienced brewer in the grain room who showed me how fine to mill. (Much finer than I had been).

2. Batch sparging, splitting sparge into two water additions, after calculating how much I'd need, accounting for grain absorption and all that. MIXING THE CRAP out of the mash after each water addition and let it sit a bit before draining.

3. Calculating the water amount right. Like you said, having all that extra wort that didn't fit in the boil, you lost out on alot of sugars.

Hopefully this helps, from someone that just figured some of it out!

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Old 08-16-2012, 11:01 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GuitarGumption
I'm only on my 5th batch of AG, and my last two I have started hitting my OG right where I want it. The main three things it took for me to get this down were:

1. Grain crushing. I didn't realize how important it was to adjust the grain mill at the homebrew store just right, and took the employee's word for it that the little white mark lining up meant it was set up right. Luckily I ran into an experienced brewer in the grain room who showed me how fine to mill. (Much finer than I had been).

2. Batch sparging, splitting sparge into two water additions, after calculating how much I'd need, accounting for grain absorption and all that. MIXING THE CRAP out of the mash after each water addition and let it sit a bit before draining.

3. Calculating the water amount right. Like you said, having all that extra wort that didn't fit in the boil, you lost out on alot of sugars.

Hopefully this helps, from someone that just figured some of it out!
Pretty much hit the nail on the head with your AG improvements, everything I would have suggested!
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