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Old 04-22-2012, 03:07 AM   #1
ChadChaney
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Default Another Efficiency Post for HELP

Ok, so I went AG a month or 2 ago after plenty of extract and PM brews. I have a 10 gallon cooler setup, and a ten gallon kettle. I have batch sparged and fly sparged and have some efficiency issues. I use BeerSmith and have used a crush from LHBS and my buddy, who has a Barley Crusher, both crushes were really solid, I think I have eliminated this as the issue. I am routinely getting an efficiency in the mid 50's.
I measure my water volumes accurately, hit my temps (+/_) a degree, and actually hit all my number in BeerSmith, but my efficiency is terrible. Not sure what the issue is. I do single infusion mashes, no mash out, fly sparge ( the way I am going from now on) and have BeerSmith set up for my system. I am not sure where to start the troubleshooting. Could the issue be water volumes, sparge water volumes, sparge temps, no mash out, etc...

I am sure there is information I have not listed that may be needed to help diagnose the issue, so feel free to ask for more information, I will post screen shots and provide all the info I can.

Thanks in advance for the assistance!

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Old 04-22-2012, 03:15 AM   #2
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What temp are you mashing at? How about sparge temps? Sparge durations? Sparge collection rate? Temp loss of your cooler setup in a given time?

We'll figure this out for you if you give us more info.



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Old 04-22-2012, 04:29 AM   #3
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How about thermometer/hydrometer calibration? Are you sure they are accurate?

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Old 04-22-2012, 02:30 PM   #4
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What they said, plus:
What sort of collection device do you have in your MT? Braid, manifold, flash bottom?

FWIW, I got a 10% increase in efficiency fly sparging when doing a mash out. I used to think that it was caused by increasing the grain bed temperature during the sparge from the lower 150's to the upper 160's. I now think the increase was caused by stirring in the mash-out water at the end of the mash.

-a.

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Old 04-22-2012, 03:32 PM   #5
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Out of curiosity how do you know that you are measuring your water volumes accurately? I highly recommend checking out the graduating carboys link in my signature since a great many measuring tools used around the kitchen are pathetically inaccurate.

EDIT: Finding where the sugar is during your brew day is very helpful in troubleshooting low efficiency. After you add your strike water and the mash is complete, take a gravity reading. You know what your mash gravity should be, it should be very close to 100% extract efficiency. If it is way low, then you know your problem is in the mash. If it is close to 100% then the mash is fine. When you are done collecting wort into your boil kettle, take a gravity reading of the final runnings. Then add a little more water to your mash, stir like mad, and let it rest for 10 minutes, then measure the gravity of that mixture. Did it go up? If so, you know your lauter is at least partially to blame. Even if it did not go up you can work out how much sugar has been left behind in your grain bed and so how much efficiency drop comes from the incomplete lauter. The same can be done for trub in the boil kettle, and losses from hop absorption if applicable.

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Old 04-23-2012, 03:02 AM   #6
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Ok, first some more information is needed for you guys, here it goes: I generally mash @ 152, per BeerSmith, last 2 brews were IPA's, Sparge temp is 168, again per BeerSmith, with no mash-out. I use a bucket for sparge water with a wrap made of heat retaining bubble wrap, last 2 brews I left a floating thermometer in the sparge water and lost maybe a degree over the course of the sparge. Sparge time is around 30 minutes for last brew. As for temp loss in the cooler, I actually had the opposite issue last time, stopped the heating of the mash water right at 152 and when I added grain and water and temped, I was a little high so I added a bit of chilled water to get back to temp.
I am sure thermometer and hydrometer are accurate and have used 2 different refractometers last time and they both showed the same readings. I use a false bottom in the mash tun and have no issues with stuck sparges. As for how I know my water volumes are correct, I took a wooden dowel and notched it at .5 gallon increments as I added water to the kettle. As for water volumes in the carboy, I do need to measure those accurately.

Ok, so far I need to measure my carboy volume, consider a mash out, and measure my sugars at all the correct times on brewday. Here is a question, could I just have my settings screwed up in BeerSmith? Would it help to post a pic of of my equipment profile, water volume page, mash page and recipe?

Thanks for all the help folks!

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Old 04-23-2012, 06:25 AM   #7
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It may be possible that your fly sparge is not rinsing out the sugar adequately and may be flowing through the path of least resistance through the grain bed rather than reaching all of the grain.

One way to test is with a batch sparge and give the grain a good mix with each batch of water. I'm not aware of any drawbacks of doing this but maybe some others could shed some light on it.

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Old 04-23-2012, 11:06 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Davey_Boi View Post
It may be possible that your fly sparge is not rinsing out the sugar adequately and may be flowing through the path of least resistance through the grain bed rather than reaching all of the grain.

One way to test is with a batch sparge and give the grain a good mix with each batch of water. I'm not aware of any drawbacks of doing this but maybe some others could shed some light on it.
+1 I recommended this above as well as a few other checks during the mash/lauter process.


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Primary - Bemused Bitter, Munich Saaz SMaSH
Secondary - Air
Bottled - Oatmeal Stout 2011, Apfelwein, Withdrawn Wheat, Bourbon Barrel Barleywine SMaSH, Christmas Ale 2010, Perplexed Pale Ale
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