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Old 02-21-2012, 08:27 PM   #1
vtron
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Default Bad efficiency on first 2 AG batches. Could it be pH?

I've done 2 batch sparge all grain batches and both had an efficiency just under 60%. One was crushed by Norther Brewer and one was crushed by my LHBS, so I don't think the crush is the issue. I followed all of the steps in the "Maximizing Efficiency when Batch Sparging" sticky EXCEPT pH. I just checked my local water report and it looks like I hover around 7.2 to 7.4. So I have two questions:

1. Would the pH be enough to explain the efficiency I'm seeing?
2. Would buffer 5.2 be enough to correct my pH?

Thanks!

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Old 02-21-2012, 09:35 PM   #2
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I don't think it's pH. When you combine the malt with your water, you should be in the ballpark. Many people on here say that 5.2 is BS and that the only people who use it are those that don't have pH meters. What kind of lauter tun do you have? You could be having issues because of the design of that.

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Old 02-22-2012, 12:14 AM   #3
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Without seeing it I would still suspect the crush of the grain. Your suppliers have to balance between efficiency and stuck sparges from having the grain milled to fine. People accept the poorer mash efficiency and just adjust by purchasing more grain (from whom?) while anyone with a history of stuck sparges will blame the LHBS and go elsewhere, never to return.

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Old 02-22-2012, 01:09 AM   #4
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I'd suspect mash temp before ph. If you're sure on proper temp, I'd go with crush.

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Old 02-22-2012, 01:22 AM   #5
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I would look at temperature first. Boil some water and check the temperature of it. If it boils at 205 your thermometer is off and you need to allow for the difference. You may be mashing very hot or too cold. I have several that are way off. As long as you know what it says when it is really 154 you are ok.

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Old 02-22-2012, 02:50 AM   #6
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+1 on the crush. Without knowing the rest of the setup, it seems like it could be the culprit only because it sounds super familiar to me. My first several AG were crushed by my LHBS and had similar (60%ish) results. Tried a few different mash temps to the same ends. Bought a Barley Crusher and been hovering around 75% ever since.
Not that I think they're intentionally being shady, and I love my LHBS, but for all the reasons RM-MN mentioned, it happens.

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Old 02-22-2012, 02:59 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Okie12beer View Post
I would look at temperature first. Boil some water and check the temperature of it. If it boils at 205 your thermometer is off and you need to allow for the difference. You may be mashing very hot or too cold. I have several that are way off. As long as you know what it says when it is really 154 you are ok.
I'd have to disagree with this. My water DOES boil at 205F because of my elevation! Temp is very important and so is a proper calibrated thermometer, but going by your advice could be misleading unless you know for a fact that water boils at 212F in your geographic conditions...
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Old 02-22-2012, 12:33 PM   #8
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Answers to some of your questions:

- I'm pretty sure my thermometer is good. Before making my brew kettle, I used this thermometer with extract brews to see when I was getting close to boiling. It always boiled right around 212.

- My mash tun is a 10 gallon water cooler with a stainless braid. Basically this:

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Old 02-26-2012, 10:32 PM   #9
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+1 on the grind. Northern Brewer does a very poor job of grinding their grain IMHO. My first AG kit from them I didn't re-grind the grain, and I ended up with a very poor efficiency and missed my OG by 4 points on the low side. The second kit I purchased at the same time as the first as they shipped together and my buddy re-ground for me. My buddy took one look at the bag and said that the grind was definitely the problem. I hit over 82% efficiency batch sparging and 4 points high on the OG on the second kit we re-ground. I am going to buy the Barley Grinder and grind myself from now on.

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Old 02-26-2012, 11:01 PM   #10
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My first two batches seemed to be low efficiency also. I use Brewsmith and after plugging in the numbers I seemed to come up low. My last batch was a high gravity beer using a 21 Lb. grain bill. I see for a small fee many of the online sites will grind your grains a second time so I was at my LHBS and decided for a few extra minutes I would grind it all again. (Their grinder goes about as fast as you can dump it.) So you might try a site that offers this or if you are lucky to have a shop near by do it yourself. The biggest thing though isn't just water in and water out, if using Beersmith make sure your post volume boil is accurate. If it says 5.5 gallons and you didn't lose as much during the boil and have say 6, your wort is not as concentrated so you think you have lower efficiency. Take your SG after cool down and on the way to the fermenter, hot wort will also throw your readings. My point is, make sure you are accurate in checking your efficiency before you condemn it.

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