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Old 05-10-2010, 05:20 PM   #21
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What temp do you heat your sparge water to? When I first started AG I was sparging too low (using 168F water instead of trying to get the grain bed to 168F) and was getting 50-60% efficiency. Once I bumped up my sparge temp to 180-185F my efficiency shot way up.

As for the suggestion that a LHBS would intentionally under crush grain to profit, I don't find it plausible. It makes much more sense that they just don't maintain their mill as well as they should.

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Old 05-10-2010, 07:04 PM   #22
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What's your process? - 1) Pre-heat my tun\cooler 2) Empty the pre-heated water, dump in the gain, add my strike water 3) Stir for 5 minutes 4) After 15 minutes give the mash a gentle stir 5) Let sit for 45 more minutes 6) Vorlauf until clear (I use a piece of aluminum foil on top of the grain to keep from disturbing the bed) and then drain out all the wort 7) Add sparge water and stir 8) Let sit for 15 minutes 9) Vorlauf until clear and then drain wort until pre-boil volume is reached.
just a thought, but you say you drain the wort until you get the pre-boil volume your looking for - if your leaving water in the tun, your leaving sugars in there as well - that's part of your efficiency problem.
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:17 PM   #23
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What is your typical OG target in your low efficiency batches?

What strike water to grain weight ration do you use?

What is the typical volume of your first runnings on your low efficiency batch?

Have you tested your dead space in your mash tun by filling with a fixed amount of water and seeing how much does NOT come out?

What is your typical OG target in your low efficiency batches? - Approximately 1.060

What strike water to grain weight ration do you use? - Whatever BeerSmith says. The last batch was 15 qts for 12 lbs of grain.

What is the typical volume of your first runnings on your low efficiency batch? - Approximately 2 gallons.

Have you tested your dead space in your mash tun by filling with a fixed amount of water and seeing how much does NOT come out? - About 2 cups. I am generally at, or over my volume, never under.
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:18 PM   #24
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just a thought, but you say you drain the wort until you get the pre-boil volume your looking for - if your leaving water in the tun, your leaving sugars in there as well - that's part of your efficiency problem.
I empty the mash tun. I just didn't word that very well, sorry.
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:21 PM   #25
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What temp do you heat your sparge water to? When I first started AG I was sparging too low (using 168F water instead of trying to get the grain bed to 168F) and was getting 50-60% efficiency. Once I bumped up my sparge temp to 180-185F my efficiency shot way up.

As for the suggestion that a LHBS would intentionally under crush grain to profit, I don't find it plausible. It makes much more sense that they just don't maintain their mill as well as they should.
I thought that by going that high with the temperature it would change the characteristics of the wort. I can't remember all the science involved, but I am pretty sure there is an optimal temperature range for extracting the correct type of fermentables.
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Old 05-10-2010, 07:51 PM   #26
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I thought that by going that high with the temperature it would change the characteristics of the wort. I can't remember all the science involved, but I am pretty sure there is an optimal temperature range for extracting the correct type of fermentables.
You want to bring the temp up to about 170F to denature the enzymes and stop the conversion process (called mashing out). The other thing bringing the grain bed up to this temperature will do for you is solubilise more of the sugars and bring them out into the wort.

The one issue with bringing up the temp is the potential for tannin extraction, but that is more based on pH AND temperature than temperature alone. As long as you don't over sparge, i.e. have very low gravity wort coming out of the tun, then you'll be just fine. If you're not sparing hot enough, I guarantee you that's where you missing efficiency is.
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Old 05-10-2010, 08:01 PM   #27
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One bit of troubleshooting that stood out. Your first runnings are 2 gallons, and I'd assume the sparge is about 5 gallons. That's a big difference. You'd be best served to either mash a little thinner, somewhere like 1.5 qts per pound so that the runnings are closer to the same volume. You can also split the sparge into 2 equal portions so that all three runnings are around 2ish gallons.

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Old 05-10-2010, 08:42 PM   #28
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You can also split the sparge into 2 equal portions so that all three runnings are around 2ish gallons.
I saw this piece of advice on another thread months ago (it may even have been Bobby M) and it helped my brewing a lot. Since I've been splitting my sparge in two to equalize my runnings, my efficiency has gone way up- from the 50s to the 70s.
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Old 05-11-2010, 12:07 AM   #29
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One bit of troubleshooting that stood out. Your first runnings are 2 gallons, and I'd assume the sparge is about 5 gallons. That's a big difference. You'd be best served to either mash a little thinner, somewhere like 1.5 qts per pound so that the runnings are closer to the same volume. You can also split the sparge into 2 equal portions so that all three runnings are around 2ish gallons.
So in your opinion, where would I stand to gain the most? By splitting my water equally between my strilke and my sparge? Or by splitting them three ways?
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Old 05-11-2010, 01:17 AM   #30
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So in your opinion, where would I stand to gain the most? By splitting my water equally between my strilke and my sparge? Or by splitting them three ways?
The more sparges you do, efficiency should increase in theory. But as in most cases, there is a point of diminishing returns. I feel that three runnings of approx. the same volume is a good compromise b/w labor in and eficiency.
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