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Old 06-24-2012, 10:24 PM   #1
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Default BIAB mashing efficiency help?

I've done two brews with BIAB, and ended up with low mash efficiencies for both (~50%). I ran an experiment today with a small amount of milled 2-row to see whether sparging the grains would increase my yield. It did not increase it by much. I was hoping for some help trouble-shooting my process from you fine folks. Here's my set-up:

3 gallon cooler (pre-heated before mashing in)
Voile grain bag (home made)
The temperature of this set-up drops by 1-2F over 60 mins
The mash pH was calculated to be 5.55 using ezcalculator (after adding CaSO4 to the mash/sparge water)

Here are the results:

Step 1: 5L water with 3.33 lbs 2-row (1.5:1); mashed at 150F for 60min
Step 2: drained and sparged with 3.5L at 150F for 10min
Step 3: drained and sparged with 3.5L at 150F for 10min

Mash efficiencies:
Step 1 = 35%
Step 2 = 15%
Step 3 = 10%
Total = 60%

Total volume recovered = 10.5L

So, even after three sparge rinses, I'm only getting 60% yield. I'm squeezing the bag between each rinse. The grains are milled using an electric coffee mill at my LHBS, so they are medium-finely ground. Any suggestions to improve my efficiency? Much appreciated!

*edit: recovered 10.5L, not 13.5L

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Old 06-24-2012, 10:29 PM   #2
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Do you stir your mash at all? I stir mine 2-4x during the 60 min mash. I get 70-75% efficiency.

Other than that - I'd check the crush. I got higher efficiency when I used grains from a different store which crushed differently.

Also - how long are you storing the crushed grain before using?

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Old 06-24-2012, 10:47 PM   #3
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Hi jigidyjim - thanks for your reply. I did not stir the mash during the 60mins. The grains were stored for between 3-10 days after crushed before I used them. I have a grain mill coming in the mail this week, so I plan to test how milling impacts my efficiency (unfortunately, there's only one LHBS in Vancouver, so I can't move between shops). How long can crushed grains be stored before use?

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Old 06-24-2012, 11:26 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nufad View Post

Step 1: 5L water with 3.33 lbs 2-row (1.5:1); mashed at 150F for 60min
Step 2: drained and sparged with 3.5L at 150F for 10min
Step 3: drained and sparged with 3.5L at 150F for 10min


Total volume recovered = 13.5L
just doing the math here 5L + 3.5L + 3.5L = 12L
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Old 06-24-2012, 11:34 PM   #5
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Crush is hugely important.
When using BIAB you want a tighter crush, (or a double crush if they wont do that).
Its time consuming but you can do that yourself with a rolling pin.

(make sure you stir occasionally)

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Old 06-24-2012, 11:39 PM   #6
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You might try adding a mash out step as well as stirring.

I do full volume, no sparge BIAB. Once my saccharification rest is complete, I'll heat it up to about 168 and hold it there for about 6-8 minutes before removing the grains. The higher temperatures increase the solubility of the sugar and also makes the wort a bit more fluid and able to drain better.

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Old 06-25-2012, 01:14 AM   #7
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Buna_Bere: yes, your math is correct. In an earlier version of this post, I had included a fourth step with 3L rinse (hence the 13.5L value), and forgot to change the final volume to reflect this. I decided to take that step out of this post for various reasons (it was done about 45mins after I had finished the third step, it was a low-temp rinse, and it only yielded about 3%).

gmcastil: thanks for the tip - for my next test-run, I will mash out at 170 after my first soak. I'm running my BIAB inside a cooler to maintain a constant temperature (it drops by 1-2F over 60min), so I won't be able to mash out with the same water with which I mash. How fine should the grain be milled? There is some powder in the grain, but also plenty of larger grain pieces (the coffee mill isn't consistent at my LHBS).

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Old 06-25-2012, 01:55 AM   #8
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I do BIAB and had some efficiency issues, I was able to trace these to:

1. Mashout. Having one at 170 for 10 minutes completely resolved my issues; and,

2. Grain crush. When I switched to Northern Brewer I had some issues until I began requesting a double crush. After that I was dead on 70% efficiency. Today I brewed using grains from my LHBS and my efficiency shot way up as they do a mean crush on the grains.

It does help to stir. It also helps to take your grain bag and do a sort of fly sparg with 175 F water and/or dunk your grain bag in a separate container with 175 (or thereabouts) water and use that water to top off your mash to compensate for boil off.

Hope that helps.

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Old 06-25-2012, 05:14 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maltoftheearth View Post
I do BIAB and had some efficiency issues, I was able to trace these to:

1. Mashout. Having one at 170 for 10 minutes completely resolved my issues; and,

2. Grain crush. When I switched to Northern Brewer I had some issues until I began requesting a double crush. After that I was dead on 70% efficiency. Today I brewed using grains from my LHBS and my efficiency shot way up as they do a mean crush on the grains.

It does help to stir. It also helps to take your grain bag and do a sort of fly sparg with 175 F water and/or dunk your grain bag in a separate container with 175 (or thereabouts) water and use that water to top off your mash to compensate for boil off.

Hope that helps.
Absolutely my experience as well. I crushed my already pre-crushed grains in a hand cranked Corona, made sure I stirred the mash at least three times, mashed out (dunk sparged) at 168F for 10 minutes (stirring constantly the last two minutes), and went from 60% to 89% brewhouse efficiency.
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Old 06-25-2012, 05:40 AM   #10
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Thanks for all the advice!

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