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Old 09-24-2006, 08:25 PM   #1
digdan
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Default Can't shake my Horrible Efficiency

So, my latest batch I got a whopping 50% efficiency

I've updated my mashing technique to use strict controled heat that gradually increases. I've tested for starches, and have found none.

My problem must be in my sparging. I batch sparge, or atleast what I think is a batch sparge. This is what I do

After my mash shows no more starches I slowly (VERY SLOWLY) drain off into my brew kettle. Once the grain bed start to compact I close the spigot and fill the lauter tun with 168 degree water. Stir, close the lid and wait for 5 minutes for the grain to resettle. I open the spigot and continue the processes.

I do this about 3 to 5 times.

What could I do to improve this? Should I switch to fly sparging? And whats the most effective (yet economical) approach to improving my processes?

Thanks a ton

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Old 09-24-2006, 08:42 PM   #2
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Check out this page for improving your sparge process, I think it'll help.

http://www.hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/

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Old 09-24-2006, 10:28 PM   #3
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Do you ever stir? I did my second batch sparge and stirred the grains before the vorlauf and after I added my sparge water. Stirring plus going to a 10 gallon cooler made all the difference for me. I hit 74% for the pre-boil wort volume.

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Old 09-24-2006, 10:58 PM   #4
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Equipment and sparge style is important, but you can always add more fermentables to make up for lack of efficiency. I usually add at least an extra pound of bas malt just for kicks

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Old 09-25-2006, 12:12 AM   #5
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You're not really batch or fly sparging...kind of a mish mash (no pun intended). Definitely check out CC's link, it should explain a lot. Also, there's no need to drain slowly when batch sparging, just let it rip and then add another batch of water.

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Old 09-25-2006, 12:50 AM   #6
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I am now an expert on batch sparging. I've done it twice.
First, the starch test can be inaccurate. It shows that there is no starch in the areas tested, but not that conversion is completed throughout the mash.
I simply leave the mash for 60 minutes. The excess time isn't wasted, because I use it preparing for the upcoming activities.

At the end of the mash, you end up with the mash at about 15? degrees (which is much lower than the temperature needed for sparging.

If you add 1 to 1.5g of near boiling water to the mash, and stir well, you will raise the temp of the mash to the required sparge temperature. Add the water slowly while stirring, and check the temp. You don't want to get over 170. When you get to 168, you can add some 168 degree sparge water, stir well, and let is sit for 10 - 15 minutes. The stirring exposes the sugars to the hot water, and the time gives the water a chance to dissolve the sugars.

After it is rested, you should recirculate until the wort is clear. This means that you draw of some running into a suitable container, and then return it to the mash (possibly re-heating the runnings if they have cooled considerably).

When your runnings are clear, you can discharge into the kettle as quickly as you want. With batch sparging, there is no need to discharge slowly.

When the discharge is nearly complete, and the grain bed starts to get compacted. you stop draining, add more sparge water, stir, rest, recirculate, and drain again until you have the desired volume, or until the gravity of the sparge gets down to 1.010 (below that gravity, you start to sparge out a lot of tannins).

IMHO, it is worth doing some experimentation with sparge water temperatures as the transfer mechanism from your heated sparge water to the MLT is never 100% efficient. You need to heat the sparge water to a temperature, that results in 168 degree water arriving in the MLT. In my case (while fly sparging), I heat the initial sparge water to 192 degrees, and add to a cooler, which I use as a HLT to drive a sparge arm. As the cooler isn't big enough for a complete sparge, I have to top it up during the sparge. This requires 185 degree water as not so much heat is lost warming up the cooler.

Hope this helps.

-a.

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Old 09-25-2006, 03:11 AM   #7
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#1 cause of low efficiency is coarse grain crush.

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Old 09-25-2006, 03:20 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Musthavbeer
#1 cause of low efficiency is coarse grain crush.
This might be, but remember... there's a learning curve here. Just like when you frst started you needed a few batches to get underway.... same here. Takes a few. It is certainly much esier to blame other things... poor crush for instance, but we are really learing our way around.
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Old 09-25-2006, 01:27 PM   #9
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A couple of things to remember about batch sparging, if you go that route. You are making a solution of sugar water that should have sugars evenly distributed throughout it. This means that you can run-off as fast as your system will allow. Also, since we are rinsing all the sugars from the grain at once there are a couple of things you can to do to help. As mentioned above, stir the grain bed before vorlauf to rinse sugars from the grains. Also, when doing the batch sparges, you can use water as warm as 185-190 degrees. With water at this temp. the grain bed will likely reach about 165-170 which is proper mash-out temp and you won't have to worry about tannin extraction. Also, at these higher temps, your sugary wort will be less viscous and will make it easier to rinse the sugars from the grains. If you get a chance, listen to the podcast of the Brewing Network show that feautured Denn Conn. Its got great info about batch sparging and is where most of my suggestions come from.

Matt

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Old 09-25-2006, 03:36 PM   #10
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You guys are great. I'm going to brew this coming weekend with the new knowledge you ppls have provided.

Once again, thanks a million

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