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Old 01-27-2013, 02:34 PM   #11
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Beersmith is a tool to help you brew the way you want to brew. It is NOT instructions on how to brew. You get to decide that for yourself.
I have done 2 mashes and my efficiency has also be low. I also followed Beersmith to a T with the amount of water etc. I have become frustrated with Beersmith and its mash settings. They don't really match my setup.

I a using about 12 lbs of grain in a 5 gallon tun. I was using a bag but I have since made valve and braid which I think will improve my efficiency as more grain is getting wet. I am also going to condition my grain before I run it through my Corona mill.

During my second attempt I did not stir the sparge and sparged until I met my volume and did not take Gravity readings for first runnings and sparge. I now know to do that. I also always keep to LME or DME on hand in order to increase fermentables until I improve my efficiency.
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Old 01-27-2013, 03:53 PM   #12
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How long does the sparge take?

I have found that with larger grain bills, sparging too quickly causes a reduction in efficiency.

I also found that when I started doing a mash out at the end of the mash, my efficiency increased by 10%. I initially thought this was because the sparge temperature was in the high 160's rather than the low 150's. I now think it is because I stir the mash out water in really well before starting the sparge. I use about 1 pint of near boiling water per lb grain for the mash out.

-a.

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Old 01-27-2013, 04:06 PM   #13
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So, do I need to adjust the amount of water that I'm using in my mash - ignore beersmith and calculate my own, or is it more likely to be an issue with the crush?
99% of the time, it's the crush. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't decide on your mash ratio on your own, and then enter that number into Beersmith.

BTW, you said you use a pH balancer...I assume that's 5.2? That's widely documented to not be effective on most water types. Unless you actually check the pH after using it, yo really won't know if it works for you. In addition, it adds a weird flavor to the beer IMO.
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Old 01-27-2013, 04:20 PM   #14
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I had a lot of efficiency problems in the past becuase I was using water softened by ion exchange. Sorted now, I use RO

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Old 01-27-2013, 04:26 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Denny View Post
99% of the time, it's the crush. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't decide on your mash ratio on your own, and then enter that number into Beersmith.

BTW, you said you use a pH balancer...I assume that's 5.2? That's widely documented to not be effective on most water types. Unless you actually check the pH after using it, yo really won't know if it works for you. In addition, it adds a weird flavor to the beer IMO.
Yep, it's 5.2. Didn't know it imparts a weird flavor. Might try my next batch without it. Using filtered city water in Dallas. Need to test the water sometime, but it can't be that bad.

Will also be experimenting with my mash ratios, see if that doesn't help.
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Old 01-27-2013, 04:39 PM   #16
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I broke out the dreaded rolling pin for my last batch and, one pound at a time, crushed up my grains to about a 50% almost powder looking substance. Low and behold 90% efficiency!!!

I will continue to order my grains crushed, but I have a grain mill ordered to avoid the rolling pin.

I too have been having low efficiencies (mid 60's) with pre-crushed grains.

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Old 01-27-2013, 05:26 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by musikguru6 View Post
Yep, it's 5.2. Didn't know it imparts a weird flavor. Might try my next batch without it. Using filtered city water in Dallas. Need to test the water sometime, but it can't be that bad.

Will also be experimenting with my mash ratios, see if that doesn't help.
The buffer in 5.2 that supposedly keeps the mash pH correct is based on sodium. Too much sodium in beer will give it a weirdly malty flavor.
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