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Old 12-07-2007, 06:54 PM   #1
bobwantbeer
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Default crappy efficiency again...

Last Monday I got a terrible efficiency while brewing Bobby's Amber Ale. Also I realized I was mashing in with too much water at too low of a temperature, 5 gallons at 154. This monday I was brewing the Chaos IPA from the forum database. I mashed in with 4 gallons at 168 which according to the calculator I used should have settled my mash temp pto 153. For some reason I still missed my strike temp by about 14-15 degrees. so I added 1,5 gallons of boiling water until I got it up to 153. It maintained that temperature for the full hour like it should. I was originally going to have two batch sparges at 2.25 gallons a piece, but since I added the extra water to rescue my strike temp I decided to do one sparge with 3 gallons only. I've since read that doing only one sparge will cause a 10-15% efficiency loss, so that might partially explain my problem. Long story short, Before the boil I took a hydrometer reading of 1.039 at 130 degrees, which converts to 1.053. Very low considering my OG was supposed to be 1.066. I did the boil(Hit my target volume dead on for the first time to look on the bright side) and ended up with an OG of 1.035 at 55 degrees. 30 points short of what I wanted. Why? Dear sweet lord why? I got a better efficiency last week with 5 gallons of of strike water that was too cool. 42% efficiency according to bear tools. To top it all off we discovered that we never succesfully popped the pouch inside our activator yeast until the package was opened. I stabbed the pouch with a pin, taped the package up, shook it and let it sit for about half an hour before pitching it. So that can't be good either. Why does life have to be so hard?

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Old 12-07-2007, 07:00 PM   #2
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Ouch. I'm not sure what you're doing wrong. How about your crush? Do you have your own mill or do you get it precrushed?

If I were you, I'd try direct-fired stepped mashing like I do---mash in your kettle. 133f for 20 mins, 149-155f for 70 mins, 158 for 20 mins or until iodine test is negative, 167 mashout, 170 sparge temp. 1/2 gal per pound of grain for the sparge.

Also, use pH stabilizer in your mash water.

Past that, not sure what else to tell you. It could only be the crush. Because I used the method I just described last night on my IIPA and hit 80% eff.

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Old 12-07-2007, 07:07 PM   #3
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Default I might have to

I only have an 8 gallon kettle though. I want to try to get it right the proper way though too. I bought all of the grain pre crushed except for 2 lbs which I milled at the brew store. I don't think the crush could have been that bad. I don't know why I missed my strike temp by so much. I pre heated my MLT and all that. That might have something to do with the low efficiency, although I rescued it fairly quickly. So far only sparging once at 170 seems to be my main culprit, although I suspect there was a second shooter as well.

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Old 12-07-2007, 07:08 PM   #4
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am I missing something? how does your gravity go from 1.053 to 1.035 after the boil? the gravity should have gone the other way when you boil off some of the water. There's something wrong with your measurements or your math.

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Old 12-07-2007, 07:10 PM   #5
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First of all, don't let this stuff get you down. It's just the way brewing goes. One of these days, you'll be nailing your temps, gravities, and volumes while you are telling war stories about your first batches. Until then, just drive on.

Second, if I read your post right, you report an adjusted SG before the boil at 1.053 and an SG of 1.039 after chilling. Am I right about that? If so, then I think your main problem may lie with your hydrometer or hydrometer process. Either that or you're on your way to a Nobel Prize for figuring out how to lower the specific gravity of wort while also reducing its volume.

In other words, SG doesn't drop between the time you start the boil and the time you finish the boil. The SG should rise as you concentrate the wort. You're probably better off than you think.

And, with the smack pack, you've hit upon another good reason to make a starter. Had you made a starter, you would have noticed the problem with not breaking the bubble. In that event, I would just dump all the package contents into the starter vessel and let nature take its course.

Hang in there, man! We've all had these problems, believe it or not!


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Old 12-07-2007, 07:17 PM   #6
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It you had 1.039 at 130, before the boil then you should be about right on.

1.039 at 130 = 1.052 at 60

After boil you should have somewhere close to 1.065.

Somewhere you are taking a bad reading.

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Old 12-07-2007, 07:21 PM   #7
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Yeah, I'm with TL and Shaffer. Either your first reading was wrong or your second reading. I make it a point to stir the pot before taking a sample. This ensures that the wort is properly mixed up. If you let the wort sit for any amount of time, the heavy sugars will start to fall to the bottom of the pot. If you take the reading from the top you will get a lower reading than what is really in there.

Also, one thing to remember is that the larger the grain bill, your efficiency will drop in correlation. This has to do with more sugars being left behind in the MLT. The only way to try and counteract this is to sparge longer/more and boil down the excess volume. Anything over 1.057 on my system, and I start to loose 5-7% points of efficiency unless I start off with 14-16 gallons in the boil pot.

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Old 12-07-2007, 07:23 PM   #8
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Put your initial infusion water in the MLT at least 10F hotter than the software says the strike should be. If it says 169, put 180F in and close the lid for 5 minutes. Then check the temp. If it's 169, dough in. If it's still high, stir until it is 169. You will not miss the temp.

Just like the others have asked, how did you have a preboil of 1.053 and post boil of 1.035? Did you add water AFTER the boil?

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Old 12-07-2007, 07:32 PM   #9
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Default well I'm stumped...

I really tried to take every measure to ensure a proper reading. I took a temperature reading, usede a wine theif, swirled the hydrometer, the whole nine yards. I'm confused. I think I'll buy a new hydrometer and digital thermometer for next time. In regards to my yeast. It took a day longer for fermentation to begin this time than it has in the past, which I attributed to my packet not being properly prepared. However I also noticed that the temp in that area of the house had dropped to 60 degrees. I moved the carboy to a 66 degree area and it began to ferment immediatley. So how large of an effect will this have on my final product? Cheers mates.

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Old 12-07-2007, 07:35 PM   #10
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Edit: NEvermind, I should learn to read the whole thread before posting.

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