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Old 03-18-2013, 08:46 PM   #1
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Default Critique my Mash Schedule

I had an excellent brew day yesterday! It was my second AG batch and I hit 86% efficiency this time. Way better than the 68% I got on my first batch.

I'd love to know what you guys think about my mashing and sparging process. What steps do I focus on, what do I drop. My goal is to streamline the process and maintain a consistently "good" efficiency while getting faster each time. I'll try to keep it short and concise.

I have a 10 gallon cooler mash tun. Yesterday I started with a 1.25grain/water ratio. My strike temp wasn't high enough again so my mash temp was low by almost 2*. I poured in an extra 1L of boiling water from a tea pot I had already going. Mixed well and hit my mash temp of 152-153. I checked the temp and stirred at 30 minutes. 1* Lost. By 60 minutes I'd lost 2*.

I then "stole" 2L of my already heated sparge water and added it to mash (for a mash out?). I stirred it in then vorlaufed about 6L setting my flow rate to 1 liter/min. I made sure to tip and drain the mash tun getting as much out as I could for every drain. I finished with a two step batch sparge with the remaining water splitting it into two equal sparges.

With about 20L of water left I poured in 10L at 168-170*, stirred and vorlaufed another 4-5 liters before draining again at 1 liter/min then repeated with the last 10L. For the last sparge I added 2L of water, worried I didn't have enough, which then put me over my target pre-boil volume by exactly 2 liters... I drained every last drop into the kettle and topped out right at 30 liters of wort.

It took me 3hrs from when I started heating my strike water to setting the kettle of wort on the stove. I targeted 28L for final volume and got 30L, I added 3L extra to my system from what I calculated so while I picked up 2 extra I lost 1 that wasn't planned for somewhere in the process.

In the end the 30L turned into exactly 5 gallons in the fermenter. 28L using extract was getting the 5+ I wanted but I'm losing more wort to evaporation because it's taking me longer to get to a boil with my AG setup.

What do you guys think? I'm sure there are lots of ways to make it faster, simpler or easier while still maintaining consistency and efficiency.

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Old 03-21-2013, 04:44 PM   #2
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Come on guys. Nothing? I was hoping somebody would have some pointers or question some of what I did.

Like what steps do you feel during your mash have helped you attain consistency. What prep work or other things do you do to speed it all up?

I need to try and reduce my boil off rate. Does anyone start heating their first runnings in a spare kettle while catching 2nd runnings? My stove is just slow to get a boil going which made my 60 minute boil more like 100 minute and I think that's where my extra boil off went.

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Old 03-21-2013, 04:57 PM   #3
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The process sounds pretty good. Are the 2L you "stole" from your sparge water for mash out at 170 degrees? If so, this will not do much good. To mash out, you need to get the entire mash up to 168 degrees or so to denature the enzymes. For a typical batch, I have to add a gallon or more of of boiling water. You can always skip mash out, though.

I generally start heating the boil pot as I am sparging. I brew outdoors and set my system up to use gravity (boil pot on a turkey fryer on the ground, mash tun on an old outdoor table, HLT on top of my upside down bottling bucket on the table). I will start the gas on the turkey fryer when I have about 2/3 of my total volume. This probably shaves 20 minutes off my brew day.

It sounds like the biggest thing you could do to speed your process would be to figure out a way to brew outside. Is that possible? If so, a good turkey fryer will get you to a boil much quicker than your stove.

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Old 03-21-2013, 04:59 PM   #4
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You are at 86% - what pointers are you hoping for?

If you want to nitpick, your "mash out" didn't do anything, so you could skip that. The water needs to be boiling for it to have much/any impact on that big volume already in the tun.

You've got some of your system parameters nailed down a little better, so you can just use those for the next brew and resolve any volumes issues. You don't need to try to change your boiloff rate, just use your current in your calculations and you'll be golden.

Other then that, just remember to keep some boiling water available at all times to tweak along the way.

" Does anyone start heating their first runnings in a spare kettle while catching 2nd runnings? "

Yes, I think most batch spargers start heating the first runnings while the sparge is going. Fly spargers can take an hour to sparge, so the obviously wouldn't want a rolling boil that whole time though.

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Old 03-21-2013, 11:33 PM   #5
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Excellent! Thanks guys. The "Mash Out" was in fact a last minute change. It just seemed like my initial strike water was lower than expected so I tossed in the two liters thinking it might help for better flow from the mash tun, but I'm sure it didn't bring up the mash to 168 so it wasn't helping for that. I'll skip that next time around.

I've been keeping my 1L tea kettle heated and sometimes a 4qt pot of water hot and ready for whatever. My volumes are pretty good but with it taking me so long to get my kettle to a boil I lose a lot of extra water while it comes up to temp very slowly.

So boil off rates, I guess it's not as much reducing the rate I boil off, but the time it takes me to get to boil. I'm going to borrow a buddies turkey frier and do a 10 gallon batch here pretty soon, so that should get me outside brewing.

Good to note though. I hadn't thought of how much time I'd save outside brewing with a more powerful gas burner.

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Old 03-21-2013, 11:50 PM   #6
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Remember that if you're batch sparging, there is no reason to drain the MLT slowly. You can just vorlauf, and drain as fast as the wort will go. Doing it at 1L/min only wastes time, so if you want to speed up your day a tad you can definitely do that.

Also, you don't need to do a mash out with a batch sparge. Just drain, and add your sparge water hotter. I often have 200 degree sparge water for a 152 degree mash for the batch sparge.

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Old 03-25-2013, 06:37 PM   #7
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Do you only do a single sparge or do you split the water and do multiple? There are so many variations out there. I've seen people do mash out's, others do really slow drains, full batch sparges where they stir and leave sit another 15 minutes to convert possible new starches, etc. Its hard to separate good steps from useless or unnecessary for the technique. Especially since people seem to overlap sparge styles and techniques.

If you were doing a single infusion mash for a simple recipe how would your mash and sparge go?

Based on my last batch and what you guys are saying I would:
-Add strike water to grain, stir well and let sit for an hour.
-Maybe stir it up once during the mash and check temps. (Is this necessary?)
-Vorlauf then drain the MLT at a fast rate.
-Add some or all of the sparge water (much higher temp 170-200), mix, vorlauf and drain fast
-Repeat with another batch sparge if you have any sparge water left.

Basically just drain fast, sparge once or twice or more? Stir and set the grain bed each sparge, vorlauf and then drain the MLT as fast as it will go without compacting the grain bed? No waiting after adding sparge water, no slow drain, no mash out, just rinse and go after the mash?

I think I spent nearly 25 minutes each drain. If I'm reading into this correctly I can skip the slow drains and probably lose a full hour on my mash next time.

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Last edited by BlackRock; 03-25-2013 at 06:39 PM. Reason: Typo
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