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Old 02-28-2009, 03:05 PM   #1
mangine77
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Default Diagnosing poor efficiency?

Ok, I'm going to try and explain what I think went wrong and see if I have any idea what I'm talking about.

I did an all grain blonde ale this morning. Supposed to hit 1.040, I hit 1.031. Worst efficiency I've ever had. The only thing I can think of is this.

I did a 3 round batch sparge. It was early this morning and at the last minute I thought that I hadn't pulled enough water the night before, so while my second batch sparge was sitting, I started heating 1 extra gallon of sparge water, just in case.


When I added the rest of the water I already had heated, I realized I had plenty of water for my sparge, and the MLT now had a lot of water in it.

So when I got to my pre-boil volume in the kettle, there was a lot of water left in the tun and usually there isn't much left when I reach pre-boil volume.

So all I can think of is could I have diluted the wort badly on the 3rd batch sparge and because I was only able to collect some of what was left, could this have messed with the efficiency?

I did everything else the same and this was a pretty easy all grain batch. 9.5 pounds of grain.

Ideas?

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Old 02-28-2009, 03:52 PM   #2
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My batch sparging runs 50%, 33% and 16% of total sugars (I check volume & gravity for each sparge). So, if you are seeing similar numbers, leaving half of the final sparge in the tun would cost you ~8% or 3 points. I think there is something else going on, as well.

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Old 02-28-2009, 11:48 PM   #3
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first thing is check the crush.

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Old 03-01-2009, 01:53 AM   #4
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The things that have helped my efficiency are:
1. Crush
2. Stirring very well at dough in, then every 15 minutes.
3. Mash-out
4. Stirring very well during each batch sparge.

I did lose 5% efficiency this year when I moved. I believe that the water is much different and has caused the change, as my process and grain source have not. I am still hitting 80-81% so I can't complain.

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Old 03-01-2009, 02:49 AM   #5
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The first thing to do when diagnosing efficiency problems is to calibrate all your measuring equipment. i.e. hydrometer/refractometer, thermometer, weighing scale, volume measures. With the exception of the thermometer, if any of these is wrong, you will not be measuring accurately and could have good efficiency, but think you don't.
The next step is to independently check the mash, the sparge, and the transfer to the fermenter. (I'm assuming you don't have a boil over or spill a significant amount of wort.)
If the mash efficiency is low, then the probable causes are:

  • Poor crush
  • Insufficient mash time
  • Bad mash pH
If the sparge efficiency is low, then the probable causes are (assuming batch sparging):
  • Too litle sparge water
  • Inadequate stirring of the sparge water prior to vorlauf and lautering
  • Sparge water too cool
  • Sparge batches of unequal size
Finally, you can also lose efficiency when transferring to the fermenter because of:
  • Dead space in the kettle
  • Wort trapped in equipment such as CFC
  • Hop absorption
  • Being too careful about transferring trub to the fermenter.
-a.
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Old 03-01-2009, 03:48 AM   #6
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When you got a gravity of 1.031, did you have the expected wort volume in the kettle or was there much more than you planned for?

Kai

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Old 03-02-2009, 07:41 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajf View Post
The first thing to do when diagnosing efficiency problems is to calibrate all your measuring equipment. i.e. hydrometer/refractometer, thermometer, weighing scale, volume measures. With the exception of the thermometer, if any of these is wrong, you will not be measuring accurately and could have good efficiency, but think you don't.
The next step is to independently check the mash, the sparge, and the transfer to the fermenter. (I'm assuming you don't have a boil over or spill a significant amount of wort.)
If the mash efficiency is low, then the probable causes are:
  • Poor crush
  • Insufficient mash time
  • Bad mash pH
If the sparge efficiency is low, then the probable causes are (assuming batch sparging):
  • Too litle sparge water
  • Inadequate stirring of the sparge water prior to vorlauf and lautering
  • Sparge water too cool
  • Sparge batches of unequal size
Finally, you can also lose efficiency when transferring to the fermenter because of:
  • Dead space in the kettle
  • Wort trapped in equipment such as CFC
  • Hop absorption
  • Being too careful about transferring trub to the fermenter.
-a.

So by Sparge batches of equal size, do you mean if I do a three round batch sparge, they should all be of the same volume?? How does this effect efficiency? Thanks!

The other question asked was did I get to by pre-boil amount in the kettle and yes I did. Thanks.
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Old 03-03-2009, 12:53 AM   #8
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How does it effect efficiency?
If you google batch sparging, you will find a common theme in almost all of the descriptions is to collect equal size runnings. By collecting equal size runnings, you strike a happy medium between extracting the sugars in each batch, reducing the gravity of subsequent batches, and leaving sufficient sparge water to get worthwhile results with the next batch.

-a.

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Old 03-03-2009, 02:12 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajf View Post
How does it effect efficiency?
If you google batch sparging, you will find a common theme in almost all of the descriptions is to collect equal size runnings. By collecting equal size runnings, you strike a happy medium between extracting the sugars in each batch, reducing the gravity of subsequent batches, and leaving sufficient sparge water to get worthwhile results with the next batch.

-a.
Oh, I wasn't doubting you. I was really asking how it works.

The thing that still confuses me though is if the goal is to collect equal size runnings, why does Beersmith often calculate for me to do 3 rounds that are different sizes and some are quite larger than others???
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Old 03-03-2009, 02:26 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mangine77 View Post
Oh, I wasn't doubting you. I was really asking how it works.

The thing that still confuses me though is if the goal is to collect equal size runnings, why does Beersmith often calculate for me to do 3 rounds that are different sizes and some are quite larger than others???
In your mash properties, you need to select "equal size sparge" and set the percentage of fill to around 60% or so. Play with the percentage until it calculates 2 batch sparges for you. That will get you the number you are looking for.
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