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Old 02-22-2011, 11:44 PM   #1
andymi86
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Default Efficiency Help

I'm getting sick of awful efficiency. I've done everything I can think of and nothing has worked. I've read braukaiser.com and all of the articles related to efficiency and can't figure out what might be wrong. Today I brewed Edwort's Bee Cave Brewery Bavarian Hefe and got an efficiency of 63%. I consistently get around 65%.

I'm brewing 5.5 gallon all-grain batches. I batch sparge. After the mash I vourlauf and collect my first runnings. I have my sparge water ready and try to get to ~168 F. I add half of my sparge water, stir like hell, let it sit for a few minutes, stir like hell again, vourlauf, and drain at full open. I repeat this once. I hit all of my volumes very close.

I do get my grain crushed at the LHBS, so I thought it might be my crush, but last batch (also terrible efficiency) I checked it according to the chart for first runnings on braukaiser and it was at like 98%. I didn't check it this time because I figured it would be in the same range. Today was the fist time I tried using water salts. The water here is already really soft, so I didn't need to add much. I used EZ water calc 2.0 for my salt additions. I don't have a way to test pH yet.

I really don't know what to do. I don't really want to have a separate hlt for fly sparging right now because of space concerns (tiny apartment), and I know it's possible to get decent efficiency from batch sparging....any suggestions?

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Old 02-23-2011, 12:00 AM   #2
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How long do you mash for?

Also, what is your quarts/pound ratio of the mash?

1st suggestion... Try doing 15-minute sparges instead of "a few minutes."

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Old 02-23-2011, 12:28 AM   #3
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Double check the weight of your grain to make sure it matches the recipe. If so, add some more grain to get to your starting gravity called for in the recipe. Poor extraction is a downer but you can achieve the correct end result just the same. If you know your efficiency use brewing software to calculate the proper gravity based on your efficiency.
I used to think I was the greatest brewer in the world b/c my efficiency was off the chart and my ABV was putting my friend under the table. Until i found out that my grain "scoop" was an ounce or two over. So after 14 or 16 "scoops" i had and extra pound or two of grain in my mash.
Check your weight, measure your water (1.25 qts/lb of grain), check your mash temps. (152 deg F on avg) and if that doesn't work go to a different mash system like a false bottom or easy masher. Good luck.

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Old 02-23-2011, 01:32 AM   #4
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I usually mash for at least on hour. Today ended up being a bit longer because I was a few degrees below my mash temp and had to decoct to bring it up. I didn't start my timer until after I was at my target mash temp. I usually mash at 1.25 qt / lb. My grain is measured on a scale at the lhbs before i run it through their mill. I have also checked my hydrometer and it was right on. I can certainly try waiting longer between adding the sparge water and running off but I haven't read anything that suggests it will help. Today was the longest I've waited (stir, 5 min, stir) and was the worst efficiency that I have ever gotten. I dont have a problem with having mediocre efficiency and adjust my grain bill, but 63% is way below mediocre IMHO.

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Old 02-23-2011, 01:42 AM   #5
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I think stiring before running off is resuspending the sugars and could cut down on your efficiency.

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Old 02-23-2011, 03:13 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HopHound914 View Post
I think stiring before running off is resuspending the sugars and could cut down on your efficiency.
I don't think so. I stir constantly and I get 79-90% efficiency.
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Old 02-23-2011, 03:28 AM   #7
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You might need a protein rest when using so much wheat.

Check out this web page:
http://www.realbeer.com/jjpalmer/ch14.html
It says this:
"The standard time for a protein rest is 20 - 30 minutes. If the rest is too long, the head retention and body of the beer will be diminished. This rest should only be used when using moderately-modified barley malts, or a large proportion (>25%) of flaked barley, wheat, rye, or oatmeal."

Also, the recipe says to mash for 90 minutes.

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Old 02-23-2011, 03:33 AM   #8
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One more thing... you can get ph test strips at pet stores. You can get like 100 strips for $5 or something like that. Remember that it is the ph of your mash that is important. Grains will cause the ph of your strike water to drop, and different grains cause different drop levels.

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Old 02-23-2011, 08:05 AM   #9
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I didn't think wheat malt needed a protein rest since it's fully modified. I'll have to look into the test strips, but I thought the colorphast strips were the only ones accurate enough to be useful and from what I've read they're difficult to read accurately. I'll probably get a good ph meter as soon as I have ~$100. I think I found a way to fly spathe so I might just do that and see if I can gain some points.

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Old 02-23-2011, 10:54 AM   #10
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A shot in the dark, but do you have a lot of dead space in your MLT? Like, if you put in 2 gallons of water and drain until it stops running, how much is still in the tun? If there is more than a pint or so, you could improve it. The same goes for your kettle.

What is the gravity of your final runnings? If it is high then you could be losing efficiency in the lautering process. It sounds like you have good conversion (do an iodine test) so your problem could be after mashing.

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