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Old 08-19-2013, 09:10 PM   #1
cch0830
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Default Efficiency Help

Trying to increase my brew efficiency and need some suggestions. I am currently only getting 55-65%. I have my mill set to the credit card width (.30 I think). I use the How To Brew equation of 1 gallon of water to every 2 gallons of grain on the bill to mash with. Then I batch sparge with equal or a gallon less of water. I mash at 152 and sparge at 175. That is the temp after being added to the grain. I take all the mash to the boil kettle and only take enough sparge to the kettle to get me to 6.5 gallons. I have exactly 5 gallons after boil. What are your thoughts?

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Old 08-19-2013, 09:31 PM   #2
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For starters, grain is usually measured by the pound, so I am confused by your ratio. I can only assume you mean 1 gallon of water for 2 pounds of grain which would be 2 quarts per pound of grain (
The usual ratio is between 1 to 2 QUARTS per pound of grain and the closer to 2q/#, the "thinner" your mash is and efficiency can suffer.

Now that we have addressed the mash ratio issue, we can address the sparging issue.
I think you are sparging with TOO much water and TOO hot!
The usual method is to mash and collect and measure your first runnings.
Since the grain has absorbed all the water that it is capable of, all sparge water put in will in theory come back out.
So, subtract the volume of your first runnings from your total pre-boil volume and that is the amount of water that you sparge with.
I personally split my sparge water into 2 equal additions.

For example:
10# grain bill
13.3 quarts of mash water (3.33 gallons)
Grain absorbs about 1.25 gallons
So first runnings are around 2 gallons

My total pre-boil volume is 7.25 gallons, so
7.25 - 2 = 5.25 gallons of sparge water
I split this in half, add 2.6 gallons of water, STIR like crazy and drain
REPEAT.

I shoot to have the grain bed get no hotter than 170 degrees.

Typical issues with efficiency come from:
1) grain crush
2) temps not what you think that they are (check your thermometer). When I first started, the thermo that I had was 8 degrees off.
I thought I was mashing at 152, when in reality I was at 144.

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Old 08-19-2013, 09:36 PM   #3
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There are two efficiency to consider: The first is mash/lauter, the second is total brewhouse. Glad to hear you have your own mill! It sound like your gap is good. just be sure you have no whole grains and everything is in fact crushed with some flour.

Second: 1.25-1.5 qts per lb of grain is ideal for mash in and you will lose about .12 gallons per pound of grain to absorption which is considered a loss as well as any dead space in your tun. You also need to know what pre-boil volume you are looking for to calculate how much volume to sparge with.

Be sure you are using a good calibrated thermometer to ensure you are mashing at the correct temperature. Also be sure you are stirring well at dough in to be sure you are not getting dough balls and unwetted grains. Some people like to stir half way through the mash as well.

When sparging it is important to stir like hell prior to vorleuf/sparge. If you do a two step sparge you will need to stir like hell again, vorluef and drain.

Now, mash/lauter efficiency tells you how well you mashed. You need to take a gravity reading once all your wort goes into the kettle, prior to boil. Temperature corrected! This gravity should be about 10 points less than your estimated OG reading. If it is lower than that your mash process needs improvement. If it is higher than you have a good efficiency at this level.

Total brewhouse efficiency takes into account the final post boil, chilled gravity and this will be a function of both the lauter/mash as well as meeting all your required volumes. In other words if you get too much wort in the primary you will have a lower efficiency due to dilution, higher means you over boiled and concentrated the wort.

Hope this helps! If you are not using brewer software I would recommend it! Helps a lot.
Edit: Brewkinger is a much faster typer than I am Cheers!

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Old 08-19-2013, 10:22 PM   #4
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Hey thanks guys. And yes I meant pounds of grain. What do yall think about my mash temp? Also what would be a better sparge temp? I will use a ratio closer to the 1 gallon per pound on my next brew. Maybe a 1.5 gallons per pound? I have done measurements of my pre-boil vs post-boil (after cooled) gravity and they are pretty close, if not the same. So I think my mash efficiency is where I am lacking.

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Old 08-19-2013, 10:29 PM   #5
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What is your mash PH?

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Old 08-19-2013, 10:35 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by W0rthog View Post
What is your mash PH?
Never measured it. How much does it matter?
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Old 08-19-2013, 10:49 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cch0830
Hey thanks guys. And yes I meant pounds of grain. What do yall think about my mash temp? Also what would be a better sparge temp? I will use a ratio closer to the 1 gallon per pound on my next brew. Maybe a 1.5 gallons per pound? I have done measurements of my pre-boil vs post-boil (after cooled) gravity and they are pretty close, if not the same. So I think my mash efficiency is where I am lacking.
To correct, it's quarts per pound, not gallons!

Your pre boil and post boil should not be the same or near the same either, they should be as stated about 10 points apart with pre boil always being the lower of the two.

Mash pH aids in conversion and should be 5.2-5.4 range. Get a local water report or order one from ward labs so you know where you are at.
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Old 08-20-2013, 02:42 AM   #8
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Thanks y'all

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Old 08-20-2013, 06:47 PM   #9
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The Mash PH, not the water PH, helps in the extraction and conversion of starch into sugar.

Your grain bill, water to grain ratio and water chemistry will contribute to the mash PH. Also any brewing salts and acid additions will influence the mash PH.

This is an area that I am currently working on to improve my efficiency.

Hope this helps

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Old 08-20-2013, 07:28 PM   #10
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Couple notes. I think 1 to 1.5 quarts per pound of ratio is a good area. I personally start with 1.25 qts/lb that way if I don't hit my strike temp I can add hot/cold water to compensate and end up around 1.5 ish qts/lb.

Also, get a decent thermometer, doesn't have to be $100 thermapen, but get something that has a error range +/- 1.5 degrees. Temperature matters! Especially, when you want to start controlling your fermentables and body.

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