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Old 02-10-2009, 10:44 PM   #1
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Default Efficiency is horrible

This is my second AG batch, and my efficiency is just horrible.

I am using Beersmith, a cooler with SS braid and a Barley Crusher at factory settings. Here's what happened:

Beersmith told me to mash at 154 for 60 min. with 16.88 qt., then batch sparge twice, each with 2.46 g at 168, to collect 7.5 g at 1.053 for boil volume.

I struck at 154, but the temperature plummeted. My cooler sucks. I ended up mashing at 145 for 20 minutes, then got it up to 154 for 60 minutes. I collected 7.25 g. I added a quart and took a reading of 1.051. That puts my mash efficiency at about 65%.

Beersmith then said to boil for 60 min.

I actually boiled for 80 because I overestimated my preboil volume. So I boiled until I had 5 g, which worked out to 4.5 g in the fermenter. I also added 1.5 lb. of honey at flameout. (this was accounted for in the recipe) I added a half gallon of cold water.

Beersmith estimated an OG of 1.083, and I ended up with 1.066. This put my overall efficiency at 58%.

I'm wondering what the heck is going on. I took three readings each time with a calibrated ATC refractometer, and checked it against my hydrometer. Any advice on how to up that efficiency would be much appreciated. Here's the brewsheet from Beersmith:

Quote:
Type: All Grain
Date: 2/3/2009
Batch Size: 5.00 gal
Brewer: Matt
Boil Size: 7.51 gal Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: Brew Pot (10 Gallon) & Cooler
Taste Rating(out of 50): 35.0 Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00
Taste Notes:

Ingredients

Amount Item Type % or IBU
8.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 53.33 %
3.50 lb Munich Malt (9.0 SRM) Grain 23.33 %
1.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 6.67 %
0.50 lb Chocolate Malt (350.0 SRM) Grain 3.33 %
0.50 lb Special B Malt (180.0 SRM) Grain 3.33 %
0.68 oz Magnum [16.70 %] (60 min) Hops 38.0 IBU
0.91 oz Cascade [5.40 %] (15 min) Hops 8.1 IBU
1.50 lb Honey (1.0 SRM) Sugar 10.00 %
1 Pkgs European Ale (White Labs #WLP011) Yeast-Ale

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.083 SG
Measured Original Gravity: 1.066 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.025 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.005 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 7.50 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 7.97 %
Bitterness: 46.1 IBU Calories: 291 cal/pint
Est Color: 28.8 SRM Color: Color

Mash Profile

Mash Name: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge Total Grain Weight: 13.50 lb
Sparge Water: 4.91 gal Grain Temperature: 68.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F TunTemperature: 68.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.4 PH

Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge Step Time Name Description Step Temp
60 min Mash In Add 16.88 qt of water at 168.5 F 154.0 F
Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).
Carbonation and Storage

Carbonation Type: Dried Malt Extract Volumes of CO2: 2.1
Pressure/Weight: 4.2 oz Carbonation Used: -
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 60.0 F Age for: 28.0 days
Storage Temperature: 65.0 F
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Old 02-10-2009, 11:23 PM   #2
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Honestly, I would set the efficiency to 65% when building the recipe. You will find yourself much closer to your OG if you do it that way. It will of course cause you to add more grains to get your readings but it works.

Batch sparging makes it harder to get over 65%. I just did my first AG but I did a lot of homework prior to (I'm sure you did too). I missed my mash temp too but that was an oversight on my part, not because beersmith or my equipment sucks. I told beersmith my cooler was 72° and then I preheated it which caused my strike temp to be higher than it should have been. After adjusting beersmith to what I ACTUALLY did, I NAILED my numbers all around.

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Old 02-10-2009, 11:29 PM   #3
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I would guess that your MLT temp plummeted not because your cooler sucks, but because you didnt pre-heat your MLT BEFORE striking. Your cooler will suck up about 8-10F.... yeah, that much!

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Old 02-10-2009, 11:41 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nasty View Post
Batch sparging makes it harder to get over 65%.
That is just not true at all, it just takes time to get used to your set-up, and getting the process right.

Most batch spargers get well over 75%

There are many things that will affect the efficiency.

1) and the biggest; Grain Crush
2) Sparge water Temp
3) Stirring the grain bed after each drain
4) PH of the water
5) Accuracy of the themometer
6) Accuracy of your measurments.

To blame batch sparging for the low efficiency is just plain bad advice.
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Old 02-10-2009, 11:48 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mattmcl View Post
This is my second AG batch, and my efficiency is just horrible.

I am using Beersmith, a cooler with SS braid and a Barley Crusher at factory settings. Here's what happened:

Beersmith told me to mash at 154 for 60 min. with 16.88 qt., then batch sparge twice, each with 2.46 g at 168, to collect 7.5 g at 1.053 for boil volume.

I struck at 154, but the temperature plummeted. My cooler sucks. I ended up mashing at 145 for 20 minutes, then got it up to 154 for 60 minutes. I collected 7.25 g. I added a quart and took a reading of 1.051. That puts my mash efficiency at about 65%.

Beersmith then said to boil for 60 min.

I actually boiled for 80 because I overestimated my preboil volume. So I boiled until I had 5 g, which worked out to 4.5 g in the fermenter. I also added 1.5 lb. of honey at flameout. (this was accounted for in the recipe) I added a half gallon of cold water.

Beersmith estimated an OG of 1.083, and I ended up with 1.066. This put my overall efficiency at 58%.

I'm wondering what the heck is going on. I took three readings each time with a calibrated ATC refractometer, and checked it against my hydrometer. Any advice on how to up that efficiency would be much appreciated. Here's the brewsheet from Beersmith:
There are many things that you could do to increase your efficiency.
1) Make sure your crush is good, if getting from a brew supply shop, ask them to mill it twice
2) What is the PH of your mash water? Maybe use PH 5.2 (not sure if you are already or not)
3) Sparge water should be around 185 degrees. (That alone, increased my efficiency by 10 points.
4) Make sure that after each drain, when you add the sparge water, you stir the crap outta it, like it owes you money.

These items listed are the MAJOR contributors to bad efficiency, but not all encompasing.

Also, check out Bobby M's batch sparging thread, he has done wonders for batch spargers, and has taken many hours to do experiments to help us out.
I will try to dig up a link, or even better, hopefully Bobby will post in here.

Cheers
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Old 02-10-2009, 11:54 PM   #6
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I may be wrong, but I think your problem is not your cooler. If you are trying to mash at 154F your strike water temp should not be 154F. The other issue I see is that if you mashed at 145F for 60 min. I don't think you got full conversion of the mash. Did you check for full conversion? With my system as a generic rule if I want to mash at 154F my strike water temp is approx 168F to 170F.

Good Luck,
T-Hops

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Old 02-10-2009, 11:57 PM   #7
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Yeah, I've gotten close to 80% batch sparging. That's not your issue.
I had really similar experiences on my first several all grains. These are the things that helped me.

Set your barley crusher to a smaller gap than factory setting. Search around here. Almost no-one has it set to the factory setting.

Take hydro readings and volumes for each run-off. 1st runnings, 1st and second sparge. This helps to narrow down exactly where you are losing points.

Make sure your hydro and termometers are properly calibrated and reading accurately.

The biggest issue for me is crush. If buying pre-crushed grains I plan on 60-65% efficiency. If I can find someone with a barley crusher to crush it, it goes up to almost 80%.

Brew more! Take very careful notes. I know it's frustrating, not getting the results you wanted, but it still makes delicious beer.

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Old 02-11-2009, 12:03 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sherpa FE View Post
That is just not true at all, it just takes time to get used to your set-up, and getting the process right.

Most batch spargers get well over 75%

There are many things that will affect the efficiency.

1) and the biggest; Grain Crush
2) Sparge water Temp
3) Stirring the grain bed after each drain
4) PH of the water
5) Accuracy of the themometer
6) Accuracy of your measurments.

To blame batch sparging for the low efficiency is just plain bad advice.

My mistake. I confused what I read about corona mills with batch sparging. But even the beersmith site tells you to account for efficiency loss if batch sparging, by the way. Not 10% but 5%. How to Batch Sparge - A Beginners Guide to Batch Sparging
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Old 02-11-2009, 12:30 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nasty View Post
My mistake. I confused what I read about corona mills with batch sparging.
Now you are really stepping in it man!

I batch sparge AND I use a corona mill and I am able to get efficiencies up in the mid 80's. There are lots of others here that do the same.

Two of the biggest myths in homebrewing are that (1) batch sparging results in lower efficiencies than fly/continuous sparging, and that (2) it is not possible to get a decent crush from a corona mill. These myths tend to be propagated by people who lack experience with either technique. If you fall into that category, shame!!!

Oh -- to the OP -- check out my batch sparging efficiency thread in the AG&PMB sticky here:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/maxi...parging-77125/
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Old 02-11-2009, 01:08 AM   #10
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lol! Thanks! I actually read that thread before you posted it.

Well, not having any friends at all who homebrew, every drop of my learning has been from internet boards and books. I can tell you those 2 are probably still very common myths because that info (which obviously is bad) is in MANY places on the web. It is easy for a guy like me to find this info.

I try to look up as much as I can on this site but the community is just so damn big, I can't keep up and it's difficult to find stuff.

Sorry if I hijacked. I'll just shut up and read now.

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