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Old 04-26-2012, 11:52 PM   #1
mulhaircorey
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Default First AG - Newly Built Cooler Mash Tun (Wheat Efficiency?)

Hi all, following this hello is a simple note or two about my first AG experience, and then a procedure from yesterdays brew, and a question about AG mashing. Thanks for clicking.

After about 9 or 10 brews using mostly extract, but a fair bit of grain, I have decided to invest in a basic all-grain setup.

I built a Mash Tun from a 52 quart Igloo Cooler I snagged at target for $24. After about $40 more for the bulkhead and braided steel mesh "manifold" I had a working tun.

I brewed a batch yesterday in it and it was great to be able to lay down the grain bed, add the mash water, then sit and do nothing, drain, then sparge. So much easier than having to babysit the (electric) range stove and maintain temps for an hour.

I used this simple grain bill in the mash:

6lbs American 2-Row Base
3lbs Malted White Wheat
1lb Crystal 40

(30% wheat, 70% barley)


Boiled water (5 gallons) to about 164 F and added to grain bed in mash tun.
5 minutes later the water was at 152 F, and another 60 minutes later it was only down to 150, and I am happy with that.

However, my gravity reading after the boil was about 10pts low, and I calculated I had only about 62% mash efficiency with those numbers.

Basically, I was wondering if it is usual to have a much lower efficiency when using wheat in a grain bill, or if I did something wrong.

Thanks for stopping by, and please let me know what you think.

-Corey

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Old 04-27-2012, 12:13 AM   #2
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Tough to say what is precisely going on since it is your first AG and you don't have a baseline to compare it to. One quick idea is that it may be your crush. To get efficiencies out of wheat that are on par with barley, I usually crush my wheat to almost flour.

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Old 04-27-2012, 12:49 AM   #3
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5 minutes later the water was at 152 F, and another 60 minutes later it was only down to 150, and I am happy with that.

So does this mean that you doughed into 150 F water?

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Old 04-27-2012, 12:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by November View Post
Tough to say what is precisely going on since it is your first AG and you don't have a baseline to compare it to. One quick idea is that it may be your crush. To get efficiencies out of wheat that are on par with barley, I usually crush my wheat to almost flour.
+1 to ^^this^^
In addition, since this was your first AG you also need to be sure you hit your volumes correctly, in other words if you had more wort than anticipated your numbers would be low or if you had less your numbers would be high.

There are a lot of factors that go into AG brewing and accurately measuring all your water, pre-boil, post boil, mash volumes are important.Temperature control of the mash is also a large component of how your beer ultimately turns out as different temps bring out different results, sometimes in as little as 1-2 degrees.
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Old 04-27-2012, 02:13 PM   #5
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A couple of things I noticed when I started with a similar set up. Pour some hot water into the cooler to warm up the cooler first. Also add the grain to your water not water to your grain, and I also noticed I was losing some heat from the lid where the handle is, but I suspect that started happening after a few uses and the cooler warped a bit.
Oh and wheat can gum up and cause low efficiency so a little bit of rice hulls will help with that.

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Old 04-28-2012, 02:04 AM   #6
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I don't seem to get lower eff from wheat, but I've heard others do ..

What helped me :
Preheating the mash tun
Strike water first, then add grain. Add about a quarter, stir well, and repeat. Might want to add about a degree to your strike temp.
Collecting all my runnings. Getting my volumes dialed in. Boil off. Trub loss.cooling loss. Fermenter loss.etc.

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Old 04-28-2012, 02:43 AM   #7
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Another idea would be to mash with, say, 12 quarts of water, and use the another 12 (or so to account for grain absorption) to sparge.

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Old 04-28-2012, 07:47 AM   #8
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Sweet, thanks for the replies guys, I'll probably brew again this weekend with some modifications in respect to the advice given.

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Old 04-28-2012, 09:52 AM   #9
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I heat my strike water about 5F above the temperature I want to strike at, for instance, if I want to strike at 164F I'll heat to 169-170F, then add all my strike water to the mash tun, close the lid. I monitor the temperature until it's at my strike temperature. This way, the mash tun gets heated and all of the strike water is at the exact strike temperature 164F. After it's at the proper temperature I add grain.

I wrap an old comforter around the cooler to help stabilize the temperature as it mashes.

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Old 04-28-2012, 01:55 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mulhaircorey
Sweet, thanks for the replies guys, I'll probably brew again this weekend with some modifications in respect to the advice given.
How did you sparge? I experienced a notable bump in efficiency switching to fly sparge. During My first AG attempt I opened the valve too quickly and found that I left many of the sugar behind. After you have your pre boil volume, taste the spent grains. They should not be overly sweet. Also, your hydro readings should be taken near room temp. You left out much information needed to make a fair assesment. With this being your first AG, you will get better results by refining your process through trial and error. Switching sparge method and runoff rate helped me go from 60% to 75%. Like mentioned by others, it all starts with a good crush. Part of the fun with AG is discovering a regimen that works for you. Cheers and good luck with your next session!
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