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Old 07-18-2011, 06:30 AM   #1
cadaverous
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Default Firsts: All-Grain, BIAB, No-Chill, New Kettle, Poor Efficiency

I've been brewing off and on for a few years and just upgraded to a 15 gallon Blichmann Boilermaker. This helped with my first attempt tonight at BIAB + No-Chill.

Good News -- Brewing in the back yard over a turkey fryer with a nice kettle with a good built in thermometer is much more relaxed than trying to do it all in a small kitchen with an undersized pot.

Bad News -- I only reached 62% efficiency. I heated 8.5 gallons of water to 158 F, and added the grains. For most of the mash I kept the temperature between 152 F and 154 F. After an hour I raised the temperature to 170 F and then lifted out the bag to drain it. Then I moved on to my boil.

Ideas about what went wrong:

1) My grain was crushed at the standard coarseness.

2) Perhaps I should have let it sit at 170 F for 10 minutes before lifting the bag to drain.

3) Perhaps I should try holding back a bit of the water to do some sort of sparge.

What do you guys think?

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Old 07-18-2011, 11:23 AM   #2
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What was the recipe and batch size?

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Old 07-18-2011, 11:32 AM   #3
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I think if you kept your volume lower, say cut in half for the mash, then raise the bag up and rinse with the rest of the water that you'll come out with better efficiency.

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Old 07-18-2011, 12:56 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cadaverous View Post
Ideas about what went wrong:

1) My grain was crushed at the standard coarseness.

2) Perhaps I should have let it sit at 170 F for 10 minutes before lifting the bag to drain.

3) Perhaps I should try holding back a bit of the water to do some sort of sparge.
  1. Definitely crush the grain finer ... or double crush it.
  2. Yes, bring it up to 170 then let it sit for 10-mins before lifting the bag from the kettle. Once lifted, let it drain into the kettle to get as much of the wort as possible. A simple pulley will help so you won't hurt your back.
  3. Sparging is certainly an option but it's probably not necessary in your case with a 15-gal kettle. You can also the let the grain drain into some other container then add this wort to your boil kettle once it's finished draining.
Did you stir the grain during the mash? Stirring helps a lot.
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Old 07-18-2011, 01:33 PM   #5
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I would put money on the fact that the lack of sparging is the cause of your low efficiency.

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Old 07-18-2011, 01:42 PM   #6
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On my first BIAB I had really bad efficiency. For my second attempt a couple weeks ago, I made sure that the crush was fine and I Mashed for 90 minutes instead of 60. I didn't sparge, I just raised the temp to 70 and removed the bag. Just crushing the grain fine and mashing for 90 minutes got my efficiency up to 75%.

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Old 07-18-2011, 01:47 PM   #7
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It all depends on what you are looking for in efficiency but I get over 90% efficiency with 2 batch sparges, standard crush and an 80-90 minute mash at 150-152 degrees.

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Old 07-18-2011, 08:18 PM   #8
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I do BIAB - 90 minute mash and I give it a good stir at the mash start, twice during that 90 minutes, and once more at the end.

Also, when you drain your bag, twirl it until the bag bunches up super tight, it causes more wort to squeeze out.

Also, I use a pot lid to squeeze even more wort out of the grain using a collander.

I did my first 170 degree mash out this last batch, and noticed a huge jump in efficiency. I let the grains sit at 170 for ten minutes before all of the draining and squeezing of grains.

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Old 07-18-2011, 08:37 PM   #9
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If you are going to do a separate sparge step, then you are not doing a true BIAB.

I agree with the various comments above about how to raise your efficiency:

  • finer crush
  • longer mash
  • stir a few times during the mash
  • rest for 10 minutes at the higher mash-out temperature

Also, was your bag a 5-gallon paint-strainer bag or was it large enough to put the pot in the bag? True BIAB needs that large of a bag so the water and grain can freely mix. To quote from the BIABrewer.info site:
Your bag must be BIG enough to line your pot completely and without restricting the grain in any way. In BIAB you are not mashing “in a bag” you are mashing in a pot that just happens to be lined with a bag.
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