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Old 10-06-2008, 10:44 PM   #1
bgcoving
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Default Frustrated over low efficiency....

All;

I’m getting really pissed off…..

My efficiency after a dozen batches of all-grain is still in the 60-65% range. I have tried various fixes proposed on this forum, and the last one actually dropped my efficiency, from 63% to 60%. I can’t figure out what I am doing wrong.

I batch sparge.

I am mashing at 1.1 qts/lb grain, letting the mash sit for 90 minutes until the iodine test sys I have converted… Mash temp is constant at between 153-151 degrees. My crush is as fine as I dare make it. It has to be in the sparge, but I can’t figure out where I am going wrong.

I am using the formula of .85 gals/lb @ 200 for an 8-10 minute mash out and gathering first runoff. I follow that up w/ 185-190 degree sparge water to collect a full boil. I am stirring the mash. I am allowing maximum time for runoff. My efficiency is still in the suck-ass range, and I am frustrated. My burner boils off 2.15 gals per hr, and it is pretty constant.

What am I doing wrong? It’s not the recipes, they are pretty pedestrian…I am beginning to think either that the algorithm in BeerTools Pro is wrong (which I doubt) or that all of you guys are lying about your brewing efficiency (which is equally wrong, I know).

Tomorrow I brew again, and I am going to up the slurry to 1.25 qts/lb, but I am not sanguine it is going to have any effect….

I’d like some serious suggestions (other than “crush, crush, crush”—any more fine crushing on my part and I might as well be using a CuisinArt).


TIA,

Brother Ben

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Old 10-06-2008, 10:49 PM   #2
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I feel your pain.

I do nearly the same thing...and mine is between 60 and 75% depending...and has been as low as 55% (Recently)

Sometimes it's just easier to bump the grain by a pound or 2, and deal with it. I've got a lot better things to worry about than efficiency.

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Old 10-06-2008, 10:53 PM   #3
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Have you checked your thermometer accuracy? What kind of water do you use? Soft or Hard? Do you use pH 5.2? How fast do you drain? When you add the sparge water, do you stir it really well & then let it sit for awhile before starting the vorlauf?

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Old 10-06-2008, 11:22 PM   #4
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I would up your water to 1.33 Qts per#, mash @ 150-152 deg F, Go w/ a fly sparge, don't do a mash out (whats the point in stopping the conversion, I mean really) and sparge w/ 170 -175 deg F water, make sure you use ph 5.2 and post your recipe so we can see what your eff should be by our calcs.
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Old 10-06-2008, 11:39 PM   #5
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what's the reason for a 90-minute mash? what base malt are you using?

I can get briess 2-row to fully convert in 40 minutes...but its a pretty modified grain so it converts easily.

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Old 10-06-2008, 11:59 PM   #6
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+1 to Soperbrew's response.
Other questions, suggestions, and observations.

Questions:
How many batches of sparge water do you use? If you just do one sparge, you can probably increase your efficiency by doing two.
If you are doing two or more sparges, are they of similar volume. Using similar volumes for multiple sparges is more efficient than using different volumes.
What sort of MLT are you using? I have found that round coolers require a tremendous amount of stirring to really mix things up well. Rectangular coolers with a shallower grain bed require much less stirring.
How do you transfer your sparge water to the MLT? If you ladle it in, you loose a lot of heat during the transfer.
How much dead space do you have in the bottom of the MLT? You could be leaving a considerable amount of wort behind, especially if you only do one sparge.
Have you measured the temperature of the grain bed after adding the sparge water and stirring? The closer you get to 170F (without exceeding it) the more efficient you will be.
What sort of gravity brews are you brewing? Batch sparging becomes increasingly inefficient as the gravity increases.
How much wort do you leave behind in the kettle? If this is excessive, it can have a big effect on efficiency.

Suggestions:
Although the mash out can work wonders when fly sparging, I really don't think it does much for batch sparging. You may want to consider skipping the mash out and using the water saved for sparging. No point in doing this right now, as that would add another variable that would complicate the diagnosis of the problem.
Take gravity readings of the initial runnings, and all sparges. Then post details of the mash including the water and grain measurements, temperatures, and gravity readings for each of the runnings.

Observations:
2.15g per hour is very large. Could some of this be explained by dead space in the kettle?

-a.

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Old 10-07-2008, 12:17 AM   #7
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I'm having similar problems, I feel your pain. If I figure out a way to get my efficiency up, I'll let you know.

I'm usually right around 60%, occasionally a bit higher, occasionally a bit lower.

I use a rectangular cooler with a bazooka screen, I've been batch sparging once. I'm going to start batch sparging twice and see if that makes any difference.

I just hate that I"m wasing so much MONEY on grain. If I could hit 80% I could make so much more beer with the same amount of grain.

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Old 10-07-2008, 12:35 AM   #8
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Check your mash efficiency if you haven't done so already. See the link in my sig. pH, fine crush, and 160+*F grainbed throughout sparging are the keys to a good batch sparge.

Other than that I have a feeling many 'my efficiency is low' threads may be caused due to not measuring gravity properly or not measuring volumes accurately. Denser wort collects at the bottom of the pot/fermenter so unless you are stirring before collecting your sample.... and if you have more/less wort than you think your calculations will be way off. All things to check.

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Old 10-07-2008, 03:19 AM   #9
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Ok, I will take a stab at this problem. It has to be in here somewhere?

  1. Measuring volumes accurately.
  2. Collecting all the boil contents (Whatever you leave behind can contain significant wort).
  3. Mashing and sparging slowly at 185F until the mash hits 168F and then continue at 168F until you reach 1.010 specific gravity or the required preboil volume which ever occurs first (this is known as hybrid fly sparging).
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Old 10-07-2008, 03:39 AM   #10
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Do what I do. Outlined in my all grain primer.

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