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Old 04-03-2011, 03:37 PM   #1
promontory
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Default Gotta get my efficiency up, any ideas

So as I understand it, efficiency comes from the total gravity points available from the grain bill you are using, to the total gravity points you achieve.

I have been getting around 68% which seems low, I don't need to hit a home run but I'd like better than that.

I get my grains from a local guy who supplies many other people so don't think its the mill he's using. but maybe it is.

I haven't had a stuck mash, I typically mash around 150 +/-, mash out at 170' resurc twice about 1 gal each time, then sparge. I am using a sparge arm, pics at http://promontorybrewery.com , its pretty straight forward stuff.

The one variable could be that I am trying to end up with 6.5 gal pre-boil. But I wrote the last recipe that I used, plugged it into BeerAlchemy (a mac based brew software) and it said I my OG should be 1.061 and I hit 1.050.

The recipe grain bill was 11lbs 2-row, 1.5lb crystal 120l, and .5 lb of chocolate.

any ideas?

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Old 04-03-2011, 03:54 PM   #2
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Do you have a refractometer to check the wort coming off the grain? Are you checking to see how much is left in the grain after you sparge?

The link isn't working right now, so you probably want to see what's up there.

How much wort are you ending up with after the boil? That's what you should plug in for efficiency calcs, not how much you put into primary (especially if you leave some behind in the kettle).

I would ask some of the other people he supplies what they're getting for efficiency rates. I would also find out what he uses to mill the grain, and what the gap setting is. See if he'll adjust the gap for the grain you're getting to help rule that out. Does he crush the grain as you're buying it, or is it already milled? I would go with freshly crushed/milled grain to also rule that out.

I would try grain from another source for a batch, or three, to see if that makes any difference.

Would help to either see pictures of your gear, or at least the mash setup.

I don't see 68% as being 'bad' as long as you're getting that rate on a regular basis. You might be able to get a bit better, depending on what you can adjust. I'm still dialing-in my new mash tun, so I don't have a stable efficiency rate yet.

Have you considered getting your own grain mill and taking that element out of the equation? Group grain buys make the base malt oh so very cheap. Until then, you could just buy what you need for a couple of batches at a time. Store it well, and mill it on brew-day...

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Old 04-03-2011, 04:05 PM   #3
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Simplest thing to eliminate the crush is get ingredients from another source - online or lhbs to see if your efficiency improves.

I batch sparge and haven't hit below 75% yet - 30+ batches.

I get my grains from Austin Homebrew or Brewmasters Warehouse.

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Old 04-03-2011, 04:15 PM   #4
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I was getting 50-55% from grains crushed by the LHBS, and 65-70%o with a couple AG kits I got from B3.. So I suspected my crush..

I bought a three roller mill from C&S and crushed my own grain for the first time yesterday... My efficiency went from 50% to 80% on the first use.. Not only that, but when I mashed using the LHBS crushed grain, after draining all the ort and sparges, the spent grain just looked like wet grain.. But after draiing the wort/sparges from my own crush, there remained a thick cake of flour on top of the wet grain...

To make things even better, the ferment kicked off much faster than previous AG brews had... The wort looked darker and smelled better, and the boil smelled like it did when I first started brewing and was using extracts..

Made the whole day go better with less frustration.. no trying to see what I could do to fix my mash...

I'm very pleased..

Think about it, if the LHBS sells you a course crush that lowers your efficiency, then they get to sell you more grain to hit your target OG...

That being said.. 68% is pretty standard.. and your LHBS is selling a crush intended for 'everyone'.. To get better than that I'm thinking you'll either have to get your LHBS to use a custom setting for you, or get your own mill...

Another benefit of having your own mill is more creative freedom.. you can make decisions and changes on the fly or last second...

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Old 04-03-2011, 04:37 PM   #5
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the url is actually: http://promontorybrew.com scroll to the bottom, its from my first AG brew day and the build. I will check on the mill setting from my guy. I want to pick up my own, just trying to measure my spending a tiny bit you know.

As far as the numbers go:
I resurc'd twice, 1 gal each time.
At the beginning of the sparge my hydrometer read 1.050 at around 150'
After 20 min I had a 1.036 at the same temp
After 40min I had a 1.010, same temp again.

I collected 6.5 gal of wort pre boil with a gravity of 1.030 (temp prob 120' or so)

I boiled down to about 5.25 gal.

Overall I am not discouraged by the eff, I would like to get up into the mid-high 70's so anything I can do would be nice. My target was 1.061 and I hit 1.050 so it would have been nice to get a little higher... thanks for all the responses.

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Old 04-03-2011, 06:13 PM   #6
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68% is right in there with what one would expect from LHBS crushed grains or kits... as most recipes in the books and magazines are based on an efficiency of 65% or 70%... You're right in the middle..

To get higher, you're probably gonna have to crush your own or talk your LHBS into a custom setting for you...

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Old 04-03-2011, 06:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by promontory View Post
the url is actually: http://promontorybrew.com scroll to the bottom, its from my first AG brew day and the build. I will check on the mill setting from my guy. I want to pick up my own, just trying to measure my spending a tiny bit you know.

As far as the numbers go:
I resurc'd twice, 1 gal each time.
At the beginning of the sparge my hydrometer read 1.050 at around 150'
After 20 min I had a 1.036 at the same temp
After 40min I had a 1.010, same temp again.

I collected 6.5 gal of wort pre boil with a gravity of 1.030 (temp prob 120' or so)

I boiled down to about 5.25 gal.

Overall I am not discouraged by the eff, I would like to get up into the mid-high 70's so anything I can do would be nice. My target was 1.061 and I hit 1.050 so it would have been nice to get a little higher... thanks for all the responses.
Those preboil gravity readings won't be accurate. I know they have correction tables, but any wort reading over 100 degrees is notorously inaccurate. Just cool the sample in a pitcher of cold/ice water for 10 minutes, and then check it when it's under 90 degrees. Then use the correction tables.
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