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EROK 01-02-2013 08:47 PM

Grain Crush for Better Mash Efficiency
Wondering where to go from here.... I have read a ton on mash efficiency.....I have consistently gotten low efficiency from batch sparging and can't really nail down the cause other than the crush. I set my Barley Crusher at .034 and have tried going smaller than that only to find that the grains will not go thru the mill at .026-.030. My PH is in check according to JP's spreadsheet, and sparge temp has been raising the grain bed to approx 160-170 for sparging. I stir twice during the mash and again after the batch sparge water is put in wait ten minutes, vorlauf and drain.

Have heard from several respected sources that runoff rate for 1st runnings and sparging either make for better efficiency BUT then others say to runoff as fast as possible as runoff rate does not matter in batch sparging.

I need a way to crush smaller (with my mill) and a way to know "for sure" what my runoff speed should be.

Any proven ideas would be much appreciated. Thanks ! :tank:

jCOSbrew 01-02-2013 09:00 PM

Define low efficiency? You should be able to easily get 70% using a batch sparge and 60 min mash.

Crush is not the problem.

Check your thermo. Are you hitting mash temp and holding within a few degrees? Is it a large grain bill? What water to grain ratio? How do you calc efficiency? Mash or brew house?

nickelmcgee 01-02-2013 09:04 PM

OK, try adding about 3% water to the grain, spray on with a water bottle wait about 45 minutes then crush the grain. I’ve found that I can consistently crush at about 0.023 when I follow this technique. It leave the hulls almost completely intact and crushes the meat to almost flower. My efficiencies have been above 80% and I don’t experience the stuck sparges that I once did. The technique is covered here;


ETCS 01-02-2013 09:13 PM

I always got about 68 - 70% efficiency. The other day...I had to make a run to the store and had to leave the mash for an extra 45 minutes (I was planning on a 60 min mash @ 154 and wound up doing a 105 min mash @ 154. After it was all said and done..my efficiency went up to 78%

CastleHollow 01-02-2013 09:52 PM

Not sure about the proper setting, since I get my grains crushed at purchase. However, my efficiency improved nearly 5 points when I switched to a new LHBS, and that was the only difference in my brewday, so I know it's related to his mill. My typical efficiency is in the 78% range, although I recently hit 83% on a saison. Here's my technique and equipment:

MLT is a 54qt Coleman cooler, I built this copper manifold, I use 1.25qt/lb in just about all my beers, once I shut the cooler lid I don't open it again until it's time to vorlauf (i.e., I only stir once,) first runoff rate is kinda slow, I sparge at the same temps as you, sometimes will double sparge, and my second runoff rate starts slow but then I usually get impatient and throttle up.

Not sure if any of that is helpful, but it's been working for me, so maybe there's a trick in there that will help you.

histo320 01-02-2013 10:13 PM


Originally Posted by nickelmcgee (Post 4739348)

This is great info to know. I may try this for my next batch.

I have only done one all grain where I used 9 lbs of grain in a 5 gallon cooler. My temp dropped after mashing in even though I added water at the specified temp Beersmith gave me with pretty accurate inputs. I also pre-heated the cooler to 155F for 1 hour before mashing in.

My efficiency was about 50%. My grain crush was using a Corona style grain mill set a size of a credit card. My crush looked like in the pictures above.

My first run and my sparge got stuck as I did not tie off the bag (I do not have a false bottom), so I was forced to pour the wort through a strainer into my brew pot.

Hopefully my next attempt will be improved.

Malticulous 01-03-2013 01:45 AM

I keep my Barley Crusher at .030. When the knurl wore out it would not grab the malt anymore. BC fixed it.

EROK 01-03-2013 01:51 AM


Originally Posted by Malticulous (Post 4740344)
I keep my Barley Crusher at .030. When the knurl wore out it would not grab the malt anymore. BC fixed it.

How many batches have you done? I have done over 100 batches now and wonder if that could be it ? One other question, do you drain slow or just let it rip ?

Malticulous 01-03-2013 02:06 AM

I did a lot more than 500 gallons worth before it was a problem. I mill a lot of wheat too. I still wish I would have gotten a mill with larger diameter rollers.

kshuler 01-03-2013 06:00 AM

I was a BIAB brewer until recently and noticed my mash efficiency went way up the finer I would grind. When I switched to a HERMS system, I assumed that keeping a fine grind would keep a higher efficiency, and I did my first HERMS batch with a grind at 0.028. This led to about 73% efficiency. I had read threads saying that some people use a grind that is more coarse and got very high efficiencies. I made the next batch with a grind of 0.039 purely as an experiment, expecting to get lower efficiency rather than higher. I was, however, shocked, that efficiency went UP to 90.7%. I think this was due to the fact that I could recirculate faster than I could with the finer grind.

Just my experience.

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