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Old 06-07-2009, 09:58 PM   #1
piperbrew
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Default Grain Efficiency Help

I apologize for this novel of a post, but I gave as many details as I could think of. I brewed for the first time in a while, but actually felt good about this one. I was efficient with my time (but never rushed anything), and didn't run into a single problem the entire day...except my grain efficiency. The recipe was a Belgian Wit I got from the latest Beer Magazine:

Ingredients:
5 lbs Belgian 2-Row
5 lbs Wheat (didn’t specify what type, I just used White Wheat)
.25 lbs Rice Hull
1 oz East Kent Golding (60 min)
.75 oz crushed coriander seed (5 min)
.75 oz orange peel – bitter (5 min)
White Labs Belgian Wit Ale

I used pH 5.2 Stabilizer in both my strike and sparge water, but did not have any test strips to check it after adding. The write up of the beer said the OG should be 1.042, but Beersmith showed 1.053 (I adjusted for all different types of wheat but it never dropped close to 1.042).

Mash:
- 10 gallon Igloo-style drink cooler (cylindrical)
- 12” False bottom (from AHB)

Heated 3.33 gallons of water to 175F, added pH Stabilizer and dumped into the cooler. Slowly added the grains, ensuring to stir and break up in clumps. After leaving the probe thermometer standing vertically in the center of the grain bed, I put the lid on and let it sit for a sec to get an accurate temperature read. Came out kind of high (I believe in the low 160s), so I stirred the mash a little more and tried again. This time it hit right at 155F. Slowly crept up to 157-158, so I stirred again at the 40min mark. Temp remained the same, and I stirred a final time at 28min.

Sparge:
- 5 gallon Igloo-style drink cooler (cylindrical)
-Phil’s 10” Sparger (Listermann)

Heated 5.13 gallons of water to 173F, added pH Stabilizer and dumped into the cooler. Took the top off the MLT, attached the sparger and ran the hose up to the spigot of the 5 gallon liquor tun (cooler). Opened the MLT spigot and recirculated the first pint or so, let the rest flow into the boil pot while I let the sparge water slowly flow and the sparger spun as it should. 50 minutes later I had ~6.4 gallons to start the boil with. I stirred this slightly and took a little bit for a hydrometer reading. At 122F it was showing 1.020, which equates to about 1.031 adjusted to 60F. Beersmith estimated this should have been 1.046 going into the boil.

Boil:
-7.5 gallon SS pot

Got a good rolling boil right at 211F and added all additions at the appropriate times. After a 60 min boil I dropped the remaining 5-5.25 gallons of wort down to 80F and took another hydrometer reading: 1.040 (adjusted for temp it’s 1.042). This means my efficiency was only 55% (although I hit the OG dead on for what the magazine said it should be).

Does anybody have any thoughts or suggestions? Was the mash and/or sparge temp too high? That’s the only thing I could think of that may have compromised my efficiency (assuming I added the pH Stabilizer correctly and it did what it was intended to do). If I’ve left any pertinent details out (and I tried to be as specific as possible), let me know and I’ll fill in any blanks that may help.



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Old 06-08-2009, 03:24 AM   #2
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Well, this doesn't address your question (I have no experience fly sparging), but it seems to me that a 1.042 starting gravity for a witbier is just about perfect!

Are you getting the 55% from beersmith? If so, you might check to make sure your setup is correctly put into the software, and that your volume is correct. In other words, I wonder if your efficiency number is correct.

Sounds like it will be a good beer! Cheers,

Jim

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Old 06-08-2009, 03:47 AM   #3
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how was your efficiency in the past? looks like you did everything right.
the 5.2 instructions say to add to the mash which is what I do, but i've heard of others treating the sparge water as well.

I had similar low efficiencys when I first started all-grain and was fly sparging with a round cooler, and I believe it was due to channeling problems.

I've been batch sparging for around the last 20 batches, in both round and rectangle coolers, and regularly run around 80% now.

grain crush, and inaccurate volume measurements can throw your numbers off as well.

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Last edited by DanVader; 06-08-2009 at 03:49 AM. Reason: I type pretty bad
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