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Old 04-08-2011, 05:50 PM   #1
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Default grain mill crush size/setting?

I have a Barley Crusher mill, so I can crush my grains on the brew day, to ensure fresh grain is used.

I have noticed that since going to the cooler mash tun, that my efficiency level has dropped a bit (less than a 10% reduction, going from 78-82% to ~72%)... I'm looking into why I'm getting the lower efficiency levels. One thought, I had, was perhaps it's the grain crush size the mill is set to. I'm using the default setting, from BC, of .039". Would I be better off going larger, or smaller than that? What direction do people tend to take on the crush size in order to see improved efficiency levels? I would like, if nothing else, to get about 75%

For reference, I'm using one of the bazooka screens inside the cooler mash tun, to filter the grain bed. I've not had any stuck sparges to date, so I'm pretty sure the crush size is at least good there. I'm also using the single infusion, no mash out model... I'm not setup for fly sparging and don't really want to get into that just yet.

I hope to have at least a direction to move in before my next brew day (in 2-4 weeks)...

Just a side item, when I was using the BIAB method, I always mashed with 1.5-2.0qt/# of grain. Since going to the cooler, I've been using 1.25-1.5qt/# of grain. Should I try some batches in the 1.5-2.0qt/# mash ratio? Would that have a larger impact than grain crush size? Ultimately, I just want my efficiency to a decent level (IMO) so that I'm getting the most from my grains. If that means changing the crush size, and/or the mash to grain ratio, then I'll do it... Since I'm using a 70qt cooler, I could (probably) even go with a full volume mash and not sparge at all. IF that's going to be a benefit... I do think I'll get better results from the mash/sparge method...

Post up comments, ideas, things that could help me get closer to 75% (in the area of 80% would be great) efficiency levels... Also anyone that wants to give their settings for crush, water to grain ratios for the mash, etc. would be appreciated...

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Old 04-08-2011, 06:00 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golddiggie View Post
I have a Barley Crusher mill, so I can crush my grains on the brew day, to ensure fresh grain is used.

I have noticed that since going to the cooler mash tun, that my efficiency level has dropped a bit (less than a 10% reduction, going from 78-82% to ~72%)... I'm looking into why I'm getting the lower efficiency levels. One thought, I had, was perhaps it's the grain crush size the mill is set to. I'm using the default setting, from BC, of .039". Would I be better off going larger, or smaller than that? What direction do people tend to take on the crush size in order to see improved efficiency levels? I would like, if nothing else, to get about 75%

For reference, I'm using one of the bazooka screens inside the cooler mash tun, to filter the grain bed. I've not had any stuck sparges to date, so I'm pretty sure the crush size is at least good there. I'm also using the single infusion, no mash out model... I'm not setup for fly sparging and don't really want to get into that just yet.

I hope to have at least a direction to move in before my next brew day (in 2-4 weeks)...

Just a side item, when I was using the BIAB method, I always mashed with 1.5-2.0qt/# of grain. Since going to the cooler, I've been using 1.25-1.5qt/# of grain. Should I try some batches in the 1.5-2.0qt/# mash ratio? Would that have a larger impact than grain crush size? Ultimately, I just want my efficiency to a decent level (IMO) so that I'm getting the most from my grains. If that means changing the crush size, and/or the mash to grain ratio, then I'll do it... Since I'm using a 70qt cooler, I could (probably) even go with a full volume mash and not sparge at all. IF that's going to be a benefit... I do think I'll get better results from the mash/sparge method...

Post up comments, ideas, things that could help me get closer to 75% (in the area of 80% would be great) efficiency levels... Also anyone that wants to give their settings for crush, water to grain ratios for the mash, etc. would be appreciated...
Grist ration shouldn't have much of an effect. From my knowledge the full volume can sometimes yield lower efficiency depending on the system. For the main part of your question, I have my barley crusher at the default setting and I use a cordless drill. When i just full power the drill I get like 72-75% efficiency on a batch. When mill the grain slower either by hand or slowly with the drill I get about 81-82%. So take that information how you want So if you can mill slower, give that a try
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Old 04-08-2011, 06:06 PM   #3
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I'll use the cordless drill at a lower speed next time... I've just been using the low speed range (max speed there is 500rpm)... I'll try to go at about 1/2 speed for the next brew and see how it comes out...

I was a bit puzzled since the grain crush size was the same from my previous supplier... I didn't think the ratio would impact things too much. I'm just trying to get enough water in the sparge step to cover the grain..

My next brew will be using almost 20# of grain, so it could be agood test. I've formulated the recipe with a 70% efficiency level. So, if I get higher, I'll be very happy. If not, then at least I won't be below my goal... If I get 80% it will be a much stronger brew (obviously) but it should still come out damned good.

With that brews grain bill, I'll be going for a 90 minute boil time (roughly) instead of my normal 60 minute. That should let me boil off the extra wort needed to hit my target volume. Since I have hop additions starting at 60 minutes, I'll boil until I get to where I normally am at 60 minutes and then proceed. So it could be a shorter, or longer boil (suspect shorter with the propane burner)....

Anyone else have good ideas??

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Old 04-08-2011, 06:31 PM   #4
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http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php/Effects_of_mash_parameters_on_fermentability_and_e fficiency_in_single_infusion_mashing#Mash_thicknes s
Mash thickness does apparently change efficiency by quite a bit. You can run into problems hitting the correct pH when using a thinner mash for high efficiency.
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Old 04-08-2011, 06:37 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockfish42 View Post
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php/Effects_of_mash_parameters_on_fermentability_and_e fficiency_in_single_infusion_mashing#Mash_thicknes s
Mash thickness does apparently change efficiency by quite a bit. You can run into problems hitting the correct pH when using a thinner mash for high efficiency.
You are correct. I got confused and was thinking attenuation (just recently saw another post regarding mash ratio and fermentability/flavor.
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Old 04-08-2011, 07:01 PM   #6
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So should I just start with milling slower or should I reduce the crush size too? Right now it's at .039" but I can change that. I usually do at least 60 minute mash times. Last night I did a 75 minute mash. I'm thinking I'll go back to my 90 minute mash times, give the mash another stir, or two, during that time (I usually get rid of the dough balls and then close it up. I can space the stirring times evenly across the mash time (2 or 3? what do you guys do in the cooler mash tuns?)...

I'm still new to using a cooler mash tun, so I don't expect things to be dead on yet...

I'm thinking that I'll move my old ale brewing to another session now, and brew up the blonde ale next. Although this will make for another light colored ale in my pipeline. Right now I have a Boddington Pub Ale clone, a honey cream ale, my ESB in bottles (as of last night) and just brewed an English Brown Ale... With the Boddington's ale, the cream ale, and the ESB, that's three lighter colored ales in bottles. Which is why I went with the brown ale last night. I would prefer to have positive direction to move in before I use a healthy grain bill next batch...

For the water to grain ratio, I would prefer to keep within the 1.25-1.75qt/# range... That way, I should be able to sparge with enough water to cover the grain bed... I'll also bring my PH test strips with me to the next brew-day... That way I'll at least know what the mash PH is on that day, and I'll be able to adjust (if needed) for the following brew day.

Any other ideas?

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Old 04-08-2011, 10:20 PM   #7
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Most setting are 0.045, I have it set for 0.039 and last time I oalmost got stock sparge.
Next time I'm going to treat grain with water and keep this setting

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Old 04-08-2011, 10:30 PM   #8
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Would I be better off, all around, if I increased the gap to either .040 or .041? Or would it not make enough of a difference? I have time to adjust the gap, since I probably won't be brewing another batch for a couple of weeks... Need time to drink some of what's in bottles, so that I can bottle the batch I just started (plan to bottle in about a month)...

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Old 04-08-2011, 10:50 PM   #9
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I monkey'd around with my barley crusher when I first got it, but have settled on the default setting (sorry, not sure what the specific gap measurement is at default). I mash with 1.25-1.5 qts per #, and have been getting consistently 80%+ mash efficiency for the last 10-15 batches, with many around 85%.

I use the (somewhat) slower setting on my Bosch cordless drill when crushing. There are "1" and "2" settings for coarse-grain speeds, and I use the "1" coarse-grain setting with the finer grain set to the fastest speed (the icon on the drill with the drill bit).

I also use a rectangular cooler with bazooka filter and batch sparge, so it sounds like our configurations are relatively similar. I dump the crushed grain in, then the heated water, stir really well with a long slotted spoon, take a temp reading, make any adjustments to get the temp right then close it up and wait for 60-90 minutes (depending on the recipe).

Hope that helps....best of luck to you!

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Old 04-08-2011, 10:58 PM   #10
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I'm going to quote one of my brewing idols (and all around nice guy) Denny Conn on crushing and batch sparging: "Crush 'till you're scared".

I have my mill set at .032", and I usually fly sparge. No stuck sparges. I would guess that most of us crush in that area, NOT .042 like someone else mentioned!

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