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Old 02-14-2013, 09:09 PM   #1
JayMac
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Default Hard water hurting efficiency?

I brewed a dry stout today and barely passed 60% efficiency even with milling my own grains. My mash was kept at 150-152F for 60 mins. However, I think I accidentally mashed with 0.84 q/lb instead of the normal 1.25 (added 2 gallons instead of 3 for a 9.5lb grain bill). Although I'm certain that's where my efficiency was lost, I was wondering how severe losses are when the water I use has a pH between 7.88-8.02 (2011 Water Report for Kingston, Ontario).

My last batch had an efficiency around 72-75%, so I know I can put out decent numbers.... but I'm just wondering where exactly my losses are coming from. I have nearly zero MLT deadspace, I always sparge with two equal amounts of water at 175F, The mash is always mixed to avoid doughballs and is stirred once during the 60 minute mash. Temperature varies along the depth of the MLT, so it's hard to tell exactly what temperature the grains are mashing at. This is really the only place I can see where I consistently lose efficiency. On top of that, my pre poil is 7 gal and post boil is 5.5 gal.

What could be the main cause of my efficiency evading the 80% mark? Would mashing for another half hour benefit me? I guess I should get some iodine and make sure that my starches are fully converted before extending my mash time, but I'm also interested to see how long others are mashing for.

Thanks for the help!

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Old 02-14-2013, 09:27 PM   #2
manoaction
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Your mash does sound too thick for starters, but as too the rest of it...

Your water's starting ph is only one piece of the puzzle, the roast of your grains and the hardness of your water all play into your mash ph. So you'll need to plug your water report into bru'n water or something similar to see where your expected mash ph will be.

My old mash tun was a rectangular shaped cooler and I noticed a big jump in effeciency when I tried batch sparging and I never looked back after that.

Are you batch or fly sparging?

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Old 02-14-2013, 09:31 PM   #3
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I'm batch sparging right now in a 10 gallon Home Depot MLT

Here is my water report:

Calcium: 33.9-36 mg/L
Magnesium: 5.87-8.7 mg/L
Bicarbonate: 101-109 mg/L
Copper: <0.002-0.006 mg/L
Iron: <0.005-0.120 mg/L
Lead: <0.00013-0.0173 mg/L
Manganese: <0.001-0.003 mg/L
Aluminum: 0.04-0.01 mg/L
Zinc: <0.005-0.122 mg/L
Sodium: 12.4-16 mg/L
Chloride: 22.4-25 mg/L
Sulfate: 22-32 mg/L
Ammonia N: <0.05-0.27 mg/L
Fluoride: 0.1 mg/L
Nitrite: <0.1 mg/L
Nitrate: 0.3 mg/L
pH: 7.88-8.05
Hardness: 109-126 mg/L
Alkalinity(CaCO3): 83-89 mg/L

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Old 02-15-2013, 04:12 PM   #4
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Well. Your Bicarbonate is pretty high, but you water is pretty straightforward other than that.

Bicarbonate will act as a buffer resisting the ph drop caused by the acid in your malt. Unaltered, you'll probably have better luck with beers that have high amounts of roasted or darker malts.

Even if you're just using a single pale malt, this can be fixed by adding a few grams of citric acid. If you were doing a mash with 8 gallons of water and using nothign but pale malt, I'd add about 6.5 grams of citric.

If you want to go beyond generalizations and into specifics (I would reccomend it), then you should load your values into Bru'n Water ( https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/ ) and adjust your water accordingly.

I don't think mashing longer is going to be any sort of magic bullet for your effeciency. If you're grinding your grain fine and hitting your temps, then I'd look into lowering your mash ph a bit. Your water won't need a lot of adjusting, just a bit of acid.

The guys in the chemistry forum think about this stuff all day long and they can give you more info if you want to take the blue pill and enter that whole world.

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Old 02-15-2013, 06:40 PM   #5
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Thanks manoaction, I'll plug it in and see what I get. I guess I could use bottle water for a batch and see what happens to see the extent to which it affects my efficiency.

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