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Old 03-03-2011, 05:11 PM   #1
asterix404
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Default Help with efficiency or grain grinding

So I did my nth or so all grain batch where n is the number of times to actually do an all grain and work the kinks out. My process is fairly straight forward:

1) get my grain (most likely milled)
2) boil water and heat up the tun
3) heat up between 1qt and 1.25qt water to hit a strike temp of about 150deg in my converted cooler/tun (54qt capacity terrible insulation, cheep POS but...)
3) wrapt the tun in bedding. I have now gotten heat loss to less than 1deg per hour and half. I am very happy about this. Typically I will try to hit a strike temp of 151, by the end it's about 150.
4) heat equal part sparge water to hit a temp of about 168 in the tun. (If I heated up 3g for the strike at 1qt/lb I heat up 4g to sparge, this I have found mostly hard with high grav beers but I make do.)
5) Boil until I have about 5g in my brewpot
6) cool and put it in my primary with yeast.
7) Excellent bubbling, great beer.

I did this with the last batch I did and I actually took OG readings, FG readings, temperature and temp calibrated everything. After doing all of this I saw that I had about 72-75% extraction efficiency. I hit my mark (off by about .001 sg on the wort) but I didn't think the efficiency was very good.

I think after doing some reading it's either that my mash tun or the grain grind. My mash tun is a converted cooler with the mesh screen tube. The screen does not go from end to end, the cooler is about 2ft wide and the screen goes about a foot in. I was told that this is suboptimal and should get a second screen, cut of the end of the first one, attach the second one and that should help. Is this true?

If it is the grain grinding problem (or if that could help) I tried to follow the "how to brew" guide once and got a miserably stuck sparge. Most likely I ground the barley too fine and with the wheat I didn't use rice hulls. I am sort of looking for tips to get the barley to not have shredded hulls but be ground finer, any suggestions on how to do this? Should I get it just within the point of having shredded hulls and not? With the wheat I am always going to use rice hulls if the wheat is more than 10% of the grain bill.

Given my setup, what other recomendations could people give me where I could improve efficiency.

Thanks!

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Old 03-03-2011, 05:26 PM   #2
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I would find out what gap/grind size the grain is milled to from your supplier. If you're milling your own, now, then what gap did you set it to?

72-75% isn't bad at all. Getting consistent results is most important. If you know you're getting that range time and again, then you can adjust your grain bill to get what you want within that range.

If you're looking to improve on that, you might not be able to with your current hardware.

I'm about to use my MLT cooler for the first time on Tuesday. The bazooka tube is pretty much in the center of my cooler. I'm planning on getting about 70% efficiency the first time. If I get better, GREAT, I just hope I don't get worse. After a few batches, I should have it dialed in. Between the crush of the grain (I have a BC), water amount, etc. it shouldn't be an issue getting steady results.

Personally, I've had better mash results using 1.5-2qt/# of grain. At least with the BIAB method. I plan to use 1.5qt/# on the next batch (in the virgin cooler/MLT)...

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Old 03-03-2011, 08:16 PM   #3
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I try to limit the amount of water I use in the mash just because I hate really long boils. An average batch that I do is about 14 pounds. The last one I did I used 4g+4g. If I used 1.25qt/lb it would have been more like 4.5g and at 1qt/lb it would have been about 3.5g.

For this particular batch I wanted to stick to whole gallons to easily measure efficiency.

So I suppose the next obvious question is, how do people get 85% efficiency and what equipment do they use? I have a feeling that if my equipment is a problem, then it's like the book said, "It's cheaper to buy an extra pound of grain".

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Old 03-03-2011, 08:32 PM   #4
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I wouldn't mash with any less than 1.25qt/#... I would advise getting pots large enough to handle your grain bills, or go with partial mashes (augmenting your grain bill with extra light DME). Even with my sparge pot a bit on the small side, I've been able to get 78-82% efficiency with BIAB (two pot method)... I typically mash for 90 minutes, then sparge for 10-20 minutes (unless I lose track of time). I also make sure that the grain bag drains as much as possible into the mash pot before putting it into the sparge pot.

I've also been using grain crushed to .039"... Tweaking the grain crush, I could probably get to 85% efficiency (or better)... At this point, I'm planning on dialing in my cooler MLT so that I can use it more.

I've been mashing no more than 12.25# of grain using my 20 and 32 quart pots (32 for mash, 20 for sparge)... So, depending on your pot size, you might want to get either one more in the ~32 quart range, or two. You can find aluminum pots for pretty cheap money (compared with good quality SS pots)... I got mine from a restaurant supplier (32 and 60 quarts)... The 32 quart was under $40, and is 4mm thick (stock pot)...

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Old 03-04-2011, 01:19 AM   #5
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I have a 42qt pot, the problem really is spending 8h boiling it down to 5g. The large grain beer (over 20 pound) I did actually use 6g in each and I wound up with the pot almost being full. I will try out the 1.25 to 1.50qt/lb method, I think if it drives it up to the 85% level it would be worth it just from the planning perspective. I am going to brew this weekend! Thanks!

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Old 03-04-2011, 02:18 AM   #6
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Quote:
I have a 42qt pot, the problem really is spending 8h boiling it down to 5g. The large grain beer (over 20 pound) I did actually use 6g in each and I wound up with the pot almost being full. I will try out the 1.25 to 1.50qt/lb method, I think if it drives it up to the 85% level it would be worth it just from the planning perspective. I am going to brew this weekend! Thanks!
Higher gravities will have lower efficiency. Someone who gets 87% efficiency with 10 lbs of grain, will get 72% efficiency with 20 lb of grain.

http://www.braukaiser.com/wiki/index...rging_Analysis
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Old 03-07-2011, 08:51 PM   #7
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Hmm, so I did a fairly straightforward heff this weekend, 6lb wheat, 4lb barley, 1lb crystal... ground it myself and did the wheat on fine and the barley just fine enough to not shred the husks. For the 11 pounds I even did 1.5qt/lb water for strike and sparge, hit 150 on the dough in, hit 168 on the batch sparge... still 75%.

I am not sure if this is bad or good, I hit my targets exactly on the brewing calculator I use for 75% efficiency. I wonder if batch sparging is just this inefficient. I think Golddiggie was correct when Golddiggie said that it's not about the efficiency it's about hitting the same one every time to be able to calculate the grain bill properly... it's just one of those annoying things, on the other hand, an extra pound of grain is about 2$....

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Old 03-07-2011, 09:00 PM   #8
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I've not used wheat in any batches yet, so I'm not sure if that has anything to do with your numbers... Next batch, try a straight-up ale with 2 row and specialty malts/grains...

How long did you mash for? How long did you sparge for?

But, hitting 75%, or around 75% time and again is nothing to snort at.

Also, I would look into buying grain in bulk to get that price per pound down... $2/# adds up pretty fast... With the group grain buy we got our price per pound of grain into nice areas. The most expensive grain I bought came out to $0.72/#, with the cheapest being $0.55/#... Just need to go through all the grain before the next time we do a group buy, so that I can do it again...

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On Tap: Caramel Ale, Mocha Porter II, MO SMaSH IPA
Waiting/Carbonating: 12.5% Wee Honey II, 8.9% Old Ale, English Brown Ale, Lickah ESB, Mocha Porter II
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K2: Epic mead
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