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Old 02-21-2010, 07:26 PM   #1
Hemsworth
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Default Help improve my efficiency...please!

I seem to be missing the O.G. by 10 points with every brew. I have made various little adjustments but things are not improving. I brewed a Deception Cream Stout today and came in at 1.046 @ 70f. If my numbers are correct that is 60% eff.

I have adjusted my Barley Crusher from .039 to .035...nothing.
My mash is 1.25 litres/ lb. and I nailed my temps. (152f)
This time I used 5.2 stabilizer and my mash pH is 5.8. My water is from a well and is softened.

I batch sparge. My mash was 13.5 litres for 11.25 lbs of grain. Held at 152f for 70 minutes.

Here is where I suspect something is off...I hit it with 5 litres of 180f water, stir it up and my temp only seems to get up to the high 150's. Should I not be trying to get close to 170? Then a good stir...vorlauf and pull off usually about 2.5 gallons.

I add another 4 gallons of the 180f water, stir it up for 10 minutes and let it settle for about 10 minutes. Then vorlauf and pull off the last 4 gallons.

60 min. boil gives me 5 gallons. (15 gal. wide-ass pot)

Any tips? Magic beans? If I accept that I can not improve beyond 60% then how much should I increase my grain bill to compensate?

Thanks guys. I know that there is a ton of info out there about this...but I think I am suffering from info overload. My head hurts.

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Old 02-21-2010, 08:51 PM   #2
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I'd do a couple of things differently. First, check your thermometer to make sure it's correct. next, I'd sparge with more water initially. I try to get half of my preboil volume from each sparge. I think adding more water initially will get your efficiency numbers up a bit. How is your water? Have you tried that buffer 5.2 stuff yet? I have a barleycrusher as well and would normally get about 80% efficiency withan 11.25 pound grain bill. I use the factory setting. IMO adding more water initially and shooting for an even 150 degree mash temp should get you where you need to be.

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Old 02-21-2010, 09:03 PM   #3
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Thanks...I'll try upping my initial sparge on my next brew and see what happens. I used the 5.2 for the first time today. I'm not sure if it did anything as I never had anyway of testing my pH until this batch. I know my water is very alkaline. I don't think using water that has gone through a softener is the greatest idea...but that's what I have. My well water is very hard with lots of iron and sulfer. I guess the next step is to get an evaluation of my water to see exactly what I'm dealing with.

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Old 02-21-2010, 09:08 PM   #4
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Do you know your conversion eff?

Do you know your lauter eff?

If not, you are sorta shooting in the dark with your changes.

#1 I wouldnt use softened water
#2 Start mashing thinner, try 2qt/lb

First though, I would get my conversion eff. and lauter eff. figured out so I knew where my problem was in the first place.

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Old 02-21-2010, 09:24 PM   #5
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So to calculate my lauter eff. I would just mash as usual...collect all of my runnings and measure the gravity of the wort pre-boil? The full 6.5 gallons that I collect for boil off or just 5 gallons?

Conversion eff. would be just off of my first runnings? Is that what they mean when refering to "first wort"?

Bear with me fellas...I just need to decipher these calculations into an idea that I understand a little more clearly.

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Old 02-21-2010, 10:18 PM   #6
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Three easy changes I see that will help. Try some bottled spring water, calibrate your thermometer, and stir twice as long as you have been. I've never even considered using my softened well water. I calibrated my therm before I started all grain but just get that out of the way. The stirring raised my efficiency a few points.

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Old 02-22-2010, 04:23 PM   #7
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Here is where I suspect something is off...I hit it with 5 litres of 180f water, stir it up and my temp only seems to get up to the high 150's. Should I not be trying to get close to 170? Then a good stir...vorlauf and pull off usually about 2.5 gallons.

When batch sparging, the temperature of the sparge water influences your extract efficiency. You want to make sure that your first batch sparge addition is hot enough to raise the grist to as close to 170 F as possible. This allows more sugar to be dissolved and reduces viscosity to facilitate easier lautering, both of which will improve your efficiency. I would raise the strike water of the sparge to 190 degrees to hit the 170f range.

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Old 02-22-2010, 04:37 PM   #8
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Are you draining the mash tun before first adding sparge water? The fact that your temp isn't coming up much leads me to think "no". You are missing out on a lot of the sugars from that first sparge then.

After the mash, vorlauf and drain, THEN add your sparge water, stir, let sit 10 min, vorlauf and drain, add second sparge water batch, let sit 10 min again, vorlauf and drain once more...

I also recommend thinner mashes...I shoot for 1.5 qt/lb and it works well.

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Old 02-22-2010, 05:25 PM   #9
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Aha...I knew I was missing something big. I was under the impression that you hit it with the sparge water first. Excellent. Thank you, gentlemen...I will try these pointers first before I worry too much about my water source.

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Old 02-22-2010, 05:26 PM   #10
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...did I say worry? I meant before I relax with a homebrew and contemplate my water source.

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