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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > I am getting horrible efficiency and really feel like giving up. HELP!
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Old 09-23-2010, 05:44 AM   #1
lithium726
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Default I am getting horrible efficiency and really feel like giving up. HELP!

Hi guys. I've been lurking around here for recipes and whatnot for a while, and I recently got into All Grain. I'm getting efficiencies down in the 50's and under, and for the life of me I CANNOT figure it out, and it's really, really starting to frustrate me. I have 3-4 batches of beer that is pretty far below the ABV standard for the style.

I've been doing mostly lagers lately, so I've been using softer water. I've been doing 2 gal Spring with 3-4gal RO water and the 1tbs of the 5.2 powder to mash with.

I've been doing a 30-min rest at 122 and 60 min at 150, temps are +-2F generally and maintain for the duration.

My mash tun is a 48qt (I think) coleman cooler and I'm using SS mesh off some hose for the filter. It runs about 5/8 of the length of the cooler in the middle and is screwed down on the inside.

I've been lautering and sparging slowly (gave it an hour tonight - combined), and while most of them I've batch sparged, in an effort to get my yeild up I drilled some holes in a hose and did a continuous sparge this time.

My grain bill tonight was 9.5lb american 2-row and .75lb 60L for a Vienna. Boil gravity was 1.026 at 130F and OG is 1.036. Awful. I get my grain crushed at my LHBS, Homebrew Headquarters in Richardson. 1 pass. My next thought is grain crush, but I really don't want to waste more time and money chasing this problem.

I thought maybe it was my hydrometer, the wort tasted very sweet. However, I got a tall glass of RO water and it read dead on 1.00.

I have no f'ing idea what I'm doing wrong. It should NOT be this low. Please help

edit: preboil: 6gal. There's a little under 5 gal in the fermenter, did an hour boil. I use a propane burner and a 7gal pot. I also normally do 6.5gal preboil, but I ran out of sparge water tonight.. I've generally been mashing 2qt/lb, about 1qt/gal for the 122 rest.

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Old 09-23-2010, 05:52 AM   #2
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my first thoughts are to make sure that your are calculating everything correctly.

How are you measuring volumes?

How are you measuring temperatures? Are you sure your thermometer is accurate?

And, how much water are you mashing with? And how much runnings are you collecting?

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Old 09-23-2010, 05:54 AM   #3
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How hot is your sparge water? How much water are you sparging? And how much, if any, wort is left in your mash tun?

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Old 09-23-2010, 06:06 AM   #4
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To add to the questions:
HAve you verified that you are getting amount the grain you paid for?

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Old 09-23-2010, 06:09 AM   #5
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i would say buy a kit for a max of $25 from northern brewer or the like and see how it turns out, it will rule out crush for sure.

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Old 09-23-2010, 06:12 AM   #6
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I weigh and mill the grain myself at the brewstore, it's self serve.

Sparge water is 165F. Measuring temps with a floating thermometer, not sure how I can calibrate it since I don't really trust any termometer in this apt.

Measuring volumes from marks I made on my collection bucket by pouring gallons in at at time

I've been mashing 2gal/qt, so for this last batch, 5.25gal. Sparged with 2gal.

Initial runnings was 4gal, as I thought it would be. General loss is .5qt/gal, so I figured a 1.25gal loss.

Nothing left in mash tun.

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Old 09-23-2010, 06:19 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lithium726 View Post
I weigh and mill the grain myself at the brewstore, it's self serve.
Sounds like you're good there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lithium726 View Post
Sparge water is 165F. Measuring temps with a floating thermometer, not sure how I can calibrate it since I don't really trust any termometer in this apt.
I'd get at least one more thermometer and check it.

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Measuring volumes from marks I made on my collection bucket by pouring gallons in at at time
Those buckets are usually way off on their measurements; at least in my experience.

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Nothing left in mash tun.
I haven't heard of anyone that has zero loss in their MLT. Are you sure?
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Old 09-23-2010, 06:25 AM   #8
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Quote:
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Those buckets are usually way off on their measurements; at least in my experience.
They're my own marks, I took a gallon jug of water and filled it up 6 times, each time marking where the water hit

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I haven't heard of anyone that has zero loss in their MLT. Are you sure?
I'm not sure I'm understanding correctly. When I sparge, I put 2 gal in and let it drain until there's nothing coming out anymore. Wouldn't this mean the mash tun is empty?
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Old 09-23-2010, 06:29 AM   #9
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I'm not sure I'm understanding correctly. When I sparge, I put 2 gal in and let it drain until there's nothing coming out anymore. Wouldn't this mean the mash tun is empty?
If you put in 2 gallons, how much do you retrieve?
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Old 09-23-2010, 06:44 AM   #10
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Quote:
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If you put in 2 gallons, how much do you retrieve?
2 gal. I was right at 6 gal today for my boil volume, and I used 5.25gal to mash, 2gal to sparge... at 1.25gal loss, that's right on.

In the past I've just dumped the sparge water in and let it sit for another 15 mins or so before draining, and come to think of it, the Dos Equis I did a month ago came out with a gravity that was MUCH closer to what it should be than this one, same grain volume, and it was in the mid 1.04's. 1.046 or so iirc. I also got that batch crused at AHS because I was in Austin at the time.

of course, back then I was lautering and sparging WAY too fast, and I figured that was part of my problem.
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