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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > increasing efficiency
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Old 06-10-2011, 02:23 PM   #1
lestershy
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Default increasing efficiency

Hello all, I recently moved to all grain and have done 4 batches. I've been getting really bad efficiency like 50-55%. Here is my process, any help would be greatly appreciated.
I use a rectangular 52qt converted cooler with a CPVC manifold as my MLT.
I preheat it with 150F water for about 10 min, drain and dump my grain bill in. I mash pretty thin (1.5qts/lb) give it a good stir, take my temp (usually shoot for 155F) and close the lid. I stir at the half way mark (30min), take temps again and close the lid. I'm not losing a ton of heat, but I'd say that I lose 2-3 degrees after 30min. After an hour I vorlauf, carefully dump the wort back in the mash tun, and slowly take my first runnings (about 1qt per minute). I batch sparge after that, basically the same process, but shorter and less water involved.
Any thoughts why my efficiency is so bad?

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Old 06-10-2011, 03:17 PM   #2
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It could be your crush- where are you cracking your grains at, or are you buying them pre-crushed?

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Old 06-10-2011, 04:35 PM   #3
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Take a gravity reading from the end of your mash next time you brew. This will help us determine whether your problem is lack of conversion or poor lautering. If you're getting 95%+ conversion efficiency we can focus on lautering where as if conversion efficiency is only 70%, we know what to focus on.

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Old 06-11-2011, 12:20 AM   #4
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Cool thanks for the speedy responses.

nebben, I crush at the LHBS. They had a barley crusher (which is now dead) and the grains looked good, cracked but not pulverized. They are getting a new one, so maybe it will help.

ChemE, I will do that next wednesday and post the results.

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Old 06-11-2011, 12:24 AM   #5
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This is a pic of my MLT. I took plans for a much larger one and scaled it down. Could my manifold be the problem?

image-4006631548.jpg  
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Old 06-11-2011, 03:15 AM   #6
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Lester,

To me that is not very efficient. Wort has to travel laterally very far to reach the manifold. This greatly increases the likelihood of channeling. In theory this should not matter since you're batch sparging but that theory only holds if your mash is completely homogeneous when you start running off after a sparge. Of course this will never truly be the case. Take the gravity of the mash at the end of your sach rest and also get the gravity of the last runnings. This will tell us how much sugar and efficiency are left in the grain bed after lautering. Chances are it isn't there though, but its easy to check. Almost certainly your problem is conversion efficiency if you're stirring the batch sparges like a madman.

My idea of an efficient manifold can you found in my link in my signature. I routinely exceed 90% efficiency so I know lautering is good in my system. Careful design of my sparge water ensures no tannin extraction which frankly is a myth anyway.

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Old 06-11-2011, 03:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lestershy View Post
Cool thanks for the speedy responses.

nebben, I crush at the LHBS. They had a barley crusher (which is now dead) and the grains looked good, cracked but not pulverized. They are getting a new one, so maybe it will help.

ChemE, I will do that next wednesday and post the results.
my efficiency went up a few points when I bought my own mill. The stores mill was probably set a little wide... They would rather sell people a pound more grain due to low efficiency, than have people calling them all day long because they have a stuck mash!

I use a barley crusher, a 48qt cooler, and a stainless braid, and usually get between 72%-78% efficiency.
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Old 06-11-2011, 09:02 PM   #8
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When you add the sparge water, do you stir it in really well? When batch sparging, it is the stirring that causes the sugars to dissolve.

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Old 06-11-2011, 10:10 PM   #9
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Quote:
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When you add the sparge water, do you stir it in really well? When batch sparging, it is the stirring that causes the sugars to dissolve.

-a.
+1 to this. IMO crush and proper stirring (both at dough in and before each sparge) are the two biggest contributors to efficiency for batch spargers. Also, it sounds from your post like you might be adding the water to the grain. Usually it's done the other way around to help prevent dough balls, which could also hurt your efficiency.
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Old 06-12-2011, 03:35 AM   #10
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Your manifold looks fine for batch sparging. Obtaining a good crush is where I'd look...that and making sure temps are spot on.

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