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Old 01-22-2013, 04:53 PM   #1
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Default Low efficiency on brew day - question

So this past sunday I went ahead and brewed this - http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f68/chocolate-coffee-stout-chocolate-jitterz-35562/

Plugging this into brewtarget, I should have got around 1.073 at 72% efficiency. I ended up with 1.057 (taken from chilled wort, before adding yeast) instead, so about 56.5% efficiency.

My setup is here (man do I need to update these photos) - http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f51/my-brew-stand-few-questions-318866/

Actually here is a better picture



My process was:

#1 heating up all water needed to about 168, draining the suggested 18.29 (so 1.25 qts/per lb) quarts of mash water to the mash tun.
#2 Mash for an hour, recirculating the entire time
#3 Drain the mash tun into the brew kettle, bnegin heating that water
#4 Drain remaining 4.5 gallons into mash tun and recirculate for a few minutes
#5 Drain mash tun into BK to get to 7 gallons pre boil.

As you can see I was planning on batch sparging. My question is, can I attribute the low efficiency to not giving the sparge more time before draining it into the BK?

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Old 01-22-2013, 05:02 PM   #2
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How did you crush the grains? The biggest culprit i've seen for low efficiency is a bad crush. I've never seen 56% efficiency from a bad crush though.

What temperature was your mash resting at during step #2?

When I batch sparge I don't wait, I just dump the water in at around 170, stir it very well and run it through the spigot wide open. My last batch I got ~91% efficiency, from all the batches I've done the crush has the biggest impact on that number.

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Old 01-22-2013, 05:05 PM   #3
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Did you stir the mash up when you batch sparged? If not check your crush and stir like a mad man next time

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Old 01-22-2013, 05:05 PM   #4
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As long as you get all of the sparge water out before starting the next batch sparge you should hit about 85% efficiency. if you don't, then worst case you would be at 67% efficiency. Something else is going on here. Do you measure the actual mash temperature?

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Old 01-22-2013, 05:05 PM   #5
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It seems like your process was fine. Minus the finer points of mash ph, which likely wouldn't account for that much difference anyways, I would say it's most likely a crush issue with the malt or, perhaps, a measurement error in terms of grain weight...

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Old 01-22-2013, 05:09 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kblankenship11 View Post
How did you crush the grains? The biggest culprit i've seen for low efficiency is a bad crush.
I second this. Ever since I stopped using the mill at the LHBS and started using my corona mill, my efficiency has gone from 60 - 65 % to 75 - 80%.
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Old 01-22-2013, 05:10 PM   #7
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I'll admit - the mash temp was a bit variable in the first 15 minutes (between 145 and 160), then I got my act together and it held around 152.

I have a barleycrusher at home that I use. I don't know exactly what the width between the rollers is set to right now, but I can check when I get home. Thinking back to when I got it, I did mess with the factory setting. ugh.

Would a wider adjustment increase efficiency or vice versa? Rather I guess is low efficiency a trait of too fine a crush or otherwise? Or is this something I just need to find out via trial and error?

Speaking of trial and error, would it be a reasonable way of testing the mill to do this -

#1 Mill 1 lb of grain
#2 Mash for one hour in 1.25 qt of water
#3 Take hydrometer reading

Repeat and adjust as necessary or would 1 lb of grain be too small of a sample size?

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Old 01-22-2013, 05:23 PM   #8
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With all that recirculating is there a chance you could be channeling through your grain bed? That would nerf your efficiency.

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Old 01-22-2013, 05:41 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeebas View Post
I'll admit - the mash temp was a bit variable in the first 15 minutes (between 145 and 160), then I got my act together and it held around 152.

I have a barleycrusher at home that I use. I don't know exactly what the width between the rollers is set to right now, but I can check when I get home. Thinking back to when I got it, I did mess with the factory setting. ugh.

Would a wider adjustment increase efficiency or vice versa? Rather I guess is low efficiency a trait of too fine a crush or otherwise? Or is this something I just need to find out via trial and error?

Speaking of trial and error, would it be a reasonable way of testing the mill to do this -

#1 Mill 1 lb of grain
#2 Mash for one hour in 1.25 qt of water
#3 Take hydrometer reading

Repeat and adjust as necessary or would 1 lb of grain be too small of a sample size?
The tighter the rollers, the better the efficiency, at the cost of risking a stuck sparge and a doughy mash. It's best to find a happy medium.

I've found that some malts are fatter than others so I have to tweak things a bit. 2-row is pretty consistent with specialty grains, I rarely have to touch it. The last floor malted bohemian pilsner malt I used was fatter and much harder than the 2-row I had been using. I had to widen my rollers to get them through and cracked, then tightened the crusher and ran them through again to pulverize the grain how I wanted it. After a while you will be able to just look at and feel the crush and get a good idea of how well it will mash. There are plenty of pictures on this forum to reference.

Just as a general comparison, I used to get about 68-71% efficiency with online and LHBS pre-crushed grain, without any difference in my process.

I think your test methods should work fine and give you a good idea of how to set your rollers. I'd like to see your results from that!
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Old 01-22-2013, 05:48 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VTrookie View Post
With all that recirculating is there a chance you could be channeling through your grain bed? That would nerf your efficiency.
Maybe, but I am using a false bottom (I guess I should have mentioned that). Also I have hose running from the recirculation port that runs to a length of tubing in a circle with holes in it - it can kinda be seen here

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