Kegconnection Complete Starter Kit and More Giveaway!


Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Low efficiency has me down

Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
Old 04-02-2010, 07:56 PM   #1
guinsu
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Philadelphia, PA, Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 73
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Default Low efficiency has me down

I've posted about this before, but haven't been able to nail down the problem yet. My first few AG batches had efficiencies in the 70s, now I am hovering around 55-65% at best. I've rechecked all my liquid measurements and even got new thermometers (including a thermapen). Here's my process for my last batch:

5lb US Pale Ale Mat
1.75lb Maris Otter
.5lb Caramel 60L

I heated 2.25 gallons of water to 174, added it to my MLT with the grain. Temp came out to 153. At the end of the hour it had gone down to 148. I'm using the home depot 10 gallon cooler btw.

Next I heated 5.5 gallons of sparge water to boiling, put it in the HLT. After collecting the first runnings I poured the water in and stirred it. Temp was 182, after 15 mins it was around 179. I know temps that high aren't the best for bitterness reasons but shouldn't be affecting efficiency.

After collecting all of the wort I took a measurement with the refractrometer, 6.8 or 1.027 after I converted it. Beer Alchemy said I should have 1.031, my old recipe from Austin Home Brew said 1.036. Software said I had an efficiency of 64%. That was actually the best I had done in about 8 batches.

Is there anything obvious I am missing here? My thermometers are accurate, I am measuring the volumes of water correctly as far as I can tell. When I have compared my refractometer to a hydrometer they look to be within .002 of each other.

__________________
guinsu is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 04-02-2010, 08:00 PM   #2
mojotele
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 827
Liked 12 Times on 12 Posts
Likes Given: 5

Default

Sounds like you're doing batch sparging. How many sparges did you do? Sounds like you only did one.

__________________
mojotele is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 04-02-2010, 08:02 PM   #3
guinsu
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Philadelphia, PA, Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 73
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Default

I have only done one the past 2-3 batches as I was trying to nail all the temps down (I think at one point my sparge water temp was ended up too low)

Oh yeah, and I am batch sparging, sorry.

__________________
guinsu is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 04-02-2010, 08:04 PM   #4
mojotele
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 827
Liked 12 Times on 12 Posts
Likes Given: 5

Default

Also, maybe these spreadsheets will help. First, go here and grab the "Efficiency Troubleshooting Spreadsheet". That will help you calculate your conversion efficiency. Then, go here and grab the "Batch Sparging Efficiency Spreadsheet". That will help you determine your lautering efficiency.

Getting those figures makes it a whole lot easier to determine what the problem is. The same page will also give you typical reasons why each of those efficiencies may be low.

__________________
mojotele is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 04-02-2010, 08:05 PM   #5
mojotele
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 827
Liked 12 Times on 12 Posts
Likes Given: 5

Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by guinsu View Post
I have only done one the past 2-3 batches as I was trying to nail all the temps down (I think at one point my sparge water temp was ended up too low)

Oh yeah, and I am batch sparging, sorry.
I've read that doing two batch sparges tends to work a whole lot better. I'd try that next batch. Just split your sparge water in twain.
__________________
mojotele is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 04-02-2010, 08:06 PM   #6
mojotele
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: Baltimore, MD
Posts: 827
Liked 12 Times on 12 Posts
Likes Given: 5

Default

Also, you will probably have to wait until next batch to use those spreadsheets. You'll have to grab more data than you've probably been measuring.

__________________
mojotele is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 04-02-2010, 08:08 PM   #7
JEMeeks
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: San Francisco
Posts: 24
Default

From my limited experience, but my efficiency rose to about 75-78% after changing to this method:

First off, I don't mash-out, because I think it's unnecessary. Secondly, I mash in at 1.25 qt/lb, and when its time to collect, I raise my sparging water to 180 F with the amount I need for my recipe. I then take a piece of heavy duty foil, fold it in half so that it will lie nicely on the top of the grain bed. I punch 50 some-odd holes in it, and place it on top of the grain bed. I then open the valve and vorlauf (i think that's what it is called) x2 or 3 until the runnings are clear. Then I set up my boiling kettle, and place the hose on the valve, and open the vavle again, but only half-way or so. I keep an extra pot and just keep adding water to the top of the grain bed so that the water level maintains about 2 or 3 inches above the top. I think this would be an example of modified fly sparging.

The foil just ensures that the grain bed isn't disturbed. The slow collecting of runnings helps to increase efficiency. This method does double duty for me because I am using a 10 gallon orange igloo cooler, and if I had to batch sparge 2-3 times, stir, and then wait for the runnings to clear, my filtering system at the bottom would run the risk of falling off and then I would be screwed!

The whole process still only takes around 20 minutes or so. Just make sure to watch the sparge water temp (keep around 180 F), and don't let the water get too low over the grain bed until it is the last amount of sparge water. That's it, and I have been getting 75% efficiency consistently x2-3 batches. Hope that helps!

__________________

luckyinlife21.blogspot.com

JEMeeks is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 04-02-2010, 10:46 PM   #8
StAnthonyB
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: New York
Posts: 326
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by mojotele View Post
Also, you will probably have to wait until next batch to use those spreadsheets. You'll have to grab more data than you've probably been measuring.
I've taken to measuring the gravity of the remaining wort left in the runnings at the bottom of the mash tun.

In the last case, I mashed 23# for 12.5 gallons and collected a quart or so after my boil and cool down. It measured out at 1.020. I had performed three batch sparges. I generally batch sparge twice if I am mashing less grain.

I never really gave it any deep thought, but I can totally see how it is obvious to measure lauter efficiency. My efficiency generally sits around 82.5-87.5%, for BeerToolsPro I generally assume 80% for simplicity, but my efficiency was lower than usual this time around. Then again, I don't usually mash 23# of grain either.... normally, I do bitters so 15# to 20#.
__________________

Last edited by StAnthonyB; 04-02-2010 at 10:50 PM.
StAnthonyB is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 04-02-2010, 11:25 PM   #9
ajf
Senior Member
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
 
ajf's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Long Island
Posts: 4,643
Liked 99 Times on 93 Posts
Likes Given: 39

Default

There is one thing you may be missing, and one thing you are doing wrong.
The thing you may be missing:
You mashed, and drained the first runnings. That will have a very high gravity, and will be sitting in the bottom of the kettle. Then you sparged, draining your runnings on top of the first.
Before you took your gravity reading did you stir the wort to mix the first and second runnings? If not, you would get a low reading, but your wort as a whole would have a higher gravity than what you read.
Now for the thing you are doing wrong.
You are sparging at about 180F. This is too hot. It won't affect efficiency, but could result in excess tannin extraction. You want to keep the sparge temp no hotter than 170F.

Oh, one other possibility. If your sparge temperature was really about 148, you may want to increase the mash time from 60 to 90 minutes. That makes a difference to my efficiency when I mash cool.

-a.

__________________

There are only 10 types of people in this world. Those that understand binary, and those that don't.

ajf is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Old 04-04-2010, 07:46 PM   #10
guinsu
Feedback Score: 0 reviews
Recipes 
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Philadelphia, PA, Philadelphia, PA
Posts: 73
Liked 3 Times on 3 Posts

Default

Thanks for all the great advice, I am going to do a simple pale ale this week just to get some better readings as I go.

I did not stir before getting the first reading, that could be throwing it off. My after boil gravity readings are low, so there is still some issue. As for the sparge, I had worried I had been sparging low before (below 170) so I overshot this time. I'll have it dialed in at 175 next time. I can also mash longer if I end up with a low temperature, I think I have that problem solved after taking more temp readings as I go.

I'm also going to double check the PH, my efficiency dropped rather abruptly in Feb and I am wondering if all the snow and salt the Philly water dept. had to deal with is messing with the water even over the long term.

__________________
guinsu is offline
 
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Reply


Quick Reply
Message:
Options
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
calculating efficiency vs brewhouse efficiency inchrisin General Beer Discussion 1 01-24-2010 11:50 PM
78% Efficiency!!!!! Jud All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 0 01-15-2010 07:19 PM
New Low in efficiency jma99 All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 4 09-01-2008 03:56 PM
86% Efficiency??? salad 419 All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 4 08-31-2008 01:49 PM
25% efficiency....is that even possible? Ooompa Loompa All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 28 08-17-2008 10:02 PM