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Old 09-08-2009, 11:33 PM   #1
Bartman
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Default Low efficiency? Was it my crush?

I just brewed my 3rd all grain yesterday and had quite poor efficiency.

1st brew, crush from LHBS I got 65% and and my FG was a little high, and I chalked it up to too high of a mash temp ~158F.

2nd brew, crush from Brewmasters Warehouse and I got 72.5% and my OG and FG were almost dead on.

3rd brew, crush from LHBS and I got 62%. Mash temps were steady at 151F for 75 minutes. OG was 14pts lower than expected.
Recipe:

Cascade Explosion IPA AG
Brew Type: All Grain Date: 9/7/2009
Style: Imperial IPA Brewer: Bart
Batch Size: 5.50 gal Assistant Brewer: Al

Boil Volume: 7.00 gal Boil Time: 60 min
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 % Equipment: Brew Pot (7.5 gal) and Cooler (48 qt)
Actual Efficiency: 61.14 %

Ingredients Amount Item Type % or IBU
12.50 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 81.97 %
2.00 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM) Grain 13.11 %
0.75 lb Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 4.92 %
1.00 oz Warrior [15.80 %] (60 min) Hops 43.5 IBU
0.50 oz Nugget [13.00 %] (60 min) Hops 16.1 IBU
1.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (60 min) Hops 13.6 IBU
1.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (30 min) Hops 10.5 IBU
1.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (15 min) Hops 6.8 IBU
1.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (10 min) Hops 4.9 IBU
1.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (5 min) Hops 2.7 IBU
1.00 oz Amarillo Gold [8.00 %] (2 min) Hops 1.9 IBU
1.00 oz Cascade [5.50 %] (0 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
0.50 tsp Irish Moss (Boil 10.0 min) Misc
1.00 tsp Yeast Nutrient (Boil 10.0 min) Misc

The crush from Brewmasters was noticeably finer.
I did not do an iodine test (forgot).

Any thoughts?
Should I just order from Brewmasters and see if my eff is better?

Sort of frustrating after spending all that time and money.

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Old 09-09-2009, 12:18 AM   #2
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Without pictures of the crush ??? who's to say. If possible take a look at the spent grain now, if you see whole uncrushed grain, you got your answer!

edit, you gotta either buy a mill, or at the very least look around at some pics and be able to realize crushed from whole grain, not difficult really...all grains should be crushed and reasonably free from the husk IMO.

Whole pieces of grain that appear untouched is an unnacceptable "crush"

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Last edited by wilserbrewer; 09-09-2009 at 12:21 AM.
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Old 09-09-2009, 09:04 AM   #3
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A crush can have significant effect on your efficiency, and since you said you noticed that Brewmasters was notably finer, I suspect that's your answer. The only way to take that variable out of the equation is to use the same HBS and hope their crush is consistent OR crush the grain yourself, with your mill set at the same gap, at the same speed every time.

If you're just on your 3rd batch, there could be other things coming into play since our process usually isn't set by then... but maybe not.

You could also ask the LHBS to run the grain through the mill twice, or maybe even ask them to check the gap - especially if you've developed any kind of relationship with the guys that run it.

In the end, if you're still frustrated, get yourself a mill. Then join in a group bulk grain buy and enjoy cheap brewing.

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Old 09-09-2009, 11:50 AM   #4
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I hit my all-time high efficiency at 80% and then my 3 batches since have been somewhat disappointing. I think my problems have been the crush as my technique doesn't really change. I recently bought a corona mill style and used it for my two batches yesterday and got 68% and 57%. I can live with the 68% but the 57% is too low and I will probably pay the price in taste.

After researching a bit here, it seems that you can't really crush too finely with the corona mills so I am going to close my gap almost all the way the try that next time. I'd like to have some consistency so I can adjust my recipe as needed. Hard to do when things are all over the place.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/hows-my-crush-135698/

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Old 09-09-2009, 02:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heineken View Post
After researching a bit here, it seems that you can't really crush too finely with the corona mills so I am going to close my gap almost all the way the try that next time.
A properly tuned, and adjusted corona can turn a batch into flour. That being said, if you haven't taken a file to it, and straightened everything out, you can just choke the thing down and not worry about it.

I get right around 80% with my corona.
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Old 09-09-2009, 06:44 PM   #6
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For about $25 - $30 bucks delivered, a Corona type mill is well worth the money IMO.

I have been consistently getting 86% with mine. This picture of my grind is in the link that Heineken posted.

Some of the efficiency relates to manifold design and of course mash temps. Unfortunately there's more variable than just the grind, however it seems to be one of the biggest contributors in efficiency.

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Old 09-10-2009, 10:54 AM   #7
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My two grinds with my mill were definitely not that fine. I will attempt to get this fine next time. Does the speed of the drill matter as well? It seems if my drill is churning fast, that might also impact the crush vs. a slower moving drill.

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Old 09-10-2009, 03:35 PM   #8
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I haven't experimented with the grinding speed. I tend to grind slower simply because it makes less of a mess.

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Old 09-10-2009, 04:07 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IXVolt View Post
For about $25 - $30 bucks delivered, a Corona type mill is well worth the money IMO.

I have been consistently getting 86% with mine. This picture of my grind is in the link that Heineken posted.

Some of the efficiency relates to manifold design and of course mash temps. Unfortunately there's more variable than just the grind, however it seems to be one of the biggest contributors in efficiency.

That looks like a REALLY fine crush with a lot of flour. That may cause a stuck mash in my false bottom.
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Old 09-10-2009, 04:14 PM   #10
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I can't speak for anyone elses bottom ... but my cpvc manifold handles it just fine.

I've done up to 21 lbs of grain with this set up

Note: the manifold is turned around when filled with grain. It's facing up just to smile for the camera.

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