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Old 02-12-2010, 09:33 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by YooperBrew View Post
Once you get a good system, and get comfortable with it, you almost always hit your efficiency.

The number itself doesn't really matter. In my case, I get 72%. That's fine, because I can make any recipe and any beer and plan on an efficiency of +/- 72%.

The type of equipment doesn't matter- you can create great wort with a bucket system, and bad beer with a HERMS. What matters is the techniques you use, like the temperature of the wort, not oversparging, paying attention to pH, etc.

I'd suggest doing just what you seem to be doing- evaluating each process and finetuning your methods. Questioning the recirculation, and even if you want to batch vs. fly sparge is a great step.
I agree YooperBrew. Thanks for the advice. I haven't yet done my research on PH, and don't quite understand it, so I think that is what I will look into next.
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Old 02-12-2010, 09:45 PM   #12
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For quite sometime I was baffled by my efficiency inconsistencies. I thought it was my process and/or equipment that was somehow causing issues. I later discovered the issues were caused by the ingredients and differing maltsters. Batches with Maris Otter was getting me 90%+ efficiency while Great Western 2-row was getting me 77-79%. The extraction points for these grains in my software program were set to the same value (in actuality the Maris Otter should have a higher extraction). So, it turns out my efficiency wasn't deficient in the Maris Otter recipes, the extraction value was wrong. Just something to think about as you consider your variables.

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Old 02-12-2010, 09:56 PM   #13
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That explains so much on a couple of recent brews! Maybe 3 months ago the LHBS ran out of American 2 Row which I wanted for a recipe. Being a flexible guy I told them to sub MO. While I'm generally very consistent, I overshot my SG target by a considerable amount. The next two brews I was right on target, using american 2-row. Then this last weekend I again overshot my target by a considerable amount.

The MO must be the culprit.

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Old 02-12-2010, 10:04 PM   #14
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That explains so much on a couple of recent brews! Maybe 3 months ago the LHBS ran out of American 2 Row which I wanted for a recipe. Being a flexible guy I told them to sub MO. While I'm generally very consistent, I overshot my SG target by a considerable amount. The next two brews I was right on target, using american 2-row. Then this last weekend I again overshot my target by a considerable amount.

The MO must be the culprit.
Beyond just the extraction value, the MO grains are more plump. This causes the crush to be more effective. When you consider the size of the grain and the extraction value, you can see why it can boost your OG so much. The good news is that this is easily fixed and means that your efficiency is not the problem.
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Old 02-13-2010, 01:10 AM   #15
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You start by saying "my mash is never consistent and always lacking in efficiency."
You continue with "So, I first get my hot liquor up to temp (~165-170 F) while meanwhile preparing and grinding the grains. Once the hot liquor is ready, I pour it quickly into the mashtun with the grains, trying my best to pour the water and grains at the same rate to get a good mix. After this transfer, and some gentle mixing with a brew spoon, the temperature of the mash is typically around 152-156 degrees.
I think that those two statements go a long way to explaining the inconsistency.
The "gentle mixing" has already been covered, so I won't repeat that except to say that I agree, and that will help with efficiency and consistency.
The next thing, is that you heat the strike water to 165 - 170, and end up with a mash temp of 152 - 156. That is a very wide range, and will affect consistency.
You should use a strike temp calculator such as comes with Beersmith, or Promash, or http://www.rackers.org/calcs.shtml. If the calculator doesn't take the thermal mass of the mash tun into consideration, you should pre-heat the mash tun before adding the grain and the water, and you should measure the temperature accurately. Many people, heat the strike water about 10 degrees higher than necessary and pour it into the mash tun (which heats it), and wait for it to cool to the required temperature. Stirring the water helps to cool it quickly. You do have an accurate thermometer don't you?
You didn't mention anything about the mash thickness. I usually use 1 qt water per lb grain. Most people here use more water per lb (about 1.25 - 1.5 qt / lb), but whatever you do, you should be consistent. If you are inconsistent, then your results will also be inconsistent.
As for efficiency, it has already been explained that you should adjust your efficiency to match what you achieve. If you improve your consistency, your efficiency will stabilize and make this easy.

Hope this helps.

-a.

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Old 02-13-2010, 03:24 AM   #16
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First, if you want to control your process, you have to control your ingredients. I would suggest you secure a bulk supply of your base malt.

You may wish to try some of the different maltsters before you lock in your base grain. I would order in 10-20 lbs. from some of the various internet suppliers.

Try Rahr, Briess, Great Western or Gambrinus for American 2-row. Obtain malt analysis sheet from each purveyor and enter the information in your brewing software.

If you wish to use imported barley, make sure you note where it is grown and malted. Each field and maltster is a bit different. Crisp Marris Otter is not the same as Munton's Marris Otter. You should take note of this.

Each barley strain, grower and maltster puts their own mark on the end product. You should carefully examine the crush and vary the gap on your mill to obtain the best results for each vendor. You WILL have to change the gap for speciality grains from a different maltster to get the best extraction.

You should re-examine your vorlauf process. It might be worth it to invest in a pump to move the liquid from the bottom of your lauter tun to the top. It will speed up the process and you will be able to better maintain constant temperatures.

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Old 02-13-2010, 03:43 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wayne1 View Post
First, if you want to control your process, you have to control your ingredients. I would suggest you secure a bulk supply of your base malt.

You may wish to try some of the different maltsters before you lock in your base grain. I would order in 10-20 lbs. from some of the various internet suppliers.

Try Rahr, Briess, Great Western or Gambrinus for American 2-row. Obtain malt analysis sheet from each purveyor and enter the information in your brewing software.

If you wish to use imported barley, make sure you note where it is grown and malted. Each field and maltster is a bit different. Crisp Marris Otter is not the same as Munton's Marris Otter. You should take note of this.

Each barley strain, grower and maltster puts their own mark on the end product. You should carefully examine the crush and vary the gap on your mill to obtain the best results for each vendor. You WILL have to change the gap for speciality grains from a different maltster to get the best extraction.

You should re-examine your vorlauf process. It might be worth it to invest in a pump to move the liquid from the bottom of your lauter tun to the top. It will speed up the process and you will be able to better maintain constant temperatures.
Though that might seem obsessive and particular, that's some solid advice.
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