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Old 01-10-2012, 03:02 AM   #11
Ryush806
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Originally Posted by PKLehmer View Post
Pardon my AG ignorance, but is there any reason not to add the water to the MLT first and then pour the grain in? I've always assumed you add the water to the grain. The only reason I would think not too is it could splash around alot. The advantage is I could make sure the water is at the correct temp, and not worry about it cooling down because the MLT is cold. I was thinking about using my pump to recirculate the water through the HLT and MLT until I get the right temp, and then adding the grain.
I normally add my strike water a few degrees hot and then let it cool off in the MLT before I add the grain. IMHO you also get better control of doughballs if you put the grain into the water instead of vice versa.

Did you crush your grain or did the homebrew store? Sometimes they don't crush fine enough for some peoples tastes.

Also, you must make sure you adequately stir your mash to get it all at the same temperature. It's entirely possible that you "average" temperature was 154 but you measured a cold spot.

What kind of sparge program did you do?
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Old 01-10-2012, 12:44 PM   #12
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I normally add my strike water a few degrees hot and then let it cool off in the MLT before I add the grain. IMHO you also get better control of doughballs if you put the grain into the water instead of vice versa.
I've done some more research and this is definitely my plan for the future.

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Did you crush your grain or did the homebrew store? Sometimes they don't crush fine enough for some peoples tastes.
I crushed them at the store myself. I've always done this though and I've never had an issue with my steeping grains, although it might not have been as obvious.

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Also, you must make sure you adequately stir your mash to get it all at the same temperature. It's entirely possible that you "average" temperature was 154 but you measured a cold spot.
I was a little worried about over stirring and I also didn't have a spoon large enough to reach all the way down. Next time I'll measure different spots and then keep stirring until they're all the same.

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What kind of sparge program did you do?
I think you're asking if I fly sparged or batch? I did fly. Took about 15-20 minutes to collect everything.

Thanks for all the awesome suggestions guys! Keep them coming, I am probably going to try this same recipe again this weekend to see if I can improve.
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Old 01-10-2012, 11:44 PM   #13
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I crushed them at the store myself. I've always done this though and I've never had an issue with my steeping grains, although it might not have been as obvious.
You probably wouldn't have noticed anything with just steeping grains. A finer crush can get you a lot more efficiency with all grain.

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I think you're asking if I fly sparged or batch? I did fly. Took about 15-20 minutes to collect everything.
This is probably your biggest efficiency problem right here. A good fly sparge should take closer to one hour. Most people agree that a mash out rest (getting mash to ~168 and holding for several minutes) also helps a lot. Then use 168 water and very slowly add it to the top of the mash while slowly draining around the same amount. Keep a few inches of water above the grain bed. Keep going until your running fall below about 1.012 or you have collected your target volume.

Do you have a circle braid or a straight piece? Another problem with fly sparging is unless you have a circle braid that isn't close to the side walls, channeling can occur. This is where the water follows the path of least resistance instead of forcing the heavy wort downwards. John Palmer's How to Brew has a good section in the appendix about this.

Many people (including myself) believe that the ease and quickness of batch sparging far outweigh the possible few extra points of efficiency from fly sparging. If you do a double batch sparge you can get a a very good efficiency.

Also, what are some details of the beer you made like grain bill and starting gravity? You will often get a higher efficiency from a smaller beer and vice versa.
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Old 01-16-2012, 02:54 AM   #14
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Here's the recipe I made:


Light Honey Ale
Blonde Ale
Type: All Grain Date: 1/8/2012
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.50 gal Brewer: Paul Lehner
Boil Size: 7.04 gal Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: Main Keg and Cooler Setup
End of Boil Volume 6.50 gal Brewhouse Efficiency: 45.00 %
Final Bottling Volume: 5.36 gal Est Mash Efficiency 52.6 %
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage Taste Rating(out of 50): 30.0
Taste Notes:
Ingredients


Ingredients
Amt Name Type # %/IBU
4 lbs Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 42.1 %
4 lbs Wheat - Red Malt (Briess) (2.3 SRM) Grain 2 42.1 %
8.0 oz Honey Malt (25.0 SRM) Grain 3 5.3 %
1 lbs Honey (1.0 SRM) Sugar 4 10.5 %
0.50 oz Cluster [7.00 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 5 12.9 IBUs
0.50 oz Cluster [7.00 %] - Boil 15.0 min Hop 6 6.4 IBUs
1.0 pkg California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) [35.49 ml] Yeast 7 -

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.032 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.032 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.005 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 3.6 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 2.9 %
Bitterness: 19.2 IBUs Calories: 104.9 kcal/12oz
Est Color: 4.4 SRM
Mash Profile

Mash Name: Single Infusion, Full Body Total Grain Weight: 9 lbs 8.0 oz
Sparge Water: 4.53 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F Tun Temperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.20

Mash Steps
Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
Mash In Add 10.63 qt of water at 167.0 F 154.0 F 60 min
Mash Out Add 4.50 qt of water at 206.5 F 168.0 F 10 min


Created with BeerSmith

I just racked to secondary tonight and the beer was... well it had an interesting smell to it. Very alcoholy is the only way to describe it. Gravity from primary into secondary was 1.008, which was about where beersmith said it would go. The beer tasted like skunky miller lite, no other way I can think to describe it.

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Old 01-16-2012, 03:07 AM   #15
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Did you have any problem collecting your wort after the mash? Wheat can gum up everything sometimes.

Other than that it's not a big beer or anything. Probably just need a few tweaks to pull the efficiency up.

One thing I would recommend is to do a 90 minute boil when using a lot of pilsner malt to reduce DMS. Has the nice side effect that you can collect more wort (since you'll evaporate more water) so you can sparge more and therefore get higher efficiency.

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Old 01-23-2012, 12:50 AM   #16
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I just wrapped up the second batch, same recipe except I bumped the grains up to 11lbs to ty and compensate for the low efficiency. I literally got the EXACT same efficiency, 48%. I vorlaufed, preheated the MLT took twice as long to sparge, and no increase in efficiency. I have no idea where to go from here...

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Old 01-23-2012, 03:16 AM   #17
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Did you fly sparge again? Let's delve into your process for that a little bit more. Fly sparging is pretty difficult to get right. Did you monitor how the gravity changed throughout the process?

It's probably too late now, but next time you finish collecting your wort you could add a gallon of water or two and stir it up and then test the gravity of that water. That will tell you how much sugar you left behind.

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Old 01-23-2012, 05:25 AM   #18
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It really isn't necessary in a "fly sparge" to go super slow with the sparge, just be gentle. My SOP is to get the runoff going at the rate I want (I know where the sweet spot is on my MLT out valve), and then get all my sparge in as fast as possible without majorly disturbing the top of the bed. Have always done it this way at home, used the same basic method in a few of the breweries I worked over a number of years (actually the way I learned to brew at Bell's back in the day). Less labor, same effect.

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Old 05-27-2012, 02:19 AM   #19
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This just got worse...
I've switched to Batch Sarging completely at this point and my efficiency has been climbing each brew. Today we did a dunkelweizen. Grain load was 12lbs, and we hit a mash temp of 155 perfectly. I batch sparged twice at 170, and collected just over 6 gallons. We did our boil and went into the fermenter. After going in we realized we never took a hydrometer reading. We dipped our testing tube into the top of the fermenter, and took a reading. It was 1.030! Which if that's true that means we achieved an efficiency of 33%. Is it possible we drew a particularily watery reading from the top and if we had gotten down further we would have had a better reading? Or did we just really do that bad???

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Old 05-27-2012, 03:17 AM   #20
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I noticed you used quite a bit of wheat in your grain bill. Did you do a cereal or decoction mash to help with the wheat's conversion? I won't try to explain the process here, but I'm sure there are detailed threads on both of those techniques. Also, while most malt we use doen't require a protien rest since it's already modified, adjuncts like wheat do benefit from one. Or you can try flaked wheat which is already milled and crushed and the starch granules are available to the mash enzymes and can be added directly to the mash. This might give you a few efficiency points.

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