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Old 10-03-2007, 06:32 PM   #1
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Default Partial Mash/AG Efficiency Problems

Hi All,

This weekend i brewed the Can't Lager Oktoberfest from the Recipe Database for the second time. The first, i used basically a stove-top steeping process to mash the grains at 153 for 60 minutes. This time around, with the new equipment i acquired, i used a bucket MLT from morebeer and mashed the grain for 60 minutes.

First, as soon as i put the hot water into the bucket, the seal around the spigot started to leak. So to alleviate some pressure i tipped the bucket backwards away from the spigot. After doing this, i don't think i lost even 8 oz of liquid through this leak. I checked and the grain was still entirely covered.

After the 60 minutes, i checked the temperature of the mash and it was 150 degrees. I figure a 3 degree drop was good and started to run off the 1.5 gallons into the brew kettle. Then i sparged with 5 gallons of water at 168 degrees. The last runnings from the MLT into the kettle were still slightly brown, but i didn't want to water down the brew kettle too much?

My efficiency using the first steeping method was just under 50%. Using the MLT Kettle, i calculated it to 60% which is a full percent stronger (my friends shouldn't mind). How do i increase the efficiency and do a more efficient sparge? I know the last runnings had to have had more sugar in them.

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Old 10-03-2007, 10:19 PM   #2
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a very big aspect of efficiency is your grain crush. too coarse, you miss out on sugar, too fine, your sparge may get stuck and you may end up with astringent flavors if they ground the grain husks into flour.

and no, you can't necessarily assume the LHBS does a good job crushing, especially if they use part-timers who know nothing about brewing.

when you sparge, do you stir again and let it rest 10 mins, run til clear and then collect second runnings? maybe its just not getting rinsed thoroughly.

otherwise we'd really need to see a recipe/grain bill to know just how good your efficiency was. I suck at math so I know I'd want someone to double check my effciiency calculations before getting worried.

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Old 10-03-2007, 11:14 PM   #3
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Another thing you could do is to increase the temperature of the sparge water somewhat. You want to get the temperature up to about 165 - 170 degrees after adding the sparge water. This increased my efficiency by about 10%

-a.

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Old 10-04-2007, 01:03 PM   #4
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I picked them up from the local HBS and they have a malt mill there for customer use. I just ran the grain through the mill. I'm not sure if it was an optimal crush, but i'm brand new to all-grain methods as i just got a propane burner this sunday. My bucket MLT was sitting unused for about 4 months until i got the equipment i need.

I sparged with 5 gallons of water at 168 degrees. To increase the temperature of the grain bed, should i have used 175 degree water? Also, i've read on this board about a product called 5.2 PH which helps with efficiency as well.

My last runnings through the grain bed were not clear, but i still had 6.5 gallons of wort in the brew kettle. What does someone do in this situation to extract the last bits of sugar? My next beer is going to be either Edworts Haus Pale and i don't want to mess up my efficiency and make "near beer".

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Old 10-04-2007, 01:12 PM   #5
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I think 60% for a PM is actually pretty good efficiency so that's good thing! I'm having efficiencies under 70% sometimes for AG.

You WILL always leave a little sugar behind when you sparge if you stop your run-off at say, 6.5 gallons. I just don't have the time and/or energy to run off more and then boil it down. (And oversparging can release some tannins- usually an issue for fly spargers). I'd rather just buy another pound of grain. So, I'm happy with my efficiency. I think it's important to be consistent- one of my problems has to do with making up recipes if I get 80% efficiency one time and 68% the next. (I know that mine has to do with grain crush- I don't have my own mill).

The others gave great advice. You can even do a mash out before the sparge to get a little more goodness out of your grain. I can't tell you the sparge water temperature- you want to have the water result in 168 degree grain bed. So, definitely could be higher but it depends on your equipment. My sparge water is usually around 171 degrees. I really recommend some brewing software to help with this.

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Old 10-04-2007, 04:18 PM   #6
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just to clarify, 'clear' runnings from the MLT are not 'clear like water'...merely clear of chunks of grain. you don't want grains in the brew pot, so you run off a little of the cruddy stuff and dump it on top so the grainbed filters it out.

I know some people recommend crushing the grain twice. you want all the grain cracked open, which will create a little bit of fine flour, but not much. a little flour won't cause a stuck sparge.

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