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Old 03-13-2012, 08:14 AM   #1
Bru
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Default Poor efficiency with barley wine

Untill recently my MLT was big enough to make 10 gallons of 1.065 all-grain beer. If I wanted higher gravity I needed to add LME. Ive recently upgraded the MLT and can (in theory) make a 1.100+ beer using all grain only.
I recently made an English Barley Wine and got very low efficency. I normally get +-78% efficiency but this time I only got 57%.

I used 42lbs grain and 60qts water (for a preboil volume of 52qts). The reason is clear - there is a large amount of water already in the MLT meaning not much sparge water (I fly sparge) is needed to get the required boil volume. It almost becomes a "no sparge" mash.
After sparging 52 qts into the kettle I continued sparging the second runnings and ended up with 23qts of 1.040 which I used to make a braggot.

Ive considered a thicker mash which may help.
Is there a solution to get better efficiency when making big beers or I always be plagued by low efficeincy ?

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Old 03-13-2012, 09:17 AM   #2
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It's part of the equation: high gravity beers have less sparge water and a smaller ratio of water is boiled off. High gravity beers suffer in efficiency, that's part of the game. How thick do you mash in? I like 1.1 quarts per pound to free up as much sparge water as I can. Are you fly sparging or batch sparging? Do you mill your own grain? I get 89% efficiency on beers up to around 1.075, closer to 75% efficiency on my big ales.

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Old 03-13-2012, 09:28 AM   #3
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teh only way to up your efficiency is to sparge more and boil off. what your doing currently is akin o the old way of brewing. making a big beer of the primary mash then remashing on the same grain and making a smaller beer from that. in order to make a truly big beer with decent eff. you need to combine both sparges and boil down before starting your hop schedule. check out either paultthenurse's or my thread on doing utopia clones. granted paul's thread is full of bashing bettween friends

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grains in pounds(G) X 36(average points per gallon of grains) / batch size in gallons(g) = maximum efficiency(ME)
OG / ME = brewhouse efficiency

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Old 03-13-2012, 11:15 AM   #4
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Mashing thickly and employing decoctions to move from one rest temperature to another both help free up extra sparge water. I typically exceed 90% brewhouse efficiency with my beers but recently when I did a 1.110 OG barleywine I was only able to manage 79% efficiency.

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Old 03-14-2012, 09:46 AM   #5
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Excellent info, thanks guys.

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Old 03-14-2012, 10:02 AM   #6
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Split your mash...I know it adds a lot of time, but when I did my BW I split it into 2 mashes. Got normal effiency because it wasn't crammed in the Mash tun

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Old 03-16-2012, 12:08 PM   #7
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Thats an option but as you say takes time. I think the best way is to mash thicker and to sparge longer to allow for a two hour boil.

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