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Old 08-29-2012, 07:15 PM   #1
Bricks41
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Default Shaking out Efficency issues - Grind Question

I am on my 7th batch ever, started with AG and each batch has improved thus far! Why not jump in with both feet?!

I am trying to shake out my efficiency issues as I only got about 55% efficiency on my last AG batch. At 70%, OG should have been 1.102, but only hit 1.080, 20 Brix, confirmed with my hydrometer.

I've improved my equipment to a 70 quart mash tun cooler, 40Q pot with burner, spot check Wort Brix with my calibrated refractometer and use the batch sparge method. I have proven the ability to use calculators to determine strke temps, mashing volume, sparge amount & temp and have been able to hit preboil volumes and other parameters.

I can never seem to hit my OG for 70% efficiency... what I'm thinking the problem is the grind I'm getting from my local shop is not fine enough. Of course, the 2 employees I've asked can't tell me what spacing their machine is set to, so my question is this --- If I run the crushed grains through the mill again, will it break up the larger pieces further? While the majority of what I spot checked appeared to be broken up, I was looking at the spent grain again while cleaning up my tun and noticed that quite a few pieces were cracked open but some were largely intact.

Thoughts and any other advice??

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Old 08-29-2012, 07:24 PM   #2
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Running it through twice should help.

Did you check your conversion efficiency? Helps to diagnose if it's a conversion vs lautering issue.

You may also want to check your water chemistry to make sure you're in the ball park.

Also, efficiency often drops for larger beers.

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Old 08-29-2012, 07:42 PM   #3
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I've had this problem even with smaller beers as well - I am aware of the inherent loss of efficiency as the gravity increases, which I'm expecting.

The one time I used grains from another shop, I think I did do better than I thought (it was before I started paying a lot of details to these things)

One calculator showed my first runnings should have been around 1.100 +- with proper conversion and I should have had an overall preboil OG of 1.79. Without my notes in front of me, the first runnings were around 15 Brix or 1.060. Second runnings were less, obviously, approximately 11 Brix.

With the issues I'm having I doubt water chemistry is making a big impact even though I don't have the report to substantiate that assertion, so I ould be dead wrong.

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Old 08-29-2012, 07:45 PM   #4
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Recipe was:

Fermentables
Amount Fermentable PPG °L Bill %
15 lb Pale 2-Row 37 1.8 75%
2 lb Maris Otter Pale 38 3.75 10%
1 lb Caramel / Crystal 20L 35 20 5%
1 lb Flaked Barley 32 2.2 5%
1 lb CaraMunich III 34 57 5%

Hops
Amount Variety Time AA Type Use
2 oz Simcoe 60 min 12.7 Leaf/Whole Boil
1 oz Citra 15 min 11 Leaf/Whole Boil
1 oz Columbus 5 min 15 Pellet Aroma

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Old 08-29-2012, 07:46 PM   #5
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Can you briefly describe your process?

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Old 08-29-2012, 07:59 PM   #6
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Issue has existed before as I said, but this time I did the following:

Strike - 162F
Mashed 6.25G (1.25Q/lb) @ 148-149F for 45 mins +-
Added 3-3.5Q of boiling water (which increased to 1.4Q/lb)
Mashed at 156-157F for another 25-30 mins
Set the grain bed by recirculating approx 1-1.5G
Gathered approximately 4-4.25G 1st runnings
Sparge with about 3G of 188F attempting to mashout sparge for 10 mins (fell short)
Batch Sparge sat at about 164 for 10 mins
Set the grain bed again
Gathered 2nd runnings

Had a spare gallon I wasn't comfortable boiling in main pot so I put on stove top to boil down. Boiled for 90 minutes. Added the spare G to the main pot before starting hop additions.

Cooled with wort chiller - whirlpooled - pitched with 1500+ml starter around 75F - fermenting at 70F

Have a solid 5G in my 6G carboy.

I appreciate the time and responses!

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Old 08-29-2012, 08:42 PM   #7
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Process looks solid. Did you check the gravity of the 1st runnings? That's used to diagnose mash efficiency. Sounds like a conversion issue perhaps. Crush the snot out of it and see if that helps

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Old 08-29-2012, 09:03 PM   #8
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Next batch will then have some double-grinding action!! From memory, first runnings were only about 15 Brix (1.060).

I figured this is the mostly likely cause as I've attempted to minimize the impact of everything else to this point. I agree, I feel my process is sound - if anyone has suggestions for further improvement, I'm all ears!

Here is my mash geometry currently:

2012-08-08_20-42-20_926.jpg  
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Old 08-29-2012, 09:21 PM   #9
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If you want to test your water, try brewing a batch with store-bought spring water, RO water from one of those 25 cent per gallon machines, or using a Brita-type charcoal filter on your tap water. Even if you don't improve your efficiency, you might like the taste better. Double-crushing should help, or you could buy uncrushed grain and mill it yourself. A corona mill will only set you back 25-30 bucks, and if you can jump 10-20% in efficiency, should pay for itself in about three 1.102 batches.

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Old 08-29-2012, 09:34 PM   #10
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Our water does taste good from the tap, but I tried using all spring water on a previous batch. I think it was my stout (my first batch with the new 40Q pot) and has been my most successful batch yet! I was waaay under in my efficency, but still came out around 5.5% and is damn tasty.

My water should be put to the test when I prime and bottle my Belgian which had an OG of 1.084 - now sitting at 1.007 if my refractometer conversion used to compensate for the ethanol is right. I will know for sure when I take a hydrometer reading before priming.

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