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Old 07-02-2010, 09:00 PM   #1
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Default Some thoughts on efficiency.

Just throwing this out for anyone to comment. I'm working on a 60 minute IPA cone based on yooperbrews recipe. All told I used just shy of 14 pounds of grain for a 5 gallon batch. Strike with ~5gallns, sparge with about 3.5 gallons. I maintained a good fermentation temp without dropping temps, 154 the whole time. I ferment in a standard 54 qt cooler.
My og after boil was about 1.057, which means my efficiency is right about 55%. This is only my second AG, but even my first batch was above 70%. I just added grains, add water, stir, then set and forget for on hour until I drained and sparred with near boiling water.
I'd love to have circulation, as I know that could increase my efficiency, but I should be doing better than 55% without that.

Any thoughts the the wise?

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Old 07-02-2010, 09:30 PM   #2
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Did you have more than 5 gallons of wort after the boil? In my experience, it's really hard to only get 55% eff. If you ended up with more than 5 gallons than you overestimated your boil off and your beer is just 'watered down'....

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Old 07-02-2010, 09:37 PM   #3
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As someone who has battled efficiency issues, I would start with making sure your measurements are completely accurate before looking at other things (crush, pH, water chemistry, etc.)

1) is your thermometer accurate? If so, are you sure?

2) is your method of measuring volume accurate? If so, are you sure? (are you relying on Ale Pail markings? They are notoriously inaccurate)

3) is your device for measuring gravity calibrated, and are you using it correctly? Are you temperature correcting if you need to?

The reason I say this is because I noticed the "~5 gallons" and "about 3.5 gallons" in your original post which to me implies you may not be measuring accurately.

Once I started measuring everything accurately, it turns out my efficiency has been spot on at ~77%, even though I was getting anywhere from 54% to 80% when I wasn't measuring accurately.

Also I'm being nit-picky, but you say "fermentation" several times when you actually mean "mash"

Good luck!

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Old 07-02-2010, 10:39 PM   #4
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Assuming your instruments check out,...

I don't know what your tap water is like in MD (assuming you're using tap water) but if your first beer was darker in color, and you have fairly hard water, that could cause a drop in efficiency. For starters I'd buy some ColorpHast strips and see if the pH is in range.

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Old 07-02-2010, 11:20 PM   #5
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I hope he meant mash rather than fermentation.
You're using a lot of grain for a 5g batch. Nothing wrong with that considering what you're brewing, but using a large amount of grain for a given volume is going to bring down your efficiency (especially if you are batch sparging).
You could probably increase you efficiency a little bit by mashing thicker (say 1.2 qt per lb grain) as this would leave more water for the sparge.
Other things that could make a noticeable difference are doing a double batch sparge (if you aren't already), and stirring the sparge water really well before vorlaufing and draining. Also, you need to use sparge water hot enough to raise the grain bed temperature up to about 170F.

Hope this helps.

-a.

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Old 07-03-2010, 12:52 AM   #6
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I supposed water volume accuracy may be my weak point. I'm using markings in my HLT to judge my volumes, so I could be way off there. The only thing against that is I actually ended up with about 4.5 gallons post boil, so I either user estimated my mash loss, or my boil off. And yes, i did temp correct my gravity readings from my floating hydrometer.

Sorry about the mash/fermentation up. Was a bit distracted when posting.

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Old 07-03-2010, 01:05 AM   #7
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14 lbs of grain for 5 gallons is a good amount of grain. I don't think you used enough water. That muich grain will require collecting a lot of wort and boiling for a long time.

For me, 14 lbs of grain would result on me using 10.5 gallons of water (4.5 of which would have been sparge water). I would have had a over 8 gallons in the kettle and been looking at a 2 hour boil.

I think you just left a lot of sugar behind in the tun with a small sparge.

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Old 07-03-2010, 02:09 AM   #8
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I agree with Walker. When brewing a bigger beer you can either add boil time (to keep efficiency high), or add more grains, to deal with low efficiency. Or you could go partial-mash, that would work too.

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