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Old 03-14-2013, 12:45 AM   #11
dachbach
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I think I might go to a manifold soon, even if it's just to have a more sturdy setup compared to the braid that's getting damaged when I stir.

I understand that a manifold should help with my lautering efficiency. However I think my issue right now is strictly mash efficiency. In addition to the first runnings gravity sample I took, I also got a sample of the wort from inside the mash tun before I lautered. I just took the top off my tun and got a sample for my refractometer.

So my lautering setup (braid vs. manifold) shouldn't effect my reading of initial mash conversion, right? Both the pre-lauter reading straight from the tun and my reading of first runnings in the brew pot before sparging were 1.065. They should have been 1.090 with my 1.33 grist ratio.

Does this make sense? Am I just not understanding something? Is there something simple I'm missing? I'm running out of ideas...

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Old 03-15-2013, 01:22 AM   #12
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There are better teachers here than I.
This is how I understand the principle.
Malted grain has an expected amount of fermentable sugar that can be rinsed from it after the mash is complete.
"Effeciency" is the percentage of fermentable sugars rinsed from the grain after the mash is completed. Therefore a higher effeciency is nothing more than a more successful sparge.
The manifold is more "effecient" since the surface area is larger as long as it is not so large as to allow the sparge to travel direct to the manifold along the wall sides of the tun during the sparge.
Hence the circular quardrant diagram showing coverage of the floor without being to colse to the sidewall is best design for maximum effeciency.

Anyone care to 2nd?

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Old 03-15-2013, 02:24 AM   #13
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You did correct the sg reading for temperature right? Do refracometers automatically do that? Never used one.

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Old 03-15-2013, 03:55 AM   #14
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This isn't any issue related to sparge efficiency. I know this because OP measured the gravity in the mash. I batch sparge with a bazooka coil in a rectangular tun and get 75 to 80% efficiency all the time. OP needs to fix what is happening in thesaurus, and then work on optimizing sparge technique.

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Old 03-15-2013, 02:03 PM   #15
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""Effeciency" is the percentage of fermentable sugars rinsed from the grain after the mash is completed. "

There are lots of measures of efficiency, and this is one. You can measure Mash efficiency, efficiency to the kettle, efficiency to the fermentor, efficiency to the keg etc. All are measures of how much of the original sugar is still in use at various stages of the process.

The issue here is mash efficiency.

So, I still think the crush is the most likely culprit. If you can't adjust that, then you'll have to concentrate on optimizing the other aspects of the mash.

1) stir the heck out of it, then stir some more.
2) Get a water report or start using RO water - and adjust either using some brewing water software.
3) Double check thermometers etc to make sure you hitting your temps.
4) Try mashing a little longer to make up for some of the less than ideal parameters.

If you are feeling adventurous, you could also give decoction mashing a shot. Boiling the grains/thick mash does a heck of a job breaking them down and getting the starch out.

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Old 03-15-2013, 02:13 PM   #16
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As for the "switch from a braid to a manifold", I use a bazooka screen and my efficiencies are fine (upper 70's on a bad day, to 80's most of the time). I have my LHBS grind my grain, but have them run it through the mill twice. The only thing I do with my water (city water) is filter and adjust pH.

I've noticed that my efficiency is higher when there are darker grains in the mash than when mashing only pale malt--don't know why this would be, unless my pH is just not quite dialed in without the darker to acidify. I also notice that I get higher efficiency with Maris Otter than with US 2 row.

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Old 03-15-2013, 02:26 PM   #17
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You mention first runnings so I assume you are batch sparging like me. If that's the case then you don't need a manifold unless you plan to fly sparge (or you just like to tinker with stuff). I've been using the same ss hose braid for about 5 years now and I consistently get full conversion (usually mash for an hour - somethimes longer) and I always get between 75 and 80 percent brewhouse efficiency - and that's with Austin Homebrew Supply's crush. Some time a few years ago I brewed a couple of batches and seemed to have the exact same problem you describe. I hadn't changed anything in my process, so I checked all my equipment. It turned out my thermometer was off. After I re-calibrated it everything was fine. Have you checked yours to make sure it's calibrated correctly? Just a thought.

By the way, the higher the gravity of your beers, the lower the efficiency you can expect.

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Old 03-15-2013, 04:57 PM   #18
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Thanks for all the replies. I appreciate you guys trying to help me out.

eric19312, what do you mean by happening in thesaurus?

Quote:
OP needs to fix what is happening in thesaurus


Billl, my first thought was the crush too but after talking to a couple different employees that use the same LHBS crush and get good efficiency, I wasn't so sure any more(unless those two guys just don't know what they're talking about). I've had them double crush my grains the last two times as well.
Quote:
The issue here is mash efficiency.

So, I still think the crush is the most likely culprit. If you can't adjust that, then you'll have to concentrate on optimizing the other aspects of the mash.

1) stir the heck out of it, then stir some more.
2) Get a water report or start using RO water - and adjust either using some brewing water software.
3) Double check thermometers etc to make sure you hitting your temps.
4) Try mashing a little longer to make up for some of the less than ideal parameters.
1. I stir a lot but can always stir some more.
2. I got a water report and adjust using bru'n water
3. I have a digitial thermometer that reads the same as my normal thermometer. It read right at 212 the other day while boiling. I will check it in a cup of ice water to make sure it reads 32.
4. I have not tried this yet.

I could be wrong, but I'm under the impression that suggestions like these would help a little bit in efficiency, but not be enough to explain the huge difference I'm seeing (only 70% mash conversion). Is that an accurate statement?

I guess I'm at the point where I have to find another LHBS or buy my own grain mill. This is driving me crazy.
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Old 03-15-2013, 05:48 PM   #19
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Dang autocorrect


I meant "in the mash" as opposed to "in the sparging"

Are you adjusting pH based on Bru'n water? I found it's recommendations somewhat extreme compared to some other calculators.

Can you post a picture of your typical crush? I believe a good crush is important and do have my own mill, but I think much of the benefit relates to balancing what is best for mash (darn close to flour is how they measure potential extract) vs what is best for sparging (intact hulls). Given the issue are describing you need a finer crush. Until you can get your own mill try having the local store double crush.

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Old 03-15-2013, 06:21 PM   #20
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"I could be wrong, but I'm under the impression that suggestions like these would help a little bit in efficiency, but not be enough to explain the huge difference I'm seeing (only 70% mash conversion). Is that an accurate statement?"

Well, there really aren't THAT many things you can adjust. We're talking about putting hot water on grains and waiting a bit. You either tweak the grains, the water, how you combine those 2, or how long you wait. The combination of those things will make you range from 0 to 100%.

If you've done the same water adjustments to each batch, that is another likely issue. You might try just a 50/50 mix of tap water and bottled water with no additions. That probably won't match the "ideal" version in the calculators, but it is a pretty reasonable starting point for most municipal water. Are you testing PH to make sure you aren't too far out of the ballpark with your current water?

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