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Old 08-12-2009, 12:27 AM   #1
John Long
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Default Super low efficiency

So I put my new MLT to use! It worked very well but my efficiency sucked. I measured a gravity of 1.014 at 124 degrees... so 1.025ish. Supposed to be 1.060.

5# german munich
4# wheat
1# crystal 40
some rice hulls

Mashed in ~3.1 gallons water at 155 for 5 minutes then splashed some cold water in to make it about 149. Mashed for 1 hour. Sparged with 5 gallons of 190 degree water.

I'm thinking the sparge water cooled down to about 180 or so when I poured it into my HLT.

I kept about 2 inches of liquid on top of my grain bed at all times.

What else could have given me such low gravity?

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Old 08-12-2009, 12:42 AM   #2
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I used to fly sparge, but because of low efficiency problems I switched to batch. I used to get around 50-60%, now I'm hitting low to mid 80's. I had dozens of people tell me it was my grain crush, but I didn't think that could be the issue since I bought it pre-crushed. Not something my LHBS crushed either. Crush, Temps, and Sparge are usually what it comes down to.

I found that when I was fly sparging, the longer I took, the better my efficiency was. I see the same thing with batch sparging. How long are you taking to sparge? Also, are you taking gravity readings of your runnings and not just your pre-boil?

Another thing it could be is just improper mixing in the kettle. Your first gallon or so is going to have a higher gravity that your last few. So...if you don't stir it all up, you may get a different reading.

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Old 08-12-2009, 01:30 AM   #3
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This is my first fly sparge. I've always used batch sparging with my mini-mashes. I spent about 25 minutes sparging. I will try longer tomorrow.

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Old 08-12-2009, 02:05 AM   #4
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First, is your mash tun setup for fly sparging? What is the separation medium (false bottom, manifold or braid)?

Is the wheat in your recipe malted or raw/flaked? Munich can convert itself but not much else, especially at 149F for only 60 minutes.

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Old 08-12-2009, 08:05 PM   #5
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I installed a CPVC sparge system on my MLT. The separation is braided steel.

The wheat was flaked.

What do you mean by "munich can convert itself but not much else"?

I wasn't aware malts converted things by themselves, let alone other malts/adjuncts... ? I don't get it.

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Old 08-12-2009, 08:11 PM   #6
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You've got to step back a minute and get a handle on how all grain brewing works. There's a link in my sig for an all grain primer but essentially, starch is converted to fermentable sugars by enzymes that are already present in grain. Some grains have more enzymatic power than others and some have none due to lack of malting or being highly kilned killing off enzymes. Munich has enough enzymes to convert the starch inside the munich. If you add a bunch more unmalted (flaked wheat for example) there's not enough enzyme present to covert the starch.

Also, stainless braid setups are not ideal for fly sparging since they encourage channeling.

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Old 08-12-2009, 08:14 PM   #7
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If you are using a braid, that is a huge part of your problem. You cannot effectively fly sparge a grain bed with a braid, you need a false bottom or some sort of manifild.

Batch sparge with a braid and you will see a difference.

Here is more than you want to know about false bottoms and manifolds:
Lautering Equipment False Bottom vs Manifold | Brewer's Friend

Here is more than you wanted to know about fly sparging and batch sparging:
Sparging Methods | Brewer's Friend

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Old 08-12-2009, 08:18 PM   #8
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As Bobby eluded to... in AG brewing there is more to it than water and grain sitting in it.

Mash PH will make a difference.

Diastic power of the mash will make a difference.

Temperature.

Time.

Crush.

False bottoms and properly constructed manifolds are GREAT for fly sparging because they drain the bottom of the grain bed more evenly.

Using a braid while fly sparging is like pouring water down the center of the mash straight to the spigot... most of your grain doesnt even get rinsed, only that directly above the braid. Fluid dynamics.

You will get it... but read Bobbys primer and some articles on equipment and techniques that best suit them.

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Old 08-12-2009, 08:56 PM   #9
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Wow, alright. And here I thought I was just making porridge and draining it.

I'll read through all the links! Thanks!

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Old 08-12-2009, 11:48 PM   #10
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slow, slow, slow slow, slow drain when you sparge. if it doesn't take you 40 minutes to sparge, you are doing it too fast. also, stir the grain bed several times during the main mash.

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