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Old 09-20-2012, 01:06 PM   #1
tarcrarc
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Default Very Low Efficiency

This is my first post. I have only brewed about 5 all grain batches. Now that I have down the basic mechanics of things, the last two batches I began to measure my efficiency. However, it is very low (45% and then 37%). I have batch sparged and fly sparged. I drain at a very slow pace. The grain is coming pre-crushed from MoreBeer, I have checker-boarded the grain to avoid channeling---can't figure it out.

My last 5 gallon batch had a 20 lbs. grain bill. I used 7.5 gallons of water in the mash and sparged with 2.5 gallons. Maybe somewhere in here lies the issue.

Here is my question: In Palmer's How to Brew he is saying a typical mash rate is 1.5 quarts per lb. of grain and to sparge at a rate of 1.5 times the amount used for mashing. For a 20 lb. grain bill that would be 30 quarts for the mash and 45 quarts for the sparge for a total of 75 quarts----18.75 gallons of water for a 5 gallon batch. Am I reading this right? If so, even given the loss from grain absorption, etc. I am thinking I need a larger kettle to hold such a large amount of wort. I am guessing I would then just need to boil it down till I hit my target gravity.

Is there something I am missing? Other ideas? I am tired of adding DME to get where I want to be.

Thanks!



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Old 09-20-2012, 01:10 PM   #2
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One of the things I've found with higher OG beer is lower efficiency.

The reason is what you've hit on- in order to hit your volume, you generally undersparge. That's some to just accept, normally. For me, I get a 75% efficiency with beers of 1.065 or less, and a 65-68% efficiency with really big beers.

But in your case, it's way too low and not something to just accept.

We can help you trouble shoot this.

For starters, I've never ordered crushed grain from Morebeer.com, but I assume it has to be like most other crushes. How did the grain look? Did it look like most/all of the grain was crushed? Or where there lots of whole pieces of grain?

What kind of false bottom do you have? When you batch sparge, what is your technique? For fly sparging, to you keep at least 1" of water above the grainbed the whole time?



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Old 09-20-2012, 01:37 PM   #3
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To be honest, I didn't pay much attention to the crush. I just figured Morebeer knows what they are doing. Next time I'll pay closer attention to it.

When fly sparging I did keep an inch above the grain.

When batch sparging I just added the water, let it sit for 15 minutes, then drained.

I am using a cooler with a coiled copper tube as the false bottom:
http://schillinghomebrewing.weebly.com/my-equipment.html

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Old 09-20-2012, 01:39 PM   #4
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For that coiled copper bottom, I don't think fly sparging will work out for you. You'd have to have some channelling, just from the set up. But there is no reason you'd get a low efficiency with batch sparging with that lautering set up.

When you did your batch sparge, did you drain completely, and then stir in your sparge water and stir like it owed you money?

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Old 09-20-2012, 01:48 PM   #5
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Haven't experienced lower efficiencies with higher gravity beers (1.080+). If you're brewing 5 gallons and want say 7 gallons wort then suggest adjusting the 2nd runnings (batch sparge) water volume to make up the difference after measuring 1st running wort volume.

I'm currently getting 80+% efficiency using this method without mash out temp. Perhaps you could post a bit more about the process.

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Old 09-20-2012, 02:31 PM   #6
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How are you calculating your efficiency?

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Old 09-20-2012, 02:34 PM   #7
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It may help to see what you are trying to brew, and more details.. what temp did you mash at? What kind of vessel are you using to do mashing in?

What was your gravity reading when starting fermentation?

Have you done standard beers in 5 gallon batches and had similar efficiency results?

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Old 09-20-2012, 02:35 PM   #8
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woops.. double post.

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Old 09-20-2012, 04:10 PM   #9
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I appreciate all your responses in assisting me--what a great forum!

I am going to attempt to answer each of the questions posed for me here below in no particular order:

When I sparged I do not believe that I fully drained it. Should I tip the cooler to get the last bit out?

I didn't stir it up much at all when sparging. Should I? And if so, should I only at the beginning or through the entire process? I could never find much info on that in my research.

I am using the cooler and false bottom shown at this site: http://schillinghomebrewing.weebly.com/my-equipment.html

I am calculating the efficiency off Beersmith software.

I mashed in at 154.

I checked the gravity of the run off from the sparge once (midway through the process) and it read 1.046.

The gravity read 1.082 at start of fermentation. This is with 20 lbs of grain and 3.5 lbs of DME. However, Beersmith estimated my OG to be 1.101.

I have only measured my efficiency on 2 batches now---both being rather large beers and both coming in real low.

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Old 09-20-2012, 04:41 PM   #10
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As Yooper posted earlier, that manifold (coiled copper bottom) won't do for fly sparging. I have a similar "inefficient" manifold and get much better efficiency batch sparging.



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