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Old 10-29-2012, 04:08 PM   #1
jamesewelch
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Default How to increase mash efficiency?

I've successfully brewed 2 small batches of IPAs, but I'm having a problem with my mash efficiency. Calculated using my hydrometer and using beercalculus at hopville.com, it says was measured at 49%.

As far as sparging, I have a large strainer that I use to pour the grains/water into and then repeat once more (twice total). Are there any tricks to getting more out of it? I've thought about using cheesecloth or something so I can wring the grains to get all the liquid out.

If I end up with lower than expected OG, is there a formula that I can use to increase it via corn sugar or other ingredient?

Am I looking in the right place to increase my efficiency?

thanks

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Old 10-29-2012, 05:08 PM   #2
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How are you sparging? (Batch or Fly?) I'm not sure I understand the strainer.

Tell us about your mash / sparge technique.

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Old 10-29-2012, 05:12 PM   #3
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Some other items to discuss: how is the grain crushed? what temp are you mashing at? what equip are you using? have you calibrated your thermometer?

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Old 10-29-2012, 05:17 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soldevi View Post
How are you sparging? (Batch or Fly?) I'm not sure I understand the strainer.

Tell us about your mash / sparge technique.
Ok. I'm not sure I know the right terminology, so I'll try to just explain what I'm doing.

After I've finished with the mash, I use a fine mesh strainer over another empty pot. Then I pour the grains and liquid (mash) into the pot over the strainer to catch the grains. Then I pour additional water (heated 170 in third pot) over the captured grains into the receiving pot. Then I move the strainer over to another pot and pour all of the liquid back through the grains a second time.

Does that make sense? I think I'm using a batch, but I'm having a hard time figuring out the naming of sparging using a fine mesh strainer (a strainer like what you make spaghetti with, but fine mesh rather than large mesh/holes).

Thanks
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Old 10-29-2012, 05:20 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by usfmikeb View Post
Some other items to discuss: how is the grain crushed? what temp are you mashing at? what equip are you using? have you calibrated your thermometer?
Grains are crushed, cracked, broken, etc. at the homebrew store. Start at 160, add grains, maintain\steep between 144 and 152. Final heat up to 170.

At this point, I'm just using cooking pots. I have 2 different thermometers that I've used (at same time to double check). A normal cooking thermometer that came with my homebrew carboy/kit and a digital thermometer. Both seem to work fine.
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Old 10-29-2012, 05:27 PM   #6
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We really need more info on your process as noted by usfmikeb.
Is your mashing vessel big enough for you to hold enough water to do a proper batch sparge? If so you should get a mesh bag to hold all of your grains: such as this http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/b...g-214-214.html. Then follow a batch sparge procedure.

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Old 10-29-2012, 05:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesewelch View Post
Ok. I'm not sure I know the right terminology, so I'll try to just explain what I'm doing.

After I've finished with the mash, I use a fine mesh strainer over another empty pot. Then I pour the grains and liquid (mash) into the pot over the strainer to catch the grains. Then I pour additional water (heated 170 in third pot) over the captured grains into the receiving pot. Then I move the strainer over to another pot and pour all of the liquid back through the grains a second time.

Does that make sense? I think I'm using a batch, but I'm having a hard time figuring out the naming of sparging using a fine mesh strainer (a strainer like what you make spaghetti with, but fine mesh rather than large mesh/holes).

Thanks
Well, don't pour your wort back over the grains! That may actually have you "lose" some sugars, since the sugars in solution may re-adhere to the grain.

I'd probably bag the grains, and dunk them thoroughly in the sparge water instead of the pouring. Check out the BIAB threads (brew in a bag) for details on them.

Mash at 152-154. You can insulate your pot, or stick it in a warm oven (with the heat off) to hold temperatures. You won't get conversion quickly if you drop as low as 144, so you really want to hold a steady temperature for an hour.
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Old 10-29-2012, 05:28 PM   #8
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Yes, you can use a cheese cloth or nylon paint strainer bag to filter your grains. Its called BIAB beer in a bag.

Are you dumping the grains back into a pot and adding the sparge water to it? On the second time?

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Old 10-29-2012, 05:31 PM   #9
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From your description it appears you are kinda of doing BiAB brewing crossed with traditional mashing and batch sparge?

First thing to look at is crush, if your LHbS is milling your grain it is most likely a poor crush-have them run your grain through twice.

Next, figure out how you want to brew/mash. Either go BIAB or learn how to traditionally mash and sparge.

If you are mashing in a cooler then you should not be dumping grain and rinsing through a strainer, the mash and sparge should all be done with and drain through the cooler .

You can search BIAB and learn what's involved. If your cooler does not have a ball valve, get one and install it and then visit Www.dennybrew.com to learn how to make a cooler tun and batch sparge.

Once done with these suggestions your efficiency should go way up!

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Old 10-29-2012, 05:54 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soldevi View Post
Yes, you can use a cheese cloth or nylon paint strainer bag to filter your grains. Its called BIAB beer in a bag.

Are you dumping the grains back into a pot and adding the sparge water to it? On the second time?
No. I leave the grains in the strainer and just recycle the liquid through it the second time.
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