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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Terrible efficiency :(
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Old 01-17-2009, 10:33 PM   #1
kcstrom
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Default Terrible efficiency :(

I did my first all grain today and was really excited about it. Unfortunately, I did something really wrong that resulted in terrible efficiency.

Things to note from my notes below are that I had trouble getting the mash to be the temperature I was shooting for: 152F. I had two thermometers that didn't agree and disagreed the opposite way when I put them in a small pot of boiling water. I also forgot to account for the fact that the grain will typically hold .1 gallons of water - so that's where I was missing one gallon. I'm not sure where the other half gallon I should have had before the boil went to.

Recipe: First American Wheat
Brewer: Ross

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 5.00 gal
Boil Size: 6.94 gal
Estimated OG: 1.054 SG
Estimated Color: 4.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 21.0 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 75.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount Item Type % or IBU
0.50 lb Rice Hulls (0.0 SRM) Adjunct 5.00 %
5.00 lb Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 50.00 %
4.50 lb White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM) Grain 45.00 %
0.50 oz Cascade [5.40 %] (60 min) Hops 10.3 IBU
0.25 oz Cascade [5.40 %] (40 min) Hops 4.5 IBU
0.50 oz Cascade [5.40 %] (20 min) Hops 6.2 IBU
1 Pkgs American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056) Yeast-Ale

Mash Schedule: My Mash
Total Grain Weight: 10.00 lb
----------------------------
My Mash
Step Time Name Description Step Temp
90 min Step Add 12.50 qt of water at 163.7 F 152.0 F

01-17-2009

American Wheat

Recipe:


Procedure:
* Brought 2 gallons of water to 180F
** Put in cooler mash tun to preheat it
* Brought 12.5qt of water to 170
* Dumped preheat water from cooler mash tun into old brew pot
* Put the 12.5qt of 170F water into cooler mash tun
* Stirred and let cool to ~165F before doughing in
* Slowly poured in grain mixing well
* Temperature was down to almost 140F
* Poured in ~3 cups of water that I had boiled and let sit in microwave
** This brought temp up to about 150F
* Heated up ~3 more cups of water in microwave and poured in
** Thermometer still said that it was at about150F
* Headed up 4 more cups of water in microwave to boiling
* Poured in
** One thermometer went up to 152F and back down to 150F when stirring
** Other thermometer stayed about 153-154F even when stirring
** I stirred a lot of try to get consistent temperature
* Poured two gallons of pre-heat water in pot for sparge water and added another 1.75 gallons
* Brought to 190F
* Stirred until it came down to 180F
* Put into larger cooler with hose and vavle on output that is acting as HLT
* Vorlaufed about three gallons of water because I wasn't sure what I was doing
* Let sparge water go into MLT on top of one gallon ice cream bucket lid so it wouldn't disturb grain bed
** Was at about 11:45-11:50AM
* Cracked open American Wheat extract homebrew :P (frist homebrew)
* Sparge water ran out at about 12:06AM
* Measured specific gravity coming out of MLT after water had disappeared below grain bed top for about 5 minutes: 1.009
* SG: 1.030 at before wort boil - should be about 7 gallons - 5 inches deep in (60qt -

18in diameter) brewpot
* Boil start at ~12:35PM
* Added .5 oz Cascade (5.4% AA) hop pellets directly to wort when seeing boiled has started
* Added .25oz Cascade (5.4% AA) hop pellets direclty to wort at 12:55PM
* Added a little less than .5oz Cascade (5.4% AA) hop pellets directly to wort at 1:23PM
* Used immersion chiller to bring temp down to ~72.5F
* Boiled 1-2 gallons of water earlier in case any was need to get the volume back up to 5

gallons in the fermenter
** Used immersion chiller to bring this down to ~75F
* Tried to whirlpool wort in boil pot
** This didn't really help much as lots of gunk came out when I siphoned to the Better

Bottle
* Siphoned to 6.5 gallon Better Bottle
* There was only about 3-ish gallons of water
* Dumped in all the other water I had boiled
** Was still about 1 gallon or so short
* Boiled some more water and brought temperature down to 73F with immersion chiller
* Filled Better Bottle to the 5 gallon point
* Specific gravity of beer for the 5 gallon in volume liquid was 1.040 - 14 points lower than desired
* Agitated by rolling BB back and forth aggresively for 10 minutes
* Pitched washed Wyeast 1056

Misc:
* Found out that the labels on the CPVC connectors on the manifold aren't ink, they are decals and come off

Efficiency:
* Pot is 18 inches wide
* Wort depth before boiling was 5 inches
* This is a volume of 1272.3 cubic inches which is 21.7 quarts which is 5.4 gallons
* Specific gravity of the 5.4 gallons was 1.030
* Points per pound = (5.4 * 30)/9.5 = 17
* Efficiency = 17/37 = 46% - TERRIBLE

Can anyone offer some advice to an all-grain noob on how to increase his efficiency based on this first brew?

The mash-tun and manifold that I made worked pretty well. It didn't get stuck at all while fly-sparging and I wrapped a blanket around the cooler as well as put one on top since I wasn't sure how it would hold the heat. I think I lost a fair amount of heat from stirring every 90 minutes and trying to inspect the temperature.

Thanks for the help!

kcstrom

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Old 01-18-2009, 12:10 AM   #2
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Try using some brewing software, that will tell you how much water you need and at what temp to hit your targets...which changes based on the temp and weight of your dry grain. I usually siphon off about a gallon of water to preheat my tun when the water is about 15 degrees short of where I need it to be.

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Old 01-18-2009, 12:16 AM   #3
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First, you have to get your volumes sorted out. You already know about grain absorption (but I use a factor of 1 pint per lb grain, which is a little bit more than your estimate).
You will also have some dead space in the MLT which will probably account for the other 1/2 gallon.
The thing that worries me is that you said you sparged with only 2 gallons sparge water, and measured the gravity of the final runnings at 1.009. The gravity should be much higher than that, which indicates that you either had a very poor mash, or a very poor sparge, or both.
Lets start with the mash.
You really need to get an accurate thermometer to check the mash temperature. I also wouldn't stir the mash, as I prefer to maintain the temperature (although other people do stir).
If this is your first AG, you should check the mash pH as a high pH can seriously affect your efficiency. (pH strips from the LHBS should work for this.)
The other thing is the quality of the grain crush. Although I haven't noticed a substantial difference in efficiency between a fine and coarse crush, many people on this board report vast differences.
The next thing to consider is the sparge.
You say you fly sparge. This can be excellent if you have the right equipment and don't sparge too fast. The best equipment for fly sparging is a cylindrical cooler with a false bottom, and the time taken to fly sparge should be considerably longer than the 15 - 20 minutes that you took. I would definitely try batch sparging for the first few brews, as it is much more forgiving efficiency wise if your equipment/process is not quite right.

-a.

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Old 01-18-2009, 06:57 PM   #4
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Thanks for the responses.

I see that my notes didn't have the volume of water that I sparged with. I actually sparged with 3.75 gallons of water, I was capturing in my notes that two gallons of that water was from re-using the pre-heat water. I'll edit that first post.

I meant to pick up some pH strips at the LHBS when I picked up the supplies for this batch, but forgot to. When I compared the water report with the ranges in Palmer books (a few weeks ago), they all looked to be well within the ranges, so I wasn't expecting any large issues with water chemistry. I also forgot to pick up some iodine so I could try that test to see if the mash had finished converting the starches.

I've been using Beersmith. I didn't use it to figure out how much sparge water is needed (Water Needed section) because I didn't realize it had that. I know better now.

The thing I'm most confused about at this point is understanding what the rate of lautering should be. I took me only about 15-20 minutes after vorlauf. Is there a rule of thumb as to the rate of flow of the wort? The only thing I can think of is that it should be slow enough that you don't get a stuck sparge. The water should be saturated during the mash and the sparge should rinse off any remaining, correct? I didn't have any problems with the manifold I built for my MLT cooler getting stuck and I kept the flow reduced from where I think I could have run it. Perhaps part of this is that I should have been using another gallon of sparge water.

I'm thinking that a lot the inefficiency from not starting out and holding the proper temperature through the mash. I think I will not stir next time to help retain the heat. I'm also working on a making digital thermometer and interfacing it to my laptop so that I can log the mash temperature without having to open the lid in addition to being more accurate. My cooking and floating thermometers seem like cheap pieces of crap that aren't very accurate.

Thanks for the help.

kcstrom

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Old 01-18-2009, 07:40 PM   #5
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For fly sparging, Palmer recommends 1 qt per minute = 28 minutes for 7 gallons.
That's way too fast, and would cause severe channeling with my system. For 10 lbs grain, I'd sparge for about 60 minutes.
With batch sparging, you can drain as fast as you want, because the sugars get dissolved when stirring in the sparge water.

-a.

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Old 01-18-2009, 07:50 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajf View Post
For fly sparging, Palmer recommends 1 qt per minute = 28 minutes for 7 gallons.
That's way too fast, and would cause severe channeling with my system. For 10 lbs grain, I'd sparge for about 60 minutes.
With batch sparging, you can drain as fast as you want, because the sugars get dissolved when stirring in the sparge water.

-a.
Just don't stir to deep when batch sparging. I would only stir about 3 or 4 inches to avoid break up the grain bed.

Also, I used an old worn out t-shirt to lay on top of the grains when trickling the water in to avoid digging holes in the grain. This worked pretty good. I got 85% efficiency using 10lbs of Vienna with an OG 1.055.
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Old 01-18-2009, 07:52 PM   #7
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Thanks ajf. I actually just finished re-reading that section of How to Brew and was going to post that. I wasn't too far off of Palmer's mark for flow rate since I was missing a little more than 1.5 gallons of water and it took about 20 minutes.

However, next time I'm going to keep the rate even slower.

I didn't mention above, but I have another cooler for keeping the sparge water in and a ball valve in the tubing from it to the MLT. I let the water fall on an ice cream bucket lid (similar to the coffee can lid Palmer recommends) to keep from the disturbing the grainbed. This looked like it was working pretty well as I was able to keep a little more than an inch of water on top of the grainbed without stirring stuff up. I plan to build a sparge manifold on the underside of the cooler lid to make it easier.

kcstrom

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Old 01-18-2009, 08:03 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kcstrom View Post
Thanks ajf. I actually just finished re-reading that section of How to Brew and was going to post that. I wasn't too far off of Palmer's mark for flow rate since I was missing a little more than 1.5 gallons of water and it took about 20 minutes.

However, next time I'm going to keep the rate even slower.

I didn't mention above, but I have another cooler for keeping the sparge water in and a ball valve in the tubing from it to the MLT. I let the water fall on an ice cream bucket lid (similar to the coffee can lid Palmer recommends) to keep from the disturbing the grainbed. This looked like it was working pretty well as I was able to keep a little more than an inch of water on top of the grainbed without stirring stuff up. I plan to build a sparge manifold on the underside of the cooler lid to make it easier.

kcstrom
I don't aggree with palmers coffee can lid idea. I don't think the sugars get rinsed from the grain very well. If you look below the area below the lid wil never get rinsed.

The idea is rinse all of the water from the mash and replacing the sugary water with clean. When I did my AG the other night, I didn't even drain all of the water out. I stopped when the water turned from golden to slightly yellow.

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Old 01-18-2009, 08:59 PM   #9
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I had wondered if the grains below the lid would get rinsed off very well too. The conclusion I came to was that they probably do as long as the lid is floating on top of water that is 1" above the grain bed.

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Old 01-18-2009, 09:02 PM   #10
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I had wondered if the grains below the lid would get rinsed off very well too. The conclusion I came to was that they probably do as long as the lid is floating on top of water that is 1" above the grain bed.

kcstrom
I think the water will flow to the drain by the most direct route. I think reading http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/maxi...parging-77125/ could help you out.
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