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Old 04-29-2014, 01:40 AM   #41
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Always have a little more boiling water on hand than what the calculator says. Also don't pour it all in at once because you may overshoot the mashout temperature. Pour about half in and then take a temp measurement and add the rest of the boiling water as needed.

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Old 04-29-2014, 01:44 AM   #42
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also pH of your mash water. use the pH 5.2 to get the perfect mash water pH. maybe it's something as simple as that!!
North Shore West Zone summary (2012 water report)
pH unit
Minimum 7.50
Median 8.15
Average 8.14
Maximum 8.80
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Old 04-29-2014, 02:09 AM   #43
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Thanks for the help - I will definitely be improving my fly sparge process. One thing at a time though so will try that first - i suspect it's the biggest culprit.

Very interesting about the grain mill though.. (can you recommend a mill?) (I'd like to mill my own - the only reason I'm not already is I've spent a fair amount without much to drink for it)
I bought a Barley Crusher. While not the top of the line, it has served me well in the 14 months I've had it. I leave it set at .039 (the default) and run my grain through twice. My efficiency increased from 72% to 78% when I first bought it and to 82% to 85% since I've started double milling.
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Old 04-29-2014, 02:15 AM   #44
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also pH of your mash water. use the pH 5.2 to get the perfect mash water pH. maybe it's something as simple as that!!
While this can help, it isn't the be-all-end-all to getting your water right. Just using 5.2 doesn't help fix knowledge of why you want to use it. At this stage I think the OP needs to work on process first. We can learn to run before learning to walk, we just need to be aware that we are going to get hurt faster and more frequently!
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Old 04-29-2014, 02:20 AM   #45
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While this can help, it isn't the be-all-end-all to getting your water right. Just using 5.2 doesn't help fix knowledge of why you want to use it. At this stage I think the OP needs to work on process first. We can learn to run before learning to walk, we just need to be aware that we are going to get hurt faster and more frequently!
Agreed. Might look at mash ph later.. much later. A guy I know doesn't bother adjusting for ph and makes delicious beer with 80+% efficiency - but he has more years experience than I've done brews. He is keen on starter cultures though.
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Old 04-29-2014, 02:32 AM   #46
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I consistently hit 80% + mash efficency. It mainly has to do with 3 things. Grain Crush.. Mash Temp.. Lauter / Sparge temp... I use basic fly sparging. Reasonable sparge time roughly 45 min to 1 hr. I never check ph. It also helps to use fresh grains and ingredients.

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Old 05-21-2014, 03:04 AM   #47
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So next brew is this coming saturday..

Will report back on..
Thermostat accuracy
Mashout temp (infusion method)
Sparge water temp
Sparge flow/timing.
Preboil gravity
And of course mash efficiency.

I contacted my LHBS and asked about crush size. Their response was they run the mill till the grain crush looks correct, and that they use the same mill for all their own brewing and constantly hit over 80. They have a custom built mill that does 1-2 ton a month. They are a very reputable shop in NZ (multiple winner of best home brew shop in nz) and super helpful so I will leave it at that. They suggested I drop in and chat about my techniques/equipment which I will do when I pickup ingredients later this week.

BUT... I couldn't help myself and ordered a MM2.. So this coming brew I will use the LHBS crush and the following will be the MM2.

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Old 05-25-2014, 10:53 PM   #48
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Went ok-ish..

Attempted to make an APA from the 'brewing classic styles' book.

Checked if mashtun thermometer accuracy is good. It is.

Things that didn't go so well.
- Being organised
- LHBS may have missed a grain - either that or they didn't write it on the bag.
- Because only had 6kg of grain the mash level only just touched the temp probe - which meant I had no idea what the conversion temp range was - because the liquid right on top cooled down so much.
- There was 2-3 litres left in the kettle after transferring to the fermenter - need to utilise that - 6 bottles of beer!
- Was unsure of the strike temp as was using less mash water than previously - used 18L. Ended up having to give it a bit of heat after doughing in bring it up to 66.
- Mash conversion % is still crap 65% (brewhouse efficiency). Wondering if grain bed maybe wasn't thick enough - channeling issue perhaps.

Things that I thought that went ok.
- The fly sparge - in that the temp (79deg) of the sparge water was good and the flow was good - took 30mins ish
- The chilling to yeast range went well (easily chilled to 20deg). Was even able to speed up the flow a bit.

Things I chose not to do.
- Mash out (maybe next time)

Things I forgot to do
- Measure the PH of the mash - got some ph paper.

Things to do next time.
- Be organised
- Batch sparge.
- Utilize the boiler dead space (3L)
- Measure mash ph
- Consider a sparge arm that lightly sprinkles the mash - wondering if the current one is causing channeling.

Other things
- Got a carbon filter for the water
- Used Koppafloc (protein coagulant) and going on the sample in the fridge the stuff seems to works well.

Next brew - EPIC Pale ale clone.

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Old 05-26-2014, 12:05 AM   #49
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I keep reading sparge, sparge, sparge. I must be missing something as I see your lauter step not being mentioned. How long, and are you holding temp from start to finish? My efficiency improved when I lengthened my lauter time.
If I had (for example) collected enough sparge water, I wouldn't even check to see if there was any sugar left in the grain. Big surprise! there was almost a gallon of 1.030 wort left to collect. That in itself raised my O.G.'s in basically every recipe I made from that point on. Not all had some sugar left in grain, and come to think of it those were the batches that came from the LHBS here in town, and I have no idea what his mill is set at, but he sells a lot of grain w/o complaint. I am not going to blame his grain, as it very well could have me that day... The other HBS I go to appears to use a finer crush, but as to efficiency I can't say. My personal experience does show greater O.G.'s are derived from a finer crush.

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Old 05-26-2014, 12:14 AM   #50
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I keep reading sparge, sparge, sparge. I must be missing something as I see your lauter step not being mentioned. How long, and are you holding temp from start to finish? My efficiency improved when I lengthened my lauter time.
If I had (for example) collected enough sparge water, I wouldn't even check to see if there was any sugar left in the grain. Big surprise! there was almost a gallon of 1.030 wort left to collect. That in itself raised my O.G.'s in basically every recipe I made from that point on. Not all had some sugar left in grain, and come to think of it those were the batches that came from the LHBS here in town, and I have no idea what his mill is set at, but he sells a lot of grain w/o complaint. I am not going to blame his grain, as it very well could have me that day... The other HBS I go to appears to use a finer crush, but as to efficiency I can't say. My personal experience does show greater O.G.'s are derived from a finer crush.
Not sure I don't understand this.. "How long, and are you holding temp from start to finish?"

After mash was done (70 mins starting at 66-67 deg c) I vorlaufed by recirculating slowly with a pump for say 3 mins. Then begun the lauter - I introduce the 79deg c sparge water to top of the mash (onto a small plate) at the same flow as I transfer into the kettle. 26.5L in the kettle took a bit over 30mins.
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