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Old 07-31-2009, 05:30 PM   #1121
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many things to look for def. do a search on efficiency.
not enough stirring, poor crush, channeling (if you did fly) too fast on the drain (fly)
Dropping 5˚ is quite a bit, maybe your cooler needs more insulation.

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Old 07-31-2009, 05:40 PM   #1122
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Originally Posted by bdavanza View Post
Dropping 5˚ is quite a bit, maybe your cooler needs more insulation.
I agree. You should preheat the cooler with a gallon or two of hot tap water for 15 to 30 minutes before you start your mash. That helps to not draw the heat from the mash.
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Old 07-31-2009, 07:56 PM   #1123
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Quote:
]I missed the strike temp, started at 155 and it dropped to 150 over the course of the hour.
+1 to pre-heating the cooler. Just heat your strike water about 12-15 degrees higher than your calculated strike temp. Add that to the mash tun and leave it for 5 mins, lid closed. Then stir it until it's down to the strike temp you need and stir in your grains.

Try wrapping some blankets around the cooler while it's mashing, and don't open it until it's done. Doing all of the above, my mash loses less than 1 degree in an hour.
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Old 07-31-2009, 10:19 PM   #1124
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+1 to pre-heating the cooler. Just heat your strike water about 12-15 degrees higher than your calculated strike temp. Add that to the mash tun and leave it for 5 mins, lid closed. Then stir it until it's down to the strike temp you need and stir in your grains.

Try wrapping some blankets around the cooler while it's mashing, and don't open it until it's done. Doing all of the above, my mash loses less than 1 degree in an hour.
I did pre-heat with boiliing water for 10 mins before mashing and wrapped in towels... the cooler loses a bit of heat where the lid handle is carved into the lip of the lid.

BUT... I think I figured out what the problem was:

I lautered and sparged at full throttle... that is, I cranked the ball valve all the way open. From what I've been reading up on, one should lauter and sparge slowly.

Would this practice really have accounted for the apparent lack of efficiency?

EDIT: grammar and spelling
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Old 07-31-2009, 11:37 PM   #1125
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Williamston-
Lauter and sparge at full throttle will make a small difference if you are batch sparging, and a huge difference if you are fly sparging. We don't know what method you use, or what kind of manifold/braid/false bottom you have. Grain crush has had the biggest difference in efficiency for me.

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Old 08-01-2009, 02:15 AM   #1126
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I use a SS braid in a 48qt rubbermaid, and drain as fast as it will go. The only batch I had real efficiency problems with was when I miscalculated the sparge volumes and ended up with some water left in the mash after hitting my pre-boil volume. Luckily, I still wasn't too far off though.

There are a million variables that can effect your efficiency. The crush is a big factor. There could have been dough balls still, or water chemistry might be off, you didn't boil strong enough, or long enough, or your thermometer is mis-calibrated, forgot to stir batch sparge water into the mash, immersion chiller leaks water into the kettle, etc.. If you're like me and drink too much while brewing, it's easy to overlook little things too. No matter what happens, you usually end up with decent beer in the end, so if we just keep at it, eventually we'll nail down our process pretty well.

Congrats on your first all-grain batch! It's a good one.

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Old 08-01-2009, 05:03 PM   #1127
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I am using a 10 gallon Coleman chest-style cooler with a stainless steel braid. The thermometer is right on, it's a digital probe style.

Water was a factor I had considered. The brew fermented away really vigorously and rapidly at about 72 degrees. I think it'll turn out right. Perhaps, until I pinpoint the problem, I can compensate by adding more grain?

I didn't stir too often during the mash, maybe 3 times. I batch sparged.

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Old 08-01-2009, 05:54 PM   #1128
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I mash in a thin aluminum (high heat conduction) pot, and after 1 hour in the pot the mash loses less than a degree of heat with ambient temps ranging 60-70f.

I'm guessing stirring may have been a problem. When you put your grain into the hot water for the first time, you need to make sure you stir it so it doesn't clump up into gooey "dough balls" that are impervious to water. What you want is the grain to form a slushy mixture. You want it all to flow freely. I stir quite often at the beginning of the mash to make sure all the grains are hydrated. That's what you're going after. Partial hydration results in gooey dough balls.

Furthermore, stirring homogenizes the temperature, because the grain starts out at ambient temperature and draws heat from the water thereby decreasing the temperature of the mash (and perhaps accounting for your temperature loss).

Anyways, once I find where to get stainless steel washers, I'm going to try this recipe unadulterated Texas style for my first run with cooler mashing.

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Old 08-01-2009, 07:35 PM   #1129
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Did this batch as the second batch of a double brew day. Didn't have to think too much about it, just brewed it up! Thanks for the recipe.

Speaking of not thinking, I just realized I didn't add the yeast nutrient or the Irish Moss. Guess I was just brewing in classic Ed style - Reinheitsgebot!

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Old 08-04-2009, 11:23 PM   #1130
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Does anyone know of a website that sells all of the ingredients for the extract version?

The best I've found is Morebeer.com, but they only have:
7 LB Ultralight Malt $16.10
Crystal 15L - 1 lb Milled $3.40
Cascade Pellets (2 oz @ 5.6%) $7.00
Nottingham Ale (11g) $1.60

This is way off of the posted recipe. The Cascade pellets are only 5.6%, so I figured that 2 pack of hops will work, but increase the bitterness pretty sharply.

Will the different kind of Crystal Malt and the extra 0.5# of ultralight malt severely affect the finish product?

Also, Austin HomeBrew is the only place I found that sells Munich, but they don't have all of the other items!

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