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Old 03-23-2009, 05:42 AM   #1
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Default First AG Batch: 65% Efficiency

According to Beersmith, I got 65% Efficiency on my first AG batch. I am using a rubbermaid MLT with a 20" steel braid.

Here is the recipe:

Mister Squinty's Contemporary Summer Ale (from Radical Brewing)

4.00 lb Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 56.14 %
2.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 28.07 %
0.63 lb Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 8.77 %
1.25 oz Challenger [7.50 %] (60 min) Hops 39.1 IBU
0.50 oz Challenger [7.50 %] (30 min) Hops 12.0 IBU
0.25 oz Challenger [7.50 %] (5 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
0.25 oz Saaz [4.00 %] (5 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
0.50 lb Dememera Sugar (2.0 SRM) Sugar 7.02 %
1 Pkgs London ESB Ale (Wyeast Labs #1968) [Starter 125 ml] Yeast-Ale



I did a 90min mash at 147 and got 1.037 post-boil gravity (at 5gallons). I was shooting for at least 1.042 or more. Recipe book (Radical Brewing) says 1.048, which is an astounding 87% efficiency according to Beersmith!


Things I will try to improve:

1. I didn't mash out high enough. I only got up to 160 or so, and I know I was supposed to go to 175 (according to recipe). Do I just achieve this temp by adding a bit of boiling water?

2. I could crush the grain more. The mash/sparge drained very fast, so I think I can crush finer. I used my own corona mill for the first time.

4. I did one big sparge. Should I have done more? Also, I didn't stir or anything. My first runnings added up to 3.25 G (grains absorbed .5g), so I sparged with 3.25g at 168F, all at once.

Anyway, it was fun. 6 hrs all told, including slowly heating things on my stovetop and crushing the grain. I managed to play some board games during, tho.



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Old 03-23-2009, 05:56 AM   #2
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Maybe mash higher then fly sparge? That's what I did (cooler mlt) and got 75% efficiency. I didn't mash out btw (don't know if I should have or not). I mashed at 1.25 qt/lb for 90min by adding 17.2 qts of 173*F water for 156*F step temp. Then I sparged with 4gal of 168*F water by opening the valve slightly and pouring the water into a funnel that led into my ghetto sparge arm - 3/4" pvc pipe, caps on the ends, with a T in the middle and drilled holes into the pipes. Apparently it worked fairly well but I know I can improve that. I'm going to make a cross sparge arm, and integrate it into the lid. Also, Protein Rests seem to help efficiency a fair amount from what people have been saying. I am going to try that next time.


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Old 03-23-2009, 07:06 AM   #3
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I'm fairly new to AG (long time lurker though), so take this FWIW. More experienced brewers, please correct me if anything I'm doing is incorrect.

1. I don't do a mashout and it seems that alot of more experienced brewers don't either. Personally, I just do two sparges. The first w/ enough 170* water to bring the grain bed up to 168ish and the second to reach my pre-boil amount.

2. I don't crush my own grain, but the quality of your crush is a big factor in your efficiency. If you have your own mill I'd definitely try crushing a little finer next time.

3. Definitely stir the grain after adding your sparge water. You want all the grain to come in contact with the warmer water, and if you don't stir you're probably getting cold spots.

I'm not sure if your recipe called for it...but the lower mash temp might have contributed to your low efficiency as well. Also...did you pre-heat your MLT and check your mash temp at the end of the mash?

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Old 03-23-2009, 10:21 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlosCarlies View Post
I'm not sure if your recipe called for it...but the lower mash temp might have contributed to your low efficiency as well.
Yeah, 147 is pretty low. It looks like you are makeing a summer ale and mashing at a low temp would be the way to go. I generally don't mash below 150, but 147 should of worked. If you mash that low you probably want to do a conversion test to be sure it's done mashing.

65% is really good for your first attempt, and it sounds like you have already thought through where you can improve.
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Old 03-23-2009, 12:38 PM   #5
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Read Bobby_M 's tutorial on No Mash Out Double Batch Sparging. It's at the bottom of the page.

Also, crush pretty fine. You don't have to worry about getting stuck with batch sparging.
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Old 03-23-2009, 12:46 PM   #6
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I fly sparge and found that sparging too quickly really lowers efficiency. Might not apply to batch sparging, but for me slowing down gave a huge boost to efficieny.
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Old 03-23-2009, 01:20 PM   #7
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I fly sparge and found that sparging too quickly really lowers efficiency. Might not apply to batch sparging, but for me slowing down gave a huge boost to efficieny.
What he said. I just finished my second AG this weekend, and slowed my fly sparge way down (5 min to 35 minutes) and improved my efficiency by 15 percent. Which was necessary since I got 55% the first go round.
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Old 03-23-2009, 03:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jldc View Post
Read Bobby_M 's tutorial on No Mash Out Double Batch Sparging. It's at the bottom of the page.

Also, crush pretty fine. You don't have to worry about getting stuck with batch sparging.
Thanks this is a good link! I'll try this technique next time. Trying to hit mashout temp was a pain.
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Old 03-23-2009, 03:49 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlosCarlies View Post
I'm fairly new to AG (long time lurker though), so take this FWIW. More experienced brewers, please correct me if anything I'm doing is incorrect.

1. I don't do a mashout and it seems that alot of more experienced brewers don't either. Personally, I just do two sparges. The first w/ enough 170* water to bring the grain bed up to 168ish and the second to reach my pre-boil amount.

2. I don't crush my own grain, but the quality of your crush is a big factor in your efficiency. If you have your own mill I'd definitely try crushing a little finer next time.

3. Definitely stir the grain after adding your sparge water. You want all the grain to come in contact with the warmer water, and if you don't stir you're probably getting cold spots.

I'm not sure if your recipe called for it...but the lower mash temp might have contributed to your low efficiency as well. Also...did you pre-heat your MLT and check your mash temp at the end of the mash?
These are good tips, thanks! I did pre-heat and check my temps, and I think I managed to stay at the temps. That mash temp was very low but it was what the recipe called for.
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Old 03-23-2009, 03:50 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jumbo82 View Post
I fly sparge and found that sparging too quickly really lowers efficiency. Might not apply to batch sparging, but for me slowing down gave a huge boost to efficieny.

I thought this doesn't apply to batch sparging? Is this true? Should I just drain as fast as possible or should I slow it down a notch?


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