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Old 05-23-2009, 12:36 PM   #1
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Default LHBS Mill versus DIY Mill....

The first comment I often see in reference to an Efficiency question is who milled your grains. It is obvious among experienced AG brewers that a DIY mill is preferred.
So tell me. Is it a cost thing? Why isn't the LHBS's mill suitable? Does it save them money with a courser mill?
Just curious as a Crusher is my next proposal to the SWMBO.

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Old 05-23-2009, 01:10 PM   #2
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Just buy a Barley Crusher and forget about it. You just can't go wrong. IMHO

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Old 05-23-2009, 02:06 PM   #3
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Most homebrew stores have a larger gap to ensure that they meet the needs of all their customers, if you want a finer crush run it thru 2x, etc... too coarse a crush can lead to poor efficiency.

I don't think it's a real reason but some folks gravitate towards saying its a huge conspiracy to sell more grain...

My mill makes a pretty fine crush they I just can't get at the store even with a double milling.
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Old 05-23-2009, 02:45 PM   #4
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Finer crush can increase likelyhood of stuck sparge.

Lower efficiency is, for the LHBS, a small price (for customers) to pay for less headache.
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Old 05-24-2009, 12:55 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Hawgbranch View Post
So tell me. Is it a cost thing? Why isn't the LHBS's mill suitable? Does it save them money with a courser mill?
If we are just speaking efficiency, one factor is how "well" the grain is crushed. My LHBS lets you crush your own grain, including adjusting the rollers, and even crushing it twice. Therefore I saw no difference between me crushing it there, or crushing it at home on the BC.

I would really hope that a brew shop would not mess with the crush in an attempt for you to buy more grain. I would think it's more the fact that they are trying to meet the needs of a wide audience.

Get a BC, and start buying sacks of grain. You'll be happy either way.
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Old 05-24-2009, 02:40 PM   #6
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Main reason I bought my Barley Crusher (excellect product) was to avoid having to buy my grain within 24 hours of brewing.

It's recommended numerous places you should not crush your grain more than 24 hours before using and suggested it's best to crush just before brewing. I can't speak to the "facts" surrounding this but it kinda makes sense.

Anyway, it was a PITA to organize my brewing around a visit to my LHBS immediately before brewing to buy grain and crush it. Also, it forced me to use only the styles of grain he carried. Some of my brews require I mail order unique grains. If I had ordered them crushed, who knows what the delay to brewing may have been.

Plus.... I really like having total control of my crushing. We all know gap adjustment will effect efficiency and stuck sparges. What is equally important with the Barley Crusher is to recognize crush speed is equally as important. Don't exceed 300 rpm per the mfg and you find the grind performance very consistent leaving you to experiement with the gap if you want. Personally, the .039 std setting works great for me once I understood the speed factor.
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Old 05-26-2009, 04:43 PM   #7
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I break all the rules when it comes to the grind. I bought grain mail-order about 3 weeks ago and had them grind it in-house. It sat, ground, in a twistie-sealed bag in the closet for 3 weeks. When I examined it, it was obvious that the grind was a little too coarse.

I finally brewed it yesterday and I calculated an 82% mash efficiency.
7# wheat malt, 4# 6-row (both Breiss) in 6 gallons of extract at a pre-boil gravity of 1.052 (adjusted to 68*F).
Final volume just shy of 5 gallons at a sweet 1.064 (adjusted). This will be one hefty weisen.

I know I could do better, but the extra few points of efficiency that might save me 50 cents a batch just aren't worth the cost of a mill.

Here's the embarrassing thing, too: I don't use any pH buffer, water treatments or anything and I usually come in at the low to mid 80's for mash efficiency. I'm cool with that.
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Old 05-26-2009, 05:14 PM   #8
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There was an episode of Basic Brewing video some weeks back where they did some testing on extract efficiency vs. the volume of water used in the mash per pound of grain. They discovered that although 1.25-1.50 quarts per pound is the typical recommendation, they saw a much higher extract efficiency when they mashed with 2 quarts/pound.

Additionally, I had a really low efficiency on a batch I made a couple of months ago. Enough that I ended up adding about 3# of DME to get the gravity up to where I wanted. I went back through my notes and evaluated all my processes etc. and couldn't figure out where I messed up. I finally discovered that the digital thermometer I used on that batch was broken, but not broken such that it was obviously wrong. So, I had done a multi-step mash all at completely wrong temperatures (all too low) and then done my sparge at a super low temp to boot.

Right there are two different factors that have nothing to do with crush that can cause wildly different results in extract efficiency, and I'm sure there are plenty more where that came from. So, when people immediately point to the crush as the source of all their efficiency woes, I am suspicious about that really being the primary cause. It's much more likely a combination of factors than any one thing.
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Old 06-15-2009, 09:43 PM   #9
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i am having the very same problem. every time i go to LHBS the mill is either super tight, or super loose. when it was tighter i got 83%. past two times looser 70%. also i suspect my digi therm is off. the analog on the kettle (bobby_m's therm/sightglass) always registers 4-6deg lower than the digi therm. which one is more accurate? i need to learn how to adjust the LHBS mill to be a little tighter i think, becuase after hitting 83% on my second AG attempt, two 70% in a row have me bummed out...

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Old 06-15-2009, 09:58 PM   #10
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I haven't had a problem* with crush from Austin Homebrew, or either of the LHBS' in the Denver Metro area I've used (Beer & Wine at Home, on South Broadway, or The Brew Hut). I've also held crushed grains for periods from days to weeks with no detectable (to my palate) problems. Just FYI.

*No mashout, double batch sparging with either a braid or cpvc manifold, 75-80% efficiency on brews up to 1.060.

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