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Old 02-15-2010, 12:26 AM   #1
s3n8
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Default OMGWTF 89% efficiency?

Well, after 2 years of getting 75 - 80% efficiency batch sparging using the Bobby_M Double Batch Sparge - No mash out method, I got 89% today. Um.

First, a couple variables that did not change.

- Crush using my Crankandstien using the same gap I have been using for quite a while.

- I am halfway through a 55lb sack of Maris Otter, so base grain has been consistent the last few brews.

- equipment is all the same, initial volumes were on, temps were on, final volume is spot on 5.5 gallons.

Now, for the only changes I can think of that would account for a sudden 10 point efficiency gain.

- This was a smallish beer. Planned OG was 1.056 (based on 78% avg.). measured OG 1.064. Most of the beers I make are >1.080, so a slight bump for a small beer would be expected, but 10%?

- I read an old post by biermuncher about a hybrid batch/fly sparge and decided to give it a go instead of drain, fill, wait, drain, fill, wait, drain. I cracked the outlet open, and hoisted the sparge water up on a stepstool, and gave it a go. I wasnt hoping for an efficiency gain, but a simplicity gain. I use a braid, so I did not think it would make a big difference.

Not sure what caused the sudden jump, and normally I would be thrilled, except this was supposed to be a small beer to build a nice healthy cake for a Quad. I didnt make a starter


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Old 02-15-2010, 12:34 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by s3n8 View Post
This was a smallish beer.
I get much higher efficiency with small beers. For small beers of 1.040 or less I find I am in the low 90-94% range , whereas with beers around 1.060 I get more like 82-85%, and so on... This is using the same double batch sparge technique you mentioned. Someday I'm going to have to figure out a strong enough pattern to be able to predict efficiency based on size of the grain bill, but I'm not there yet.


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Old 02-15-2010, 01:37 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by artguy View Post
I get much higher efficiency with small beers. For small beers of 1.040 or less I find I am in the low 90-94% range , whereas with beers around 1.060 I get more like 82-85%, and so on... This is using the same double batch sparge technique you mentioned. Someday I'm going to have to figure out a strong enough pattern to be able to predict efficiency based on size of the grain bill, but I'm not there yet.
I hear you, but I am not sure its just the lower OG of this one. I made a similar beer last year, and looking back through beersmith, got 79%. One other thing I thought of (after reading here) is that I have been vorlaufing more. I did a gallon instead of 2 qts.
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Old 02-15-2010, 04:47 PM   #4
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First of all, great job! 89% is pretty good efficiency even though the increase will change your beer quite a bit. I wouldn't think recirculating an extra couple of qts would bump your efficiency 10%. I'm assuming your water to grain ratio, temps and times were fairly consistent too. Sometimes for me I notice very subtle things like a degree or two, grain/water ratios etc. changing my efficiency, so meticulous notes help. Also, maybe you already do this, but take temps at least 5 min after water additions to give mash time to equalize. If not you can have fairly extreme temp variations.

Thats a good problem, your next goal is to try to keep efficiencies at 85-90%. Good luck!
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Old 02-15-2010, 10:20 PM   #5
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Did you just pour in the sparge water while you were draining? Just poured it in and disturbed the grain bed, or carefully poured in while draining?

If so, that's awesome! Definitely would increase the simplicity of batch sparging some qhile decreasing the amount of time it takes. I like it!
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Old 02-15-2010, 10:23 PM   #6
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I had a hose coming from the HLT basically laying on top of the grain bed and draining slowly. I then had a similarly slow flow rate out (few minor tweaks as necessary) into the kettle. I should dig up the biermuncher hybrid fly sparge thread that gave me the idea...
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Old 02-15-2010, 10:27 PM   #7
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Here is the thread that I read that gave me the idea to try this method.


http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f36/hybr...chnique-75454/
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Old 02-16-2010, 01:54 PM   #8
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It seems to me that you were basically fly sparging.

After fiddling around with different ways to sparge,
I found the method that works best for me
I added two quarts of sparge water to loosen up the mash
since I mashed with 1 quart per lb it was pretty thick,
I then vorlaufed a couple quarts.
I start running off into a pitcher so I can see the volume collected
after about a quart of runoff I add a quart of sparge water, and continue till I get my preboil volume.
For me it's easier then trying to balance a gravity fed sparge with the runoff. I just got 89% with this method I need to try it a few more times to see if was a fluke or not.
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Old 02-17-2010, 02:15 AM   #9
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I like that you are keeping this scientific by isolating variables and constants. But in order to properly troubleshoot, we need to eliminate even more variables.

What equation are you using to calculate your efficiency? Are you using BeerSmith, ProMash, etc..? Also, have you recently changed your method of calculation? Are you measuring OGs/FGs at constant temperatures? What theoretical ppg are you using for Maris Otter?

My initial thought is that you might be calculating your brewhouse efficiency (post-boil gravity) versus your mash efficiency (pre-boil).

Heck, hopefully everything is going right and your new sparging technique is that much more efficient. If that's the case, we are going to need more details on that!
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Old 02-17-2010, 03:05 PM   #10
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Hmm, using everything default in beersmith (efficiency, ppg, etc.)

I use a refractometer to measure pre-boil gravity, but i never get real consistent results, so I always measure post-boil with a hydrometer.

Everyone says not to fly-sparge with a braid, but it seems to work for me.


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