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Old 07-25-2010, 10:18 PM   #1
Feb 2008
Posts: 17

Ok guys... I've tried and tried and tried and I'm still getting crap-tastic efficiency... pretty consistently around 60%. I've read just about everything I can find on the subject and still feel like I'm missing something. I'm hoping that if I run you through what I'm doing that someone will clue me in on what I'm doing wrong.

  • 10 Gallon Round Igloo converted, 3/8" ball valve
  • 12" False Bottom
  • 10 Gallon Blichmann Boilermaker

I used BeerSmith for my mash temps and volumes. This time, using the "Single Infusion, Light Body, Batch Sparge" mash profile. I didn't formally pre-heat the mash tun as I let BeerSmith do the adjustments... this time my tun was a little warm from a quick rinse anyways.

Here's what I did today... (in case you're concerned, Black IPA, 11.5 lb grains)
  • Added ~3 gallons @ ~168 to mash tun
  • Added grain
  • Stirred like hell for a few minutes, temp stabalized around 153
  • Waited an hour
  • Added 1 gal @ ~180, stirred like hell
  • Drained (full blast)
  • Added ~3.25 gal @ ~168
  • Stirred like hell
  • Waited 10 minutes
  • Drained (full blast)
  • Ended up with 6.5 gal in kettle
  • Boiled for an hour, ran through CFC, etc

Any ideas? Any glaring mistakes?

Thanks guys.

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Old 07-25-2010, 10:27 PM   #2
homebeerbrewer's Avatar
Jun 2008
Home, where the beer is, NH
Posts: 2,063
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You forgot to post your pre boil SG and post boil SG readings. The only other thing I might look at is the amount and type of grains.

I just looked at some of your numbers, you said your total in the kettle was 6.5 gallons, but you used a total of 7.25 gallons in the mash. Maybe you don't have BeerSmith calibrated to your system?
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Old 07-25-2010, 10:31 PM   #3
Apr 2009
Posts: 213

Also the crush? Do you crush your own or let LHBS crush for you?

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Old 07-25-2010, 10:35 PM   #4
Oct 2009
Posts: 477
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

I have found that tall, deep grain beds (like a igloo cooler) usually yield slightly lower efficiency than shallow ones (like a coleman picnic cooler).

Still, you should be able to achieve higher efficiency than that. Could be just a math error, or it might be a poor crush, but your process sounds good.

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Old 07-25-2010, 11:03 PM   #5
Newbeerguy's Avatar
Jul 2009
Massillon, Ohio
Posts: 814
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Hmmm...Well first thought that comes to my mind is your grain crush. You never said if your LHBS crushes it for you, or you crush it. Other than that, try stiring your mash at 40mins and 20mins. That ensures even conversion and you can also check to make sure your temps are still ok.

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Old 07-25-2010, 11:32 PM   #6
JuanMoore's Avatar
Oct 2009
The Old Pueblo
Posts: 22,600
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Another vote for crush. I've found it to have more impact on efficiency when batch sparging than anything else.

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Old 07-25-2010, 11:40 PM   #7
Jul 2008
San Bernardino, CA
Posts: 93

Try opening your cooler valve only 1/4-1/2 of the way when draining. The slower the liquid runs through the grain bed the better my efficiency is, I've found. That alone brought be from around 70% to about 75% batch to batch.
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Old 07-26-2010, 12:24 AM   #8
Nov 2009
Upstate NY
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Another vote for crush. I batch sparge and get 84-86% efficiency using my Barley Crusher for my grain. My friend uses my equipment from time to time and ends up with 40-60% efficiency. The only difference is who crushes the grain (he uses LHBS).

The more flour the merrier IMHO.

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Old 07-26-2010, 12:29 AM   #9
Feb 2008
Posts: 17

1 - Didn't take gravity of the runnings. I know I should have, but I was worrying about other things
2 - I could probably calibrate BeerSmith better - I figured I needed to get procedurals down before I became overly concerned with calculations.
3 - This set of grains came from Austin Homebrew, milled. Otherwise, I mill myself at LHBS with the default. Can anyone comment on AHS milling?
4 - Last time I only cracked the mash valve 1/2 to 1/4 and I felt like I got better efficiency. This time I tried cranking it all the way because I read a few places that it would be fine... guess not.

Thanks for all of the ideas, I'll get back to you with more in a bit.

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Old 07-26-2010, 12:48 AM   #10
Jul 2010
Posts: 24

Originally Posted by jcelgin View Post
Any ideas? Any glaring mistakes?

Thanks guys.
Hi jcelgin. I had my own efficiency problem yesterday and since then two more threads on the subject have been posted, so I see I'm not alone...

The most common suggestions I got were:

- Smaller crush. I'm going to try a 26 mil next time - I'd be interested to know what size crush others use.

- Slow down the runoff. I am coming to realize that a properly executed sparge may take the better part of an hour. Try opening the valve 1/4 instead of full blast.

- Use more sparge water. You are sparging with 4.25 gallons, but the ideal amount for your 11.5 lb grain bill would be 5.75 gallons (1/2 gal. per lb.). This can increase efficiency but you will have more water in your kettle to boil off and reach 5 gallons.

Also you didn't break down the grain bill but if your black IPA has a high proportion of darker grains I think that will also negatively impact efficiency because most darker malts have lower diastatic power than common base malts like 2 row and pilsner?

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