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Old 02-05-2011, 10:55 AM   #1
Lumberg1
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Okay, I'm going to try to make this as not confusing as I can, but I'm not making any promises.

I've done a few AG batches now and I always seem to have really poor efficiency no matter what I do. So on my last batch I made sure to pay really close attention and record everything I did so maybe I could sit down and figure out where I'm going wrong. Here's the recipe I used for a 5.5 gal batch and the data I collected.

7.5lb 2 row
2lb victory
1.5lb dark munich
1lb honey malt
8oz crystal 80
4oz chocolate
3oz amber

Okay so I use a 48qt cooler mash tun with a ss braid. I used a 1.25qt/lb ratio and mashed for 60 min at 150 degrees. I collected 6.5 gal at a rate of 1qt/2min. My preboil gravity was 1.044 and my target was 1.049. There was a lot of wort still in the mash tun so I collected about 1.5gal in a bucket and checked the SG. It was still reading 1.028. I feel like that's alot of sugar to not have in the brew kettle but alas my kettle is only 7.5gal.
After the boil my SG was 1.058 witch was exactly what I was shooting for, but I had more boiloff then expected and ended up with just over 5gal. When I plug all this data into my brew software it says my efficiency is around 60%!

So I guess the question is... Is my efficiency really that bad or do I just need to get a larger kettle so I can collect more wort from the mash to hit my numbers?

Sorry if this is really confusing. It's really hard to type out what I'm thinking.

 
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Old 02-05-2011, 12:02 PM   #2
jetmac
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You left 1.5 gallons of wort in your cooler? Did you add that 1.5 gallons into the software? You need a bigger brew kettle.

I would mash closer to 1.4qt/LB
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Old 02-05-2011, 12:09 PM   #3
bdupree
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I wouldn't get too hung up worrying about your efficiency. Most recipes are based on 80%. Do you crush your own grain or does the LBHS do it? A lot of LBHS crushed grain ends up at around 60%. It could just be too much sparge water since you're having some left over. I mash thinner at around 1.5qt/lb, and compensate by using less sparge water. You shouldn't have any wort left over in the mast tun.

 
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Old 02-05-2011, 12:10 PM   #4
dzlater
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If you don't want to get another kettle just scale your recipe back to 5 gallons, or try doing a less vigorous boil to slow down the boil off.

 
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Old 02-05-2011, 12:22 PM   #5
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Having water left in your mash tun doesn't hurt your efficiency if your fly sparging.

I finish sparging with 2 inches of water above my grain bed and always exceed 80%.

Mash @ 1.25 qt/lb.

If your batch sparging, research the methods described by Bobby M. He has great success with his methods.

If your fly sparging, I would make sure your mashing out @ 168+/- and then slow your sparge down.

Good luck,

Bull

 
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Old 02-05-2011, 01:25 PM   #6
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How did you sparge? Fly or batch? With a SS braid your efficiency will suffer with fly sparging. The braid covers a very small area on the bottom of the cooler. Do you have a coil of hard wire inside your braid? If not the grain can crush the braid and it wont draw the wort from the entire bottom. Fly works good with a false bottom or a manifold that covers a large are of the bottom. Try to make a manifold out of PVC with holes drilled it it
or copper tube with slots cut in it with a hack saw. Make sure to turn the holes or cuts down so they draw from the lowest part of the bottom.

VB

 
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Old 02-05-2011, 01:28 PM   #7
Lumberg1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetmac
You left 1.5 gallons of wort in your cooler? Did you add that 1.5 gallons into the software? You need a bigger brew kettle.
I didn't add it back in because I didn't add it to the boil and I wasn't sure how that would effect the SG of the whole batch. I probably could have figured it out but that more math then I really wanted to do seeing as I wasn't using it.

I think I'm going to pick up a new kettle for my next brew.



Quote:
Originally Posted by bdupree
Most recipes are based on 80%. Do you crush your own grain or does the LBHS do it? A lot of LBHS crushed grain ends up at around 60%.
I set my software to 70% because I thought I would get at least that. Right now my LHBS does my crushing and I have read on here that was the case so I started a diy crusher but it's really hard to get the rollers perfectly true. So I think I'm gonna have to spring for a barley crusher when I get my new kettle! Right now my brewing buddies and I are on a strict brew schedule of 3-4 brews a month so hopefully I can get this sorted out soon!

 
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Old 02-05-2011, 01:32 PM   #8
Bobby_M
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You've got to explain more about your process from when the mash is over to when you have wort in the pot.

The first thing I'm assuming is that you're trying to fly sparge a smallish batch in a rectangular cooler and a braid as your separation medium. This is really less than idea. With that equipment, you should be batch sparging.

With sparge/lauter methods aside for a second, a 7 gallon pot is about 2 gallons too small. You can buy a new pot, you can scale back to 4.5 gallon batches, or you can collect 7 gallons preboil but use another pot to boil 2 gallons of it.
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Old 02-05-2011, 01:36 PM   #9
Lumberg1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VegasBrew
How did you sparge? Fly or batch? With a SS braid your efficiency will suffer with fly sparging. The braid covers a very small area on the bottom of the cooler. Do you have a coil of hard wire inside your braid? If not the grain can crush the braid and it wont draw the wort from the entire bottom. Fly works good with a false bottom or a manifold that covers a large are of the bottom. Try to make a manifold out of PVC with holes drilled it it
or copper tube with slots cut in it with a hack saw. Make sure to turn the holes or cuts down so they draw from the lowest part of the bottom.

VB

I fly sparge now because I was under the impression that you got better effeiceny then when doing a batch sparge. I do have a hard wire coil running the length of the braid and I've never had a stuck sparge so I assume that it's working well.

 
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Old 02-05-2011, 01:41 PM   #10
Bobby_M
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It's got a lot more to do with fluid dynamics than whether the braid gets stuck. You have a shallow grain bed and too focused a collection point to combat an effect called "channeling". As the sparge goes down through the bed, it finds the easiest path to the braid and misses a lot of sugar.

In general your assumption is correct that fly sparging CAN be more efficient, but your particular setup will be MUCH more efficient if you batch sparge.


So just as an example with your last batch. 13lbs of malt, strike with 4.5 gallons (1.38qt/lb). After absorption, first runnings volume would be about 3.25 gallons. Now dump 3.5 gallons of 185F water into the mash tun, stir for 5 minutes, vorlauf and drain it all.
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