Originally Posted by solbes
4) Increasing water to grist ratio. I get a little better efficiency when mashing towards 2 qts/lb vs 1.5. Not sure why, but it seems to work.
Increasing the water to grist ratio will decrease the saturation of sugars in the wort. When you sparge into a brand new batch of water that water contains no sugar so sparging is a very efficient way to extract more sugar. Using a higher water to grist ratio works under the same principle since having more water means having less sugar concentration in the water therefore more room for sugar to leave the grains and enter the water.
Given this principle you would get an even greater efficiency if you have room to do a full boil. Full boil will also give you greater efficiency in hop utilization. This is based on the same principle as sugar. There is only so much bitterness that can be concentrated into the water. Having more water gives you more room to extract bitterness from the hops.
I know I am really late to this thread, but I thought I could help.