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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Bad mash efficiency
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Old 07-30-2012, 04:03 AM   #1
Briano
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Default Bad mash efficiency

I'm wondering what efficiency you guys are getting extracing sugars from your mash.Are you batch or fly sparging.I get horrible efficiency ,maybe 60% or so.
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Old 07-30-2012, 04:07 AM   #2
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I fly sparge and am getting about 80-85%

A few things can cause this. Water temps, Speed of sparge, and poor grain crush. Can you give some details on your process?

I grind my own grain and have my barley crusher set to 35 thousands. Then I fly sparge for at least an hour. Seems to work well.

I am sure there on some folks on here with way more experience than me that can add some suggestions too
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Old 07-30-2012, 04:15 AM   #3
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Well, there are a lot of factors that influence mash efficiency. I am under the opinion that as long as your efficiency is consistent, then you are fine. A little lower efficiency just means you have to use a little more grain. I recommend finding a procedure that works best for you and gives you the results you like. I wouldn't stress the numbers too much if the beer is good. Good luck and cheers.
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Old 07-30-2012, 04:17 AM   #4
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I believe my crush is good: set at .039" ,2 roller crusher,both rollers turn by means of a set of gears pulling in the grains at 60 rpm for a slow crush,not a high speed shred,I follow my Beer Smith sparge volume(Batch sparge),using an Igloo 10 gallon beverage coole.Mash for 1hour,stir occaisionally,batch sparge in 2-3 steps.
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Old 07-30-2012, 04:38 AM   #5
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how long do you sparge for? When I first started all grain I would draw off wort as fast as I could... I quickly found that was a bad plan, I was getting low efficiency 45-55% range. Following some advice from the LBS I started sparging for at least an hour, that shot my efficiency way up.
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Old 07-30-2012, 04:42 AM   #6
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Maybe try fly ?. I just started ag and my first 6 batches have been between 75/80. I have an igloo style cooler w false bottom which likely helps w efficiency. I don't stir and my temps only drop a degree or so. As soon as I begin collecting my runnings I start sparging with 180 degree water. I aim to collect 7.5 gal over about 45 min with this method.

I don't have a manifold or anything... Just sprinkle the water over a piece of foil w holes in it that I placed on the mash. Collect at the same rate as the sparge, maintaining an inch or two of water on the mash.
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Old 07-30-2012, 05:13 AM   #7
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Efficiency is much more than sparge technique, though it is a factor. Crush and temperatures are major factors and poor crush and low temps during sparge can lead to poor sugar extraction. You need to try to get the temperature of the grain bed as close to 170 degrees during the sparge. This allows the sugar to be dissolved in the water without extracting tannins from the grain. The lower the temperature, the less sugar can dissolve into the sparge water. If your crush is poor, you just won't be able to obtain good conversion during the mash. Maybe try double crushing.

A batch sparge is pretty simple and this how I do it. I collect my first runnings and add sparge water at 180-185 for mashout, depending on the mash temperature. This brings the temperature of the grain bed close to 170. Stir, stir, stir, then stir some more. Let it sit for 10 minutes then vorlauf and lauter. Open the valve all the way and collect second runnings. I do two steps so I check the temperature of the grain bed and add in water at about 180 degrees and stir, stir, stir, then stir some more. Let sit for 10 minutes then vorlauf and lauter and collect third runnings with valve wide open. I get about 75-80% this way and it takes about 30 minutes.

For batch sparge, how open the valve is is irrelevant. The stirring dissolves all the sugar in the water, so there is no reason to drain slowly. For a fly sparge, you drain slowly because you do not want to disturb the filter the grain bed creates during the vorlauf and lauter stage of collecting first runnings. You want the water to disperse over all the grain and not create channels in the grain bed. Channels in the grain bed leave some of the grain bed "unwashed" with the sparge water, resulting in lower sugar collection.

Like I mentioned before, I wouldn't stress the numbers too much. Why does it matter if you get good beer? Sometimes equipment doesn't allow for a better efficiency, so just use more grain to compensate. Honestly, most homebrewers wouldnt notice the difference between 60% and 70% (70% is considered pretty good, in my opinion). Being good at homebrewing is knowing how to use your equipment to produce beers that you like consistently. It's not measured by how good your efficiency is; it's measured by how well you like your beer. It will take some time to dial in your equipment. Good luck and cheers.
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Old 07-30-2012, 05:14 AM   #8
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I use the Blichman auto-sparge makes it easy to ad the same amount of water as you are taking out. One less thing to think about
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Old 07-30-2012, 05:25 AM   #9
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+1 to the auto-sparge. That is legit equipment and makes obtaining a higher efficiency easier, but, like I mentioned before, sometimes the set up just doesn't allow for higher efficiency. Work with what you got until you can do it consistently. Then worry about increasing efficiency if it still bothers you.
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Old 07-30-2012, 05:45 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mike20793 View Post
I wouldn't stress the numbers too much. Why does it matter if you get good beer? .
The reason it matters is because efficiency = cost savings, and if you want to do a really big beer your equipment might not have the extra room for all the extra grain.

It would bug me if I knew 40% of the grain I bought went out the window.

But I do agree if the beer is good and you are Happy with it, don't worry about it.

Try a small change each time you brew and see if you can pinpoint the issue. Part of the fun is learning and refining the process
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