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Old 11-06-2012, 03:20 PM   #1
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Default Milling by hand vs. power drill - any change in efficiency?

I know this might sound incredibly stupid but I think there might possibly be a difference. As a result of the hurricane I was without power for a full week, just got power this morning. I brewed a Weizenbock on Saturday and had to hand mill the grains. The wheat was incredibly tiring to mill!!! It's sooo hard. The barley was easy. Anyhow, I've read many say a drill does the milling so fast that it really tears the grains apart. Ever since getting my mill over a year ago nearly all my batches are dead on 81% efficiency, even the hefeweizens I've made. I had tightened the gap on my barely crusher a bit tighter than factory so it crushes wheat better and just always left it set that way. The weizenbock I did this weekend I got only 70% efficiency. Not complaining of course, the beer is still well within all guidelines for a Weizenbock, but it got me curious if the slow tedious hand milling might have been part of the lowered efficiency. The only thing else that I did different from every wheat I've ever done is this time I didn't do a protein rest, I usually give all my wheats a 122 rest for 20 minutes. With all the stress from the week I figured I'd just make it easier and do a single infusion mash - could this have an affect on efficiency as well?

All that aside, man milling grains by hand is NOT easy, not at all. Glad I kept the handle to my mill though lol. This whole storm has been a nightmare, though luckily none of my family or friends were hurt and all the property is intact, so outside of the no power and having to heat the house with the stove for a week I certainly am thankful it wasn't worse... and we still had gas and hot water.


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Old 11-06-2012, 03:24 PM   #2
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Maybe. Even probably, as increased roller and kernel velocity likely results in better pulverization. The real gain in efficiency, though, is greater work accomplished over a shorter period of time with less required "elbow grease."


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Old 11-06-2012, 03:31 PM   #3
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I brewed a 10 gallon batch this weekend of a DIPA (28lbs of grain of so), and a friend that's new to brewing was over. He wanted to help. I put my mill's hand crank back on before he showed up, and told him to get grinding.

About 1 pound into it, he stops and says: "Are you serious, do I really have to grind all this by hand." I bust up laughing, and hand him the drill. He responds with a "you f*****r"

So yes, grinding grain by hand sucks. A Lot.
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Old 11-06-2012, 03:37 PM   #4
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Iīve been using a barley crusher powered with a drill and also hand cracking a few batches. Iīve had differents results, the main problem that I find while using the drill is to get a proper and constant speed to mill the grain, too fast and grain get too pulverized for my taste and setup, too little and the slave roller doesnīt turn. Hand cracking (Agree about wheat is hard to mill) with a tigther gap works fine for me and gives me repeatability. Currently my gap is set at 1.2 mm if using a drill and 1mm if hand cracking. Doing this itīs giving me constant efficiencies so far. I understand how this canīt be extrapolated but I wonder if anyone else is doing something similar
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Old 11-06-2012, 04:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Obliviousbrew View Post
Iīve been using a barley crusher powered with a drill and also hand cracking a few batches. Iīve had differents results, the main problem that I find while using the drill is to get a proper and constant speed to mill the grain, too fast and grain get too pulverized for my taste and setup, too little and the slave roller doesnīt turn. Hand cracking (Agree about wheat is hard to mill) with a tigther gap works fine for me and gives me repeatability. Currently my gap is set at 1.2 mm if using a drill and 1mm if hand cracking. Doing this itīs giving me constant efficiencies so far. I understand how this canīt be extrapolated but I wonder if anyone else is doing something similar
^^

I found similar results. My efficiency has been all over the place and I would fly my grain through with the drill on high.

I have slowed down the drill to a little more than hand speed and my efficiency has returned to where I wanted it to be.
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Old 11-06-2012, 04:50 PM   #7
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I have slowed down the drill to a little more than hand speed and my efficiency has returned to where I wanted it to be.
I definitely don't run the drill on high speed either. I run it at a nice even pace that is a lot faster than hand drilling but is rather moderate. It's hard to guess about what rate but I guess I'd say I run the drill at 30-35% power if that makes any sense. My drill speed is variable with the trigger.


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Old 11-06-2012, 04:58 PM   #8
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MY problem is with larger batches milling 14 kilos of grain with an steady hand at not very high speed can be tricky using a drill, thatīs why I sometimes just go for it and hand crack the whole thing, of course Iīm much slower than the drill so I compensate by adjusting the gap a litlle tighter. 500 RPM seems to be the target with a power drill but I wonder how much difference it makes to slighty vary the speed of your drill.
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Old 11-06-2012, 05:08 PM   #9
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Another thought: the weizenbock I brewed a couple weeks ago was in the neighborhood of a 1.085 OG. With a bigger beer like that it's not uncommon for your efficiency to take a hit. Do you see a consistent 81% efficiency even for big beers?
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Old 11-06-2012, 05:36 PM   #10
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Another thought: the weizenbock I brewed a couple weeks ago was in the neighborhood of a 1.085 OG. With a bigger beer like that it's not uncommon for your efficiency to take a hit. Do you see a consistent 81% efficiency even for big beers?
My Weizenbock was supposed to be 1.078 but came in at 1.067. I've not yet done an AG batch that big, my biggest was probably 1.067 intended OG with 81% which I hit fine, but it's certainly possible. I was doing my first AG version of my extract Weizenbock recipe. I figured what I would do it one day try it again, with the drill of course and the protein rest, and see if there is a change in efficiency. If not I will chalk it up to something else and either figure out what the issue is or just compensate for the grain bill.

With the hurricane and power outage a lot was going on and a lot of stress. I feel the whole culmination of things probably affected they brew. I'm sure it will still come out great though. And it smells amazing out of the airlock when 3068 often creates bad odors. I did it Saturday and until I got power today it's been fermenting at closer to 63 degrees. For my extract version I would ferment it at 68 so it will be interesting to see the effect of the temp as I've never done a wheat with 3068 that low before.


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