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Old 01-14-2013, 03:05 AM   #1
SteveHeff
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I have a mash tun that I feel like I'm not getting top end efficiency out of. All the brews I've put through it are getting 67%-72% efficiency. I'm not hitting my numbers the way I want to. My temp control is + or- 2 degrees all the way through. The mash tun itself is a coleman cooler. The filter system is a braided line that travels through a metal "T" and out through the valve.

I don't know if I'm losing volume because the braided line isn't in the absolute bottom of the tun. It sits about 1 inch above the bottom. I've tried to lift the mash tun for 5 minutes (at the back end) to allow it to drain completely. Even though I give it time to drain, I still think that there is more wort left in the mash tun. I can't get any more wort out of my mash tun.

I even ran an additional 4 quarts through it in a batch sparge in an attempt to gather more wort. I increased my boil off time by 15 mins to account for the extra water. I still hit 1.062 with 14 lbs of grain but I expected something more along the lines of 1.070.

Am I expecting too much from my system or should I consider rebuilding my manifold in order to obtain a higher efficiency?

 
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Old 01-14-2013, 03:19 AM   #2
LabRatBrewer
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Your efficiency's at ~70% are not bad at all. I am hitting 65% consistently, which may be low, but since it is consistent it is easy to adjust any recipe to meet my system. Worse case, it cost me a few pennies in grain per batch.

 
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Old 01-14-2013, 03:45 AM   #3
J-Drew
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I'd say your expectations are off. I think 67% - 72% efficiency is a great place to be. I routinely hit in that range, and if I brewed a batch with 14 lbs. of grain, I would expect to be around 1.063, give or take. The temperature of the mash will affect attenuation, so I'd worry about it if your beers weren't finishing where you want them to. From what I have read, I think your system is fine; you just need to get comfortable with it and learn how it responds to what you are doing. After that, you can make better adjustments, which will help you hit your targets (or at least get pretty close).

 
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Old 01-14-2013, 04:02 AM   #4
Demus
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I agree your efficiency numbers aren't bad. In general though, efficiency issues aren't always mechanical. If your water chemistry is off for a given grain bill you could be outside the optimal mash PH and get reduced efficiency. If you're confidant your water profile is good, just up your recipes a bit and sleep well...

 
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:56 AM   #5
SteveHeff
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Water profile is terrible where I live. This may be one the next steps I take in correcting future brews. Thanks for the fast replies. Maybe I just needed a pat on the back to tell me that things are ok.

 
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Old 01-14-2013, 12:08 PM   #6
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You might also have too much grain absorption. Sometimes adding more grain actually yields less sugar. If you can provide the weights and volumes then your ideal efficiency could be calculated. (just knowing the volume of the tun would be helpful, but if you can provide the volume of water added for the mash, mashout and sparge that would provide a quicker answer)
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http://woodlandbrew.blogspot.com/201...ore-sugar.html
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Old 01-14-2013, 11:35 PM   #7
SteveHeff
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Started with 26 qts in my mash tun to my 14 lbs of grain. Batch sparged with an additional 4.75 gallons in order to hit my volume numbers. I would have only sparged with 3.75 gallons but I was 1 gallon low. The mash tun is a coleman chest style cooler. I wish I remembered how large it actually is...wal-mart sells it and it's around 35 bucks. It's large. I want to say it's a 70 qt. That sounds about right.

I'm still a little bothered by of efficiency. Are there any other ways I could increase it without a major overhaul?

 
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:10 AM   #8
Darkness
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Do you perheat the cooler befor dough in? Are you recirculateing?

I ran a cooler mash tun for a while and had 75% or better all The time. My suggestion for false bottom is 1/2in copper pipe that is cut with band saw or hack saw every 1/8 in or so and about 1/4 the depth of the pipe when this is in the bottom of cooler the cuts are on the bottom of cooler this allows you to cover the whole bottom or a much larger area than you are now can post pic in a bit.
I run a RIMS setup now and we get 85% every batch. Last brew day we used Beer Smith set at 82% at 10gal potential 10.2% and ended up with 11gal At 11.4 OG. It was a Barley Wine we did 60gal and it was all that much over
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:24 AM   #9
bb239605
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Demus View Post
I agree your efficiency numbers aren't bad. In general though, efficiency issues aren't always mechanical. If your water chemistry is off for a given grain bill you could be outside the optimal mash PH and get reduced efficiency. If you're confidant your water profile is good, just up your recipes a bit and sleep well...
This. My vote is for this. I moved to NY and was getting consistent 65-70% eff. Thought nothing of for the longest time but my beers had a slightly noticeable astringency, more so when young. Annoyed with this after a year of trying all sorts of other fixes, I tested my mash pH and it was over 5.8!

Now i hit my mash and sparge water with lactic acid, saw a jump in my efficiency of 10%, and that astringency is gone! My beers are much crisper on the palate now. I now routinely hit 80% efficiency and all i use is a rectangular cooler with a simple, flexible, SS braid. I also do a double batch sparge.

Anywho, check your mash pH, it really could be that simple.

 
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:54 AM   #10
SteveHeff
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bb239605 View Post
This. My vote is for this. I moved to NY and was getting consistent 65-70% eff. Thought nothing of for the longest time but my beers had a slightly noticeable astringency, more so when young. Annoyed with this after a year of trying all sorts of other fixes, I tested my mash pH and it was over 5.8!

Now i hit my mash and sparge water with lactic acid, saw a jump in my efficiency of 10%, and that astringency is gone! My beers are much crisper on the palate now. I now routinely hit 80% efficiency and all i use is a rectangular cooler with a simple, flexible, SS braid. I also do a double batch sparge.

Anywho, check your mash pH, it really could be that simple.
I'm getting the same astringency as you. I'm actually very happy you brought that up. What kind of money are we talking by testing the water and then correcting it? And no, I'm not pre-heating my mash tun. Should I dump 1-2 gallons of hot water in my mash tun first? My strike water is usually 5-10 degrees hotter than my mash. I didn't realized that the pH could have such a profound effect on the efficiency.

Reason: addition.

 
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