Yes, I have looked at the stickies on the subject. And yes, I have used google.
Note: This is my second all grain attempt on my new single tier brew stand. The first attempt I got 60%. This time I got 65%.
I wanted to lie out my process to the homebrew world and try and figure out what I am doing wrong or how I can improve. I’ll start out with my recipe and go in as much detail as possible.
8.3lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter
.57lbs Caramel/Crystal Malt 120L
.3lbs Black Malt
.5lbs Brown Malt
.5lbs Carapils Malt
.5lbs Choclate Malt
Mash for 60mins at 155F
.5oz Magnum at 60mins
.4oz Challenger at 10mins
2 Whole Vanilla Beans at 5mins in the boil
Efficiency Target: 70%
1098 Wyeast (British Ale Yeast)
Here was my process:
I measured out 12.2 gallons of water at 163F, and transferred 8.5 gallons of that to my mash tun. After the transfer the temperature was 162F. I added my grain bill, making sure there were no dough balls. The mash temp started at 155F. After 60 minutes it fell to 153F.
I then did my vorlauf. After that, I began my fly sparge and here is where I think I am having issues. I transferred 3.5 gallons of water from the HLT to the mash tun at about the same speed as transferring the wort from the mash tun to the boil kettle. I tried to go as slow as possible with the pumps and keep 1-2 inches above the grain, however, it only lasted 33 minutes. I was hoping for 45-60 mins, but I can’t seem to get them to go at the same speed. I kept slowing one down and speeding the other up.
Note, I actually ended up transferring more than 3.5 gallons because I was worried I would not have enough water because my last brew was way short on volume. Also, I wanted to calculate for the lost water under the ball valve. I then ended up with too much water
After the sparge, I took a pre-boil gravity reading… 1.033. Beersmith estimated it at 1.048… So before I started my boil, I recirculated my wort from the boil kettle back through the grain. I’m not sure if there is wisdom in this, but I did it. It didn’t help. Same pre-boil gravity reading…1.033. I, of course, then transferred it back to the boil kettle.
My pre-boil volume was 7.5 gallons and I was shooting for 6 gallons. Again, I goofed this up. I did the 60 minute boil and hop/spice additions. I ended up with 6.25 gallons in the fermenter. Cooled the wort, added my yeast… blah blah blah.
My post-boil gravity was 1.041 and my target was 1.055…. That gives me a 65% efficiency.
So. How can I improve my efficiency? Do I use less water in the mash and more on the sparge? Vice versa? I know I need to have a longer fly sparge, but I went as slow as I think I can go… The LHBS crushes the grain, but they do a pretty good job of it.