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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > "Sinkhole" when batch sparging
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Old 04-15-2013, 06:38 PM   #11
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Yooper, you never mentioned how fast you run off, although I assume it's in the neighborhood of "fast." Does that mean full-bore? I understand the mechanics of draining the sugars with batch sparging, as opposed to rinsing them in fly sparging. So if my "sinkhole" is not a problem as you've said, I'm wondering how others claim to be getting much better efficiency using the same or similar techniques. I know that this is a well discussed topic, but when I get 67% using a fine crush, 2.0 qt/lb of grain in the mash, and sparge at 170 degrees, I wonder what the problem is.


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Old 04-15-2013, 11:02 PM   #12
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Yooper, you never mentioned how fast you run off, although I assume it's in the neighborhood of "fast." Does that mean full-bore? I understand the mechanics of draining the sugars with batch sparging, as opposed to rinsing them in fly sparging. So if my "sinkhole" is not a problem as you've said, I'm wondering how others claim to be getting much better efficiency using the same or similar techniques. I know that this is a well discussed topic, but when I get 67% using a fine crush, 2.0 qt/lb of grain in the mash, and sparge at 170 degrees, I wonder what the problem is.
Fast, as in fully open with the pump running full blast.

67% isn't a bad efficiency, but if you want to improve that you could try using 1.25-1.5 quarts of water per pound of grain, and increase the sparge water. It could be a pH issue- a pH of over 5.7ish can have less conversion.

I'd suggest seeing if the low efficiency is a mash issue or a brewhouse issue.

To check if it's a mash issue, check the SG after the mash. You should have near complete conversion. If not, then you know that's the problem. Then, to see if it's a lautering issue you could check the SG of the runnings. If the extraction efficiency is good, you could then look at brewhouse efficiency. That would entail seeing how much finished wort you're getting into the fermenter, as leaving a gallon of wort in the BK under a false bottom for example would lower the brewhouse efficiency. Also, double check your volumes to make sure that your volumes are correct.


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Old 04-16-2013, 01:08 PM   #13
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Right. Channeling isn't a factor at all for batch sparging so I wouldn't worry about it.
Huh. You learn something every day! Thanks for clearing that up, I was draining my mash super slow for over a year now!
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Old 04-17-2013, 01:11 AM   #14
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Huh. You learn something every day! Thanks for clearing that up, I was draining my mash super slow for over a year now!
Take a look at www.dennybrew.com.
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Old 04-17-2013, 06:01 AM   #15
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I do a single batch sparge with my system,I add all my sparge water, stir like hell, set my controller to 168 degrees and recirculate for 10 minutes.I drain at the same rate I recirculate and I get 80% efficiency.
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Old 04-20-2013, 05:39 PM   #16
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Yooper - It's a mash issue, I'm checking the gravity and according to beersmith I'm never getting over %75 efficiency into the BK. Although, I'm eyeballing the volume, it's pretty close because I boil about 14 gallons in a converted sanke and there's only so much space left. Also, from what I've read on the subject, a thinner mash tends to improve efficiency.

Denny - thanks, I've seen your site and read it carefully many times. Also read a lot of your posts in other threads on similar issues.

Fat B - Are you getting 80% into the BK? You only stir once during the mash? I'm thinking I may need to stir more often and may not be converting fully.

Next brew I'm going to try doughing in at 140 degrees to eliminate any chance of dough balls, stirring 3-4 times over the course of an hour mash, and making sure my pump return line doesn't make a hole/indentation in my grainbed. Also from reading what Denny and others are doing, I'm going to calculate the ideal water/grain ratio that leaves me with near-equal runnings into the BK. For my system, that's 1.6 qt./lb which gives me about 7 gallons after running off the mash and 7 gallons from batch-sparging. After recirculating, I'll "let er rip" at full bore into the BK. That sound like a good plan? Thanks again everyone for the ideas.
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Old 04-20-2013, 06:14 PM   #17
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Man, if you do all that, you're working too hard IMO! I mash in at mash temps, stir thoroughly then to eliminate doughballs and equilibrate the temp, then close the cooler and don't stir again til I add the sparge water. I get about 83-85% efficiency. If you're having efficiency issues, it's related to crush 90% of the time.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:16 PM   #18
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Ok, well maybe the repeated stirring won't help me. I am crushing pretty fine, and have experimented with conditioning with water and dry. I haven't seen much of a difference. On a side note, I have a barley crusher, and when I set it too fine, it won't crush at all. It doesn't pick up the grains to the rollers, or it will starting crushing, and then "miss" and spin without crushing. I'm getting pretty frustrated with it. I tried taking it apart and cleaning the rollers and ports that they fit in, but no help. I contacted the company for ideas, but no one got back to me.
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:39 PM   #19
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I use a 52 quart cooler for the mash, stir the mash bed every 20 minutes, and collect first runnings at about half throttle.
To get 13 gallons into my BK I usually end up batch sparging twice (repeated checks of the third runnings have always ended up ~1.015). For each batch sparge I stir, let sit for 10 minutes, and collect at the same rate.
I get about 75% efficiency.
From what I am reading here, I don't need to stir the mash or let the sparge rest and I should collect runnings wide open?
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Old 04-21-2013, 06:45 PM   #20
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I use a 52 quart cooler for the mash, stir the mash bed every 20 minutes, and collect first runnings at about half throttle.
To get 13 gallons into my BK I usually end up batch sparging twice (repeated checks of the third runnings have always ended up ~1.015). For each batch sparge I stir, let sit for 10 minutes, and collect at the same rate.
I get about 75% efficiency.
From what I am reading here, I don't need to stir the mash or let the sparge rest and I should collect runnings wide open?
yep, with a caveat on the last. I start my runoff pretty slowly while I vorlauf a qt. or so. Once the grain bed is set, I open it up full. It's not so much that you "should" as that you can go as fast as your system will allow. I have found no benefit to stirring as the mash is resting (all it did was make me lose heat) and after lots of experimentation I've found no benefit in letting sparge water sit before beginning the vorlauf.


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