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Old 10-19-2007, 03:51 AM   #1
BrianP's Avatar
Sep 2007
Dexter, MI, Michigan
Posts: 1,151
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My first AG experience was good except for about 60% efficiency. I'm bottling that one this weekend and will also brew #2.

For batch #2 I'm going to try an American Wheat (6# Wheat, 5# 2-row, 25 IBUs using Saaz or whatever equivalent hops the LHBS has handy).

To address efficiency:
1) I have purchased some 5.2 in hopes it will correct the pH for the spring water i'm using.

2) I'm going to have the LHBS crush the grain twice, since I suspect the grind for batch #1 was weak (a barley crusher will wait 'til Christmas).

3) I'm considering stirring more. I didn't stir during the 60 minutes mash, nor before taking first runnings. I did stir well when I added the grain and also after adding sparge water before letting it sit and recirculating. ( I batch sparge, by the way).

My questions:

How important to efficiency is stirring during the mash (some say every 20 minutes)? How important is stirring prior to taking first runnings?

Any general advice for brewing with wheat (this is my first time w/ wheat)? I use a 10gal MLT with the ss braid. I will use nottingham dry yeast in a 6g better bottle (using a 1/2" blow off tube on a carboy cap). I'm expecting a vigorous fermentation. Maybe add rice hulls to prevent a stuck sparge?

Thanks in advance for feedback/advice.



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Old 10-19-2007, 04:06 AM   #2
BrewBrain's Avatar
Aug 2007
San Jose, CA
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The better crush will be the biggest factor if it wasn't up to snuff the first time.

As for stirring, I stir well when adding the grain, just before draining first runnings, after adding sparge water and about 10 minutes later just before draining the sparge water. I do not stir during the mash after I close the lid. I get efficiencies in the low to mid 80's this way.
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Old 10-20-2007, 03:31 AM   #3
Aug 2005
Baltimore, MD
Posts: 298

I never bother to stir the mash except when I'm adding liquid. I can give you the things I've done to help get my efficiency numbers up:

Dough in fairly slowly, but not TOO slowly. I use a hose to let water stream into the mash tun from the HLT, and i add grains while I'm adding the water. This makes sure that they are doughed in very thoroughly, and no dough balls develop. Be sure not to let your temperature drop below your target while doing this, though. You can have some amount of near-boiling water nearby to adjust your temperature if this causes too much of a drop.

Use 5.2 in mash water and sparge water.

Don't be afraid to mash for 90 minutes if your tun holds the temperature well enough during that time.

At the end of your mash, do a thin decoction (all liquid and no grains, pulled from the "output" of your mash tun) with whatever amount will, when returned to the mash, raise the mash temperature to 170F for mash-out. This will help get the sugar in suspension better than if you skip this step!

When you sparge, make sure you sparge slowly and with adequately hot water. I get my sparge water boiling in the pot, then I add it to a rubbermaid cooler. This cooler feeds a phil's sparger which spins and sprays the top of the grainbed at a very nice rate. You can use a ball valve or a hose crimper to adjust the flow. Make sure you take at least 45 minutes to sparge a 5 gallon batch.

I hope this info helps.

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Old 10-20-2007, 03:37 AM   #4
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BierMuncher's Avatar
Jan 2007
St. Louis, MO
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Don't dispair over a 60% efficiency. Many micro's build their recipes around a 68-70% efficiency.

I stir to make sure no dry pockets exist.
I use 180-190 degree water to sparge.
I sparge twice and get lots more pre-boil volume and boil longer.
I just started using 5.2 stabilizer and it seems to be helping.

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Old 10-20-2007, 04:12 AM   #5
Blender's Avatar
Jan 2006
Santa Cruz, CA.
Posts: 3,106
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The grain crush will make a difference.
You should at least add some near boiling water at the end of the mash to raise the temperature and stir that in really well. It will account for the water that is absorbed by the grain during the mash. I try for 2 equal volumes to the kettle.My sparge water is no higher than 170 after the 1st draining.

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Old 10-20-2007, 05:43 AM   #6
denimglen's Avatar
Feb 2006
Auckland, New Zealand
Posts: 438
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Checked your water report?

My water has really low calcium, which according to how to brew is essential for enzymes to do their thing.

I started with 60%, used some gypsum, and my efficency jumped to almost 80%.

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Old 10-20-2007, 06:18 PM   #7
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ajf's Avatar
Oct 2005
Long Island
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The 5.2 won't make any difference unless your mash pH is wrong. If the mash pH is wrong, it could make a big difference.
I stir while doughing in, but then leave it alone until the mash is complete and get about 80% efficiency when batch sparging.
Adding some near boiling water to mash out (raise the mash temperature to about 168) at the end of the mash gave me a 10% increase in efficiency when fly sparging. I would guess it wouldn't make such a big difference with a batch sparge.
Always stir well, leave it to settle for a couple of minutes, and recirculate a 1/2g or so before draining into the kettle.
Try to keep the sparge temperature at 168 - 170 degrees. (That's the temperature of the grain and water mixed, not the sparge water temperature.)
A finer crush will increase your efficiency, but go too fine, and you could get a stuck sparge.


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Old 10-20-2007, 06:46 PM   #8
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Aug 2006
Whitehouse Station, NJ
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I was a big advocate of the mash out infusion because it really spiked my eff numbers. What I later found out was that you can get really close with a hot first batch sparge as well. The common theme here is getting the mash up to as close to 168 as possible, as fast as possible, without going over. Any runnings that occur prior to this temperature rise is a potential loss of sugar due to its increased soluability at hotter temps.

So.. either decoct, boil, add back before first runnings; infuse a gallon of boiling, or simply increase your first batch sparge infusion to something like 185F.
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