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Old 12-05-2013, 12:57 AM   #1
fearthelight
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Default Fisrt all grain brewing efficiency

Hey all, I just completed my first all grain brew with an efficiency much lower than expected. I used a 10 gallon rubbermaid cooler with a braided stainless hose for the mash tun, added 4 gallons of 180 degree water to the cooler, allowed it to stand until the cooler warmed up and temperatures dropped to 172, added my 13lb grain bill and measured the temperature at 156-157 degrees. I stirred this for about five minutes, double checked the temperature to be 155 and then let it sit for about 90 minutes or so. I recycled and then drained the liquid out into my boil kettle and added 4 gallons of water at 170 degrees, stirred, recycled, and then drained the liquid again into my boil kettle giving me a total of 6.5 gallons of wort at around 1040 OG. I was aiming for an OG of 1067 so I decided I would boil for about 45 minutes prior to any hop additions to bring the water level down more and settle with a smaller amount of beer with a higher OG. All said and done, I got about 4.25 gallons of wort at about 1060, which beersmith calculated to be about 54% efficiency, any ideas on what went wrong?

tl;dr: my efficiency is at 54% according to beersmith, I have no idea why!

Thanks in advance!


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Old 12-05-2013, 04:47 PM   #2
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My first thought would be to look at your crush...do you mill yourself of have it milled at your LHBS?


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Old 12-05-2013, 04:52 PM   #3
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Did you account for the temp of the wort when you took your gravity reading?
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Old 12-05-2013, 05:13 PM   #4
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Pretty much already covered but first make sure your readings were accurate and temp was properly accounted for.

After that the next thing I would look at is gain crush. I have always gotten coarse crushes from my LHBS. Whether it was to aid in preventing stuck sparges or a more nefarious attempt to sell more grain is up for debate but regardless buying my own gain mill fixed my issues.
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Old 12-05-2013, 05:25 PM   #5
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The grains were ordered from morebeer already milled, I assumed this would be adequate. Also I did adjust my readings to account for temperature. Has anyone had a problem with the way morebeer crushes their grains?
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Old 12-05-2013, 06:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fearthelight
The grains were ordered from morebeer already milled, I assumed this would be adequate. Also I did adjust my readings to account for temperature. Has anyone had a problem with the way morebeer crushes their grains?
No. I accidentally either ordered or received pre-milled golden promise from them. I think it was more beer at least.

Double check the thermometer against another thermometer. I have never met a thermometer I've trusted, except for my thermapen...
What was the temp at the end of the 90 minute mash? Did you stir really well to prevent dough balls?
Last thing to consider is that your pH could be way out of whack, in addition to what others have said.
Bazooka screen should give you a much better efficiency than that. Something is def wrong.

TD
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Old 12-05-2013, 06:21 PM   #7
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Grain crush is probably part of the problem. I was getting efficiencies in the low 60s when using pre-crushed grains from Northern Brewer.

The other half may be process. How long did you stir? I found that I have to stir a lot during the sparge to get any decent kind of efficiency. My enormously scientific method is to stir for 2 songs since I usually have music playing while I brew. Unless you're listening to classical or prog rock, that's usually about 5 or 6 minutes. For me, the difference between that and just swirling it around a couple of times is as much as 7 or 8%.
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Old 12-05-2013, 06:35 PM   #8
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The crush is always the first place to look. One thing I noticed is that you collected only 6.5 gallons from 13 lbs. of grain. You could have collected a little more (almost 8.5 gallons) from that amount of grain. That would have improved your efficiency somewhat, but is most likely not the primary cause.

Here's something that might help:

http://beerandwinejournal.com/extrac...ncy-tradeoffs/

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beerandwinejournal.com
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Old 12-05-2013, 06:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VikingChrisColby View Post
The crush is always the first place to look. One thing I noticed is that you collected only 6.5 gallons from 13 lbs. of grain. You could have collected a little more (almost 8.5 gallons) from that amount of grain. That would have improved your efficiency somewhat, but is most likely not the primary cause.

Here's something that might help:

http://beerandwinejournal.com/extrac...ncy-tradeoffs/

Chris Colby
Editor
beerandwinejournal.com
I routinely get 75-80% pulling 6.75 gallons off 15-20# batches with no issue. Ive never heard someone say to pull more water to get better efficiency, that seems counter-intuitive..pushing more water through will just get you more low gravity runnings that will dilute your overall gravity more...? Or am i missing something.
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Old 12-05-2013, 07:25 PM   #10
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Even though the additional runnings are lower gravity, the sugar's still in there. So if you boil back down to the planned batch size, it'll bump up your efficiency a bit. However, you also run the risk of extracting tannins and other nastiness once the gravity of the runnings gets to low (or more accurately, the pH gets too high). If you're already over 70%, there's not much of a point since we're only talking about saving a dollar or so in grain.


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