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60% efficiency blues, please help

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goswell

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I can't figure out why my efficiency is so low so I'm looking for help.
Here's my setup.

10 gallon rubbermaid cooler
copper manifold with saw cuts every 1/4 inch.
Batch sparge
Usual mash thickness of 1.25qt/lb.
Usual mash weight of 13lb grain. (milled at Midwest, gap set at 030)
I do a mash, then add boil water for mash out. The mash out water equals what will be needed to collect half of the total wort. So, usually may mash out water is 5 qts.
I then sparge once more with the remaining water.

Example. Mash with 4 gallons of water for 60 minutes (verified conversion with iodine). Add 5 quarts boiling water. This brought the grain bed to 168f. Vorlauf then drain and collect 3.63 gallons. Add 3.63 gallons of 180 sparge water which brings the bed to 172. Vorlauf and drain to collect and additional 3.63 for a totol of 7.25.

Where am I going wrong?
 
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goswell

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1st, step up to 1.5 qts/lb. Check your thermometer in really heavily iced water to make sure it reads 32, and check your pH with test strips.
I have calibrated by thermometers and they are within 1 degree. But, I'm testing for full conversion with iodine so temp and PH shouldn't have any input into efficiency, right?
 
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goswell

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Are you stirring the mashout water and batch sparge water in really well before you vorlauf?
Not sure how much really well is but I most certainly stir....enough to create some foam on top. I DO NOT let the mash sit for any longer than 5 minutes before sparging??????
 

nealf

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Are you using, or have you considered, pH 5.2 buffer?
 

Bobby_M

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The only thing I'd suggest trying next time is to drain your first runnings prior to adding any water. Then infuse half the sparge at 185F, drain, add the last half and drain.
 

giligson

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pH will affect flavour but not much efficiency. Let's just take a step back. How are you grinding - I found when I altered the size of my grind (a little more fine) it really helped my efficiency.
 

keelanfish

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Have you checked your hydrometer? Also, simple math errors are possible. Maybe post what program/website/hand calculations you're using. Just fishing for possible answers.
 

Dloucks

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I agree with the grind. I went from consistent 65% to 75-80 when I bought my grain mill. The only other difference was letting the sparge sit for at least 10 minutes before draining.
 

drunkatuw

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I'm in the same boat as the OP. When I do 5 gal batches with 2 batch sparges, I routinely get 60-65% efficiency. But when I do 10 gal batches with 3 batch sparges my efficiency jumps to 75-80%. I always use my barely crusher to grind my grains and I use the same tap water for all batches.

I usually let the grains soak for about 10 min after adding the sparge water (time it takes to get the next sparge water up to 180 degrees) and then drain. So I guess this is a total of 30 min for 10 gal batches with 3 sparges and only 20 min for 5 gal batches with 2 sparges. So maybe I should let the grain bed rest for 15 min on 5 gal batches.

I also have a much deeper grain bed when doing 10 gal batches, not sure if that makes a difference or not. If that's the case, maybe I should use a 5gal cooler for 5gal batches instead of my 10gal cooler.
 

R2-D2

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I did my first all grain today and got a 62% efficiency with 2 batch sparges. However, in a rush and not thinking correctly, I did not give my batches long enough to sit on the grains. I probably did 5 minutes at the most. Now that I know what the process is I feel like I can do better next time. My grains were also pre-ground from Midwest.
 
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goswell

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My grains aren't really pre-ground, I grind them myself, Midwest is my LHBS so I can set the gap as narrow as I want. I guess I'll try a little smaller gap next time and see how that affects efficiency and lautering. If that doesn't pan out, I'll try Bobby_M's suggesting. I'd be happy with 70%, that's not asking too much is it?
 
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IMO the 3 biggest factors affecting mash efficiency aren't grind or anything else.

It's:

1) accurate volume measurements
2) accurate gravity measurements
3) accurate temperature measurements

I really haven't changes my process, yet I've seen a 6-12% increase in my efficiency becaue I'm measuring things better
 

Professor Frink

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If you're batch sparging, I don't think the time the sparge water is on the grain makes too much of a difference. My three biggest issues that have affected my efficiency are the crush, hitting your volumes, and the crush. Crush till you're scared.
 

joety

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IMO the 3 biggest factors affecting mash efficiency aren't grind or anything else.

It's:

1) accurate volume measurements
2) accurate gravity measurements
3) accurate temperature measurements

I really haven't changes my process, yet I've seen a 6-12% increase in my efficiency becaue I'm measuring things better
+1, my efficiency was much better than I thought because I wasn't allowing for the trub and didn't bother measuring the volume in the primary. I had it marked where I needed to get to to fill up the secondary to the neck.

I've also picked up points by narrowing the gap in my grinder down to .028. I was over 80% last time, so I think I'm done tweaking.
 

Flic

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Are you getting bad efficiency into your boiler or is your Brewhouse at 60%?? Just wondering since I get pretty consistent 84% efficiency into boiler but my brewhouse is always around 65% so I just compensate all my recipes for that. In fact, I just did my 8th AG yesterday and wound up with a lousy 59%....although into brew kettle was 83%. I lose a good bit to boil and trub but I still have Brewhouse Efficiency issues myself.

I'd recommend a crusher as a possible remedy.
 

joety

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Flic, whatever the volume is at the time you measure it determines your efficiency. If you have 5.5 gallons in the primary when you take a hydro, your expected OG has to be set for 5.5 gallons to accurately measure your brewhouse efficiency.
 

Flic

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Flic, whatever the volume is at the time you measure it determines your efficiency. If you have 5.5 gallons in the primary when you take a hydro, your expected OG has to be set for 5.5 gallons to accurately measure your brewhouse efficiency.

joety-

I do use the final volume to calculate. My OG always come in low even though it is fine (very close) pre-boil. It's a strange problem since my assumed boiloff and trub loss is spot on and compensated for (I use Beersmith). Can't figure out where I'm losing it since if my boil calculation or trub loss estimates were off, I would know it, but they end up exactly like I calculate them and I hit my planned volume spot-on......:confused:
 

joety

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joety-

I do use the final volume to calculate. My OG always come in low even though it is fine (very close) pre-boil. It's a strange problem since my assumed boiloff and trub loss is spot on and compensated for (I use Beersmith). Can't figure out where I'm losing it since if my boil calculation or trub loss estimates were off, I would know it, but they end up exactly like I calculate them and I hit my planned volume spot-on......:confused:
Now I'm wondering if I am doing it right. I don't do the whirlpool thing and pretty much all the residual hops, hot/cold break and other junk goes right into the primary. I bought a CFC but haven't used it yet, so I use my IC and dump everything from the kettle to the primary. I went back to the "details" section in Beersmith and it's allowing for ONE GALLON lost to trub and chiller.

I guess worst case scenario, if I enter my actual OG and FG I am at least calculating the right ABV, which is a bigger deal to me than efficiency.
 

GunnerMan

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I am about the do my first AG this week sometime. I am doing a 5 gal batch and beersmith tells me I need to collect 6.5 gallons of wort (for boiloff). I can determine my pre-oil efficiency by measuring my OG with my projected OG but what exactly is brewhouse efficiency? Also is it a good idea to filter the wort before boil?
 

nosmatt

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filter wort before boil?

joety, this what i do, but i take it a step further and squeeze my hops (only use whole) and get at least a quart and a half of wort out of em and into the fermentor. i have beersmith set up @ .25 gallons lost to trub, as i have to spill a little, although i doubt i lose a whole quart.

my mlt deadspace is set to a quart as well, although now i use a 10 gallon igloo instead of five, so i might need to adjust that.


what does your efficiency do when you change from one gallon to say a quart?
 
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