Another efficiency question

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oooFishy

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I've only recently got into AG, and I'm still working out my system. One thing I've noticed is that when I'm done sparging (acheived preboil volume) there's still plenty of fermentables left in the grain (runoff like 1.030). I'd love to keep sparging, but there's no way I'd hit my final volume unless I boiled for like 2 hrs.

Here's my system, without leaving out too many important details:
I've been doing 60-90 min mashes (still working out a method to hit my mash temp the 1st time), followed by mashing out the 1st runnings by bringing it to a boil, and a single batch sparge with 180F H20. I always stir and mix really well and let things settle afterwards. I've been getting OK efficiency at 70%, which is actually an improvement. Maybe if I improved my methods I'd get better eff with less sugars left in the grain after the sparge.

With smaller beers, I'm guessing this wouldn't be as much of a problem because you'd have more room to sparge more, with less sugars to start with, but the last 2 batches I've done have been 1.060 and 1.070 O.G.s. I want to get the rest of that sugar dammit! Any ideas?
 

Kayos

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First off let me just say that 70% is fine, so who really cares what the rest is? If is that important, you can either do a double batch sparge (just split the batch sparge in half) and stir it up well before rinsing for a while or sparge more and boil down, which you said you didn't want to do and frankly seems like a waste of time. But I would refer back to my first sentence here. :D
 

Bellybuster

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If you have final runnings of 1.030 you may want to adjust your efficiency in what ever software you are using. I'd say you can reduce the amount of grain you are using.
Or.....can up the extra wort for starters
 

Lil' Sparky

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I'm with you. I usually get 60-70%. Beer still turns out great, though. I just set my recipes for 65% and don't sweat it much.

I think to consistently get over 70% a lot of homebrewers will need to mill their own grains. It seems like a lot of the guys in the 80-90% range mill their grains pretty fine. Some get good efficiency with crushed grain from the HBS, but I think they're the minority.
 

cubbies

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I would try splitting your batch sparge into two sparges and see where that gets you. If that doesn't help, I would get myself a 5 gallon pot and a 2-3 gallon carboy and continue to sparge into those and make a low alc drinkin beer. I am sure this has been done many times.
 

Got Trub?

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1) As stated 70% is fine

2) Fly sparge - this was created to maximize efficiency and get those last points of gravity out

3) Do two equal sized sparges. This will maximize the amount of gravity points you can get with batch sparging. This requires calculating and adding water to your mash before the first sparge http://hbd.org/cascade/dennybrew/

4) Add a little more grain and party-gyle as suggested above. I'm in the planning stages of doing this to get an ESB from my first runnings and then an ordinary bitter from the last.

GT
 

Bobby_M

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So far the best efficiency I've gotten was 87.5% and it was doing: drain first runnings, then two equal sized sparges of the remaining desired preboil volume with the first one being hot enough to raise the mash to about 166F (I think it was 188F infused but you should use software). Previous to that I was hitting 85% (ish) by first infusing one gallon of boiling water for a mash out, then also splitting the remaining sparge volume in two (these are now regular 170F infusions as the mash out got the mash temp up to 165F already). This is the one time where my final runnings were edging out the 1.010 threshold without exceeding my desired preboil volume.
 

Cheesefood

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Don't be fooled into thinking you need all those points. You'll end up with something out of range for your style and unless you adjust your hops accordingly for the extra OG, you're not going to be getting your desired taste.

I've yet to take a reading of my runnings. I simply just look at it and if it looks like it's cleared I figure I'm good to go. Grain isn't that expensive where I'm going to save a ton of money by sparging the hell out of it. Not compared to the extra hour on the propane tank.
 
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oooFishy

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Bobby-

What I understand is that you no longer mashout (at least iby adding boiling h20 to your mashtun), and instead favor a hotter 1st sparge to achieve 165F+? I'm guessing the second sparge infusion would then be at 170F.


As far as saving the last runnings to use as gyle, I thought it had to be a high gravity wort. I suppose it could just be boiled down...
 

BierMuncher

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Cheesefood said:
...I've yet to take a reading of my runnings. I simply just look at it and if it looks like it's cleared I figure I'm good to go. Grain isn't that expensive where I'm going to save a ton of money by sparging the hell out of it. Not compared to the extra hour on the propane tank.
Same here.

I became a happier brewer when I decided that all the major things I could do (grain mill, PH Stabilizer…etc) had been done and I declared that my brewshop was a 70-75% brewshop.

After that, I simply adjusted my recipes and no more disappointment. ;)
 

ajf

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When I fly sparge, my final runnings are always lower gravity than when I batch sparge (and my efficiency is about 5% higher). However, fly sparging is more dependent on the equipment than batch.
You may be able to get more sugars out of the sparge by making a thicker mash, and sparging more to make up for the mash water shortage. I use 1 qt water per lb grain for the mash, and I don't think you can get much thicker than that without losing efficiency in the mash.

-a.
 

boo boo

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Bellybuster said:
If you have final runnings of 1.030 you may want to adjust your efficiency in what ever software you are using. I'd say you can reduce the amount of grain you are using.
Or.....can up the extra wort for starters
A lot of good answers here but I favor this one. You'll keep the same gravity and volume but use less grain.
 

Bobby_M

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I've gone back and forth with doing a mash out vs. a HOT first batch sparge just to see what I like. I haven't decided one way or the other just yet. On a 10gal batch, I usually only have enough room in the tun for a one gallon mash out infusion (sometimes none). I'm going to a direct fired MLT on my next batch so no more infusion there.

Two factors absolutely affect efficiency (I don't think anyone would argue these points but I welcome the discussion if you do):
1. The temp of the mash/sparge when you initiate the runoff; hotter (near 170F but not over) = more sugar flowing. The sooner the temp gets up there the higher efficiency.
2. The number of discrete fresh water infusions; i.e. how many batch sparge + vorlauf + runoffs do you perform. Higher number = higher efficiency. You can get nuts to the point where you're doing more work and taking more time than it would to just fly sparge. It's no surprise that a mash out infusion, drain, batch, drain, batch, drain yields pretty high efficiency. I think the limit is where your infusions are so small that you don't mostly saturate the grain bed anymore. You need it to flow a bit to make it worth it, probably somewhere around .5 quarts/pound is the least you can get away with.

I am always chiming in on efficiency threads because I like the experimental nature of trying to maximize. I don't think 90% efficiency is some ideal or holy grail of all grain so I do agree with the idea of achieving something reasonable like 70-75% and just sticking with that one method. I'm not quite ready to stop playing though.
 
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oooFishy

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Do you boil your collected first runnings when you do your hotter sparge method Bobby? I'm assuming that there's still be enzymatic activity in the wort, even if it is separated from the grain. I could be wrong though...
 
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