Anvil Foundry Mash Eff

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WeHeavy

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I'm on my 3rd brew with the 10.5 gal Anvil and the first 2 brews went well but my Mash Efficiency was low according to BS 3 and I just chalked it to learning curve.

Well I got serious with the 3rd brew and my mash efficiency is still low at 66%. Using my cooler it's in the upper 70's.

I'm thinking it's the way the mash pipe is designed with the holes 4-5 inches up the side allowing the mash water to flow out the sides and not down and out thru the whole mash. I wonder if a portion of the mash is not being sparged.

I'm thinking of doing a another brew but somehow blocking off the side holes.
 

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Recirculating the wort in your mash is not sparging, and should have a minimal impact on your efficiency. Sparging is rinsing with fresh water to remove sugar left behind after the initial draining.

Which efficiency are you talking about: conversion efficiency, mash (pre-boil) efficiency, or brewhouse (to fermenter) efficiency. Brewhouse is affected by how much wort is left behind in the BK when transferring to the fermenter. This could very well be different between your old system and the Anvil system.

Brew on :mug:
 
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Which efficiency are you talking about: conversion efficiency, mash (pre-boil) efficiency, or brewhouse (to fermenter) efficiency.
I'm talking conversion efficiency.
Whether I'm talking about sparging or recirculating, I can't help but to think a portion of the mash is not being effected. Is the mash or sparge water channeling by flowing out the sides of the mash pipe leaving a cone shape of grain unaffected.

I'm thinking of cutting up an old plastic fermenter bucket and using that to block off the side holes.

 

doug293cz

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Rereading your OP, I see you mentioned mash efficiency, which BS calculates for you. IFAIK, BS does not calculate conversion efficiency. Conversion efficiency can be determined using the method here. Good conversion efficiency is 95% or above. All that's required for conversion is that the grits be in contact with water, and that enzymes are present. In the case of coarse grits, recirculation may speed up conversion by helping to strip the low density gelatinized starch away from the surface of the grits, thus allowing water to get to the interior of the grits more easily. Increasing the rate of conversion affects how long it takes to complete conversion, so shortens the time it takes to get complete conversion. You can get complete conversion just by extending the mash time as well.

Mash efficiency is conversion efficiency times lauter efficiency. Different equipment is very likely to affect your lauter efficiency, which you can calculate once you know what both your mash and conversion efficiencies are. To diagnose the difference between your old and new systems, you need to know the conversion and lauter efficiencies for both. The mash pipe and recirculation may affect your conversion efficiency, but will not affect lauter efficiency.

Have you taken the lid off during mash recirculation to see the state of the grain bed? If the grain is in motion during the mash, then there are no worries about channeling. If the top of the bed is static, then you may have issues.

Brew on :mug:
 
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Rereading your OP, I see you mentioned mash efficiency, which BS calculates for you. IFAIK, BS does not calculate conversion efficiency. Conversion efficiency can be determined using the method here. Good conversion efficiency is 95% or above. All that's required for conversion is that the grits be in contact with water, and that enzymes are present. In the case of coarse grits, recirculation may speed up conversion by helping to strip the low density gelatinized starch away from the surface of the grits, thus allowing water to get to the interior of the grits more easily. Increasing the rate of conversion affects how long it takes to complete conversion, so shortens the time it takes to get complete conversion. You can get complete conversion just by extending the mash time as well.

Mash efficiency is conversion efficiency times lauter efficiency. Different equipment is very likely to affect your lauter efficiency, which you can calculate once you know what both your mash and conversion efficiencies are. To diagnose the difference between your old and new systems, you need to know the conversion and lauter efficiencies for both. The mash pipe and recirculation may affect your conversion efficiency, but will not affect lauter efficiency.

Have you taken the lid off during mash recirculation to see the state of the grain bed? If the grain is in motion during the mash, then there are no worries about channeling. If the top of the bed is static, then you may have issues.

Brew on :mug:
Thank you for replying. I understand the process quite well, I've been brewing since the late 80's, and I've had several different setups over the years. Maybe I'm not clear in the way I'm asking my question, let me try again. I have a pale ale recipe that I've brewed for years that takes 10lbs 1oz of grain I could expect to get 1.056 using the ol Rubbermaid mashtun set up. Now I'm getting 1.049 with complete conversion, so wheres is the missing .007. I would need to add an extra pound of grain to make up the difference. After the first 2 brews I was able to adjust for the different volumes and losses. I did expect a little lower OG because of the way it's sparged.

So that gets me back to my original question. Is the design of the mash pipe causing the loss? I'm thinking it is. Has anyone else with an Anvil Foundry experiencing the same thing?
I'm plan on brewing it again and seeing if I get the same results, then over Christmas vacation I plan on blocking off the side holes to see if that changes anything.
 

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Thank you for replying. I understand the process quite well, I've been brewing since the late 80's, and I've had several different setups over the years. Maybe I'm not clear in the way I'm asking my question, let me try again. I have a pale ale recipe that I've brewed for years that takes 10lbs 1oz of grain I could expect to get 1.056 using the ol Rubbermaid mashtun set up. Now I'm getting 1.049 with complete conversion, so wheres is the missing .007. I would need to add an extra pound of grain to make up the difference. After the first 2 brews I was able to adjust for the different volumes and losses. I did expect a little lower OG because of the way it's sparged.

So that gets me back to my original question. Is the design of the mash pipe causing the loss? I'm thinking it is. Has anyone else with an Anvil Foundry experiencing the same thing?
I'm plan on brewing it again and seeing if I get the same results, then over Christmas vacation I plan on blocking off the side holes to see if that changes anything.
Can you describe in detail, including strike, sparge, and pre-boil volumes, your cooler MLT and Anvil system processes? How are you determining complete conversion? If using the iodine test, are you sampling grain as well as wort?

Brew on :mug:
 

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you may be getting channeling that could certianly explain lower conversion efficiency. at what flow rate are you recirculating? maybe try slowing the flow down which would inhibit channeling.
 
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you may be getting channeling that could certianly explain lower conversion efficiency. at what flow rate are you recirculating? maybe try slowing the flow down which would inhibit channeling.
Not sure how I could determine a flow rate, my best guess would be around a 1/2 gpm.

When I dumped the spent grains in the garden from the 2nd brew, I noticed what looked like a compacted grain ball that came from the bottom of the mash pipe and in the mash pipe there was small amounts of compacted grain in the corners where the sides meet the bottom.
I did a have a higher flow rate with that brew.

The bottom of the mash pipe, notice the 3/4" of metal without holes at the bottom.

The 3rd brew I used a much slower rate and stirred the top 1/2 of the mash every 15 min. For a point of reference it took about 5 minutes for the PH to stabilize from 5.9 to 5.3 after adjusting with lactic acid.

My next brew will be with the side holes blocked off. I'm thinking the way the mash pipe is designed is sort of a modified BIAB without the bag.
 
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Are you crushing your own grains? If so do you know the mill spacing?
A tight .040. The idle roller has a low spot where it opens up to .043 for about 1/4 of a turn. "It's not perfectly round"

I'd say it's a good crush. I like to put about a 1/4 cup of crush grain on a cookie sheet and shake it. If you do it just right everything separates out and you can get a good look at it. I mostly look for how intact the husk is.
 

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Are you leaving any wort in the Foundry? All it would take to drop 1.056 to 1.049 is 4 ounces...
 

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When I dumped the spent grains in the garden from the 2nd brew, I noticed what looked like a compacted grain ball that came from the bottom of the mash pipe and in the mash pipe there was small amounts of compacted grain in the corners where the sides meet the bottom.
I did a have a higher flow rate with that brew.
The bottom of the mash pipe, notice the 3/4" of metal without holes at the bottom.
.
you might have it. Perhaps the deep cylindrical shape of the malt pipe makes it more difficult to get the grain good and hydrated/unclumped. maybe try conditioning the grain prior, and/or dough in really slow. also check the wtg ratio. maybe its getting a little dry during recirculation. I've heard they need quite a bit more water for the mash
 

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You might want to try to reduce the mill gap.

I have a Brewzilla 65L. This is somewhat similar in that it is a single vessel brewhouse.

My first brew, I milled Rahr 2 row standard malt at .035" and achieved 73% mash efficiency.
Today I milled the same amount of Rahr 2 row standard malt at .030" and the mash efficiency was 82%.

I mash at 149 for 90 minutes and then raise the temp to 167 for 10 minutes for mash out.
This is mashing the full volume with no extra sparge water added.

Each malt will have a slightly different size. You may have to change the mill gap depending on what malt you use.
 
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you might have it. Perhaps the deep cylindrical shape of the malt pipe makes it more difficult to get the grain good and hydrated/unclumped. maybe try conditioning the grain prior, and/or dough in really slow. also check the wtg ratio. maybe its getting a little dry during recirculation. I've heard they need quite a bit more water for the mash
I realized that on the 1st brew. There's just over an inch of mash water under the mash pipe and sides that's not in contact with the grain that has to be made up for.
 

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First, you are recircing too fast and compacting the grain bed. Malt pipes are so narrow that they need to flow at 1qt per minute or less. Even better, you will have better luck crushing at .028" and adding a handful of rice hulls or condition the malt and go even finer. Consider pausing your recirc for long stints like 5 mins on, 15 mins off. The thing is insulated.
 
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Well I modified the mash pipe by blocking off the side holes and my mash efficiency jumped up to 78% from 66%. That's a big jump. I was expecting a OG of 1.048 and got 1.049.

I noticed right off the bat that it took much longer for the sparge water to run down thru the mash, verse how it ran right thru the sides before.

I cut up an old fermenter bucket to use to block off the side holes. Since it kept floating when the water got hot I had to use copper wire to hold it in place.

[
I really like the Anvil even though I've had to make a few tweaks to it and it has a few draw backs, it's nothing that can't be overcome. I now spend more time thinking about brewing instead of cleaning the garage floor of winters grime and dragging out a ton of equipment and then putting it all away when done. It's taken 2 hours off my brew day just from clean up, setup and tear down. Now I setup next to the kitchen sink, pull up a chair, watch TV and have a cold brew.
 

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a better rinse during the sparge. nice. did you change anything else like mill gap or recirculation?
 

z987k

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This is interesting. I have done 2 brews on the foundry, 1st a no sparge, mill gap at .035 and ended with 58% efficiency. Second was a big beer and adjusted down to a 4gal to it'd fit, mill gap at .025, 1.5qt/lb, sparged with 1.5gal. Got 65%.
It sounds like I'm recirculating too fast, I didn't realize 1qt/min was ideal. Are people sparging about that rate as well? Just running a tube to the metal plate on top or are people using sparge arms?
I might try blocking the sides next also, but this is the first I've heard of it and it seems people manage 75% without doing that.
 
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I've done 2 more brews since my last posting. The previous brew before today's was a disaster, I tightened my mill gap to .035 and the mash compacted. I had the pump throttled way back, I finally just shut it off. Sparging didn't go any better. I wound up with a mash eff of 66% and lots of grist/trub.

Fast forward to today I hit 86% mash eff. I made 3 adjustments. I used a brew bag to cut down on grist/trub in the boil (worked great), increased mill gap to .045 allowing for better and faster re-circulation, The last thing I did was, after adding the grain I pulled the mash pipe up letting it drain back in, did that 2x, and stirred the heck out of it, it helped the temp and ph stabilize faster. I had concerns about the gallon or so water outside of the mash pipe not coming in contact with the grain. Other than that mashed as usual.

Hope today's brew day wasn't a one off.
 

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I've done 2 more brews since my last posting. The previous brew before today's was a disaster, I tightened my mill gap to .035 and the mash compacted. I had the pump throttled way back, I finally just shut it off. Sparging didn't go any better. I wound up with a mash eff of 66% and lots of grist/trub.

Fast forward to today I hit 86% mash eff. I made 3 adjustments. I used a brew bag to cut down on grist/trub in the boil (worked great), increased mill gap to .045 allowing for better and faster re-circulation, The last thing I did was, after adding the grain I pulled the mash pipe up letting it drain back in, did that 2x, and stirred the heck out of it, it helped the temp and ph stabilize faster. I had concerns about the gallon or so water outside of the mash pipe not coming in contact with the grain. Other than that mashed as usual.

Hope today's brew day wasn't a one off.
Why exactly do you think faster recirculation is better as stated? faster is not better for this, only enough to maintain temps. a course crush fill allow for a faster flow rate but only through less surface area overall while still promoting channeling. In the end both approaches will make beer.

Just asking as someone who crushes with a gap at .030 and recirculate at a lowly 1.5gpm (on your diameter kettle the sweet spot would be in fact much lower as indicated above).. I may have mentioned it above but I do get a fairly consistent 91% brewhouse efficiency. I dont even use rice hulls. At a low recirculaltion rate as this size it may take 10 mins or so for temps to stabilize but I'm willing to bet the lower rate along with finer crush would net you your highest efficiency.
I realize flow rate is tough to measure without a flow meter and I'm just wondering if the tested flow was still higher than you though?
 
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matt_m

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My first batch was a low but I had some trouble with a "stuck" mash and the recirc was overflowing the top of the malt pipe. I stirred and broke it up (it was really packed in there!) but it probably did that for at least 10 minutes before I noticed. I also boiled at lower power based on notes in the Beersmith profile giving the option of reducing power for boil @220 or increasing boil off. 2 batches since, I've added rice hulls, boiled at 100%, and hit what Beersmith said right on.

My gap is pretty tight on my mill since my other system is a BIAB system. I probably could do a coarser crush and eliminate the need for rice hulls but its working and they are cheap so I'm sticking with it.
 
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Why exactly do you think faster recirculation is better as stated? faster is not better for this, only enough to maintain temps. a course crush fill allow for a faster flow rate but only through less surface area overall while still promoting channeling. In the end both approaches will make beer.

Just asking as someone who crushes with a gap at .030 and recirculate at a lowly 1.5gpm (on your diameter kettle the sweet spot would be in fact much lower as indicated above).. I may have mentioned it above but I do get a fairly consistent 91% brewhouse efficiency. I dont even use rice hulls. At a low recirculaltion rate as this size it may take 10 mins or so for temps to stabilize but I'm willing to bet the lower rate along with finer crush would net you your highest efficiency.
I realize flow rate is tough to measure without a flow meter and I'm just wondering if the tested flow was still higher than you though?
I take it your not using the Anvil Foundry, because I don't think you could be recirculating at 1.5 gal with an .030 crush.

I never gave the all in one's a second thought because of price, until I saw Short Circuited Brewers review of the Anvil Foundry. I thought how simple and how much I could down size. It has simplified and shortened my brew day so much I'm brewing more. I'm running out of kegs. LoL

After ½ dozen brews I've discovered it has what I think is a design flaw, and that's the mash pipe. It's tall and skinny leading to a compacted grain bed when recirculating, and when pulling the mash pipe out when done mashing. That's why I think it has holes up the side.

The other problem it has is the amount of dead space outside the mash pipe. It takes a good gallon of water to reach the bottom of the mash pipe and then there's the gap between the mash pipe and the main body which could be as much as another ½ gallon of water give or take.

The ideal mash thickness is 1.25 qt per pound, but because of the design I'm having to use 2.66 qt per pound which really dilutes the mash enzymes. That's why I wanted to increase the flow rate of the mash. My thinking is it would increase the amount enzymes and the amount of time the enzymes are coming in contact with the grain. There's tons of ink that's been writen on that topic, but 1.25 seems to be the sweet spot and standard.

I dunked the mash pipe 2x after adding the grain because I was shooting for a 152 mash-in. I checked the mash after adding the grain and it read 146, after dunking the mash 2 x it read 153. I gave it a good stir and let it sit for 10 min then started recirculating. Plus mash ph being lower inside the mash pipe than the water outside the mash pipe being higher, because it's not mixed in. So what would the correct adjustment be and when should it be checked and how do you know when all the water is mixed in.

By blocking off the side holes I've stopped the sparge water from running out the sides instead of going through the mash. Picking up more sweet wort.

I wasn't the only one having issues with Anvil low mash eff, it seems to be a topic on other web platforms, with the common response is a tighter mill gap worked for me with no follow ups, plus I don't think the some of the people responding where using the Anvil. I have my mash eff going in the right direction, and the beer is very drinkable, so the next thing I want to try is increasing the amount of sparge water to 2 gallons. That might be a bridge to far.
 

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The ideal mash thickness is 1.25 qt per pound, but because of the design I'm having to use 2.66 qt per pound which really dilutes the mash enzymes. That's why I wanted to increase the flow rate of the mash. My thinking is it would increase the amount enzymes and the amount of time the enzymes are coming in contact with the grain. There's tons of ink that's been writen on that topic, but 1.25 seems to be the sweet spot and standard.
Ideal? How do you define ideal? I have seen it written in literature as 1.20 to 1.25 qts/lb being a minimum for adequate starch solubility to achieve conversion, but never as an ideal and never referred to as a 'standard.' Certainly a mash thickness of 1.25 qts/lb is better for lauter efficiency as you have more water to sparge with and pull out more of the remaining sugars in the malts.

The Germans have frequently favored a thinner mash for conversion; the English, thicker to maximize the throughput of the mash tun. There are plenty of brewers, such as myself, who do full volume mashing and do not suffer lack of conversion (or mash efficiency) because of the thin mash conditions. A thinner mash has also been linked in literature to faster conversion most probably due to greater solubility of starches early in the mashing process. Unless you are using 30% or higher starchy adjuncts, lack of enzymes for conversion is hardly an issue with most common base malts available these days.

I do agree that the columnar design of all-in-one devices do lead to a higher sensitivity to mash compaction. Anytime you have a deeper grain bed that you pull or push liquid through you create a greater tendency to cause compaction and/or channeling which lowers the efficiency of the system. I have found, for my crush quality, if I recirculate the wort at a little less than a liter per minute that I can keep the grain bed loose and get complete conversion efficiency (98% to 100%) and acceptable lauter efficiency without any sparge step. My mash/lauter efficiency on the Anvil is now settled in at 85 +/- 1% (full volume mash/no sparge) after playing around with crush quality, recirculation flow, and different sparging methods for the first 10 brews.
 
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There are plenty of brewers, such as myself, who do full volume mashing and do not suffer lack of conversion (or mash efficiency) because of the thin mash conditions.
Do you have a lot of mash water not coming in contact with the grain like in the Anvil?
 

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I take it your not using the Anvil Foundry, because I don't think you could be recirculating at 1.5 gal with an .030 crush.

I never gave the all in one's a second thought because of price, until I saw Short Circuited Brewers review of the Anvil Foundry. I thought how simple and how much I could down size. It has simplified and shortened my brew day so much I'm brewing more. I'm running out of kegs. LoL

After ½ dozen brews I've discovered it has what I think is a design flaw, and that's the mash pipe. It's tall and skinny leading to a compacted grain bed when recirculating, and when pulling the mash pipe out when done mashing. That's why I think it has holes up the side.

The other problem it has is the amount of dead space outside the mash pipe. It takes a good gallon of water to reach the bottom of the mash pipe and then there's the gap between the mash pipe and the main body which could be as much as another ½ gallon of water give or take.

The ideal mash thickness is 1.25 qt per pound, but because of the design I'm having to use 2.66 qt per pound which really dilutes the mash enzymes. That's why I wanted to increase the flow rate of the mash. My thinking is it would increase the amount enzymes and the amount of time the enzymes are coming in contact with the grain. There's tons of ink that's been writen on that topic, but 1.25 seems to be the sweet spot and standard.

I dunked the mash pipe 2x after adding the grain because I was shooting for a 152 mash-in. I checked the mash after adding the grain and it read 146, after dunking the mash 2 x it read 153. I gave it a good stir and let it sit for 10 min then started recirculating. Plus mash ph being lower inside the mash pipe than the water outside the mash pipe being higher, because it's not mixed in. So what would the correct adjustment be and when should it be checked and how do you know when all the water is mixed in.

By blocking off the side holes I've stopped the sparge water from running out the sides instead of going through the mash. Picking up more sweet wort.

I wasn't the only one having issues with Anvil low mash eff, it seems to be a topic on other web platforms, with the common response is a tighter mill gap worked for me with no follow ups, plus I don't think the some of the people responding where using the Anvil. I have my mash eff going in the right direction, and the beer is very drinkable, so the next thing I want to try is increasing the amount of sparge water to 2 gallons. That might be a bridge to far.
Just wondering if you missed may statement here?
"(on your diameter kettle the sweet spot would be in fact much lower as indicated above)"
The compacting of your grainbed is not from a mash pipe. Its from trying to recirculate too fast for the amount of surface area in the grainbed. Like others have stated your hurting yourself more than you are helping by recirculating too fast. The speed at which you recirculate has very little if anything to do with the length of your brewday, your conversion will not occur any faster at a faster flowrate. in fact once you get channeling the opposite happens and you get low efficiency.

BTW there are a lot of brewers using a full on basket with full open screen sides that recirculate like the brewboss systems... and lots of people using tall narrow repurposed hot water urn based systems like the anvil/robobrew/mash and boil and yes grainfather. like Oginme pointed out the taller and more narrow the grainbed the easier it is to compact and the slower the flow needs to be to not compact and get channeling.
 
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highland_brewer

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Not sure if it is totally relevant to the issue here. BUT Anvil is working on a stainless "ring" to block the side holes in the basket. Mainly for doing smaller batches in the 10.5.
 

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Just as a point of comparison, the Speidel Braumeister is unique among mash pipe systems in that the pump pulls from outside the pipe, but pushes wort back UP inside the pipe from the bottom (i.e. not down over it with a hose).

This flow gradually compacts grain against the top disk, but gravity is available to naturally counteract that. Speidel thus includes a few "pump rest" intervals in the mash program. The pump stops for a minute, allowing grain to fall back down and re-situate. It's an elegant solution that avoids grain compaction without manual intervention.

Now back to regular programming...
 
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Just as a point of comparison, the Speidel Braumeister is unique among mash pipe systems in that the pump pulls from outside the pipe, but pushes wort back UP inside the pipe from the bottom (i.e. not down over it with a hose).

This flow gradually compacts grain against the top disk, but gravity is available to naturally counteract that. Speidel thus includes a few "pump rest" intervals in the mash program. The pump stops for a minute, allowing grain to fall back down and re-situate. It's an elegant solution that avoids grain compaction without manual intervention.

Now back to regular programming...
If only to have unlimited funds to indulge in my hobbies.
 

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Just as a point of comparison, the Speidel Braumeister is unique among mash pipe systems in that the pump pulls from outside the pipe, but pushes wort back UP inside the pipe from the bottom (i.e. not down over it with a hose).

This flow gradually compacts grain against the top disk, but gravity is available to naturally counteract that. Speidel thus includes a few "pump rest" intervals in the mash program. The pump stops for a minute, allowing grain to fall back down and re-situate. It's an elegant solution that avoids grain compaction without manual intervention.

Now back to regular programming...
I saw a video of this a while back and wondered why more designers didnt implement something like this..
 

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This has been an amazing thread, besides the tinsey bits of angryish responses. Most of my research til now has gotten me little insight. This chain of responses motivated me enough to register and not just lurk.

I also have the anvil system and use brewers friend. My efficiency is horrible according to brewers friend numbers....focusing on pre-boil OG number. I now have 8 anvil brews under my belt. I have tuned the brewers friend equpment profile..weighing spent grains and going through that whole deal to get it accurate.

Sparging really just reduces my pre-boil gravity and i tried sparging many different ways...I don't sparge anymore. After pulling th basket I sometimes "fluff" the grain to help release some of the water/wort trapped within. I choke down the recirculation so much now the pump starts making a clicking sound.

I also ended up extending my mash time. I turn off recirculation for 10 minutes and stir the whole mash; let it settle and recirculate another 15. Adding a few of these cycles has extended my mash from 60 to 90 minutes. That has helped too. Just stirring the top third as anvil describes did not improve the situation, I am guessing due to the side hole design as you describe and have blocked.

WeHeavy how has adding a Biab bag helped? I assume all the grist dust and such in the boil is not a detrement...I usually leave all that slop in the anvil and only rack over the clean wort to the fermenter. I am not understanding how this improves efficiency other than maybe being able to add more clean wort to the fermenter and maybe improving overall brewhouse efficiency.

Thanks for any reply and also any other ideas...besides grain milling...I have fiddled with that too much as well as that is the only advice given in any other forum.

On a side note for anyone else in my shoes i definitely found out dumping a 2 liter starter in the fermenter totaly jacks the fermenter OG. A captain obvious statement in retrospect, but taking many readings during the process uncovered that nugget for me..
 

Wolfgang Stout

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This is a really great thread. I am just chiming in with my (very limited) experience. I have brewed probably a total of 10 times in my life and 8 of them have been on the Anvil Foundry. I am getting better every time but my last couple batches completely stall at 1.025. I am getting a crazy strong fermentation for about 5 days then it just stops. I am nailing my OG's (as high as 1.059).

That is leading me into wonder if I am getting all the sugars off the grains. Because in theory you cant get any more consistent with temperatures that my current rig. 60min @ 150 degrees. That direction then pushes me to sparging and I am going to come out and say it right now. I hate the freaking basket. I have had nothing but problems with it. At first the ring didnt fit. I feel that it doesnt get good flow through the grain. There are always clumps in the thing. Not to mention how filthy the beer is from the grain that does get through the basket. Combine that with the original perforated disk, and I am not overly impressed with the unit. Not to mention

I am brewing 2 batches this weekend. and I am going to use a bag (how I started brewing). Hopefully, I can tweak it to get some better results.
 

McKnuckle

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I am getting better every time but my last couple batches completely stall at 1.025. I am getting a crazy strong fermentation for about 5 days then it just stops. I am nailing my OG's (as high as 1.059).
Are you measuring FG with a refractometer, and not correcting for the presence of alcohol using this calculator?
 

Oginme

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This chain of responses motivated me enough to register and not just lurk.

WeHeavy how has adding a Biab bag helped? I assume all the grist dust and such in the boil is not a detrement...I usually leave all that slop in the anvil and only rack over the clean wort to the fermenter. I am not understanding how this improves efficiency other than maybe being able to add more clean wort to the fermenter and maybe improving overall brewhouse efficiency.

Thanks for any reply and also any other ideas...besides grain milling...I have fiddled with that too much as well as that is the only advice given in any other forum.
Glad to have you join the discussion!

I can only speak from my experiences with the Anvil. I use a bag for three reasons.

The first is to retain more of the finer materials in the grist. While you are correct that this does not have a direct impact on the quality of the wort, it does tend to bake onto the bottom of the Anvil and makes it harder to clean. It also reduces much of the extra trub which gets transferred to the carboy. While I don't fret much over the trub during fermentation, the difference I observed in trub/yeast cake with and without a bag is dramatic. Without the bag I was seeing about 1 to 1.4 liters of fines, proteins, and yeast on the bottom of my carboy. With the bag I am at 0.5 to 0.6 liters of mostly yeast cake and coagulated proteins. I get a cleaner yeast cake out and gained a half liter of beer plus per brew.

The second reason for the bag is to allow me to adjust my grind to achieve a better mash/lauter efficiency. My conversion efficiency is consistently between 96% and 99% (most probably variation in grain moisture from spec). I get a consistent 85% +/- 1% mash/lauter efficiency on brews up to 1.080 gravity so far. I do not produce a lot of dust or flour, but do generate many 2 mm to 3 mm particles of grain kernels which easily get through the bottom screen of the Anvil.

The last reason for the bag is clean up. I found it time consuming to clean the mash basket of all the grain particulates. With the bag, I can pull it from the mash pipe, dump it into a bucket for my goats, and then do a quick wash before hanging the bag to dry. The malt basket takes about 2 to 3 minutes to clean thoroughly.

Using a bag is not a must or a need, but it fits the goals and efficiency in activity that I desire in my brewing.
 

McKnuckle

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Yes, you are doing it wrong unfortunately. :) Once alcohol is present, the refractometer no longer can be used to measure gravity at face value. Use the calculator link I shared, enter the Brix registered, the OG of the beer, and it will estimate the actual final gravity. Your beers did not stall at 1.025 (about 6.x Brix?). They were fully attenuated!
 
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