batch sparge 10 gal cooler braided hose help!

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barside laundry

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Is anyone getting decent efficiency by batch sparging in a 10 gallon rubbermaid round cooler? I have about 16 inches of stainless braided hose laying around the perimeter of the cooler instead of a false bottom. I have made about 7 all grain batches (all with this method) and have never really achieved anything over 60-65%. Some of the problem might have to do with kettle volume and boil time (something I have struggled with as I use a keggle with an electric heating element (no whirlpool) and c/f chiller that struggles to drain all the wort due to trub issues therefore adding more volume to compensate for the loss lowers gravity).

Anyway, if you use this set up and have success with it would you please give me some pointers for making my first Oktoberfest. Recipe:
8 lbs. Pilsner Malt
4.5 lbs. Vienna
8 oz. Carapils Malt
8 oz. Caramel 40°L
1 oz. Hallertau
2 oz. Mt. Hood pellet hops

Midwest's Kit directions say mash at 152...thoughts on this?
When should I stir the mash if batch sparging?
If I historically leave behind about 3/4 gallon of wort/trub in the kettle what advice can you offer on pre boil volume?
Do you always chill the wort to 60 to take a gravity reading or just adjust?

Thanks guys
 

kenmc

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I think the problem is that you have the hosing around the perimeter - aparently it creates an easy path for water to exit, so anything that goes down the middle, through most of the grains, don't get out easily.

If you look at howtobrew there's a diagram in there of the best sort of setup - I know if you're in a rectangular box, the manifold should be equally spread out, with a gap to the edges, for this exact reason.
 

JimC

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He is batch sparging, manifold layout is meaningless to efficiency.

I'd say, first you need to run an iodine test to make sure you are fully converting. Second you should stir your grain bed up when you mash and batch sparge to ensure everything gets in contact with the water. Third I'd do something about the wort part of the 3/4 gallon of wort/trub you are leaving behind (dump it all into a paint strainer works well for me). If you still have a problem I'd check your water chemistry.
 

cweston

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JimC said:
He is batch sparging, manifold layout is meaningless to efficiency.

I'd say, first you need to run an iodine test to make sure you are fully converting. Second you should stir your grain bed up when you mash and batch sparge to ensure everything gets in contact with the water. Third I'd do something about the wort part of the 3/4 gallon of wort/trub you are leaving behind (dump it all into a paint strainer works well for me). If you still have a problem I'd check your water chemistry.

I agree with all of this. Plus, are you using pre-crushed grains? HBSs often crush a little on the coarse side, so 70% may be approximately your efficiency ceiling.

I use crushed grain from AHBS and batch sparge a typically run at around 70-75% efficiency.
 
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barside laundry

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Thanks, keep the ideas flowing. To clear up a few loose ends, I have the grain crushed my local homebrew shop or in this case Midwest. Should I go over it with rolling pin even more? One possible solution to my chiller/volume loss issue might be to scrap the c/f and go back to my immersion chiller and siphon wort out of keggle. I don't like siphoning at this stage in the game (contaminate) but maybe a mouthfull of vodka first would seal the deal. I could use the copper in my c/f as a prechiller by putting it an ice bath to superchill the water going into the immersion chiller, this might be the best thing for lager anyway. Thoughts? What about the mash schedule for the aforementioned grain?

Also when I batch sparge should I:
stir in water and grain and let sit at desired temp for desired time and then stir, recirculate, and then drain it completely into kettle and then add the proper volume of sparge water and repeat?
 

JimC

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barside laundry said:
I don't like siphoning at this stage in the game (contaminate) but maybe a mouthfull of vodka first would seal the deal.
No one should be starting siphons with there mouth. Between the plethora of cheap siphoning gadgetry around and the very simple "fill it with water/sanitizer" method... there is just no reason to use your mouth.

barside laundry said:
Thoughts? What about the mash schedule for the aforementioned grain?
152f for 60-90 minutes should work. Since you are in a cooler mash tun, you might want to aim for 154f because you will loose a few degrees over the hour. An iodine test is the only practical way to be sure.

barside laundry said:
Also when I batch sparge should I:
stir in water and grain and let sit at desired temp for desired time and then stir, recirculate, and then drain it completely into kettle and then add the proper volume of sparge water and repeat?

Here is what I do (using a cooler):
- Pre-warm the mash tun. (Slosh hot water in it and dump)
- Put in mash water
- Put in grain
- Stir the crap out of it
- Make sure temp is good, adjusting if needed
- Put lid on and let sit for 60 min
- Iodine test every few minutes until full conversion.
- Recirculate until clear
- Drain of first running
- Add sparge water
- Stir
- Let sit for a few minutes
- Recirculate until clear
- Drain off second runnings
 

FlyGuy

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Something obvious (but perhaps overlooked) is to ensure that your thermometer is accurate. You may be missing your mash temps even though your thermometer says you are spot on. Hot and cold pockets in the mash will also throw you off.
 

Blender

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It sounds like you are not adding hot water at the end of the mash to compensate for grain absorbtion. My grain will absorb about .15 quarts per pound which I add back to the cooler at the end of the mash. This water is typically around 180 or so to raise the temp a bit. Then I stir well and drain off. It might help.

To clear up the wort at the bottom of the kettle I use a paint strainer inside a 2.5 gallon plastic bucket and it catches a nice amount of the stuff.
 

raceskier

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I just did a brew with a similar setup this past weekend. (My first AG) I mashed at 152 starting temp in 10 gal round Rubbermaid cooler. I didn't even batch sparge, just added the total amount of water needed for runoff at the calculated mashout temp at the end of my approx 1.5 hr mash. Agreed that for this or batch sparge technique, the manifold configuration should not matter. I got a calculated pre-boil efficiency of 71%. Water chemistry might be a place to look. I used 5.2 in my mash and mashout water.
 

jayflap

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I have pretty much the same setup that you describe, a 10 gallon cooler with SS braid, an electric keggle with a plate chiller.

As long as you know you boil off, you should be able to figure out what you need preboil easily. Again, the more you collect preboil, the better your efficiency will be. I typically go with a water to grain ratio of 1.25 - 1 and then make up for the absorption by adding equal amounts of water to equal what I need to make my volume. If I collected 2 gallons from the initial sparge and need 12, I will do two sparges of 5 gallons each.

With my setup I range anywhere from 78% - 82% efficiency with a braid and batch sparging. I would look towards your water report and see what pH you are starting at with your water. Also look at the crush of your grains like cweston suggests. Typically LHBS will not have that nice of a crush, for several reasons. ;) Do you have a brewpal in the area that could crush the grains for you?

There is no reason that you shouldn't be able to get a good efficiency with a batch sparge so check the crush and water and see what you get.

Good luck and cheers,
Jason
 
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barside laundry

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JayFlap,
How do you drain your electric keggle into your plate chiller? Gravity? Do you use whole hops or pellets? Whirlpool? I am so thankful I finally can ask questions to someone with an electric keggle.

Thanks
 

Sir Humpsalot

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The problem is your crush. Buy a crusher and get it over with.

Sure, maybe you are using bad temps, unable to hold a steady mash temp, losing heat, blah blah blah... but let's be realistic, anybody with the intelligence to build an MLT, or the intelligence to hold a job that gives them the money to buy an MLT, has the intelligence to maintain a mash temp. Maybe your MLT is a bit better/worse than mine, but if yuo say that it works, I am sure it is just fine for batch sparging, whatever it is. Your problem is your crush.

Buy a crusher/mill.


I just bit the bullet and bought a crankandstein. The barleycrusher is fine too, I am sure. Best $100 you'll ever spend... besides the $100 you spent on hookers this weekend.
 

D2T

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Toot said:
The problem is your crush. Buy a crusher and get it over with.

Sure, maybe you are using bad temps, unable to hold a steady mash temp, losing heat, blah blah blah... but let's be realistic, anybody with the intelligence to build an MLT, or the intelligence to hold a job that gives them the money to buy an MLT, has the intelligence to maintain a mash temp. Maybe your MLT is a bit better/worse than mine, but if yuo say that it works, I am sure it is just fine for batch sparging, whatever it is. Your problem is your crush.

Buy a crusher/mill.


I just bit the bullet and bought a crankandstein. The barleycrusher is fine too, I am sure. Best $100 you'll ever spend... besides the $100 you spent on hookers this weekend.

Gonna have to agree here. The crushes I've been getting from online have varied wildly and so has my efficiency.

On a side note, I managed to get the wife to buy me a barley crusher for Mother's Day :D

My argument went like this --

The 9th definition of mother at dictionary.com

9. something or someone that gives rise to or exercises protecting care over something else; origin or source.

I told her that I loved her, and would always protect her and care for her. Therefore, I should get a grain crusher for Mother's Day.


...and she bought it. :rockin:
 

FlyGuy

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Toot and D2T are probably right that you have a poor crush that is leading to low efficiency -- no arguments there.

But, before you drop a bunch of cash on a new grain mill, just check your thermometer reading first. It might cost you nothing to do so.

On my last AG batch I had my worst efficiency yet (60%, after being in the mid 70's). I use a 10 gal cooler MLT and a Corona-style grain mill. It wasn't my crush that was my problem, it was my new thermometer -- it read fine at lower temps, but was out by 5 or 6 degrees on the high end. I wanted to do a dextrinous mash, so I did a rest at 158. It was actually 163 or higher. I *was* intelligent enough (al a Toot :D ) to hold at 158 properly, but I wasn't smart enough to be certain that 158 on my thermometer was actually 158 before I began.

Incidentally, I compared all the thermometers I had in the house to a lab thermometer from work, and none were perfect at mash temps. And the closest was the cheapest thermometer (run of the mill, floating glass brewing thermometer). So don't trust your thermometers unless you can verify its quality (either that or just fork out the cash for a really good one -- wish I had done that now).
 

D2T

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Toot said:
Your wife lets you spend money on hookers???!!!!!!!! :drunk:

I think I might need more than a dictionary.com reference to get hookers okay'd, but I'll get back to you.
 

Sir Humpsalot

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FlyGuy said:
...before you drop a bunch of cash on a new grain mill, just check your thermometer reading first. It might cost you nothing to do so.

I could not disagree more. If you find out your thermometer is broken, you will spend $10 on a new one and improve your efficiency a little and be content. However, if you buy the mill first, and THEN check your thermometer, you will have a better thermometer AND the ability to crush your own grains!

So buy a new mill and THEN check your thermometer. :D :drunk:
 

FlyGuy

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Toot said:
I could not disagree more. If you find out your thermometer is broken, you will spend $10 on a new one and improve your efficiency a little and be content. However, if you buy the mill first, and THEN check your thermometer, you will have a better thermometer AND the ability to crush your own grains!

So buy a new mill and THEN check your thermometer. :D :drunk:

Ah, yes -- for those of us looking for a good excuse to buy a new mill, you can't refute this logic!! :D

Darn -- wish I had thought of this before! :cross:
 

Got Trub?

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All good tips

Personally having gone through all this with my new location/water/equipement etc my recommendation would be as follows:

1) 65% efficiency - RDWHAHB!
- This isn't terrible and easily made up for with relatively cheap grains. You can buy alot of grain for the price of one grain mill.

2) Focus your attention on your technique aiming for consistency. The easiest way to do this is pick one recipe and brew it repeatedly. Measure your SG and volume at every step to see what you are getting and where your losses (if any) are and tweak your system if possible to minimize it or compensate for it.

3) Check for conversion with the iodine test. If it is complete then it is not a pH or temp issue - your starch has completely converted. How well it will attenuate will be determined by the above parameters but not your efficiency.

4) Change one thing at a time! This way you will know what made the difference if anything.
 
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barside laundry

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You guys are good: the hookers, the mother's day gift, all of it-really good stuff. Has anyone ever made a mill? I am a wood/metal shop teacher with a lathe..... As for the thermometer issue, i will borrow a glass lab 15 inch thermometer (I would think that is accurate as anything) and run some tests. The iodine test is certainly something I will do, which I have not done before. From what I have read it seems like I put some wort on a white dish and add a drop of iodine and check for a color change, right?
 

FlyGuy

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barside laundry said:
You guys are good: the hookers, the mother's day gift, all of it-really good stuff. Has anyone ever made a mill? I am a wood/metal shop teacher with a lathe..... As for the thermometer issue, i will borrow a glass lab 15 inch thermometer (I would think that is accurate as anything) and run some tests. The iodine test is certainly something I will do, which I have not done before. From what I have read it seems like I put some wort on a white dish and add a drop of iodine and check for a color change, right?

Yuri has done a nice mill. See here.

And yes, you have the right idea about the iodine test. Just remember that if you have any grain or husk material in your sample, it will react with the iodine, so the test will not always show 'negative' even if conversion is complete.
 

Sir Humpsalot

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Got Trub? said:
All good tips

Personally having gone through all this with my new location/water/equipement etc my recommendation would be as follows:

1) 65% efficiency - RDWHAHB!
- This isn't terrible and easily made up for with relatively cheap grains. You can buy alot of grain for the price of one grain mill

I agree.

4) Change one thing at a time! This way you will know what made the difference if anything.

But in the case of pre-crushed grain, these two points are contradictory. Unless you use the same base grain from the same supplier, crushed on the same mill on the same day, there is no way to "only change one thing at a time" because your crush will always be unpredictable. I didn't buy a mill just to save money on the grains. I also bought it to save the frustration of having my efficiencies bounce back and forth from 55% on the low end to 72% on the high end (Once, on a particularly bad crush with an uncommonly small grain, my efficiency was around 25%). It just depends on what grain I bought, on which day, from which vendor. The sooner you buy your own mill, the sooner you will be able to "change one thing at a time" without that thing always being the quality of your crush.

I agree with what you're saying about consistency being important, I just don't think it's very possible without an investment in a mill.... unless, of course, you decide to stay with Partial Mashing or Extract.... Or you have complete control over how your grain is crushed.
 

Got Trub?

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Good point about the crush consistency. Until recently I got all my grain from the same LHBS and assumed the crush was the same each time.
 
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