BIAB: Low efficiency?

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bradfordmonk

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*Update: Contacted Midwest and they did what they could to provide great customer service. So if you have a problem, contact them, as they are really understanding and want to make sure you are taken care of.

This is my second attempt at BIAB, first attempt went well, just ended with twice as much wort then intended because I used the wrong calculator online :D

So I tried again with same recipe, minus 1lb of base malt grain. According to Hopville, my OG should have been 1.086, I ended at 1.060, which is what, 50% efficiency. (I attached recipe)

I think in future I'm going to skip the sudo-sparge I was doing (as you'll see below) and just do full volume and use the 170* rest for 10minutes.

Perhaps someone can help explain where I went wrong...

  1. Water used was bottled Deer Park
  2. Mashed for 60minutes, temp was between 152* and 155* (mostly 153*) for the entire 60 minutes. So that was good.
  3. Pulled grains/bag out, let drip, moved to a bucket to capture runnings. Heated wort in pot to 170*, then put grains/bag back in for 10mins
  4. Pulled grains/bag out, let drip, moved to bucket and poured additional volume of water of 180* and poured over grain, to rinse grains and also bring my volume to needed volume.
  5. Continued boil as regular.

Only possible thing I can think of is either...

  • First time ordering grains through midwest, maybe the crush?
  • Flame blew out during boil a few times, but only for less than a minute/few seconds while I re-lit.


Any ideas?

biab_loweff.jpg
 

nicklepickles

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Did you rinse your grain bag with the wort before pouring the 180 water over it? Seems like that would be the cause, as you got the sugars out, then dunked the grains back in the wort and (im guessing) the sugars went back to the grains and stayed there. Not sure if that makes sense...
For future batches, id recommend just heating up water to 170 or so and dunking your grains in there, stirring furiously for 10-15, then pulling and letting it drip. When i did biab i did that and ended up at around 80% efficiency.
 

JeepDiver

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I've seen several post about bad crush at Midwest (never used them myself) so that would be my bet. When I order grains I always ask for a double crush. I can see 15-20% jump with that alone. I do full volumeand get 75-78%
 
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bradfordmonk

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Did you rinse your grain bag with the wort before pouring the 180 water over it? Seems like that would be the cause, as you got the sugars out, then dunked the grains back in the wort and (im guessing) the sugars went back to the grains and stayed there. Not sure if that makes sense...
For future batches, id recommend just heating up water to 170 or so and dunking your grains in there, stirring furiously for 10-15, then pulling and letting it drip. When i did biab i did that and ended up at around 80% efficiency.
I basically put the grains after the 170* 10 minute rest, i moved the whole bag with the grains into a bucket, and poured the 180* water in there then, after pouring water in, i pulled bag out and let drip out (didn't let it sit in the 180* water for any amount of time).

I don't know if it's Midwest, I've read that as well from Midwest, and it's my first time I ever got grains from them. When I did this recipe before and ended with twice as much water I still ended at 1.070. Figured it was off from the 1.086 because of the extra wort amount, and I got the grains from Northern Brewer.

Just wasn't sure if it was because the crush may have been not good...or if my own process somewhere is not good. I still should end up with a good beer, just not what I was looking for.
 

seckert

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:Di am sitting here just about to finish up my boil and i do the BIAB method as well. I leave the bag in the pot as i raise the temp to the 170* mark. no need to take it in and out constantly. after the 10 min rest i pull out and have it rest on top of boil pot with some pipes to support so it drains straight back in. then i pour my strike water over until i am just about where i need to be then i take a mashing tool (the thing you mash potatoes with) and push down to get all the rest of the good juices out of my grain. never had a problem with that. I will let you know what my efficiency was today using this method as soon as it is cooled down. My moto is that if there is a way to do things that are less hassle then do them that way. Thats why we go with BIAB anyway right? LOL
 
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bradfordmonk

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All i did to figure out what my efficiency was is adjust the setting for efficiency in Hopville til the OG changed to what I had of 1.060.

Yea, I may do that, I'd like to at least just get 75% as that's what default is in hopville so I don't have to play with more grains and all.
 

RM-MN

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With BIAB there is no need for mashout. When you remove the grain from the pot and squeeze the wort out of it, the conversion from the enzymes that you want to stop to keep the correct mix of sugars pretty much stops since there is no grain left in the pot. You can start heating that wort right away and if there was any conversion still going on in the pot it will stop shortly.

Getting efficiency with BIAB is about getting a fine crush. Most suppliers will crush coarse enough that the standard mash tun will not get clogged but you don't have the standard mash tun, you have a bag with a huge filter area. You should request double crush or BIAB crush.

When I pull the bag out and squeeze out the wort (I squeeze hard) I can expect to see about 80% efficiency. If I haven't used enough water in the mash to get my pre-boil amount, I do a pseudo sparge with (gasp, that can't be right) cold water. When the water mixes with the grain it gets warm enough to dissolve the sugars but cool enough to squeeze without burning my hand. With this I get another 5% to my efficiency. No extra heating, no extra time waiting for mashout (needs at least 10 minutes at 170) and I can reduce the length of my brew day.
 
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bradfordmonk

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With BIAB there is no need for mashout. When you remove the grain from the pot and squeeze the wort out of it, the conversion from the enzymes that you want to stop to keep the correct mix of sugars pretty much stops since there is no grain left in the pot. You can start heating that wort right away and if there was any conversion still going on in the pot it will stop shortly.

Getting efficiency with BIAB is about getting a fine crush. Most suppliers will crush coarse enough that the standard mash tun will not get clogged but you don't have the standard mash tun, you have a bag with a huge filter area. You should request double crush or BIAB crush.

When I pull the bag out and squeeze out the wort (I squeeze hard) I can expect to see about 80% efficiency. If I haven't used enough water in the mash to get my pre-boil amount, I do a pseudo sparge with (gasp, that can't be right) cold water. When the water mixes with the grain it gets warm enough to dissolve the sugars but cool enough to squeeze without burning my hand. With this I get another 5% to my efficiency. No extra heating, no extra time waiting for mashout (needs at least 10 minutes at 170) and I can reduce the length of my brew day.

So you don't even do the 170* sit at all? hmm.
 

RM-MN

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My brew goes from 152 to 170 while I am squeezing out the grain bag and is on its way to a boil. No wait.

When you fly sparge it takes some time to complete the process during which time the wort is sitting in the grain at mash temperature so then you need a mashout to stop conversion while you fly sparge. With BIAB, the grain is gone and you heat right away. You'd probably be at a boil before the 10 minute mashout would normally be completed and at a boil, the enzymes are destroyed.
 

fizgig

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I just did my first BIAB today, nailed all my times and temperatures, no doughballs, nice and loose, ended up with 55% efficiency.

I also used grains milled by Midwest. Damn, I have ingredients for another batch from them too, maybe I should order a mill and redo them.
 
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bradfordmonk

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I just did my first BIAB today, nailed all my times and temperatures, no doughballs, nice and loose, ended up with 55% efficiency.

I also used grains milled by Midwest. Damn, I have ingredients for another batch from them too, maybe I should order a mill and redo them.
i really don't know if that's my issue, but i did have a lot of (don't know what term is, but they look like full grains...husks?)

the crush looks a lot different than my grain i had leftover from Northern Brewer. I have a Corona, probably should have re-crushed all of it. I didn't do it originally because I bought the Corona after the order from Midwest.
 

fizgig

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I don't know what else could have gone wrong, 152 degrees, after 75 minutes it was at 150, brought it up to 168, rested for ten minutes, lifted the bag up and down a few times, put it in a bucket, let it drain more, dumped the grain and poured the rest back in the pot. Preboil and original gravities were way low, pre and post boil volumes were spot on.
 
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bradfordmonk

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I don't know what else could have gone wrong, 152 degrees, after 75 minutes it was at 150, brought it up to 168, rested for ten minutes, lifted the bag up and down a few times, put it in a bucket, let it drain more, dumped the grain and poured the rest back in the pot. Preboil and original gravities were way low, pre and post boil volumes were spot on.
Sounds just like mine, except I only did 60 minutes, but it held temp. So seems like we have the Midwest in common. The extra 5% may account for the extra 15 minutes...haha

Lesson learned. I got on a group buy locally, so I'll be doing my own milling from now on.

When I got them, I was thinking "These don't look crushed enough." guess they weren't :( Especially compared to the grains I get from NB.
 

newnick

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I did a batch today from a kit from Midwest, the grains didn't look double crushed as I had asked for. I still hit the estimated OG with about 5.75 gals. going into the fermentor. The last two batches I've done have not been crushed all that fine.
 

fizgig

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Here's my grain if anyone can tell me if that was the issue from these pics, sorry if they are blurry/low res, I used my phone.

Hmm, it rotated them, strange, I'll post to another gallery.

IMG_0753.jpg


IMG_0752.jpg
 

mcbaumannerb

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I got horrible conversion with BIAB at first too. Then I had the LHBS double mill my grain and I made sure I stirred the crap out of it at the end before pulling the bag out to drain. Once I did that I nailed my numbers.
 

rmaloney86

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Those don't look nearly crushed enough... In fact I'm not sure they are crushed at all.
 
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bradfordmonk

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This was my second and I never paid attention to grain crush since first crush from NB was great. First time I dealt with a terrible crush.

only thing that helped save me was I crushed my own 4lbs of abbey malt. At least I was shooting for high og, so I'll still end up with a good beer.
 

RM-MN

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There is such a difference between the grains you show and what I put into my BIAB mash. The grain looks like coarse ground corn meal with the husks all torn up when I'm done grinding it. It would be terrible for a conventional tun but it works well for BIAB. My biggest problem is every batch seems to overshoot the anticipated OG, even when I adjust the software to account for the better efficiency. Of course at the end of the ferment I have the opposite problem, my FG is nearly always below projected even though I check my mash temp with 2 or 3 thermometers.
 
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bradfordmonk

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There is such a difference between the grains you show and what I put into my BIAB mash. The grain looks like coarse ground corn meal with the husks all torn up when I'm done grinding it. It would be terrible for a conventional tun but it works well for BIAB. My biggest problem is every batch seems to overshoot the anticipated OG, even when I adjust the software to account for the better efficiency. Of course at the end of the ferment I have the opposite problem, my FG is nearly always below projected even though I check my mash temp with 2 or 3 thermometers.
wouldn't FG be more affected by fermentation? Perhaps not enough yeast cells or temp control?
 

fizgig

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from what I've read, the sugars are more fermentable mashing at lower temps, he probably wants more body and mashes a little higher, yeast attenuation also plays a roll.
 

Cider123

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Brewmaster's Warehouse may take a few more days to ship than Midwest but the prices are better (IMHO) and I asked for and clearly got a solid double crush for my next BIAB.

FWIW, I was somewhat discouraged by my last efficiency and looked for answers. I decided to go to the source over at BIABrewer.com. Those folks are very friendly and helpful and extremely knowledgable about the ins and outs of BIAB brewing.
They also have this real cool spreadsheet for determining what you need to get good efficiencies called the BIABacus.
I recommend a pilgrimage over there to clear up some questions. Not that folks are not knowledgable here, they are and helpful too, but those guys at BIABrewer live and breath the whole BIAB concept. Well worth the field trip IMHO.
 

mcbaumannerb

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OP ... For your next brew I'd suggest going to a local LHBS (there are plenty of good ones around here) and getting them to do a fine or double mill on your grain. You may pay a little more than mail order but if your brew comes out right that may be worth it (but at least you'll have all the info to decide.)
 
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bradfordmonk

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OP ... For your next brew I'd suggest going to a local LHBS (there are plenty of good ones around here) and getting them to do a fine or double mill on your grain. You may pay a little more than mail order but if your brew comes out right that may be worth it (but at least you'll have all the info to decide.)
Yea for sure. I wanted to try Midwest, but if I buy online it'll be from Northern Brewer. But I'll probably be doing most business locally now because all I really will need in the future is bottles, priming sugar, specialty grains and occasional DME for making starters.

I got my own grain mill (corona) and am buying two sacks of grains. :rockin:

So I chalk it up to trial and error, but if people are going to buy from Midwest, I'd suggest making sure to get them to double mill, see if they can grain finer or just buy unmilled and do it yourself.
 

hopmonster2189

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Yeah for BIAB get that grain nice and ground, my LHBS let's me weigh out and grind my grist on their MonsterMill hooked up to a Milwaukee, I always make sure there are no whole grains after milling. Haven't gotten lower then 70% efficiency
 

pdxal

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I consistently get 75-80% efficiency and am lazy about lots of variables.
Better crush will help a ton. Also, it sounds like several posters are not squeezing the grain bag, which will extract a lot more sugar. Draining over a pot/bucket helps, but squeezing the crap out of the bag/grain adds a lot of gravity points. Another point might be larger water volumes; if someone is not using strike+sparge volumes in the pot with a very thin mash, then boiling down the runnings, lots of sugar might be getting left behind.
 

seckert

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I always get my grains from NB. I brewed yesterday and went to take an OG reading, trying to move fast since my daughter needed picked up from softball and i dropped my hydrometer and broke it. so i am hoping my beer will come out. I did taste the sample and it tasted about right so hopefully it is good! lol
 

RM-MN

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I always get my grains from NB. I brewed yesterday and went to take an OG reading, trying to move fast since my daughter needed picked up from softball and i dropped my hydrometer and broke it. so i am hoping my beer will come out. I did taste the sample and it tasted about right so hopefully it is good! lol
And you didn't have 2 spare hydrometers on hand? This must be the first one you have broken.:D
 

captainkirk83

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I had the same problem yesterday with my second Biab attempt. First one went great but the efficiency yesterday was only 55% and will likely end up at 4% abv than 5%. I'm blaming the crush from lhbs as it did not look as fine as my last one where I got over 75%. Thanks for all the answers and I'll ask for a finer crush next time.

Side question. Will low efficiency affect the final beer quality other than lower alc and ticking me off?
 
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bradfordmonk

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I think my low efficiency in my case was the crush of the grains from Midwest.

I did find a picture I took, I mixed in some of my grains I crushed and the ones I had from NB.

Most of the kernels(?) you can see are what MW sent me, as that's what the whole bag mostly looked like from them. The white/bright pieces is mostly from me and crushing my Abbey malt. SO it's tough to illustrate how crush looked because I mixed the grains in the bucket.

I was almost going to run them through my corona, and I should have gone with my instinct to do that :(

WP_20130217_004.jpg
 

acidrain

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I got horrible conversion with BIAB at first too. Then I had the LHBS double mill my grain and I made sure I stirred the crap out of it at the end before pulling the bag out to drain. Once I did that I nailed my numbers.
Four pages and only this one mention of stirring.:drunk:

Stirring is just as important as crush.

Four things affect BIAB: crush, stirring, temp, and squeeze.
I always had better efficiency with full volume mash (no sparge), and like others have said, the mash-out is un-necessary.
 
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bradfordmonk

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Yup, I do stirring and squeezing (my temps have been great with just putting blankets over, I usually shoot a degree or two higher so temps settle, it's cold out here in Philly and I do the brewing outside). I just think the original issue was with the grain crush, because that was the biggest concern, at least from me. I did it once before and did well with BIAB for first attempt, and this was the only thing that changed from 1st attempt to this attempt.

I will say Midwest has great customer service. I brought the issue up to them to just make them aware of the issue and they got back to me. Said they saw a thread on here (probably this one) and noticed the grains didn't looked crushed properly. They have one person milling the grains and over time it just gets out of whack if not payed closer attention to. So they were definitely understanding of the issue and went above and beyond to do what they could to rectify the issue.

So I give them huge props, and would definitely order from them again where (to be honest) was just thinking of avoiding. They want us to make great beer. And I see that while looking around about people who deal with them locally.
 

midwestsupplies

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Hello All,

We just wanted to take a moment to comment on the crush of the grains coming out of our grain room. It sounds like there were some problems recently with the grain mill. I have informed the guys in the mill room as well as the floor manager of the problem, and they have assured me they are looking into it today.

I apologize if we caused any problems, or made anyone's brew-day more difficult than it needed to be. If you want, you can always feel free to contact us via phone, email, or live chat. We are always more than willing to correct any error that was our fault.

Again, sorry for the trouble.

Cheers,

Nick @ Midwest.
 

seckert

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And you didn't have 2 spare hydrometers on hand? This must be the first one you have broken.:D
yes actually this was the first one i have broken...lol and of course my lhbs is closed today, so this next batch will be done blind as well...i trust my technique though so im sure it will come out!
 

fizgig

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I stirred and stirred, I didn't squeeze it super hard but I pressed on the sides of the bag.

I ordered grain for 2 different batches in that order, should I get these re-crushed?

IMG_0784.jpg
 
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bradfordmonk

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I stirred and stirred, I didn't squeeze it super hard but I pressed on the sides of the bag.

I ordered grain for 2 different batches in that order, should I get these re-crushed?
This is what I'm now using as a baseline...

https://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Evaluating_the_Crush

That doesn't look like any of the good crushed grain, nor does it look like any of the bad examples. That's what mine looked like, and I'd say it doesn't look crushed pretty much at all.
 
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