Can't hit my Numbers.....

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Vcreations

Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2011
Messages
24
Reaction score
1
Location
San Marcos
This is my 5th ag batch, but for some reason i'm still getting lower OG's than what beersmith is telling me.

For example, i had a mash of 18lbs today, and it should have an OG of 1.079 @ 60% efficiency. However i ended up with an OG reading of 1.065 (right before adding the yeast). When i started my mash, my strike water was 5.5g at 165F which then cooled to 154 after 5 mins, then when i checked it at 10 mins it was at 152F and it stayed like that for the next 80 mins. I batched sparged with 3g at 172F, let it sit 5 mins then drained. I ended up with 6.5 gallons in the boil kettle. I then added 3/4 lb of Dark Agave Nectar and stirred it in well, and then check my Gravity reading and it came out to 1.058. I boiled off 1.25 gallons in 70 mins.

one note though is that this was that the grains were crushed differently than before. My homebrew shop's mill was out of order, so the next door brewpub lended a hand and milled my grains for me. I don't know their settings, but i did notice that it wasn't as crushed as i usually get.

I'm just really confused on why this is happening! I could really use some ideas!! Thanks!! V.
 

Riopel

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 15, 2011
Messages
58
Reaction score
1
Location
Jonquière
I think you find your problem by yourself... if the grain was not enough crushed, that would realy explain your result!
 

Begin2Brew

Searching for the perfect beer one at a time
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 3, 2011
Messages
744
Reaction score
63
Location
Antioch
I found that i get better efficiency if i stir the mash every 10 minutes during the mash.

Sent from my DROID BIONIC using Home Brew Talk
 

OHIOSTEVE

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 13, 2009
Messages
3,546
Reaction score
80
Location
SIDNEY
A couple of things I did that really upped my efficiency, especially on bigger grain bills. #1 do as was stated and stir the mash a couple of times during the mashing process. Not just swirl it around but stir the crap out of it lol... #2 I split my sparge water into two sparges rather than one. It will add a few minutes to your brew day but it made a big difference in my efficiency.
 

ajf

Senior Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Oct 29, 2005
Messages
4,648
Reaction score
119
Location
Long Island
There's 3 things I can think of (other than crush).

  1. When you added the sparge water, did you stir it really well? when batch sparging, it is the stirring of the sparge water that dissolves the sugars, and unless you stir really well, you will leave a lot of sugars behind.
  2. You batch sparged with 172F sparge water? When added to the 152F grain bed, that will not get the sparge up to optimum temperature. I would suggest heating the sparge water up to 180 - 185F, but not so hot that it raises the grain bed temperature over 170F.
  3. Doing a high gravity brew with a batch sparge is always going to result in lower efficiency than a more moderate gravity. I wouldn't suggest switching to a fly sparge as that would introduce a whole new lot of unknowns, and probably reduce your efficiency even further. I would suggest that you limit your grain bill for 5 gallon batches to about 10 - 12 lbs grain until you get consistent results. At that point, you could try a higher gravity brew, and measure how much the extra grains reduce your efficiency. Having done it once, you should have some information that would allow you to compensate for future higher gravity brews.
-a.
 

Pappers_

Moderator
Staff member
Mod
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 31, 2009
Messages
17,919
Reaction score
4,405
Location
Chicago
Big thumbs up to all of the above. In addition, I suspect you are already doing this, but are you being careful about your volumes? If your volume is off, it will throw off the gravity estimates.
 

Bobby_M

Vendor and Brewer
HBT Sponsor
Joined
Aug 3, 2006
Messages
25,544
Reaction score
4,768
Location
Whitehouse Station
I'm sure most of it had to do with your milling but the question about stirring the sparge water is important. Also, how much dead space does your mash tun have?
 

bmock79

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 6, 2011
Messages
259
Reaction score
2
Location
dayton
@bobby- I am following this thread because I have some of the same issues the op does.

By dead space do you mean the water that doesn't drain from the tun? And what effect does this have on things?

Thanks for the help!
 
OP
Vcreations

Vcreations

Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2011
Messages
24
Reaction score
1
Location
San Marcos
@ajf: #1. I never really have stirred the mash or after i put the sparge water in, so i will give that a try next time. #2. I always thought that 180F was a bit too high, but it is def worth a shot to try!!! #3. I figured i would loose some efficiency due to a higher grain bill, but i've always been a bit low on my numbers even with my regular grain bills (10#-13#). I will def try to work on the sparging and stirring the mash and see how that does.

@Bobby M: when you mean dead space, is that the area where wort is left after draining? if it is then mine is a hair above .25 gallons.

I was talking with a friend from my homebrew club and he said that he got his own mill and his numbers shot through the roof, so i know that will be in my wish list soon, lol!!
 

ajf

Senior Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Oct 29, 2005
Messages
4,648
Reaction score
119
Location
Long Island
Giving a really good stir while doughing in, and when adding the sparge water will make a big difference to your efficiency.
I just put your grain and water volumes into Promash.
with 18# grain, and 5.5g strike water, Promash estimates that you would need 3g of sparge water at 185F to raise the grain bed temperature up to 168F (the optimal sparge temperature). I find that using that calculator always leaves me a few degrees cooler because I have the thermal mass of my MLT set to 0.

-a.
 

jetmac

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2010
Messages
1,110
Reaction score
38
Location
Mcdonough
This is my 5th ag batch, but for some reason i'm still getting lower OG's than what beersmith is telling me.

For example, i had a mash of 18lbs today, and it should have an OG of 1.079 @ 60% efficiency. However i ended up with an OG reading of 1.065 (right before adding the yeast). When i started my mash, my strike water was 5.5g at 165F which then cooled to 154 after 5 mins, then when i checked it at 10 mins it was at 152F and it stayed like that for the next 80 mins. I batched sparged with 3g at 172F, let it sit 5 mins then drained. I ended up with 6.5 gallons in the boil kettle. I then added 3/4 lb of Dark Agave Nectar and stirred it in well, and then check my Gravity reading and it came out to 1.058. I boiled off 1.25 gallons in 70 mins.

one note though is that this was that the grains were crushed differently than before. My homebrew shop's mill was out of order, so the next door brewpub lended a hand and milled my grains for me. I don't know their settings, but i did notice that it wasn't as crushed as i usually get.

I'm just really confused on why this is happening! I could really use some ideas!! Thanks!! V.
Something about your gravity readings is incorrect.

If you started off pre-boil with a gravity of 1.058 @ 6.5gallons, that would equal 377 gravity points(58*6.5)
And if you boiled down to 5.25 gallons, that would give you a 1.072(377/5.25) not 1.065. I know that's still not 1.079 but it's closer.
 

jetmac

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2010
Messages
1,110
Reaction score
38
Location
Mcdonough
Also, 5.5 gallons of water into 18lbs of grain is a pretty thick mash. 1.22:1
I would shoot for a thinner mash say around 1.5qt/pound thatwould mean using about 6.5 gallons of water for your dough in
 

ajf

Senior Member
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Oct 29, 2005
Messages
4,648
Reaction score
119
Location
Long Island
I made a slight mistake in my last post. I forgot to account for the fact that you would have drained off the first runnings before adding the sparge water. Taking his into account, you would need 3 gallons of 190F sparge water to raise the temperature up to 168F.

-a.
 
OP
Vcreations

Vcreations

Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2011
Messages
24
Reaction score
1
Location
San Marcos
ok so after looking into this a bit more, i borrowed a friends refractometer and to my surprise, i was very close to my numbers with my latest batch (one or two points off). So after seeing that, i tested my hydrometer in distilled water and noticed it was siting at 0.992. So i know that a new hydrometer is in the next order. I tried stirring the grains very heavily at different points during the mash (@ the beginning, @ 30 mins in, and @ 60 mins) and it seemed to help. I also batch sparged at 185F and got a temp reading of 170F. Overall i think this helped quite a bit!! on the crush, i stuck with my original crush for a 60% efficiency and overall i ended up a little bit higher efficiency, which i will take!! thanks to everyone!!
 

bigbeergeek

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2008
Messages
4,111
Reaction score
132
Location
Visalia
Also, 5.5 gallons of water into 18lbs of grain is a pretty thick mash. 1.22:1
I would shoot for a thinner mash say around 1.5qt/pound thatwould mean using about 6.5 gallons of water for your dough in
You want a thick mash when batch sparging. It frees up more water for sparging the grains and increases efficiency.
 

jetmac

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2010
Messages
1,110
Reaction score
38
Location
Mcdonough
You want a thick mash when batch sparging. It frees up more water for sparging the grains and increases efficiency.
I disagree.

Your conversion takes place during the mash time. You'll get better quality wort from less sparge water. Sparging is just rinsing the grains. Too much sparging increases pH and extracts tannins from the grain husks.

I mash around 1.4-1.5qt/lb and get a little over 75% efficiency.
 

bigbeergeek

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2008
Messages
4,111
Reaction score
132
Location
Visalia
I disagree.

Your conversion takes place during the mash time. You'll get better quality wort from less sparge water. Sparging is just rinsing the grains. Too much sparging increases pH and extracts tannins from the grain husks.

I mash around 1.4-1.5qt/lb and get a little over 75% efficiency.
That's all well and good, but I routinely mash with 1.1 qt/lb, get 86% efficiency with my fly sparge, and not a single one of my BJCP-judged beers has ever had a single note of "tannin" or "astringency." To each their own -- we're both making great beer, I'm sure of it. I just want to point out that as long as you're not oversparging your grains, you can certainly mash thicker than 1.4 qt/lb and produce good efficient wort. :mug:
 

jetmac

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2010
Messages
1,110
Reaction score
38
Location
Mcdonough
To each their own -- we're both making great beer, I'm sure of it. :mug:
I agree.

That's all well and good, but I routinely mash with 1.1 qt/lb, get 86% efficiency with my fly sparge, and not a single one of my BJCP-judged beers has ever had a single note of "tannin" or "astringency." I just want to point out that as long as you're not oversparging your grains, you can certainly mash thicker than 1.4 qt/lb and produce good efficient wort.
:mug:
Do you disagree that the conversion takes place during the mash not the sparge? That the sparge is just rinsing the grains?

So if you're mashing at 1.1qt/lb you may be getting the most efficiency but maybe not the best wort.

At 1.1qts/lb in a 12lb batch you're only yielding maybe 2 gallons of first runnings wort. Now you have to sparge with 4 or 4.5 gallons of sparge water to get to 6 or 6.5 gallons in your kettle. (I realize at 1.5qts/lb in a 12lb batch only yields 1 more gallon of wort. But as your batch gets larger the difference gets greater) Wouldn't it be better to have more first runnings wort and less efficiency? Just wondering.

Batch sparging with Denny Conn at Beer Smith

Batch Sparging with Denny Conn on TBN
 

bigbeergeek

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2008
Messages
4,111
Reaction score
132
Location
Visalia
Do you disagree that the conversion takes place during the mash not the sparge? That the sparge is just rinsing the grains?
I believe "rinsing the grains" is the very definition of "sparge" -- I suppose I could split hairs and say that some level of conversion is still taking place during the sparge; I don't think that's you point and I know it isn't mine. ;)

So if you're mashing at 1.1qt/lb you may be getting the most efficiency but maybe not the best wort.

At 1.1qts/lb in a 12lb batch you're only yielding maybe 2 gallons of first runnings wort. Now you have to sparge with 4 or 4.5 gallons of sparge water to get to 6 or 6.5 gallons in your kettle. (I realize at 1.5qts/lb in a 12lb batch only yields 1 more gallon of wort. But as your batch gets larger the difference gets greater) Wouldn't it be better to have more first runnings wort and less efficiency? Just wondering.
Unless you're talking about mashing oatmeal-thick (like 0.66 qt/lb!), I don't think there is any kind of loss in wort quality when you mash a tad bit thicker and properly sparge your mash. If minimizing sparging produced the highest quality wort, we'd all be mashing in at 2.5 (?) qt/lb and doing no sparge brewing. However professional brewers (modern and historical) as well as homebrewers have learned that sparging is what gets that "good" wort (created during the mash) out of the grainbed. Proper sparging is an element in making good wort. We can go back and forth over water/grain ratios, but as your example shows it's only a gallon or so difference on an average batch of beer. That can't have a discernible affect on beer quality/flavor. The effect it does have, however, can be seen in our respective efficiencies; I believe I get around 10% more gravity points out of the same grist as you do, and part of that is attributable to a little more sparge water going through my grainbed.

I don't want to misrepresent myself as some kind of efficiency fiend -- I'd gladly take 65% efficiency if it produced better beer. I have no reason to believe it does. At the end of the day, both methods (properly utilized) will produce the same wort with identical OGs. I'm curious where this notion of minimizing the sparge to improve the wort comes from. What's the reasoning behind it? I too am genuinely curious and always willing to improve my beer.

...if that's possible at this point, anyway. ;) :p
 

cadarnell

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 8, 2010
Messages
545
Reaction score
55
Location
Bloomington In.
this is very important .... when I really dialed in on my pre boil volumes I found out that my FGs were better than I thought.

also, if you had 6.5 gallons of 1.058 and boiled off 1.25 gallons, you should have had 5.25 gallons @1.072 by my math ... one of those measurements had to be off I think.
 

jetmac

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Aug 16, 2010
Messages
1,110
Reaction score
38
Location
Mcdonough
I believe "rinsing the grains" is the very definition of "sparge" -- I suppose I could split hairs and say that some level of conversion is still taking place during the sparge; I don't think that's you point and I know it isn't mine. ;)



Unless you're talking about mashing oatmeal-thick (like 0.66 qt/lb!), I don't think there is any kind of loss in wort quality when you mash a tad bit thicker and properly sparge your mash. If minimizing sparging produced the highest quality wort, we'd all be mashing in at 2.5 (?) qt/lb and doing no sparge brewing. However professional brewers (modern and historical) as well as homebrewers have learned that sparging is what gets that "good" wort (created during the mash) out of the grainbed. Proper sparging is an element in making good wort. We can go back and forth over water/grain ratios, but as your example shows it's only a gallon or so difference on an average batch of beer. That can't have a discernible affect on beer quality/flavor. The effect it does have, however, can be seen in our respective efficiencies; I believe I get around 10% more gravity points out of the same grist as you do, and part of that is attributable to a little more sparge water going through my grainbed.

I don't want to misrepresent myself as some kind of efficiency fiend -- I'd gladly take 65% efficiency if it produced better beer. I have no reason to believe it does. At the end of the day, both methods (properly utilized) will produce the same wort with identical OGs. I'm curious where this notion of minimizing the sparge to improve the wort comes from. What's the reasoning behind it? I too am genuinely curious and always willing to improve my beer.

...if that's possible at this point, anyway. ;) :p
I understand what you're saying. I'm sure there is an upper limit to the ratio.

I'm curious where this notion of minimizing the sparge to improve the wort comes from. What's the reasoning behind it? I too am genuinely curious and always willing to improve my beer.

...if that's possible at this point, anyway. ;) :p
I believe it is not a "notion". It has been written about and discussed quite a bit in terms of "no sparge" brewing. No sparge brewing may be the least efficient but you can't argue that 6.5 gallons of wort watered down with rinsed grains is going to result in a better wort than 6.5 gallons of pure not watered down wort.

Gordon Strong: "...no-sparge technique. I think that gives a bigger flavor boost than decocting", "

Gordon Strong: "This is the least efficient and most expensive (but fastest) method, requiring an increase in your grist of about 33-40%. However, the main benefit of this approach is that it yields a richer, more intense, higher-quality malt flavor with the least harshness of any technique"

John Palmer: "This method is the least efficient...but it has the benefit of being immune to tannin extraction during the sparge. Like batch sparge, no-sparge is a draining rather than a rinsing method, and the beer is produced entirely from first runnings, resulting in a smoother,richer-tasting wort at the expense of efficiency"

I'm sure i can find more examples.

Not trying to disrespect you there just pointing out "minimizing the sparge to improve the wort " isn't a notion, it has been written about and discussed. It is not something i have done or experienced other than batch-sparging at a ratio of 1.4-1.5qt/Lb
 

bigbeergeek

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 7, 2008
Messages
4,111
Reaction score
132
Location
Visalia
Right on. I might try a no-sparge on my next malty brew, a scotch ale.

I understand what you're saying. It would be a worthwhile experiment to produce several batches of wort with identical OGs/grist ratios, and play with the water/grist ratio (perhaps including a no-sparge as an extreme example). I would like to see if my boost in efficiency is coming at a discernible expense of flavor.

No-sparge would also be fun as it lends itself to a second-runnings beer, something I've always wanted to do.
 
OP
Vcreations

Vcreations

Member
Joined
Jul 19, 2011
Messages
24
Reaction score
1
Location
San Marcos
I don't know if this plays into bigbeergeek and jetmac's conversation, but i have noticed that i have gotten a lot more "stronger" in flavor beers with my lower efficiency ag beers than my partial mash beer. While i was doing partial mash i was at 75% efficiency, but when i switched to ag i got lower efficiency but better flavor in my beer!!!! I must say i made a Pale Ale at 65% efficiency for a competition and i thought that it was to strong in flavor, but ended up going home with third place!! now there are some things i want to change with that recipe but i know i want to keep that same flavor, so maybe keeping it at 65% for the next time will be a golden ticket for me!!

My friend and i have thought about doing a "no-sparge" beer and take the second runnings and make that as well, mainly for ****s and giggles!!
 
Top