Efficiency mash and boil

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Beenym88

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Hey guys I was wondering how other peoples efficiency is. I use the brewers edge mash and boil with recirculating pump. It’s basically brew on a bag with a sparge. I tend to get inbetween 68-70% efficiency. My last brew day I recirculation arm got clogged and my efficiency was terrible only like 60%. My thinking is this is because this system doesn’t hold heat well and it varies by 6 degrees so when I mash at 152 the heating element kicks on when it gets down to 146 and won’t shut off until it hits 158. Does this sound reasonable for making it so I can’t break 70%?
 

JohnnyO'

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Are you milling your own grains? See my crush size thread for some info on setting your mill gap wrt BIAB mash efficiency.
 
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Beenym88

Beenym88

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Yes I milk my own. I set my mill to about .35 and I do tend to rush my sparge
 

bracconiere

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i mill at 028", and my sparge is usually an hour to an hour and a half.


but i fly sparge, from what i've heard other BIABers say that gap seems too lose?


(for a second there, i thought that was going to be cracking wise about me!
Yes I milk my own

;) :mug: :D)
 
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Beenym88

Beenym88

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Do you ever have trouble with stuck sparges with it that fine? I was milling it lower than .35 for a while but sparging became a nightmare.
 

bracconiere

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Do you ever have trouble with stuck sparges with it that fine? I was milling it lower than .35 for a while but sparging became a nightmare.

no, i use a bazooka tube and round 10 gallon cooler. sparge is always fine. i noticed with this batch before last with 2lb's of cooked brown rice thrown into it, it was slow when i tried to speed it up. but it wasn't really draining slower then when i drin it slow on purpose, just couldn't get it faster?

how big is your kettle? some BIABers i've heard do no sparge? but you'd need a pretty big pot for that i believe?

do you have another pot you could heat water in to drop the basket in to like sorta do a batch sparge BIAB? i know the suckyness of crappy 60% effec, and co2 leaks well, want to help is all...
 

Coastalbrew

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I have a M&B no pump version and I've been getting 80-85% for all my recent batches. I get my grains milled at the shop where I buy my ingredients and have them double mill the grain. I line my mash pipe with a paint strainer bag to eliminate issues with stuck sparges. I use a slightly thinner mash 1.5-1.75 qt/lb. I stir the mash every 15 minutes, recirculate 1G at the same time, and typically mash for about 75 minutes before starting the vorlauf and sparge. I take my time with the sparge, and let everything run off into the kettle. This system works great for me and I've only had a stuck sparge on my very first batch before I started using the paint strainer bag. I regularly brew beers with as much as 23% rye or wheat in the grist with no issues.

As far as I understand temp has very little effect on efficiency. Efficiency is more affected by crush size, ph, and time so I'd look at those factors in your process.

Also just ignore the temp readout during the mash, it is only showing the temp in the 1" space under the mash pipe and has no actual representation of mash temp. I have measured the actual temp in the grain bed in every brew I've done in the M&B. For the 5G batches the temp has been spot on in the grain bed for the entire mash. For the 3G batches I do, I typically will lose 1* in the middle of the mash but the unit will bring it back up by the end. The temp readout is really only useful when heating up to strike temp and for knowing when your close to boiling. I also find it handy during chilling if your going to do a whirlpool hop addition. But if you want to track your mash temp, get a good thermometer and read it directly in the grain bed yourself .

Cheers!
 
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Beenym88

Beenym88

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I have a M&B no pump version and I've been getting 80-85% for all my recent batches. I get my grains milled at the shop where I buy my ingredients and have them double mill the grain. I line my mash pipe with a paint strainer bag to eliminate issues with stuck sparges. I use a slightly thinner mash 1.5-1.75 qt/lb. I stir the mash every 15 minutes, recirculate 1G at the same time, and typically mash for about 75 minutes before starting the vorlauf and sparge. I take my time with the sparge, and let everything run off into the kettle. This system works great for me and I've only had a stuck sparge on my very first batch before I started using the paint strainer bag. I regularly brew beers with as much as 23% rye or wheat in the grist with no issues.

As far as I understand temp has very little effect on efficiency. Efficiency is more affected by crush size, ph, and time so I'd look at those factors in your process.

Also just ignore the temp readout during the mash, it is only showing the temp in the 1" space under the mash pipe and has no actual representation of mash temp. I have measured the actual temp in the grain bed in every brew I've done in the M&B. For the 5G batches the temp has been spot on in the grain bed for the entire mash. For the 3G batches I do, I typically will lose 1* in the middle of the mash but the unit will bring it back up by the end. The temp readout is really only useful when heating up to strike temp and for knowing when your close to boiling. I also find it handy during chilling if your going to do a whirlpool hop addition. But if you want to track your mash temp, get a good thermometer and read it directly in the grain bed yourself .

Cheers!
Is your crush extremely fine like do you get a lot of powder? Also about how long does your sparge take you?
 

Coastalbrew

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Is your crush extremely fine like do you get a lot of powder? Also about how long does your sparge take you?
My crush is not super fine, but there's probably a cup or so of powder at the bottom of the bag, which I dump into the mash along with everything else. For what it's worth between the paint strainer bag and the vorlauf, my wort comes out nice and clear unless I'm using a haze creating grain line wheat or rye.

I've never actually timed the sparge, but I'd say it's about an hour maybe slightly more.
 

bpgreen

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I've been doing really long mashes lately (like overnight) and my efficiency has gone up dramatically. I started by settinging the water to be ready when I woke up. But then, I realized that if I put the grain in the night before, I could brew whenever I wanted the following day. So I started setting the timer to 24 hours, putting the malt tube in and giving it an occasional stir.

I've also slowed my sparge. I'm in no hurry and it's mostly unattended.

My efficiency has gone way up and my anxiety has gone way down.
 

Noobbrwr

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I have a M&B no pump version and I've been getting 80-85% for all my recent batches. I get my grains milled at the shop where I buy my ingredients and have them double mill the grain. I line my mash pipe with a paint strainer bag to eliminate issues with stuck sparges. I use a slightly thinner mash 1.5-1.75 qt/lb. I stir the mash every 15 minutes, recirculate 1G at the same time, and typically mash for about 75 minutes before starting the vorlauf and sparge. I take my time with the sparge, and let everything run off into the kettle. This system works great for me and I've only had a stuck sparge on my very first batch before I started using the paint strainer bag. I regularly brew beers with as much as 23% rye or wheat in the grist with no issues.

As far as I understand temp has very little effect on efficiency. Efficiency is more affected by crush size, ph, and time so I'd look at those factors in your process.

Also just ignore the temp readout during the mash, it is only showing the temp in the 1" space under the mash pipe and has no actual representation of mash temp. I have measured the actual temp in the grain bed in every brew I've done in the M&B. For the 5G batches the temp has been spot on in the grain bed for the entire mash. For the 3G batches I do, I typically will lose 1* in the middle of the mash but the unit will bring it back up by the end. The temp readout is really only useful when heating up to strike temp and for knowing when your close to boiling. I also find it handy during chilling if your going to do a whirlpool hop addition. But if you want to track your mash temp, get a good thermometer and read it directly in the grain bed yourself .

Cheers!
What size strainer bag are you using? can you link to it?
 

Homebrewer85

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Hey OP,
Story time, grab a beer! I'll get one while I proofread this...

I have a M&B no pump version and I've been getting 80-85% for all my recent batches. I get my grains milled at the shop where I buy my ingredients and have them double mill the grain. I line my mash pipe with a paint strainer bag to eliminate issues with stuck sparges. I use a slightly thinner mash 1.5-1.75 qt/lb. I stir the mash every 15 minutes, recirculate 1G at the same time, and typically mash for about 75 minutes before starting the vorlauf and sparge. I take my time with the sparge, and let everything run off into the kettle. This system works great for me and I've only had a stuck sparge on my very first batch before I started using the paint strainer bag. I regularly brew beers with as much as 23% rye or wheat in the grist with no issues.

As far as I understand temp has very little effect on efficiency. Efficiency is more affected by crush size, ph, and time so I'd look at those factors in your process.

Also just ignore the temp readout during the mash, it is only showing the temp in the 1" space under the mash pipe and has no actual representation of mash temp. I have measured the actual temp in the grain bed in every brew I've done in the M&B. For the 5G batches the temp has been spot on in the grain bed for the entire mash. For the 3G batches I do, I typically will lose 1* in the middle of the mash but the unit will bring it back up by the end. The temp readout is really only useful when heating up to strike temp and for knowing when your close to boiling. I also find it handy during chilling if your going to do a whirlpool hop addition. But if you want to track your mash temp, get a good thermometer and read it directly in the grain bed yourself .

Cheers!
I agree with this. I've seen on another thread also that the temp of the grain stays in range. I haven't checked myself but considering the probe is on top of the element I'll take the word of the wise for it.
Other than what others have said, I can only ask/offer the idea of vorlaufing before recirculating. Mine doesn't have that option so I wouldn't know, but my train of thought follows past experience.
I've had a stuck sparge with my vessel's bazooka tube from opening it all the way instead of a slow start. Recirculating is essentially sparging on top of itself?.. maybe? Does the pump have a control valve or is it full on? Just an idea and if valid maybe it'll help you and others prevent a stuck recirculation.
As for your original question, I get 78%-83% efficiency. I do full volume mashes with a grain crush the size of a credit card. I seen that with it being so fine, conversion happens within 30min. (Don't take my word for anything, I'm just a non testing sheeple. although I do research a bit)
So I mash in with a stir to check for dough balls and pull the tube after 20min. I let it drain till good enough because it's basically my recirculation and let go to allow the slow sinking of this titanic. Try it, it's kind of romantic lol. I re-stir to break it back up and get it all rinsed/circulated then finish the 69min mash. (69min cause brewing is a good time ;) )
I was thinking that the tube water has all the starches/sugars and the "dunk sparge" mid mash would allow a good rinse. With all the starchy water now out of the tube (not quite all but goodnuff) which'll still convert to sugar and the grain has fresh water to release more sugary starch into.
 

doug293cz

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Hey OP,
Story time, grab a beer! I'll get one while I proofread this...

I agree with this. I've seen on another thread also that the temp of the grain stays in range. I haven't checked myself but considering the probe is on top of the element I'll take the word of the wise for it.
Other than what others have said, I can only ask/offer the idea of vorlaufing before recirculating. Mine doesn't have that option so I wouldn't know, but my train of thought follows past experience.
I've had a stuck sparge with my vessel's bazooka tube from opening it all the way instead of a slow start. Recirculating is essentially sparging on top of itself?.. maybe? Does the pump have a control valve or is it full on? Just an idea and if valid maybe it'll help you and others prevent a stuck recirculation.
As for your original question, I get 78%-83% efficiency. I do full volume mashes with a grain crush the size of a credit card. I seen that with it being so fine, conversion happens within 30min. (Don't take my word for anything, I'm just a non testing sheeple. although I do research a bit)
So I mash in with a stir to check for dough balls and pull the tube after 20min. I let it drain till good enough because it's basically my recirculation and let go to allow the slow sinking of this titanic. Try it, it's kind of romantic lol. I re-stir to break it back up and get it all rinsed/circulated then finish the 69min mash. (69min cause brewing is a good time ;) )
I was thinking that the tube water has all the starches/sugars and the "dunk sparge" mid mash would allow a good rinse. With all the starchy water now out of the tube (not quite all but goodnuff) which'll still convert to sugar and the grain has fresh water to release more sugary starch into.
Couple of points:
  • Vorlaufing and recirculating are the same thing.
  • Recirculating is not sparging. Sparging is rinsing with fresh water to remove some of the sugar retained in the grain mass after initial draining. In the case of fly sparging draining and rinsing are done simultaneously.
Lifting the malt pipe out during, or at the end of, the mash does serve a useful purpose. The liquid outside of the pipe does not participate in the mash. Even with recirculation, the liquid volume between the pipe wall and vessel wall is stagnant. It will thus contain a very low concentration of extract (sugar). If you don't do something to homogenize the wort inside vs. outside the pipe prior to final basket lift, then the wort retained in the grain mass will have a higher concentration of extract (sugar) than the (mixed) drained wort, and this will reduce your lauter efficiency. A lift, drain, then let settle with the malt pipe puts more of the extract into the dead volume between cylinders, thus reducing the excess extract in the pipe, and increasing lauter efficiency.

An elegant fix to the stagnant wort volume, if you have recirculation, is to split the return wort between the inside and outside of the malt pipe. You want most of the recirc'ed wort to go into the pipe. Placing a "T" or "Y" on the recirc outlet, and then using a tube with 1/3 - 1/2 the ID on the outside vs. the inside return outlets will give you a good volume split. Arranging the outside the pipe recirc return to whirlpool the wort will give good mixing outside the pipe.

Brew on :mug:
 

Noobbrwr

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And just a quick question are you all referring to BH efficiency or Mash efficiency ?
 

Dancy

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And just a quick question are you all referring to BH efficiency or Mash efficiency ?
Based on the discussions in the thread, I’d say mash efficiency.

Just did my 2nd brew on mine, a Belgian 4.25 G batch with 14+ lbs of grain. I thought I did a slow sparge and I squeezed the bag a few times as well. My mash efficiency was only 64%. Is that possibly due in part to the high (for the M&B) grain bill and smaller batch size?
 

doug293cz

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Based on the discussions in the thread, I’d say mash efficiency.

Just did my 2nd brew on mine, a Belgian 4.25 G batch with 14+ lbs of grain. I thought I did a slow sparge and I squeezed the bag a few times as well. My mash efficiency was only 64%. Is that possibly due in part to the high (for the M&B) grain bill and smaller batch size?
Yes. For any given lauter process, the efficiency goes down with increasing grain bill weight for a fixed pre-boil volume. It also goes down for decreasing pre-boil volume for a fixed grain weight. If you increase grain weight and decrease pre-boil volume, you get a double whammy.

Brew on :mug:
 

Dancy

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Thanks Doug, I suspected that and now I don’t feel quire so badly about the efficiency :) I added 1.1lbs of extra light DME to the boil with about 20 minutes to go.
 

Dancy

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So I mash in with a stir to check for dough balls and pull the tube after 20min. I let it drain till good enough because it's basically my recirculation and let go to allow the slow sinking of this titanic. Try it, it's kind of romantic lol. I re-stir to break it back up and get it all rinsed/circulated then finish the 69min mash. (69min cause brewing is a good time ;) )
I was thinking that the tube water has all the starches/sugars and the "dunk sparge" mid mash would allow a good rinse. With all the starchy water now out of the tube (not quite all but goodnuff) which'll still convert to sugar and the grain has fresh water to release more sugary starch into.
So thanks to your post, I tried this because my mash efficiency was in the mid 60s or less for my first two batches on the Mash & Boil. On my 3rd batch, I lifted the pipe and let mostly drain twice before dropping it back in. I ended up with 89.9% mash efficiency! My post boil gravity was 1.060 after chilling at 5.0G when it was supposed to be 1.049 at 5.25g. I had to add water to bring it down. Thanks!
 
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