Quantcast

First AG Batch: 65% Efficiency

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Picobrew

Biscuit Enthusiast
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Messages
1,135
Reaction score
23
Location
NW Portland, OR
According to Beersmith, I got 65% Efficiency on my first AG batch. I am using a rubbermaid MLT with a 20" steel braid.

Here is the recipe:

Mister Squinty's Contemporary Summer Ale (from Radical Brewing)

4.00 lb Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 56.14 %
2.00 lb Pilsner (2 Row) Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 28.07 %
0.63 lb Wheat Malt, Ger (2.0 SRM) Grain 8.77 %
1.25 oz Challenger [7.50 %] (60 min) Hops 39.1 IBU
0.50 oz Challenger [7.50 %] (30 min) Hops 12.0 IBU
0.25 oz Challenger [7.50 %] (5 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
0.25 oz Saaz [4.00 %] (5 min) (Aroma Hop-Steep) Hops -
0.50 lb Dememera Sugar (2.0 SRM) Sugar 7.02 %
1 Pkgs London ESB Ale (Wyeast Labs #1968) [Starter 125 ml] Yeast-Ale



I did a 90min mash at 147 and got 1.037 post-boil gravity (at 5gallons). I was shooting for at least 1.042 or more. Recipe book (Radical Brewing) says 1.048, which is an astounding 87% efficiency according to Beersmith!


Things I will try to improve:

1. I didn't mash out high enough. I only got up to 160 or so, and I know I was supposed to go to 175 (according to recipe). Do I just achieve this temp by adding a bit of boiling water?

2. I could crush the grain more. The mash/sparge drained very fast, so I think I can crush finer. I used my own corona mill for the first time.

4. I did one big sparge. Should I have done more? Also, I didn't stir or anything. My first runnings added up to 3.25 G (grains absorbed .5g), so I sparged with 3.25g at 168F, all at once.

Anyway, it was fun. 6 hrs all told, including slowly heating things on my stovetop and crushing the grain. I managed to play some board games during, tho.
 

KYB

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Messages
1,555
Reaction score
51
Maybe mash higher then fly sparge? That's what I did (cooler mlt) and got 75% efficiency. I didn't mash out btw (don't know if I should have or not). I mashed at 1.25 qt/lb for 90min by adding 17.2 qts of 173*F water for 156*F step temp. Then I sparged with 4gal of 168*F water by opening the valve slightly and pouring the water into a funnel that led into my ghetto sparge arm - 3/4" pvc pipe, caps on the ends, with a T in the middle and drilled holes into the pipes. Apparently it worked fairly well but I know I can improve that. I'm going to make a cross sparge arm, and integrate it into the lid. Also, Protein Rests seem to help efficiency a fair amount from what people have been saying. I am going to try that next time.
 
Joined
Jan 17, 2009
Messages
709
Reaction score
8
Location
Conroe
I'm fairly new to AG (long time lurker though), so take this FWIW. More experienced brewers, please correct me if anything I'm doing is incorrect. :)

1. I don't do a mashout and it seems that alot of more experienced brewers don't either. Personally, I just do two sparges. The first w/ enough 170* water to bring the grain bed up to 168ish and the second to reach my pre-boil amount.

2. I don't crush my own grain, but the quality of your crush is a big factor in your efficiency. If you have your own mill I'd definitely try crushing a little finer next time.

3. Definitely stir the grain after adding your sparge water. You want all the grain to come in contact with the warmer water, and if you don't stir you're probably getting cold spots.

I'm not sure if your recipe called for it...but the lower mash temp might have contributed to your low efficiency as well. Also...did you pre-heat your MLT and check your mash temp at the end of the mash?
 

brown_dog_us

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 5, 2008
Messages
171
Reaction score
1
Location
Roswell, GA
I'm not sure if your recipe called for it...but the lower mash temp might have contributed to your low efficiency as well.
Yeah, 147 is pretty low. It looks like you are makeing a summer ale and mashing at a low temp would be the way to go. I generally don't mash below 150, but 147 should of worked. If you mash that low you probably want to do a conversion test to be sure it's done mashing.

65% is really good for your first attempt, and it sounds like you have already thought through where you can improve.
 

Jumbo82

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2007
Messages
499
Reaction score
4
Location
Plymouth
I fly sparge and found that sparging too quickly really lowers efficiency. Might not apply to batch sparging, but for me slowing down gave a huge boost to efficieny.
 

sparkyaber

Well-Known Member
Joined
Oct 28, 2008
Messages
404
Reaction score
2
Location
Andover, MN
I fly sparge and found that sparging too quickly really lowers efficiency. Might not apply to batch sparging, but for me slowing down gave a huge boost to efficieny.
What he said. I just finished my second AG this weekend, and slowed my fly sparge way down (5 min to 35 minutes) and improved my efficiency by 15 percent. Which was necessary since I got 55% the first go round.
 
OP
Picobrew

Picobrew

Biscuit Enthusiast
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Messages
1,135
Reaction score
23
Location
NW Portland, OR
I'm fairly new to AG (long time lurker though), so take this FWIW. More experienced brewers, please correct me if anything I'm doing is incorrect. :)

1. I don't do a mashout and it seems that alot of more experienced brewers don't either. Personally, I just do two sparges. The first w/ enough 170* water to bring the grain bed up to 168ish and the second to reach my pre-boil amount.

2. I don't crush my own grain, but the quality of your crush is a big factor in your efficiency. If you have your own mill I'd definitely try crushing a little finer next time.

3. Definitely stir the grain after adding your sparge water. You want all the grain to come in contact with the warmer water, and if you don't stir you're probably getting cold spots.

I'm not sure if your recipe called for it...but the lower mash temp might have contributed to your low efficiency as well. Also...did you pre-heat your MLT and check your mash temp at the end of the mash?
These are good tips, thanks! I did pre-heat and check my temps, and I think I managed to stay at the temps. That mash temp was very low but it was what the recipe called for.
 
OP
Picobrew

Picobrew

Biscuit Enthusiast
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Messages
1,135
Reaction score
23
Location
NW Portland, OR
I fly sparge and found that sparging too quickly really lowers efficiency. Might not apply to batch sparging, but for me slowing down gave a huge boost to efficieny.

I thought this doesn't apply to batch sparging? Is this true? Should I just drain as fast as possible or should I slow it down a notch?
 

Saccharomyces

Be good to your yeast...
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jun 17, 2008
Messages
5,440
Reaction score
143
Location
Pflugerville, Texas
I see you are in Portland so I assume you have very soft water. I would add a tsp or so of Calcium Chloride to the mash to bring down the pH into the 5.2-5.4 range. pH test strips are a good investment, and you only really need to use them until you gain experience with how to treat your water for a particular style after which you can just refer to your notes. Or you can use 5.2 pH stabilizer which also works great.

Other than that tighten up the crush and do a double batch sparge next time.

160*F is fine, I usually aim for 160-165*F since I would rather error on being too cool than too hot and extracting tannins.
 

CHansen6

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2008
Messages
106
Reaction score
9
Location
Chicago
I've heard it does not apply to batch sparging. Yet, I still don't open my valve full blast. Call it superstition, avoiding oxidation, conditioned response, etc. My lauter tun drains in about 4 or 5 minutes. In theory, all the sugars that are going to dissolve are already in the water. Most other people have offered any other suggestions I could come up with. Good luck
 
OP
Picobrew

Picobrew

Biscuit Enthusiast
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Messages
1,135
Reaction score
23
Location
NW Portland, OR
I see you are in Portland so I assume you have very soft water. I would add a tsp or so of Calcium Chloride to the mash to bring down the pH into the 5.2-5.4 range. pH test strips are a good investment, and you only really need to use them until you gain experience with how to treat your water for a particular style after which you can just refer to your notes. Or you can use 5.2 pH stabilizer which also works great.

Other than that tighten up the crush and do a double batch sparge next time.

160*F is fine, I usually aim for 160-165*F since I would rather error on being too cool than too hot and extracting tannins.
All grain is great - now I have so many more things to geek out on. I was wondering about this, because our water is very low in minerals too. Hmmm, the scientist in me wants to only change one variable for next brew, but I now have about 5 things to try ;)
 
OP
Picobrew

Picobrew

Biscuit Enthusiast
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Messages
1,135
Reaction score
23
Location
NW Portland, OR
Brewing again tomorrow. Yooper's Anchor Clone. Changing multiple variables:

1. Crushing finer. Just milled with my corona/drill beast.
2. Preheat the mash tun better.
3. A little higher strike temp and I won't check temp every 15min.
4. No mash-out
5. Hot sparge (180-185) in 2 batches

5 variable changes. One of em will work!
 

Yankeehillbrewer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2008
Messages
1,561
Reaction score
37
Location
Meridian, ID
Brewing again tomorrow. Yooper's Anchor Clone. Changing multiple variables:

1. Crushing finer. Just milled with my corona/drill beast.
2. Preheat the mash tun better.
3. A little higher strike temp and I won't check temp every 15min.
4. No mash-out
5. Hot sparge (180-185) in 2 batches

5 variable changes. One of em will work!
Those are some good changes, i think you'll definitely see an increase, be sure to give it a really good stir when you add your sparge water.Also, to echo what Saccharomyces said, take some time to look into your mash pH. 5.2 stabilizer is a good investment.

Enjoy:mug:
 

Blender

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2006
Messages
3,106
Reaction score
8
Location
Santa Cruz, CA.
Not quite so hot on the 2nd sparge because your grain ought to be warmer after the first 185 addition. I go 170-175. Have fun.:)
 
OP
Picobrew

Picobrew

Biscuit Enthusiast
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Messages
1,135
Reaction score
23
Location
NW Portland, OR
Those are some good changes, i think you'll definitely see an increase, be sure to give it a really good stir when you add your sparge water.Also, to echo what Saccharomyces said, take some time to look into your mash pH. 5.2 stabilizer is a good investment.

Enjoy:mug:
Oh yeah I forgot to mention that! I did also get some five star 5.2 stabilizer and some ph strips. The portland water report says its 7-8 ph but on my strips it looks closer to 6 (quite hard to tell!). Regardless, I'm going to toss in some of this pH stabilizer. Thanks!
 
OP
Picobrew

Picobrew

Biscuit Enthusiast
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Messages
1,135
Reaction score
23
Location
NW Portland, OR
Brewing again tomorrow. Yooper's Anchor Clone. Changing multiple variables:

1. Crushing finer. Just milled with my corona/drill beast.
2. Preheat the mash tun better.
3. A little higher strike temp and I won't check temp every 15min.
4. No mash-out
5. Hot sparge (180-185) in 2 batches

5 variable changes. One of em will work!

Ok so I made all these changes this weekend when brewing Yooper's Anchor Clone, and I got exactly 65% efficiency again! I think I can still crush my grain finer, but I think I did well on the temps. I also forgot to use 5.2 ph stabilizer I got, so that might help. One problem I keep having is that the braid floats around and lifts in the grain. I can shove it back down but it is hard to see what is going on in there. Do I need something heavier duty?
 

Cape Brewing

DOH!!! Stupid brewing...
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 9, 2008
Messages
15,501
Reaction score
1,175
Location
Norton, MA
Have you calibrated your thermometers recently?

i just did my first AG batch a few weeks ago and while I was pysched that my whole rig was working... finally... (built a single teir system), my efficiency was horrendous, something like 35% or something insane (kind of expected it for the first run)

Among a few changes I made, I checked my brewmometers... and they were ALL off. One was off by almost 8 degrees... on the high side (showing 158 for 150 temp).

It's just something I would double check since you listed a lot of the common problems.

I ran my second batch through yesterday and was a lot closer to 80%.
 

double_e5

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2008
Messages
900
Reaction score
2
Location
Kansas City
Ok so I made all these changes this weekend when brewing Yooper's Anchor Clone, and I got exactly 65% efficiency again! I think I can still crush my grain finer, but I think I did well on the temps. I also forgot to use 5.2 ph stabilizer I got, so that might help. One problem I keep having is that the braid floats around and lifts in the grain. I can shove it back down but it is hard to see what is going on in there. Do I need something heavier duty?
Stick one of these in the end of your braid.

- brass square head plug (Watts A-737)
 
OP
Picobrew

Picobrew

Biscuit Enthusiast
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Messages
1,135
Reaction score
23
Location
NW Portland, OR
Have you calibrated your thermometers recently?

i just did my first AG batch a few weeks ago and while I was pysched that my whole rig was working... finally... (built a single teir system), my efficiency was horrendous, something like 35% or something insane (kind of expected it for the first run)

Among a few changes I made, I checked my brewmometers... and they were ALL off. One was off by almost 8 degrees... on the high side (showing 158 for 150 temp).

It's just something I would double check since you listed a lot of the common problems.

I ran my second batch through yesterday and was a lot closer to 80%.

Good tip, do you have a good technique for calibrating? I have 3 therms and I think the floaty one might be off.
 

double_e5

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 24, 2008
Messages
900
Reaction score
2
Location
Kansas City
If it's a 1/2" braid it should fit. You should be able to work one end of the braid open wide enough to get it in.
 
OP
Picobrew

Picobrew

Biscuit Enthusiast
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Messages
1,135
Reaction score
23
Location
NW Portland, OR
If it's a 1/2" braid it should fit. You should be able to work one end of the braid open wide enough to get it in.
Am I the only one who had like 20 finger injuries from these braids? I think I must have gotten a smaller braid somehow... hmmm. The fittings on it were 3/8" I believe. Oh well, these DIY projects and builds are part of what I am enjoying about brewing! I will perhaps have to fashion a new better braid.
 

Cape Brewing

DOH!!! Stupid brewing...
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
May 9, 2008
Messages
15,501
Reaction score
1,175
Location
Norton, MA
I calibrated mine by just suspending them in boiling water and checking them temp... they should be 212 on the button... and then adjusted them accordingly to make sure they were.
 

PvtSkippy

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 8, 2008
Messages
97
Reaction score
0
Location
Ellijay, GA
I calibrated mine by just suspending them in boiling water and checking them temp... they should be 212 on the button... and then adjusted them accordingly to make sure they were.
Assuming you're close to sea level. I did the same thing, all happy that I found a reasonably accurate thermo-guessing tool only to remember (after the fact) that where I am water boils at 208 - 209F, depending on what the barometer says that day. :eek:
 

Yankeehillbrewer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 7, 2008
Messages
1,561
Reaction score
37
Location
Meridian, ID
Good tip, do you have a good technique for calibrating? I have 3 therms and I think the floaty one might be off.
This is simple, but be sure to use the same thermo for everything, if you don't already. I made that mistake on my first AG, and my mash temp wound up being way to high.

Also, maybe consider going to a 1/2" copper manifold.
 
OP
Picobrew

Picobrew

Biscuit Enthusiast
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Jan 30, 2009
Messages
1,135
Reaction score
23
Location
NW Portland, OR
Brewed again last night: Ed's Bee Cave IPA. It went pretty well, I used the ph stabilizer and I think i crushed my grain finer (hard to tell with this corona+drill setup!), and ended up with 70% efficiency! Finally, some notion of improvement.
 
Top