First AG brew. 61% eff.

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Jutty

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I did my first all grain brew yesterday. Double chocolate oatmeal stout. Milled my grains (had to setup mill) and found there was a fine line between flour and not crushed. I compared my milled grain to pictures online. It looked to fine while crushing but cleaning out my mash tun after looked not milled enough. I think this is the cause for my low efficiency. Mash temp held perfectly for the hour, mash/sparge volumes were bang on! Boil was great. I ended up with almost 3/4 of a gallon more in my fermenter than I wanted but that's bc I over estimated my losses in beersmith. At 61% the abv should still be are 4.5-5%, but I'm more focused on taste and drinkability. Time will tell. I'm going to study up on milling grains and also the draining speed from my mash tun to boil pot. Mash gravity was [email protected] and preboil gravity was [email protected] My next brew is an IPA, I might buy a small bag of pale DME incase my preboil gravity is low again. Good idea? Any other advice for the newbie?
 

USAFSooner

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I have my monster mill gapped at 38 thousands and get good efficiency. Lautering and Fly Sparging will take me about 30-45 min. Another thing I do is to always fill the HLT with 5G of sparge water regardless of what BeerSmith tells me I need. I had too many batches where I was a gallon short for what ever reason. Now that I've got my volumes dialed in I usually hit preboil volumes on the nose.
 

squash1978

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I did my first all grain brew yesterday. Double chocolate oatmeal stout. Milled my grains (had to setup mill) and found there was a fine line between flour and not crushed. I compared my milled grain to pictures online. It looked to fine while crushing but cleaning out my mash tun after looked not milled enough. I think this is the cause for my low efficiency. Mash temp held perfectly for the hour, mash/sparge volumes were bang on! Boil was great. I ended up with almost 3/4 of a gallon more in my fermenter than I wanted but that's bc I over estimated my losses in beersmith. At 61% the abv should still be are 4.5-5%, but I'm more focused on taste and drinkability. Time will tell. I'm going to study up on milling grains and also the draining speed from my mash tun to boil pot. Mash gravity was [email protected] and preboil gravity was [email protected] My next brew is an IPA, I might buy a small bag of pale DME incase my preboil gravity is low again. Good idea? Any other advice for the newbie?
Your crush can definitely affect your mash efficiency. Prior to getting my grain mill my mash efficiency was always lower than what I had planned for and often all over the map because I was relying on the brew shop to crush my grain. Once I started milling my own grains, my efficiency shot way up (78-80%). I should note that I BIAB so I use a finer crush since I don't need to worry about a stuck sparge.

Keeping some extra DME on hand is a great idea--I do that myself. That way, if you get lower than expected mash efficiency you can bump up the gravity to match your expected pre-boil gravity.

Other than that, you may want to play around with your grain mill some more to see if you can dial-in your crush. Some people use a feeler gauge to set the gap in their grain mill. A little searching should yield those discussions on the topic.
 

joehoppy

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Use a credit card to check the mill gap. They are right about .030" so just a hair bigger than the card and it should be fine. I struggled with efficiency also until I got the mill set to this gap. Been around 75% ever since. And never a stuck sparge with this setting.
 

imasickboy

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Being that it was your first all grain brew, I would make another beer or two before making any changes. Make sure all your processes are sound, and you are doing things the same way. Then, if your efficiency is still roughly the same, change the crush. Changing more than one thing in between batches will never tell you what causes a change in end result.
 

USAFSooner

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That looks good. A set of feeler gauges at the auto store are cheap and an easy way to know your setting.
 

RM-MN

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If you really are seeking higher efficiency, tighten the mill. Try a batch or 2. No stuck sparge? Tighten it some more until you start getting stuck sparges and then loosen it just a bit. The finer the milling, the higher the efficiency but along with that comes the chance of stuck sparges. It's a balancing act.
 

brewbama

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You were below recipe OG? It was probably crush.

If you hit OG then you have losses elsewhere.
 

jekeane

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If you had .75 gallon of extra wort that is a problem too. Your OG is assuming the sugar content of a specific volume of water. If your grain bill is supposed to yield .050 for a 5g batch but you have 5.75g at the end of your boil that is a huge difference.

I wouldn't bother changing your crush for the next batch. I would focus in on your volumes. Your boil off rate and losses to trub etc. I had a similar problem when I started AG. Took me 3 batches to figure out my boil off rate. As soon as I figured out volumes I could get a a consistent number and then I could adjust other issues causing me to be less efficient.
 

USAFSooner

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^+ this. Definitely figure out your volumes and get your equipment profile in BeerSmith correct. Mash Tun dead space and Boil off rate are the two big ones to get right. Both of which you can figure out with just water. Mash Tun dead space can easily be half a gallon or more. My boil off rate is about 1.5g/hr.
 

guitarguy6

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Out of curiosity are you batch sparging or fly sparging? When I started all grain I was fly sparging but I didn't have the proper set up and my efficiency wasn't good. I switched to batch sparging and average around %80 efficiency now. I have a corona mill that I adjusted using a credit card. I also use a big nylon BIAB style bag in my mash tun and never get stuck sparges. I find it makes clean up easier and I barely have to vorlauf.
 
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Jutty

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That bag is a great idea! I batch sparged. I got the recipe from beersmith and created my own equipment profile. All my values, temp and volume were perfect when compared to beersmith (preboil). My boil off rate was to high. Boiled off only a gallon not 1.5 also 1/2 the trub loss bc I poured into a strainer into primary fermentor. 1/2 gallon to much for boil rate and 1/4 gallon to much for trub lose. I figure that's my 3/4 of a gallon. Now as said earlier in a reply, I'm curious now what my gravities would of been with 3/4 gallon less water. The obvious answer would be a greater gravity reading. I have a corn mill, not sure the brand. I tired the credit card spacing but it made flour. I adjusted my mill finer than my first batch bc I noticed while I cleaned out the tun, that there was a lot of unmilled grains. I'm ready to roll an IPA next plus I have some DME in my back pocket.
 

mblanks2

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That bag is a great idea! I batch sparged. I got the recipe from beersmith and created my own equipment profile. All my values, temp and volume were perfect when compared to beersmith (preboil). My boil off rate was to high. Boiled off only a gallon not 1.5 also 1/2 the trub loss bc I poured into a strainer into primary fermentor. 1/2 gallon to much for boil rate and 1/4 gallon to much for trub lose. I figure that's my 3/4 of a gallon. Now as said earlier in a reply, I'm curious now what my gravities would of been with 3/4 gallon less water. The obvious answer would be a greater gravity reading. I have a corn mill, not sure the brand. I tired the credit card spacing but it made flour. I adjusted my mill finer than my first batch bc I noticed while I cleaned out the tun, that there was a lot of unmilled grains. I'm ready to roll an IPA next plus I have some DME in my back pocket.
With this said, adjust Beersmith to 1 gallon boil-off rate and eliminate the loss to trub. Brew your next beer and take notes on what changes this makes.
As stated earlier too many changes at once and you'll be all over the place. It took several brews for me to dial in my numbers but once you get there you will become confident in what you will produce.
 
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