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stalewater

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So i have been brewing for 5 years now, started making extract beer and moved to all grain about 3 years ago. As sad as it is i never really took any readings didnt care just liked making beer. So about 8 months ago bought a refract. and started taking readings and notes. Here is my problem when i make low gravity beers I have no problem hitting my og but when it comes to high gravity beers I cant seem to hit my numbers. My system is two bayou classic kettles, I use one for a direct fire mashtun and the other iuse as a kettle. I started doing 90 min mashes to try to up my efifciency but when it come to high gravity beers it makes no difference. I have a march pump. I just need some advice on what i can do to increase my numbers. I hope this is enough info let me know if you need more.
 

Newbeerguy

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So i have been brewing for 5 years now, started making extract beer and moved to all grain about 3 years ago. As sad as it is i never really took any readings didnt care just liked making beer. So about 8 months ago bought a refract. and started taking readings and notes. Here is my problem when i make low gravity beers I have no problem hitting my og but when it comes to high gravity beers I cant seem to hit my numbers. My system is two bayou classic kettles, I use one for a direct fire mashtun and the other iuse as a kettle. I started doing 90 min mashes to try to up my efifciency but when it come to high gravity beers it makes no difference. I have a march pump. I just need some advice on what i can do to increase my numbers. I hope this is enough info let me know if you need more.
Sometimes eff. can be overrated. If you know you're consistantly low on high gravity brews, why don't you just increase your grainbill to compensate? If you mill your own grains, try tighting the gap a tad, or ask your LHBS to double mill your grains. Not sure how you are sparging, but if you batch sparge, try double batch sparging (splitting your sparge water addition into 2)

Worse comes to worse have some DME on hand to raise the gravity.

I have had issues as well with higher gravity beers. I typically add 10% more base malt to my recipes if my OG is over 1.070. That seems to get me to my expected OG.
 

coypoo

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Youre automatically going to get lower efficiency with higher OG beers bc you have so much more grain compared to water. Unless you boil for a lot longer you will leave sugar behind in the grain resulting in lower efficiency. I get about 80% brewhouse on most beers, but that drops to 63-65% on high gravity ones.
 

bbrim

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funny I get 80% on beers between 1.050-1.060 and 63% on beers <1.045. Oh yeah I do go no sparge on low gravity beers.

Seriously though, if you are consistent at certain gravities then don't sweat it, just design your beers based on that efficiency. What is the difference between 65-80% efficiency, $3? Just plan on going low (with your efficiency) and design your beer around that. I will pay an extra $3 to know what I am getting and be sure it is delicious!
 
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stalewater

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Great advice guys thankyou, I guess my concern is what is the point in making a barleywine or RIS or anything with a ton of grain if I'm not getting all of the potential sugar out of it, should i just compensate with dme or sugar to get those big beers, By the way I batch sparge I dont know if that makes a huge difference or not, Its just discouraging to put all that grain in and not get what I expect out of it.
 

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Great advice guys thankyou, I guess my concern is what is the point in making a barleywine or RIS or anything with a ton of grain if I'm not getting all of the potential sugar out of it, should i just compensate with dme or sugar to get those big beers, By the way I batch sparge I dont know if that makes a huge difference or not, Its just discouraging to put all that grain in and not get what I expect out of it.
Most people get lower gravity in "big" beers. It's just the nature of the beast. Unless you have a pro set up, you have a really hard time extracting all of the sugars in a bigger mash. Just make sure to stir the mash really well after each sparge addition and vorlauf again to settle the grain bed. It will help with eff.
 

coypoo

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If you're trying to chase efficiency you could do more sparges, but in turn you'll have to boil longer to reach your target volume
 

MaynardX

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Get rid of the refrac and get a hydrometer. Refrac for dark/high gravity beers = skewed readings.
 
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stalewater

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Most people get lower gravity in "big" beers. It's just the nature of the beast. Unless you have a pro set up, you have a really hard time extracting all of the sugars in a bigger mash. Just make sure to stir the mash really well after each sparge addition and vorlauf again to settle the grain bed. It will help with eff.
What do you mean by pro set up I seem to think i have a pretty good set up?
 
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stalewater

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Get rid of the refrac and get a hydrometer. Refrac for dark/high gravity beers = skewed readings.
I have a hydrometer, It just seemed complicated to have to adjust for temp, I never heard that dark or high gravity beers could affect the readings
 
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stalewater

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Sometimes eff. can be overrated. If you know you're consistantly low on high gravity brews, why don't you just increase your grainbill to compensate? If you mill your own grains, try tighting the gap a tad, or ask your LHBS to double mill your grains. Not sure how you are sparging, but if you batch sparge, try double batch sparging (splitting your sparge water addition into 2)

Worse comes to worse have some DME on hand to raise the gravity.

I have had issues as well with higher gravity beers. I typically add 10% more base malt to my recipes if my OG is over 1.070. That seems to get me to my expected OG.
NOw that you say that everytime i have my lhbs mill my grains its mostly on my big beers ( i have a corona grain mill so it sucks having to crush 18 lbs of grain by hand) but when i crush my own grains i hit great numbers.
 

forstmeister

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stalewater said:
What do you mean by pro set up I seem to think i have a pretty good set up?
I mean a pro quality brew house. I am sure your setup is great for you, but do you have automated rakers stirring your mash for you insuring extract efficiency? Breweries achieve amazing efficiency because they have thousands of dollars in each piece of equipment.
 

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+ 1 on the advice above that bigger grainbills lead to lower efficiency for most of us. I have a Wee Heavy in the fermenter that I used a big grain bill on and also added 5 lbs of DME to get to an OG of 1.093.
 

mjohnson

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If you're getting consistent results, then you're actually doing well. I second (third?) the advice of just adjust your recipe to account for the loss of efficiency.
 
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stalewater

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That makes alot of sense thank you guys. I'm doing a Historic ipa this weekend so I;m gonna up the basemalt a bit and see if it helps. I'll update this post and tell you how it works. I also just found a thread on here about upping your eff. through a thinner mash possibly adjusting your ph and so on. So again thank you guys.
 

rjwhite41

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ph can have a big impact. If you use filtered water, like I do, mixing in a little tap water really seems to help. Of course, you could dive into water chemistry to get it nailed down but I haven't done that yet. Thinner mash only slightly helps in my experience by the way.
 
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stalewater

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ph can have a big impact. If you use filtered water, like I do, mixing in a little tap water really seems to help. Of course, you could dive into water chemistry to get it nailed down but I haven't done that yet. Thinner mash only slightly helps in my experience by the way.
I live in north mississippi, we used to think that our water came from the ghost river aquafor , I think that is how you spell it, but it doesnt what ph balance am i looking for, I never really looked into adjusting my water it tates good by itself but i know that doesnt mean much when it comes to brewing
 

Newbeerguy

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ph can have a big impact. If you use filtered water, like I do, mixing in a little tap water really seems to help. Of course, you could dive into water chemistry to get it nailed down but I haven't done that yet. Thinner mash only slightly helps in my experience by the way.
Well ph can have an impact.....but not a big impact. Here is a couple exerpts from Braukaiser.com

"Only at the extremes will brewers experience problems in mash conversion and off flavors that arise from incorrect mash pH levels which spark the brewer's interest in that rather technical topic."

also


"As we have seen in Enzymatic Activity the mash pH range that works for brewing is fairly wide. 5.0 – 6.0 will work with most enzymatically strong malts and 5.3-5.5 is considered optimal. This wide range of possible mash pH values is the reason why most brewers don't have to worry about mash pH and water chemistry at the beginning of their home brewing career."

Just don't want stalewater to be worried too much about it.
 
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stalewater

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Ok so after some long threads here on HBT I've come to some what of a conclusion. This weekend I will be brewing a historic ipa that calls for 13 lbs of marris otter and one pound on belgian candy sugar. The recepie calls states it should have a og or 1.078. I will try 2qts of water per pound of mash and add 10% more base malt to see if this raises my chances for better eff. Thank all of you for your input and I will update my results.
 
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stalewater

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So i brewed this receipe last nite, i over shot the volume abit to account for all the hops going into the beer, I hit my target volume after the boil , and followed all the things i posted above this, thinner mash 4 more pounds of base malt and still came up shy 12 points on my gravity. I do 90 min mashes, about half way through i check temp and stir. I guess im cant make high gravity beers!! Any other advice.:confused:
 

Newbeerguy

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So i brewed this receipe last nite, i over shot the volume abit to account for all the hops going into the beer, I hit my target volume after the boil , and followed all the things i posted above this, thinner mash 4 more pounds of base malt and still came up shy 12 points on my gravity. I do 90 min mashes, about half way through i check temp and stir. I guess im cant make high gravity beers!! Any other advice.:confused:
You added 4lbs more of base malt and still came up 12 points shy? You said you overshot your anticipated volume a bit....how much more wort did you gather?

Are you sure your hydrometer is reading correct? Also how about your thermometer?
 

jkendal

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Great advice guys thankyou, I guess my concern is what is the point in making a barleywine or RIS or anything with a ton of grain if I'm not getting all of the potential sugar out of it, should i just compensate with dme or sugar to get those big beers, By the way I batch sparge I dont know if that makes a huge difference or not, Its just discouraging to put all that grain in and not get what I expect out of it.
You just reminded me of an article BYO did a few years ago about reiterated mashing - basically taking the first runoff and using it as the strike for a second mash. You could get upward from 1.100 OG this way. Efficiency would suffer (probably a lot) but you could do second runnings on both mashes for a smaller beer. I plan on trying it out at some point (it's on my bucket list). Food for thought.

Also, don't be afraid of adding some DME to boost your OG on bigger beers. I've done it before to great success.
 
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stalewater

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You added 4lbs more of base malt and still came up 12 points shy? You said you overshot your anticipated volume a bit....how much more wort did you gather?

Are you sure your hydrometer is reading correct? Also how about your thermometer?
I use a refrac. and yes sir my thermometer is accurate. I over shot my volume by about half a gallon so i had proably 8 gallons or so, but I boiled an extra 20 min or so to get down to my disred volume. So i dont know. I have a weizen bock i plan on brewing at the end of june. The og on that beer is supposed to be 1.084. so i would like to have some kind of answers by then. A brewing friend of mine did some math and he said i was getting 75% eff. I suck at math so I trust him. I just cant make anysense of this>
 
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stalewater

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You just reminded me of an article BYO did a few years ago about reiterated mashing - basically taking the first runoff and using it as the strike for a second mash. You could get upward from 1.100 OG this way. Efficiency would suffer (probably a lot) but you could do second runnings on both mashes for a smaller beer. I plan on trying it out at some point (it's on my bucket list). Food for thought.

Also, don't be afraid of adding some DME to boost your OG on bigger beers. I've done it before to great success.
I've used dme to boost my gravity before with great results, my concern is cost, having to add dme to my high gravity beers up the cost so much. Know any where i can buy it in bulk for super cheap!!
 
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