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mash efficiency

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jjsscram

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Finish it up my first all grain last night at 11:00 pm by 8:00 am the next morning formiting like crazy all ready. I did not get as good of mash effincecy as I thought i would, only about 63%. I done temps of 104, 140, and 156 each for 40 minutes. I use a plastic bucket with a false bottem and the temp stayed good thru out. What could I do to help emprove the efficency?

thanks

jjsscram
 

BitterRat

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jjsscram said:
Finish it up my first all grain last night at 11:00 pm by 8:00 am the next morning formiting like crazy all ready. I did not get as good of mash effincecy as I thought i would, only about 63%. I done temps of 104, 140, and 156 each for 40 minutes. I use a plastic bucket with a false bottem and the temp stayed good thru out. What could I do to help emprove the efficency?

thanks

jjsscram
Well, before that, why did you do steps at 104ºF, 140ºF and 156ºF ? What were you making? With most grain available, you really don't need to do step temps. This looks like the step temp mash that Fix talked about. Which works fine but isnt really needed!! If you were using undermodified malt, then a step program like that would be great!! Really, an infusion mash is all that is required with most grain available!
OK, 63% efficiency is not all bad, most homebrewers get around 70% or so, so your not doing bad on your first batch. How accurate were your temps? or shall I say how accurate is your thermometer? When you mashed in, were you sure that your grain was mixed thoroughly with your water?Sometimes some grain balls up and you have dry spots in the mash, and this will effect your efficiency!! When finished, were you sure that conversion was complete? And last, was the pH of the mash between 5.2 and 5.6? That is pretty much the ideal range for pH.
Being your first allgrain batch, I doubt you know what the pH was, but the rest will definitely effect the efficiency of the mash. But I would not worry a bit about it, you made beer, and more than likely, it will be fantastic!! On your next batches, don't sweat the efficiency so much as to make sure all things are done right, and all will be spot on!!
(edit)One thing I should have added, speed of your sparge, sparging should take 45 minutes minimum, with an hr + being much better!!
 

tnlandsailor

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Efficiency is such a squirrelly parameter, it's really hard to compare one homebrewer's efficiency with another. There are quite a few variables involved: accuracy of volume measurements, did you measure in the kettle before the boil or after the boil in the fermenter? Did you compensate for temperature with your hydrometer? What is the actual potential yeild for the grain you used (you need to get this from the manufacturer)? How old was your grain? Was is stored properly? And on and on. What you are really looking for is a predictable efficiency so that you can dial in recipes and get the gravity and the volume you want every time.

The three factors that I have found that affect the efficiency the most are:

1) Quality of the grind. I have gotten into the habit of milling my grain twice on the same setting. It seems like after the first grind, the kernels are broken, but the actual endosperm is still inside the husk. Even if the kernels are broken, if they are still inside the husk, they won't really give up their starches and your efficiency will suffer. The second milling sheds the husk and allows the broken pieces of endosperm to be fully exposed to the mash liquid. I've tried milling once on a finer setting, but it just doesn't work as well. Try milling twice and see how it works for you.

2) Quality of the malt. I've found the yeild from different brands of grain can vary quite a bit. For base malt, try to stick with one brand where possible for consistency. For what it's worth, I like the Fawcett Bros. malts, especially the Marris Otter Pale for base malt. Get your malt from a reputable source and the get the freshest possible. Store it in a cool dry place and brew often.

3) Sparge speed (assuming you sparge continuously). Although I think this is not quite as important as the first two, this is definitely worth a couple of gravity points depending on how fast you go. For a 5 gallon batch (6+ gallons into the kettle), don't go any faster than about 1 gallon every 5 minutes. Try going really slow the first couple of times, maybe 1 gallon every 8 - 10 minutes, just to see if it makes any improvement. On subsequent batches, speed it up a little and see what difference it makes.

Prosit,
 
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