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Missed my SG mark alot

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TheBeerGuy

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I tried my first BIAB the other day and I missed my calculated SG by a bunch. I made a cream ale that should be 1.056 but I only got 1.044. I used Brewtoad and also beerrsmith for the calculations and they both gave me 1.056 and 1.058 with a brewhouse efficiency at 75% so I should be close to that. I heated my water up to 162 and then added my grains to my bag. It dropped the temp to 154 and I was happy with that. I then placed my pot in a 170F oven for a total of 60 min. When I removed from the oven my temp was 155. I removed the grain bag and let drip on the pot while I was heating it up to boiling for my first hop addition, I did not rinse the grains. I brewed like normal with a 60 min boil and then cooled in an ice bath in the sink. I added it to my carboy and topped off with fresh spring water at room temp. I mixed it around and then took my reading before adding my yeast slurry. I only got a 1.044 and was a little dissapointed I missed the mark by 0.012.

I am wondering if there is anything that I can do next time to better increase my SG without using an extract (powder or liquid)?
 

johngaltsmotor

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If you can boil a larger amount it would help to rinse the grains. This would wash off some of the sugars stuck to the grains in the bag.
I assume as this is your first BIAB that you had the brew supply crush the grain? I know even with all grain, my LHBS crush is only good for 75% tops and more typically 65%.
Between not washing the grains and if they do a coarse crush (to prevent people complaining about having stuck sparges) it is possible to get the 60% you had.
Even if you used a small second pot to rinse the grain in the spring water and boil only long enough to sanitize it would transfer those extra sugars into your fermenter.
 

klinus

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You dont say anything about volumes, could it be that you boiled off less than expected? That happened to me one of the first times...
 

1MadScientist

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What was your volume and gravity before you added top up water? Did you check the volume and gravity sets during the brew, "beginning of boil" or "flame-out"? Grain bill weight? Amount of water used for mash? Amount of water used for top up?
 

Yooper

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I think that most people who do a no-sparge type of brewing settle for a lower efficiency. I think 75% is a bit high for an efficiency with no-sparge, but something like 65% is probably reasonable. I'd reset my software for 65% for the next batches to predict a more likely OG.

If you want a higher efficiency, you could sparge or squeeze the grainbag more or boil more volume. I'm not one to chase efficiency- it is what it is, and you can just go with 65% and add another pound or two of grain and have no worries at all.
 

1MadScientist

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It is typical to get an 86% efficiency into boil with a 1.056 OG brew, if your water, times and temps are right, with BIAB.

Knowing how much water touched your grain during the mash (also from a sparge) plays into efficiency.

If you withheld 1/3 of your water [from the grain], then Yooper is right, that would be called a no-sparge and adding 2 pounds more grain would be the way to make up for this "no-sparge" method.

BIAB is not a "no-sparge". All the water is used during the mash, and if not all, then the remaining water is used to "rinse" the grain during a sparge. Sparging is often necessary due to pot size limitation.
 

Brewcycle69

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You should also try a finer crush. You can double crush your grains at your LHBS. With a double crush I get 82%, you should be able to get at least 75% on a full volume mash. It will also help to stir the mash a couple of time.

Edit: I'm referring to mash efficiency.
 

lumpy5oh

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Efficiency is all about water in and water out. What were your mash volumes?

No sparge Lautering Efficiency = Wort out / Water in

Here are some details:
http://www.woodlandbrew.com/2012/12/when-more-grain-doesnt-add-more-sugar.html
Woody have you ever done a Biab? From your post and link to your own website ( internet version of " Because I said so") I doubt you have. I also don't believe you read the post prior to yours.
BIAB is not the same as no sparge.
In BIAB you mash with all the water you will need to go into the boil; so your water in/ water out is kind of true. There is more water in the mash to wash the sugars off of the grains so the water doesn't trap the sugar in the grains.
Really the only reason to sparge in BIAB is to add water to the brewpot if there wasn't enough room for it in the pot originally.
 

Conestoga

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You should also try a finer crush. You can double crush your grains at your LHBS. With a double crush I get 82%, you should be able to get at least 75% on a full volume mash. It will also help to stir the mash a couple of time.

Edit: I'm referring to mash efficiency.

I don't want to sound like an ass, but I want to make example of this post if you don't mind. Seeing this bandied around as a catch-all blanket statement makes my left eye twitch.

Your experience is more of a personal anecdote with your LHBS, we need to be smarter and give advice that can apply to a greater scope of brewers.

"finer" has no value in itself. The OP's crush could be fine, and double milling could potentially open up a can of worms. Then again, maybe not.

Have a read here, and decide for yourself if double milling is the option for you.

http://www.biabrewer.info/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=28
 

ScottG58

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I am not a BIAB brewer. Another thing I look for that can effect efficiency is making sure you stir the dough balls out when mashing in. Other than that, as Burns said "the best laid plans of mice and men are often laid to rust." I make sure I have a pound of DME around on brew day. I have also adjusted by boiling longer to adjust volume.
 

WoodlandBrew

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Have you ever done a Biab? From your post and link to your own website ( internet version of " Because I said so") I doubt you have.
Yes, it's the way I brew all-grain.
I also don't believe you read the post prior to yours. BIAB is not the same as no sparge.
I agree that many people that brew with a bag, including myself, do not use the traditional Australian method which is no sparge.
In BIAB you mash with all the water you will need to go into the boil; so your water in/ water out is kind of true.
Perhaps I am missing something here, but what you describe here sounds like no sparge.
There is more water in the mash to wash the sugars off of the grains so the water doesn't trap the sugar in the grains.
Really the only reason to sparge in BIAB is to add water to the brewpot if there wasn't enough room for it in the pot originally.
I'm not sure I understand what you are getting at here either. If you are interested in this subject search for lautering efficiency. My blog and book both have quite a bit on this, but don't just take my word for it.
 

RM-MN

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I don't want to sound like an ass, but I want to make example of this post if you don't mind. Seeing this bandied around as a catch-all blanket statement makes my left eye twitch.

Your experience is more of a personal anecdote with your LHBS, we need to be smarter and give advice that can apply to a greater scope of brewers.

"finer" has no value in itself. The OP's crush could be fine, and double milling could potentially open up a can of worms. Then again, maybe not.

Have a read here, and decide for yourself if double milling is the option for you.

http://www.biabrewer.info/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=28
I've done a bunch of BIAB batches and I find that the post that you quoted is full of BS. If you want to extract the most sugars, you have to get the particles of grain down in size so that they will wet through. If you don't get all the starches wet, the enzymes don't break the starches to sugar so you leave a lot of potential sugars behind. You can compensate for part of that by mashing longer but there is a limit to even that where the grains simply won't wet in any more. By milling fine, you expose the most percentage of the grain kernel to the water, you wet them through quickly, the enzymes then work on the starches, and you are able to get the sugars leached back out. I notice a change in my efficiency in one batch and traced it to the adjustment on my mill that had loosened so my grains weren't milled as fine. When I adjusted it back, my efficiency came right back up.
 

RM-MN

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I am not a BIAB brewer. Another thing I look for that can effect efficiency is making sure you stir the dough balls out when mashing in. Other than that, as Burns said "the best laid plans of mice and men are often laid to rust." I make sure I have a pound of DME around on brew day. I have also adjusted by boiling longer to adjust volume.
Getting the dough balls stirred out certainly is important, both in a conventional mash tun and in BIAB. I used to use a big spoon and really stir to break them up. Now I use a wire whisk and find that so much easier that I have retired the spoon.
 

ericbw

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Does anyone think 155 is a high mash temp for a cream ale? I know that doesn't affect efficiency, just saying.

I think the crush is a consideration, as is rinsing/sparge. You have to account for the volume of water you lose to absorption and replace it. If you can replace it with sugary wort, that's better than just adding water, because it might bring your efficiency up closer to 65-70.

I've gotten 80% before but not sure how I did it! Usually 68% is what I use to calculate because it's about average for me.
 

RM-MN

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Does anyone think 155 is a high mash temp for a cream ale? I know that doesn't affect efficiency, just saying.

I think the crush is a consideration, as is rinsing/sparge. You have to account for the volume of water you lose to absorption and replace it. If you can replace it with sugary wort, that's better than just adding water, because it might bring your efficiency up closer to 65-70.

I've gotten 80% before but not sure how I did it! Usually 68% is what I use to calculate because it's about average for me.
I mill my grains really fine and expect about 80% efficiency for no sparge or about 85% with just a small pour through sparge. I've even been getting that efficiency with a 10 minute mash.
 

Conestoga

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I've done a bunch of BIAB batches and I find that the post that you quoted is full of BS.
BS, really? This post is a classic example of why I don't post here very often. A great brewer should be full of doubt, not dismissive and ignorant like this.

That advice is based on well thought out and valid points brought forth by years of anecdotes of many BIAB folks. Your experience is, well ... not enough data points coupled with unknown variables. As I said in my post, "fine" can mean anything. I do not argue that a finer crush can have its benefits in some cases.

The take away from my post should be that a brewer should be cautious as to how "fine" they crush. It lists the potential dangers, and encourages the brewer to apply the information to their own conditions. How that can be "BS" is beyond me.

That post does not imply that somebody like yourself has not, or will not experience a jump in efficiency due to a finer crush.


If you want to extract the most sugars, you have to get the particles of grain down in size so that they will wet through.
The crush described in my link has produced great efficiency for many brewers under many different circumstances, for many years. Perhaps you can confirm this by opening the gap on your mill and gathering more data points?

Maybe you are settled and won't fix what is broken? This is fine, but ..

The scientific method demands that we not become complacent with conventional wisdom found on a brew forum at any given time. How will we grow, how will brewing expand?

If you don't get all the starches wet, the enzymes don't break the starches to sugar so you leave a lot of potential sugars behind. You can compensate for part of that by mashing longer but there is a limit to even that where the grains simply won't wet in any more. By milling fine, you expose the most percentage of the grain kernel to the water, you wet them through quickly, the enzymes then work on the starches, and you are able to get the sugars leached back out. I notice a change in my efficiency in one batch and traced it to the adjustment on my mill that had loosened so my grains weren't milled as fine. When I adjusted it back, my efficiency came right back up.
One batch. I don't know, I'd be skeptical by placing so much value on a single batch. There are too many variables in brewing, and even the most careful brewer can miss something.

I think you are creating a false dichotomy here. There is merit to your words, but there is a happy medium. It's not so black and white.

You don't have to double mill or crush super fine to achieve what you are saying here. There are many levels of crush that will produce the same results as a very fine crush (without the potential issues mentioned previously). My last post mentioned "potential" dangers that a brewer can face by obliterating a grain husk.

Perhaps you would not have these issues if your mash pH was in check, and your temperatures were reliable. That's fair enough, but that's not everybody else.

I like to step back to think of other brewers who may be brewing with water that hasn't been worked out yet, and also equipment such as thermometers that might not be reliable as they think. The potential dangers of a finer crush increase depending on the brewer and their experience level.

This is why all of our own individual experiences do not hold as much value as we would like them to. I agree with your points, but do not respect your view of the BIABrewer post, like ... at all.
 

BreezyBrew

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I agree with Yooper. Last time I Biab my efficiency was like 62% with pretty fine grain. My usual mash tun efficiency is around 83%. I feel your pain.
 

Brewcycle69

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I don't want to sound like an ass, but I want to make example of this post if you don't mind. Seeing this bandied around as a catch-all blanket statement makes my left eye twitch.

Your experience is more of a personal anecdote with your LHBS, we need to be smarter and give advice that can apply to a greater scope of brewers.

"finer" has no value in itself. The OP's crush could be fine, and double milling could potentially open up a can of worms. Then again, maybe not.

Have a read here, and decide for yourself if double milling is the option for you.

http://www.biabrewer.info/viewtopic.php?f=41&t=28

I'm know you're trying to help just like everyone else so no problem. The OP asked for what he could try to increase his efficiency; crush is the biggest cluperate in low efficiency. I suggested which dial to turn and which way to turn it. How far? I don't know enough about what the final goal is, but I know turning that dial in that direction is a valid thing to try to get them where they want to go.

For the majority of us that use our LHBS we don't get to adjust the crush, we have two settings; single crush and double crush.

The post you sited was a good data point and you should keep posting it. But, its not the only or definitive data point. Without siting a study, its just a personal anecdote, but a valid one that people should read and consider, just like the other posts.

I understand the spirit of your post and don't disagree, just keep in mind that not every brewer can specifically tune everything throughout the brewing process. Sometimes a new brewer needs to know what direction to go and they will take it as far as they desire within their system based on their goals, hopefully with the benefit of the brew science and/or personal anecdotes from many brewers.

Cheers!
 

lumpy5oh

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If you are interested in this subject search for lautering efficiency. My blog and book both have quite a bit on this, but don't just take my word for it.
I think I will continue to get my information directly from the pioneers of true Biab.

Let us know when you are on Basic Brewing Radio...


Take a listen to this podcast on BIAB.
BIAB Legacy http://www.basicbrewing.com/index.php?page=radio
 

Conestoga

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I'm know you're trying to help just like everyone else so no problem. The OP asked for what he could try to increase his efficiency; crush is the biggest cluperate in low efficiency. I suggested which dial to turn and which way to turn it. How far? I don't know enough about what the final goal is, but I know turning that dial in that direction is a valid thing to try to get them where they want to go.

For the majority of us that use our LHBS we don't get to adjust the crush, we have two settings; single crush and double crush.

The post you sited was a good data point and you should keep posting it. But, its not the only or definitive data point. Without siting a study, its just a personal anecdote, but a valid one that people should read and consider, just like the other posts.

I understand the spirit of your post and don't disagree, just keep in mind that not every brewer can specifically tune everything throughout the brewing process. Sometimes a new brewer needs to know what direction to go and they will take it as far as they desire within their system based on their goals, hopefully with the benefit of the brew science and/or personal anecdotes from many brewers.

Cheers!
I completely understand where you are coming from. It's not what you said, it's more the context of the thread.

Personally, I think mad scientist has the most reasonable attempt at finding the root of the problem. The rest are either a band aid solution, or the equivalent to pissing into the wind. Your bit of information may help, it may not. I think the OP should answer MS's questions to the best of his ability, my money is on finding at least one problem there. Especially since the recipe came from BrewToad, which in my experience is very vague regarding brewing terminology.

We are assuming the OP's recipe has integrity in the first place, and that the OP also did not make any mistakes in translating the recipe.

I don't know about you, but I like to analyze things before I start "turning dials."

We're on page 3, and the OP's question hasn't actually been answered yet. This is what happens when there is a culture of quick answers. OP can become distracted and lead down the wrong path instead of focusing on the nuts and bolts of brewing with those who have the patience to help in a greater capacity.
 

bondra76

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I got like a 35% efficiency my first time. Pretty disappointed as well but I think my problem was that my bag was way too small. I had a giant ball of grain when I was done that was tight and like the consistency of oatmeal.

I'm not sure if that solves your problem at all, but just sharing my experience - I am definitely getting a bigger bag next time to improve my eff.
 

tomaso

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Don't know if that has been mentioned yet but what you could do at least is correct your pre-boil gravity with DME if you come out low. Take a reading after the mash and if the gravity is too low add the adequate amount of DME to the boil (you can calculate all of this in beersmith).

Good luck!
 
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