New AG brewer, 2nd AG in the fermenter....

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

P-Blood

Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2010
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
Location
Grand Prairie, TX
Ok, I’ve been doing mostly extract beers and extract with steeping grains & added hops for the last year. About 2 months ago I did my first, real all-grain using the BIAB method (a nice, mild pale ale). Being my first all-grain and the first time I’ve tried mashing, I wasn’t too surprised to find my efficiency at only about 57% (didn’t really sparge that well).

After gathering more info and learning much more about the process (thanks in very large part to the multitude of tutorials on here), I gave it a go last Saturday (4/10).

It was a pretty simple brew – a 2 ½ gallon blonde ale (no real commercial equivalent, just something we threw together at the LHBS). Started with a 5 gallon recipe, but since I want to learn more than struggle with the size (small apartment stove can barely get 5 gallons to boil), I just cut the whole thing in half.

6# 2-row
.25# Crystal 20L
.5oz. Willamette hops

Okay, my procedure.
Heated 2.5 gallons strike water (tap with 2 teaspoons calcium carbonate added for lowering pH) to 165°F.
Once reached, added in the grain bill in a 5 gal. paint strainer bag from the big orange box.
Killed the heat, added the lid, let it sit for about an hour, stirring every 20 minutes.
After my timer went off @ 60 min. I had to let it keep mashing as I was just a tad bit slow getting my sparge water to temp (started it later than I wanted).
Total mash time was about 65 minutes.
Finished the mash, so pulled the bag out, let it drain back into MLT, and put the bag into the brew kettle with about 2½ gallons of 180°F sparge water in it.Stirred the grain really good to make sure I was getting everything I could (except tannins) and let it sit for around 10 min.
During that 10 minute wait, I turned the heat back on my first runnings to get them closer to a boil and save time later on.
10 minutes goes by uneventfully and I pulled the grain bag out of the sparge water letting it drain back into the pot until my arm got tired.
Grabbed another pot and my colander and let the bag drain through it into the pot.
Added everything back into main brew kettle and got it up to a boil. At this point, total volume was around 4.25 gallons.
I let everything boil down until it reached about 3.75 gallons, then added in the hops, waited 45 minutes, added in 1 tablet of whirlfoc and my chiller, waited another 15 minutes, killed the heat, turned on the water to the chiller (after moving the kettle from burner to stool place next to sink), and let the whole thing chill.
About 20 minutes later, once it hit 70° and was dropping even more, I got a sample for my hydrometer which read 1.052 @ 69°F. The recipe I started with did mention the OG range as being from 1.045 to 1.054. Based on this, I was, more or less, bang on. However, using some of the various online calculators, my efficiency was only 62%. This seems rather low to me.

My only real questions are am I figuring my efficiency correctly, and does anyone have suggestions for improving on this, albeit small scale yet functional, system?
 

GunnerMan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2008
Messages
436
Reaction score
1
Sounds about right, since you are using the BiaB method you will probably loose some %. And if you really used 6 pounds of 2 row for a 2.5 gallon batch you would end up with about 1.065 - 1.07 OG if you got 75% eff.
 

Walker

I use secondaries. :p
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 8, 2005
Messages
10,982
Reaction score
114
Location
Cary
Sounds about right, since you are using the BiaB method you will probably loose some %. And if you really used 6 pounds of 2 row for a 2.5 gallon batch you would end up with about 1.065 - 1.07 OG if you got 75% eff.
Yeah, something doesn't seem right. If 6lbs was the recipe after cutting it in half, that was a pretty big recipe.

edit: 6lbs 2-row and 1/4lb crystal for 2.5 gallons of 1052 (according to ProMash) is 58% efficiency.
 

GunnerMan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2008
Messages
436
Reaction score
1
What was your pre-boil volume? You said this is a 2.5 gal batch and you boiled down to 3.75 gals. Seems like a 45 min boil would not boil off more than a gallon so if you ended up with 3 gallons in the fermenter you were at 71%. So some of your woes could be in volume miscalculation? I usually take a preboil volume and hydro reading because that lets me know how I did extracting the sugar from the grain.

Also your grain to liqour ratio comes out to about 1.66 quarts per pound of grain. Usually you have a 1 -2 quart per lb ratio but many peoples sweet spot is around 1.25 - 1.5qts / lb so YMMV so that could be where some of your eff. is lost as well.

Like I said you are using the BiaB method that is inherintly less efficient than the traditional method so don't get to down on yourself if you are averaging a low efficiency. Make sure you have a good crush on the grains, play with your water/grain ratio, and don't be afraid to lengthen the mash to ensure full conversion(do an iodine test).

One more note you said your hydro reading was 1.052 at 69 F are you remembering to adjust your hydrometer readings for the correct temperature? If your hydro is calibrated at 60F then 1.052 @ 69F = 1.053 a small difference with the lower temp. but it can change a lot with higher temps.
 

Walker

I use secondaries. :p
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 8, 2005
Messages
10,982
Reaction score
114
Location
Cary
his pre-boil volume is listed at 4.25 gallons. he boiled down to 3.75 before adding hops, then boiled the rest of the way down to 2.5 before chilling and taking the reading.

I don't have any experience with BIAB, but I do know that it is lower efficiency. How low? No clue.

To up your efficiency, you might have to bite the bullet and build a mash tun.
 

Walker

I use secondaries. :p
Lifetime Supporter
Joined
Sep 8, 2005
Messages
10,982
Reaction score
114
Location
Cary
is your bag large enough? from the little reading that I have done aboue BIAB, the bag should be big enough to put your pot into. If it's smaller than that, you are confining the grain to a volume smaller than the pot, and won't get good results.
 
OP
P

P-Blood

Member
Joined
Feb 3, 2010
Messages
5
Reaction score
0
Location
Grand Prairie, TX
The bag I used was easily big enough to put the pot into, much less the grain. While it was mashing, it did sorta resemble a soup - that is, plenty of liquid available.

It's only about $8 for enough grains to do another 2.5 gallon batch, so I'll try again this weekend, reducing the amount of water used, lengthening the mash time (up to 90 minutes if needed), and I'll see about getting some iodine solution to check for full conversion.

For now, the BIAB is best for me due to limited space for brewing (4'x8' kitchen) and being cheaper than building a cooler mash tun ($2 for a bag vs. ~$60 for everything needed to convert a cooler). It also gets me more familiar with the actual process of all-grain without getting too hung on up on equipment.

Thank for all responses. :rockin:
 

GunnerMan

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 12, 2008
Messages
436
Reaction score
1
Yeah let us know how things turn out next go around. When you go to the LHBS don't be afraid to ask for a re-run if you feel your crush isint up to snuff. My LHBS crusher is getting old and they run my grain twice almost every time for me.
 
Top