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Zapap brewer having difficulty with high gravity beers

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anbrew7

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Greetings Homebrewers!

I have a question about brewing all-grain zapap style, and getting high gravity beers. I tried an IPA last week, and an Imperial Amber today, and did not get the original gravity I desired. Does anyone have any tips or feedback for getting higher gravity. I used 13 lbs of grain for each. Should I use more? Am I using too much sparge water? Today, I mashed 5.5 gallons with 13 lbs of grain, with 5.5 gallons of sparge. Any pointers would be nice to reach those beers of higher gravity. Cheers!
 

cladinshadows

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When I decide how much grain to use in a recipe, the quantity of base malt is chosen based on my brewhouse efficiency (which is pretty bad). You should have your infusion water at or above about 1.25 qt/lb (you're at 1.7) and sparge at about 2qt/lb, so you've probably picked a good medium between the two for the mash and the sparge. If you want to produce a higher gravity wort, just use more base malt, or find a way to increase your efficiency. Too much sparge water is not likely to lower your OG.

Another option is to add a bit of corn sugar to increase your gravity without affecting the flavor too greatly, but most people keep it under 10% or so of the grain bill or you may end up with a "cidery" flavor. Hope this helps.
 

Malticulous

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More watter (both infusion and sparge) and a longer boil can increase efficiency. More spagre watter can increase tannin extraction, particularly with fly sparging because the pH can get too high. A better crush can help too. I used to use a rolling pin on grain I bought crushed.
 
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anbrew7

anbrew7

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Those are great tips, thank you so much. It is difficult to use more grains with my setup, but I can figure a way. Thanks so much. If anyone else has any suggestions, feel free. Cheers!
 

SpanishCastleAle

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How high a gravity and at what batch volume are you trying to hit? Do you know what your efficiency is? I use a Zapap but have never used 13# of grain...I can get well into 1.060+ range @ 5.5 gal. with less than 13#.

How is your grain crushed?
Do you increase the temp of the mash before lauter/sparge? If not, mashing out at 168-170 F might help.
Is your sparge water at least 175 F?

Some might get better efficiency if they moved some infusion water to the sparge...say 5 gal and 6 gal respectively. But that depends on a lot of things so it might not help you...and 5.5 gal of sparge water seems like plenty for 13# of grain.

In any case, unless your efficiency is already high you might want to try to increase it instead of adding grain. You should be able to get 75% no problem and 85%-90% shouldn't be too difficult.
 

bbrim

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If you're mashing in the Zapap you could very well be losing heat. If you are mashing in it I would recommend wrapping it in insulation and watching the temp through the mash. If you are losing more than 2-3 degrees during your mash then the enzymes won't be working the way you want them to.
 
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anbrew7

anbrew7

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Alright, I am back, hopefully people are still following this one.

So, I calculated my efficiency, and its running around 75%. Not that great.

I sparge at 180 degrees, so I think I am good there.

I crush my grains at the local homebrew shop. I trust that their setup effectively does the trick.

I usually do not raise the temperature, because I let the sparge water take care of that. I know I should probably be doing that, so I will be more vigilant with that.

With 13 lbs of grain, I was pushing for 1.060 and above. I did an IPA a couple weeks ago, and a predicted 1.065 OG. I measured 1.055.

I will say that I do have a lot of runoff after a rigorous boil. That's why I feel perhaps I have too much water. I should have included that part earlier :)

So, that's basically where I am at. You guys have been excellent help with providing suggestions. In the end, I would like a 5 gallon IPA, similar to a Dogfish Head. So, what is the verdict?
 
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anbrew7

anbrew7

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I want to say my efficiency is better than 75%. I just looked at Palmer's work, and followed his calculation, and it said I have an 83% efficiency. So, ignore the first efficiency. Cheers!
 

Malticulous

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That is pretty good. You know, some people have spent thousands and don't do any better. All that matters is the final product anyway.
 

kharmajavah

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Yeah...I just did my first all grain and got about 65% efficiency.

The sparge was my problem...too fast. Luckily, the OG turned out a bit low but still good enough for government work.

But, my goal is to get somewhere around 85%...I always thought that was pretty darn good, from what I've heard.
 

SpanishCastleAle

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With 13 lbs of grain, I was pushing for 1.060 and above. I did an IPA a couple weeks ago, and a predicted 1.065 OG. I measured 1.055.
I want to say my efficiency is better than 75%. I just looked at Palmer's work, and followed his calculation, and it said I have an 83% efficiency. So, ignore the first efficiency. Cheers!
Something doesn't sound right. At 83% efficiency and 13# of grain you should have a gravity around 1.075 in 5 gallons. How big are these batches of beer?

To show how I got this number:
13# of base malt @ 36 pts/lb/gal in 5 gallons yields: 13 * 36/5=93.6 points
So 100% efficiency would yield 1.0936 in 5 gal...and 85% of that is 1.0777 in 5 gal. So you should have about 1.078 in 5 gallons @ 83%. But you might have some specialty grain in there so it might be a little less than that but not much.
 
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anbrew7

anbrew7

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I tripled checked my math, and you are right, its not correct. I SHOULD have had 83 percent efficiency with the projected OG, and my first calculation was correct. :cross:

SpanishCastleAle, because you've been so helpful, what do you think I should do? I appreciate your input, and have provided me with quality info. Cheers!
 

SpanishCastleAle

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At some amount of grain the Zapap grain bed will get too tall and efficiency will start to go down as you increase the amount of grain. Unfortunately I don't know what amount of grain that is. I think it is Palmer who states that the best ratio of grain bed dimensions is between 1:2 and 2:1. So he's saying your grain bed can be twice as wide as it is tall...all the way up to twice as tall as it is wide...but not outside of that range or efficiency will suffer.

Seems like 13# of grain is probably close to exceeding the 'twice as tall as it is wide' criteria.

First thing I would do would be to evaluate your crush. Most LHBS don't crush the grain fine enough...but you don't want to go too fine or you'll get stuck sparges (esp with 13# of grain). Maybe have them run it through twice. I use my own Barley Crusher and my efficiency immediately went up. Then I tightened the gap and it went up again...then I tightened it more and it went up again.

Then I would consider using a little more sparge than mash water. My sparge:mash water ratio is usually in the 3:2 (i.e. 60%:40%) range...but often closer to 55%:45%. That last bit of sparge water can really make a difference.

Other than that and things mentioned above...just measure things as accurately as you can and keep tweeking. I wouldn't change too many things at once.
 
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anbrew7

anbrew7

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Thank you for the suggestions. I will definitely investigate water, and do some adjustments there. I'll ask the homebrew shop about their mill, and run grains through twice. I'm going to go ahead with 13 lbs of grains, and do a little experiment to see what happens. I should be brewing soon, so I'll keep you posted. Cheers!
 

lustreking

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Those are great tips, thank you so much. It is difficult to use more grains with my setup, but I can figure a way. Thanks so much. If anyone else has any suggestions, feel free. Cheers!
All right, I'll say it... Ditch the old-timey bucket contraption, stick a stainless braid in a cooler, and mash as much as you want! :)
 

SpanishCastleAle

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All right, I'll say it... Ditch the old-timey bucket contraption, stick a stainless braid in a cooler, and mash as much as you want!
He took off his training wheels a long time ago (or never used them)...no sense putting them back on now.:D
 
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anbrew7

anbrew7

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If there is a will, there is a way. As long as it gets the job done, and beer is involved. I will say that I am close to converting a sanke keg to lauter tun. It was free. I appreciate the honesty. Cheers!
 

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