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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: nicosan1 on August 03, 2013, 01:53:10 PM

Title: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on August 03, 2013, 01:53:10 PM
All-Grain experts, I recently built a cynlinder cooler mash tun (10 gallon) and started All grain. But I have been having problems getting all the projected sugars out of my grain.

I followed a recipe for a saison that would have gotten me 1.066 OG, but instead I got 10.52.

The cooler I use is a rubbermaid 10 gallon, I use a mesh tube to filter.

I mashed in at 153 when 154 was called for and after stirring, I noticed a temperature drop of 5 degrees., I mashed for 60 minutes, did an iodine test that showed Sac was occuring, not many starches. 

Batch sparged at about 168 degrees for 15 minutes and collected about 7 gallons total. 

What am I missing here? Am I doing something wrong in the process? Is my equipment to blame? Should I not stir much during the 60 minutes to keep temperature steady?

I have been reading John Palmer's book, watching videos, checking out Denny's notes to make sure I am not missing a step, but it seems like I am.

Thanks for your help and guidance.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: klickitat jim on August 03, 2013, 01:59:27 PM
I mash 90 min
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on August 03, 2013, 01:59:51 PM
Could mash time be the answer? should instead of mash infusion for 60 minutes, should I extend to 75?
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: dmtaylor on August 03, 2013, 02:01:34 PM
Efficiency problems are usually caused by inadequate crush of the grains.  Who crushed the grains?  Can you tighten the gap on the mill?  If not, you'll want to get your grains double-milled in the future.  The best thing of course is if you have your own mill and can set it up right yourself.  LHBS's are notorious for setting the gaps too wide because it reduces brewer efficiency so they need to buy more grain so the stores make more $$$.

The other problem could be volume.  What was your post-boil volume?  For example, if this was a 5-gallon recipe but you ended up with 6 gallons of wort, then your efficiency will be way off if it was calculated assuming you would end up with 5 gallons.  Volume measurements are crucial for nailing efficiency.

Those are the two biggies.  It might be a combination of the two.  I am doubtful that your efficiency issue has anything to do with your mash tun setup.  I've mashed in various different ways over the years but my efficiency has been consistent because I crush the grains consistently, and I always measure volumes with precision.  Anyone with efficiency questions must do the same.

By the way... I mash 40 minutes, and I still get efficiencies hovering around 90%.  Mash time has very little to do with it.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on August 03, 2013, 02:02:25 PM
Jim, how often do you stir to prevent dough balls? I want to make sure that I am not losing temp while I am mashing and I am concerned my stirring loses me a few extra degrees that I need. 
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: dmtaylor on August 03, 2013, 02:06:35 PM
Stir well, once, at the beginning of the mash, eliminate all dough balls, and close it up and be done with it.  Do not stir during the mash.  You just lose too much heat that way.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on August 03, 2013, 02:07:33 PM
dm, I had my grains crushed at a homebrew store in Brooklyn, should I ask for a tighter gap next time? I'm doing my equipment in babysteps given that I live in New York and space is a concern, eventually I will get a mill once I move back to California.

I used 13 lbs of grain, I mashed in at 4.25 gallons, I sparged with 5 gallons, I ended up with what I can get as 7 gallons of wort pre boil when I should have had about 6.5. I followed a recipe/schedule that was predetermined. At end of boil I had probably about 5.75 gallons.  Is there a ratio you tend to stick to? or should I use a specific water calculator?
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: klickitat jim on August 03, 2013, 02:10:31 PM
I stir about three times in 90 min.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: dmtaylor on August 03, 2013, 02:15:37 PM
Your efficiency is incorrect because you got the incorrect volume.  I pump all my recipes into software, then adjust the post-boil volume to what I really got, then adjust the efficiency until the OG turns out where I actually got, and this will give you your actual efficiency.  Then you'll know for next time.

You could get your grains double crushed in future.  But also take care to hit your volumes correctly.

As for equipment in baby steps... ha!  You are talking to Mr. Ghetto Brewer.  I used a blender to "crush" grains for 3 years.  It works great!  Eventually I asked for a mill for Christmas because I was too cheap to buy one myself.  And a good mill takes up very little space.  It's definitely a worthwhile purchase and use of space.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: gymrat on August 03, 2013, 02:16:25 PM
That is an extra 3/4 of a gallon of water in your wort. That will bring OG down some. And I stir my mash a lot. Not only to get dough balls out but also to get even uniform temperature throughout. I take frequent temp readings as I stir. Then put the lid on.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: thebigbaker on August 03, 2013, 02:21:51 PM
I get the best efficiency when my initial runnings and sparge runnings are about the same.  Looks like you had about 2 gallons or so of initial runnings and then collected about another 5 gallons after sparge.

I mostly use a 1.75 - 2 qt/lb ration of mash water to grain.  Once you catch your initial runnings, see how much you've collected and subtract that from what your goal is for total wort.  This will give you how much water to sparge with.  Not much if any of your sparge water will be absorbed by your grains (at least in my experience w/ my cooler set up) so what ever you amount you sparge with will be close to the amount you get out. 

Over shooting your desired wort volume will decrease your efficiency, but boiling longer to get to your post boil volume will help. 

As for stirring, like Dave, I've always stirred well once, close the lid and don't open till I'm ready to collect the runnings.  Main reason I do this is to keep the heat inside the cooler. 
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: dmtaylor on August 03, 2013, 02:24:19 PM
thebigbaker is right on and brings up a lot of great points that I totally agree with and use in my own brewing as well.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on August 03, 2013, 02:33:21 PM
So basically better to up my ratio on initial mash-in water and dial down on sparge volume to compensate. Don't stir throughout, just a thorough stirring at mash-in to get out dough balls and perhaps mash for longer (90 minutes?)  Whats a good calculator for mash-sparge water volumes? Beer Smith or Brew 365?
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: HoosierBrew on August 03, 2013, 02:40:17 PM
As said :  1/  Measure volumes very correctly. I use a wooden dowel that I've marked with measurements for liquid volumes in my kettle.  If you want to end up with 5.5 gallons as I do, you can be sure to end up with that accurately, which helps you hit target gravity as well.
              2/  As said, try to get fairly equal volumes from mash and sparge. For example I try to get a pre-boil volume of 7 gallons which at the end of boil will leave me with 5.5 gallons. So I try to get right at 3.5 gallons from the mash and 3.5 gallons from the sparge.
              3/  +1 to getting your grain double crushed at your LHBS if you don't have a mill.  I've been doing this for a long time.  It will help your efficiency big time.
               Finally, try to get your system down for consistency. These things will help your efficiency, but after that it's about being able to brew a given recipe reliably and consistently. An extra lb of grain because you're only at 70% efficiency versus a higher number really doesn't matter in the end.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: dmtaylor on August 03, 2013, 02:40:32 PM
Mashing longer will not improve your efficiency at all.

I had to develop my own spreadsheet for volume calculations due to inadequacies with others I found online.  Not sure what's out there today.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: thebigbaker on August 03, 2013, 02:46:21 PM
So basically better to up my ratio on initial mash-in water and dial down on sparge volume to compensate. Don't stir throughout, just a thorough stirring at mash-in to get out dough balls and perhaps mash for longer (90 minutes?)  Whats a good calculator for mash-sparge water volumes? Beer Smith or Brew 365?

I use this http://www.brewersfriend.com/mash/ (http://www.brewersfriend.com/mash/) to get the amount of strike (mash) water.  Just put in your total grain weight and what grain/ mash water ration you want and it will tell you how much water to use for your mash. Then just subtract the amount of initial runnings from your total wort goal and you have how much sparge water to use.  Take good notes and record how much mash and sparge water you use so you'll know for next time. 
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: fmader on August 03, 2013, 02:55:57 PM
I use this calculator... http://onebeer.net/batchspargecalc.shtml (http://onebeer.net/batchspargecalc.shtml). It works well for me. You do want your two running a to be about equal. So you'll need more mash water than sparge water. Yes, double crush your grains. I all but pulverize mine... I actually get better filtration with a finely crushed grain. Stir as you add your grain to the mash water. I usually add the grain and the water together. Then once all the water and grain is in your tun, give it one last good stir. If you don't have dough balls then, you're not going to develop any throughout the mashing process. 60 minutes should be fine. I like Jon's advice on a wort measuring stick. I used to use one, but I've changed filtering mechanisms in my kettle, that I have too many markings on the stick to make sense of it anymore. I need to get back to using one again, myself.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on August 03, 2013, 03:00:34 PM
The measuring stick should be for boil kettle? As for the Double Crush, is a Mesh Screen tube sufficient to filter when grain bed sets? I just want to make sure I get clear runnings when I vourlaf. 
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: HoosierBrew on August 03, 2013, 03:32:19 PM
The measuring stick should be for boil kettle? As for the Double Crush, is a Mesh Screen tube sufficient to filter when grain bed sets? I just want to make sure I get clear runnings when I vourlaf. 
Yes, the stick is calibrated for your boil kettle.  You can't get consistent efficiency (or hit consistent OG) without getting a strong handle on your volumes. Mine is marked with quart increments up all the way up to 7 gallons. I don't know exactly what screen you are using, but once you've vorlaufed sufficiently to set the grain bed, ie. getting clear runnings, it sounds like you'll be fine there.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: fmader on August 03, 2013, 03:32:47 PM
The measuring stick is for the boil kettle. Fill the kettle up with water a gallon at a time and hash out the stick. I don't use a mesh tube, but I think it will be perfectly fine with double crushed grains. You'll probably have to run three or four quarts before its clear, but you'll get there. Like I said, I get a better filter since I started crushing my own grains finer than when I had the LHBS do it.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on August 03, 2013, 03:52:09 PM
Thanks guys, these are all great tips. Double Crush, making sure my volumes of strike water are around 1.75 qt per pound, keeping the tun closed to prevent loss of temp. I will get working on creating a measuring stick for my  boil kettle.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on August 03, 2013, 04:16:44 PM
I stir about three times in 90 min.

Try not stirring.  I'm willing to bet that it won't make any difference.  I found that the only thing that happens when I stir during the mash is that I lose heat.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on August 03, 2013, 04:19:03 PM
So basically better to up my ratio on initial mash-in water and dial down on sparge volume to compensate. Don't stir throughout, just a thorough stirring at mash-in to get out dough balls and perhaps mash for longer (90 minutes?)  Whats a good calculator for mash-sparge water volumes? Beer Smith or Brew 365?

You really don't need a calculator.  Just mash with whatever ratio you like.  After you run that off, measure how much you got and subtract that from the amount you want to boil.  The answer you get is how much sparge water to use.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: ynotbrusum on August 03, 2013, 04:42:59 PM
If you double crush - try throwing in some rice hulls and running off slowly to start during the Vorlauf - when its clear, let 'er rip.  efficiency questions are almost always volume and temperature related, but I also found that going up to 1.75 quarts per pound or even a little higher increased the mash efficiency.  YMMV, of course.  The fellows above really know their shtick, so you should have most of your problem solved by following their lead.

Good luck and don't give up tweaking!
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: fmader on August 03, 2013, 05:17:42 PM
You really don't need a calculator.  Just mash with whatever ratio you like.  After you run that off, measure how much you got and subtract that from the amount you want to boil.  The answer you get is how much sparge water to use.

I love how you make things simple, Denny! When thinking about it, this is probably the most accurate way of precisely measuring your needed water. I have always used a calculator... Most times it works, but occasionally you end up with a wtf happened with the water brew. I usually start heating my sparge water with about 20-25 minutes left in the mash. I may have to start sacrificing this time. I learn something everyday.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on August 03, 2013, 05:30:50 PM
You really don't need a calculator.  Just mash with whatever ratio you like.  After you run that off, measure how much you got and subtract that from the amount you want to boil.  The answer you get is how much sparge water to use.

I love how you make things simple, Denny! When thinking about it, this is probably the most accurate way of precisely measuring your needed water. I have always used a calculator... Most times it works, but occasionally you end up with a wtf happened with the water brew. I usually start heating my sparge water with about 20-25 minutes left in the mash. I may have to start sacrificing this time. I learn something everyday.

Franks, it's those WTF!  moments that made me go to the empirical method.  I still calculate how much sparge water I _think_ I'm gonna need, but I take measurements and make adjustments before I actually add it.  You can still go ahead and start heating your estimated amount.  Just make sure that you calculations leave you slightly on the high side so you can leave some out if needed.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: repo on August 03, 2013, 06:25:25 PM

The other problem could be volume.  What was your post-boil volume?  For example, if this was a 5-gallon recipe but you ended up with 6 gallons of wort, then your efficiency will be way off if it was calculated assuming you would end up with 5 gallons.  Volume measurements are crucial for nailing efficiency.

 
By the way... I mash 40 minutes, and I still get efficiencies hovering around 90%.  Mash time has very little to do with it.


I'm sure you mean that your og will be way off, not your efficiency. If you get 300 gravity points, the efficiency will not change because those 300 points are in 5 or 6 gallons, og of 1.06 and 1.05 respectively.

Time is important especially when you have a bad crush, you need more time for conversion to occur so you can rinse the sugars. If the op has not reached full conversion time can improve efficiency.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on August 03, 2013, 06:37:23 PM
Time is important especially when you have a bad crush, you need more time for conversion to occur so you can rinse the sugars. If the op has not reached full conversion time can improve efficiency.

A longer time is also helpful for lower temp mashes.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: HoosierBrew on August 03, 2013, 06:50:06 PM
Time is important especially when you have a bad crush, you need more time for conversion to occur so you can rinse the sugars. If the op has not reached full conversion time can improve efficiency.

A longer time is also helpful for lower temp mashes.
+1.  I mashed my last Saison @ 147 for ~100 minutes. It easily got down to 1.004 FG.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: dmtaylor on August 04, 2013, 02:02:47 AM
Time is important especially when you have a bad crush, you need more time for conversion to occur so you can rinse the sugars. If the op has not reached full conversion time can improve efficiency.

A longer time is also helpful for lower temp mashes.

Yep, yep, I agree with you guys -- good points.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: klickitat jim on August 04, 2013, 02:42:59 AM
I stir about three times in 90 min.

Try not stirring.  I'm willing to bet that it won't make any difference.  I found that the only thing that happens when I stir during the mash is that I lose heat.

Probably right, but it gives me something to do lol
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on August 04, 2013, 02:52:22 AM
I stir about three times in 90 min.

Try not stirring.  I'm willing to bet that it won't make any difference.  I found that the only thing that happens when I stir during the mash is that I lose heat.

Probably right, but it gives me something to do lol

Take a walk, drink a beer, post on the forum instead!
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: klickitat jim on August 04, 2013, 02:54:45 AM
I will try it once, just for you
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on August 04, 2013, 03:01:24 AM
I will try it once, just for you

Lemme know if it makes any difference.  I may owe ya an apology and a beer!
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: klickitat jim on August 04, 2013, 03:13:49 AM
Will do. It will be one stir for doh in, and one at sparge in
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: HoosierBrew on August 04, 2013, 03:23:15 AM
Will do. It will be one stir for doh in, and one at sparge in
Those are the only times I stir, Jim.  Otherwise there's a blanket wrapped 'round the cooler to hold in the heat.  I go with Denny on the have a beer and post something plan :)
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: klickitat jim on August 04, 2013, 03:27:05 AM
Next brew day is Wednesday. Will test it out then
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: Jimmy K on August 04, 2013, 04:55:43 AM
I don't think anyone else caught this, but you said you batch sparge at 168F. If you're adding 168F water, that's not hot enough. I use ~180F or higher which brings the grain temp up around 170. A lower temperature will definitely hurt your extraction during the sparge. In case you're worried, extracting tannins with high temp water is less a concern with batch sparging.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: dmtaylor on August 04, 2013, 01:24:24 PM
mtnrockhopper has another good point.  My sparge water usually has to be about 190 F to hit mid 160s after adding and stirring.  But my temperature is probably higher than others because I typically only make 2-3 gallon batches.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: malzig on August 04, 2013, 01:57:00 PM
I'd recommend a stir right before running off the first runnings, too.  When I have forgotten to do this I got reduced efficiency.

Sparge temperature shouldn't make much difference unless you haven't fully converted your grain before the sparge.  A possible exception might be for very high gravity beers, but I can't speak to that.  For the beers I make, I often sparge with 150-160F water and still get efficiencies of >85%.

Nocosan, if your volumes are near accurate, they make it look like you have about 2/3 gallon of dead space in your tun.  If that is true, that will hurt your efficiency. 

Also, a starch test won't tell you if you have converted your grain completely, only that the starch in solution is converted.  Late in the mash, solubility of the starch becomes limiting, so that test is misleading.  You should check the gravity of your wort, after stirring and vorlauf, to see in your grain is converted.  Kai Troester has a handy chart that will tell you what the gravity should be based on your mash thickness, here (http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Troubleshooting_Brewhouse_Efficiency#Determining_Conversion_Efficiency).

One way to improve conversion with a less than ideal crush is to add a short alpha amylase rest up around 160F, which will improve starch gelatinization.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: joe_feist on August 04, 2013, 02:31:11 PM
Lots of good info in this thread. I noticed the O/P said he had  5* drop after stirring. I noticed early in my brewing that my first temp readings were terribly inaccurate right at stirring. Now I stir really well, close the lid on my cooler, wait a few minutes for things to stabilize and then adjust if necessary. To Denny's point- calculate and prep the water and then use what you need.

I do stir a couple times during my 60 - 90 minute mashes. I don't get more than 1 - 2 degrees temp drop, so I'm not all that concerned. Seems folks have different opinions on that.

I thought it interesting that he had .75 more gallons of wort than planned on. I didn't do the math, but that'll have an impact, too.

Oh, +1 to brewers friend. I only started using it yesterday, but there's lots of good tools in there. Loved the check lists.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: malzig on August 04, 2013, 03:16:52 PM
Lots of good info in this thread. I noticed the O/P said he had  5* drop after stirring. I noticed early in my brewing that my first temp readings were terribly inaccurate right at stirring. Now I stir really well, close the lid on my cooler, wait a few minutes for things to stabilize and then adjust if necessary.
Excellent point.  If you take the temperature reading too early, you might still be equilibrating the temperature.  In that case, you could be mashing lower than you think because most of that heat will be lost during the first few minutes.  If you are mashing in the mid 140s instead of the low 150s, you could get reduced or slow conversion.

I stir in well, close the lid, come back in 5 minutes, stir, and check the temperature again.  That second temperature measurement is usually within 2 degrees of what it will be after an hour.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: hopfenundmalz on August 04, 2013, 03:35:38 PM
Accurate weights and volumes.
Good crush.
Calibrate your thermometers.
Hit the right mash pH.
Slow run off for fly sparge.

Those are things that I have found to be important. That and not worrying.

It is also a good thing to measure your conversion efficiency, if you are having problems.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on August 04, 2013, 03:39:30 PM
I sparged at I believe 178 degrees, it ended up around 168, but good point about temperature, I will sparge a bit higher.  As for the dead space in my tun is a 10 gallon rubbermade with a mesh screen tube as the filter, 2/3 a gallon is what you would calculate my dead space to be?

A lower mash temp say of high 140s will slow down my conversion correct?

It seems like my strike/sparge volumes, my temp being a bit low and perhaps my grain crush have all played a key role in my poor extraction.

Any others things I am missing? I am going to keep trying this until I hit closer to my strategies.

Perhaps another Saison or a Pale Ale after this can be my shot at improving extraction of sugars.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on August 04, 2013, 04:04:13 PM
I'd recommend a stir right before running off the first runnings, too.  When I have forgotten to do this I got reduced efficiency.

It's fascinating to hear about different techniques that people use.  For me, stirring before run off makes no difference.

Sparge temperature shouldn't make much difference unless you haven't fully converted your grain before the sparge.  A possible exception might be for very high gravity beers, but I can't speak to that.  For the beers I make, I often sparge with 150-160F water and still get efficiencies of >85%.

Nocosan, if your volumes are near accurate, they make it look like you have about 2/3 gallon of dead space in your tun.  If that is true, that will hurt your efficiency. 

Also, a starch test won't tell you if you have converted your grain completely, only that the starch in solution is converted.  Late in the mash, solubility of the starch becomes limiting, so that test is misleading.  You should check the gravity of your wort, after stirring and vorlauf, to see in your grain is converted.  Kai Troester has a handy chart that will tell you what the gravity should be based on your mash thickness, [urlhttp://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Troubleshooting_Brewhouse_Efficiency#Determining_Conversion_Efficiency]here[/url].

One way to improve conversion with a less than ideal crush is to add a short alpha amylase rest up around 160F, which will improve starch gelatinization.

Agreed!
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: malzig on August 04, 2013, 05:50:27 PM
As for the dead space in my tun is a 10 gallon rubbermade with a mesh screen tube as the filter, 2/3 a gallon is what you would calculate my dead space to be?

A lower mash temp say of high 140s will slow down my conversion correct?
I estimated your dead space from the volume you added to the tun, minus 0.12 gal/# absorption rate, and your collected volume.  There seems to be about 2/3 gallons unaccounted for.

It's common for brewers to mash longer when they mash in the 140s.  I've never measured the effect, but below 150 F+ you are pushing the lower limit of efficient starch gelatinization.
I'd recommend a stir right before running off the first runnings, too.  When I have forgotten to do this I got reduced efficiency.
It's fascinating to hear about different techniques that people use.  For me, stirring before run off makes no difference.
I can only draw a correlation between lower than expected gravity on a few batches and realizing that I hadn't stirred.  It wasn't a solid data set, and the effect was minor, but it seemed to be reproducible and it threw me off my usually very predictable efficiency.  It's been a while, though, and it isn't really a variable in my current system, since I almost always do an alpha rest.   I saw a larger effect by forgetting to stir in the sparge water.  Not that I'm forgetful or anything...
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: ynotbrusum on August 05, 2013, 10:03:37 PM
Does anyone out there add water after the mash period is ended, just to attempt to equalize the batch sparging volumes to be run off in the two batch sparges?  If so, that would impact the calculation, using Denny's system - maybe just have a lot of extra sparge water just in case and brew tea with it?
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: Jimmy K on August 05, 2013, 10:10:22 PM
Does anyone out there add water after the mash period is ended, just to attempt to equalize the batch sparging volumes to be run off in the two batch sparges?  If so, that would impact the calculation, using Denny's system - maybe just have a lot of extra sparge water just in case and brew tea with it?

Yes, that is the recommended way. Somebody (maybe Denny) did tests and found it provides the best efficiency. Just use the same total sparge water for both additions. I heat the full amount at once since they are used within a short time frame.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: morticaixavier on August 05, 2013, 10:13:04 PM
Does anyone out there add water after the mash period is ended, just to attempt to equalize the batch sparging volumes to be run off in the two batch sparges?  If so, that would impact the calculation, using Denny's system - maybe just have a lot of extra sparge water just in case and brew tea with it?

not just for that reason but I will often add some hot water before runoff because I do no-sparge and I don't want the actual mash ratio that high.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: HoosierBrew on August 05, 2013, 10:13:47 PM
I've been doing it lately.  I think I get the most consistent efficiency that way.  I usually mash 1.5 -1.75 qts/lb, so whatever volume of water I need to run off exactly 3.5 gallons from the mash is what I add at the end of the mash. It's easy then to use exactly the same volume of sparge water each time.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on August 05, 2013, 10:24:21 PM
Does anyone out there add water after the mash period is ended, just to attempt to equalize the batch sparging volumes to be run off in the two batch sparges?  If so, that would impact the calculation, using Denny's system - maybe just have a lot of extra sparge water just in case and brew tea with it?

Yes, that is the recommended way. Somebody (maybe Denny) did tests and found it provides the best efficiency. Just use the same total sparge water for both additions. I heat the full amount at once since they are used within a short time frame.

Actually, I got the info from Ken Schwartz, but I believe he derived it mathematically rather than empirically.  But in truth, it doesn't matter all that much.  Having runoffs within a gal. or so of each other has so little impact on efficiency that you likely would never notice.  These days, I usually mash with enough water that I don't have to do the addition before I run off.  Save some work and it's pragmatic!
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: narvin on August 06, 2013, 01:47:24 AM
Mash thinner!  If you're considering adding extra water to your mash tun before the sparge to equalize volumes, just use it all in the mash.  At the homebrew scale, 1.5 - 2.0 qts/lb isn't too much.   I've found that with just an average crush and 1.25 qts/lb, I don't get 100% mash conversion in 60 minutes.  A lower mash temperature (it sounds like you stabilized at 148) exacerbates the problems with a thick mash.  Stirring or extra time would help, but a thinner mash just works better.  As it was mentioned above, an iodine test won't tell you if all of the starches have been extracted; you need to measure the gravity.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: ynotbrusum on August 06, 2013, 02:10:22 AM
Mash thinner!  If you're considering adding extra water to your mash tun before the sparge to equalize volumes, just use it all in the mash.  At the homebrew scale, 1.5 - 2.0 qts/lb isn't too much.   I've found that with just an average crush and 1.25 qts/lb, I don't get 100% mash conversion in 60 minutes.  A lower mash temperature (it sounds like you stabilized at 148) exacerbates the problems with a thick mash.  Stirring or extra time would help, but a thinner mash just works better.  As it was mentioned above, an iodine test won't tell you if all of the starches have been extracted; you need to measure the gravity.

Yes, that's what I do typically (1.5-1.75 qts/lb) - plus it makes Denny's approach all the easier to implement - the pragmatic way!  Thanks for the input and I apologize to the OP for the threadjack.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: klickitat jim on August 08, 2013, 07:42:01 PM
I will try it once, just for you

Lemme know if it makes any difference.  I may owe ya an apology and a beer!

Just finished a 90 min mash, 5 gallons with 12lbs, no stir after doh in. 20° or 1.080 so once again Denny is the Master!
I also didn't lose much temp, about 2° in 90 min with my stainless MT and yoga mat insulator
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on August 08, 2013, 08:13:24 PM
great so no little loss on heat and hitting target OG, sounds good. Are folks typically covering their mash tun coolers to insulate heat? Does everyone typically pre-heat mash tun cooler with boiling water prior to adding strike water and mashing in?
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: theDarkSide on August 08, 2013, 08:26:09 PM
great so no little loss on heat and hitting target OG, sounds good. Are folks typically covering their mash tun coolers to insulate heat? Does everyone typically pre-heat mash tun cooler with boiling water prior to adding strike water and mashing in?

I cover my mash tun if it's colder and I'm outside.  I use a thick wool blanket to help keep it from falling too  much.  Otherwise I just let it be and only lose a degree or two over a 60 minute mash.

I do preheat my mash tun with boiling water, but then my recipe is configured that way.  If I don't preheat, I will undershoot my mash temp unless I heat my water a bit more and then it's a guessing game.  Preheating makes it easier for me to hit my temp within a few tenths of a degree.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: dmtaylor on August 08, 2013, 08:43:31 PM
I don't preheat my mash tun with boiling water.  I just heat the water an extra 12 F than my calculator says.  Works really well.  I always boil an extra couple of quarts of water on the stove at the same time just in case the mash gets too hot.  Only very rarely have I needed to use it.  And rarely I need to stir or add cold water because it got too hot.  Typically no adjustments are required because it's within a degree or two of desired.  With experience you'll learn how many extra degrees are needed to heat your mash tun so that you don't need to precondition.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: kramerog on August 08, 2013, 09:27:23 PM
I don't preheat.  I add 6-8 degrees (8 in winter, 6 in summer) to the calculated mash temp to compensate for evaporation while mixing the water and malt.  I cover the tun because evaporation is the biggest source of heat loss.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: scottNU on August 08, 2013, 09:51:41 PM
I don't preheat my mash tun with boiling water. 

Is there any downside to preheating the mash tun? Equipment issue perhaps?
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: kramerog on August 08, 2013, 10:08:01 PM
I don't preheat my mash tun with boiling water. 

Is there any downside to preheating the mash tun? Equipment issue perhaps?

Preheating is an unnecessary step.  I believe most of my heat loss is due to evaporation and not to my cooler/mash tun anyway.

You don't have to preheat with boiling water; you could preheat with water at 150 F if you are worried about damaging your mash tun.. 
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: HoosierBrew on August 08, 2013, 10:19:33 PM
I don't preheat my mash tun with boiling water.  I just heat the water an extra 12 F than my calculator says.  Works really well.  I always boil an extra couple of quarts of water on the stove at the same time just in case the mash gets too hot.  Only very rarely have I needed to use it.  And rarely I need to stir or add cold water because it got too hot.  Typically no adjustments are required because it's within a degree or two of desired.  With experience you'll learn how many extra degrees are needed to heat your mash tun so that you don't need to precondition.
+1.  No preheat here either.  I bring my mash tun in from the garage the day before and let it warm to ambient room temp, with the lid open.  I heat my strike water 12-13 dF above mash temp as well, and adjust with boiling water or ice if need be.  I'm always within 2dF and usually 1dF of target, but most often don't need to adjust.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: klickitat jim on August 09, 2013, 12:57:58 AM
My mash tun will melt at 2,750°F. Also I use it to heat my mash water, and can throw heat on it midway if needed. But with a $5 homemade insulator and no stir, it only loses 2° in 90 minutes.  Thanks to Denny
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: cheshirecat on August 09, 2013, 03:27:03 AM
I use either a 5 or 10 gallon rubbermade round mash tun depending on what size batch I am doing, don't pre heat. For both I usually go 12+ above my mash temp. Maybe a little more with MO which gives me dough balls for some reason, usually needs a little extra stirring. I don't see much of a drop in temp even with a 90 min mash no more than a degree or two.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: AmandaK on August 09, 2013, 02:17:50 PM
Kai's wiki has probably my favorite studies on efficiency (and fermentability):
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Effects_of_mash_parameters_on_fermentability_and_efficiency_in_single_infusion_mashing (http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Effects_of_mash_parameters_on_fermentability_and_efficiency_in_single_infusion_mashing)

I think it's worth a read.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on August 09, 2013, 04:05:30 PM
Just finished a 90 min mash, 5 gallons with 12lbs, no stir after doh in. 20° or 1.080 so once again Denny is the Master!
I also didn't lose much temp, about 2° in 90 min with my stainless MT and yoga mat insulator

Dude, I'm no smarter than anybody else here.  It's just that after brewing hundreds and hundreds of batches you learn a few things!
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on August 09, 2013, 04:07:17 PM
great so no little loss on heat and hitting target OG, sounds good. Are folks typically covering their mash tun coolers to insulate heat? Does everyone typically pre-heat mash tun cooler with boiling water prior to adding strike water and mashing in?

I don't insulate my cooler mash tun and I never lose more than 2F over a 90 min. mash.  I used to preheat, but decided that I was too lazy foe the extra step.  It took me about 2-3 brews to figure out how much hotter I had to make my strike water to account for not preheating.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on August 09, 2013, 04:08:45 PM
I don't preheat my mash tun with boiling water. 

Is there any downside to preheating the mash tun? Equipment issue perhaps?

Just that you're wasting time and effort.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: scottNU on August 09, 2013, 04:13:54 PM
I don't preheat my mash tun with boiling water. 

Is there any downside to preheating the mash tun? Equipment issue perhaps?

Just that you're wasting time and effort.

OK.  Got it.  Thanks.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: joe_feist on August 09, 2013, 04:30:06 PM
I used to pre-heat. Haven't lately. It's summer, I brew outside when I can and it just hasn't been necessary. Come winter, I'll mash in the kitchen. I'll probably pre-heat again because everything is just cooler. It's not that big a deal really. I throw a couple quarts of water in the ol' microwave while I'm getting stuff together and dump that in the tun while I'm milling my grain...bim, badda-boom, done.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: erockrph on August 09, 2013, 04:50:11 PM
I preheated a few times, but I ended up coming in a little hot compared to what the calculator I was using gave me as a strike temp. So now I just let it ride and end up within a degree or two. In the end, it's simply a matter of what works for you to get you where you need to be. Frankly, the less steps in my process the better.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: leejoreilly on August 10, 2013, 12:59:17 PM
I always preheat my mash tun, but I've never seen it as requiring much additional time or effort. I just heat my strike water an additional 6 or 8 degrees, dump it in my cooler/tun, and let it sit for a few minutes before dumping in the grain. Maybe five minutes or so for the added heating and five to let the tun warm up. No biggie, and I hit my mash temps consistently.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: fmader on August 10, 2013, 01:15:32 PM
Since I brew in a barn in Ohio, I don't find it necessary to preheat the tun in the 90-100 degree summer heat, but when it's 10 degrees in the winter, I find it necessary to preheat it. But by preheating, I just leave inside next to the wood burner until I need it.

However, I am confused by this paradox since I usually keep my ratio around 1.75 quarts per pound, but I need my strike temp about 18 degrees over the target mash temp with bigger beers that use lets say 15 lb of grain. I run my strike temp 13 or 14 over for smaller beers that require 10ish lbs.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: dmtaylor on August 10, 2013, 01:46:23 PM
I always preheat my mash tun, but I've never seen it as requiring much additional time or effort. I just heat my strike water an additional 6 or 8 degrees, dump it in my cooler/tun, and let it sit for a few minutes before dumping in the grain. Maybe five minutes or so for the added heating and five to let the tun warm up. No biggie, and I hit my mash temps consistently.

Any problem with dough balls?  You'll get the same results, with very few if any dough balls, if you have the grain in first and dump the hot water on top of it.  I don't mean to start arguments on this, but it has been my experience.  YMMV
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on August 10, 2013, 04:22:43 PM
I always preheat my mash tun, but I've never seen it as requiring much additional time or effort. I just heat my strike water an additional 6 or 8 degrees, dump it in my cooler/tun, and let it sit for a few minutes before dumping in the grain. Maybe five minutes or so for the added heating and five to let the tun warm up. No biggie, and I hit my mash temps consistently.

Any problem with dough balls?  You'll get the same results, with very few if any dough balls, if you have the grain in first and dump the hot water on top of it.  I don't mean to start arguments on this, but it has been my experience.  YMMV

Dave, for 15 years and 440+ batches I've added grain to water.  I only recall seeing doughballs a few times and that seemed dependent on the malt I used.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: klickitat jim on August 10, 2013, 08:17:57 PM
I'm still just a pigeon scout at brewing but no doh balls with slow pour of grain and steady stir.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: HoosierBrew on August 10, 2013, 08:46:20 PM
+1 to slowly pouring into water and stirring.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on August 10, 2013, 09:49:40 PM
+1 to slowly pouring into water and stirring.

Yep.  Exactly what I do.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: leejoreilly on August 11, 2013, 04:30:39 PM
I always preheat my mash tun, but I've never seen it as requiring much additional time or effort. I just heat my strike water an additional 6 or 8 degrees, dump it in my cooler/tun, and let it sit for a few minutes before dumping in the grain. Maybe five minutes or so for the added heating and five to let the tun warm up. No biggie, and I hit my mash temps consistently.

Any problem with dough balls?  You'll get the same results, with very few if any dough balls, if you have the grain in first and dump the hot water on top of it.  I don't mean to start arguments on this, but it has been my experience.  YMMV

I guess I shouldn't have said "dump in the grain"; I actually pour it in pretty carefully and stir it, either while pouring if I have an "assistant brewer" with me to help, or pour a bit, stir, pour a bit more if I'm solo. Never had any problems with dough balls (knock wood).
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: dmtaylor on August 11, 2013, 05:21:11 PM
Nice thing about doing it the other way dumping the water into the grain is that you don't need to do it slowly, just dump it in and the stirring pretty much takes care of itself except maybe in the corners or beneath the Bazooka (or equivalent).  Probably shaves 2 minutes off my brew day.   ;)
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on August 18, 2013, 03:07:27 PM
I may preheat just to see how that affects, Ive usually been heating my strike water about 12 degrees higher than temp needed.  Going to see if that can help, plus only going to stir grain at beginning and very end so as not to lose temp.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: fmader on August 18, 2013, 03:58:29 PM
Ahhh the old debate of adding grain to water or water to grain.... I do it together! I slowly add my grain to the water as it flows into the tun while stirring 3 or 4 times through the process... It's the best of both worlds!
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: mripa on August 19, 2013, 12:48:16 AM
I had a poor grain crush at the LHBS.
Resulted in an efficiency of 51% vs 69% what I usually get.
Defiantly going to double crush to see how high I can the efficiency.

Question:  My IPA that was supposed to be 7% ABV will now come in at 5%.
I will call it a Hoppy Pale Ale  :o.... Will the flavor of the beer be the same with lower efficiency? Just less alcohol flavor...
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: dmtaylor on August 19, 2013, 01:21:23 AM
Yes, it will still taste almost exactly the same but not as hot.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: mripa on August 19, 2013, 01:58:34 AM
Glad to hear that.

I may not dry hop ... already has 7 oz hops in a 5 gallon batch.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on August 19, 2013, 02:30:45 AM
Do you double crush supporters add rice hulls?  Or do you think my mesh screen in my round mash tun should be fine to create a grain bed?
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: morticaixavier on August 19, 2013, 02:55:27 PM
Glad to hear that.

I may not dry hop ... already has 7 oz hops in a 5 gallon batch.

do dry hop. if you want a hoppy pale ale. The dry hopping is not going to add any additional bitterness just aroma and a little flavor.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on August 19, 2013, 03:05:57 PM
Do you double crush supporters add rice hulls?  Or do you think my mesh screen in my round mash tun should be fine to create a grain bed?

That depends on your system.  I crush very fine but I've never needed rice hulls. 
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: fmader on August 19, 2013, 03:26:23 PM
Glad to hear that.

I may not dry hop ... already has 7 oz hops in a 5 gallon batch.

do dry hop. if you want a hoppy pale ale. The dry hopping is not going to add any additional bitterness just aroma and a little flavor.

+1 absolutely dry hop it. IMO, there is a fine line between APA and IPA. If you're going to call it hoppy pale ale... Dry hop the poop out of it! So now you just have an IPA at lower ABV... You're just able to enjoy more in a sitting now  :P
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: fmader on August 19, 2013, 03:28:14 PM
Do you double crush supporters add rice hulls?  Or do you think my mesh screen in my round mash tun should be fine to create a grain bed?

I don't double crush, but I super crush my grains. I generally don't use rice hulls... Just when I'm mashing wheat or more than a couple pounds of flaked malts.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: morticaixavier on August 19, 2013, 04:32:19 PM
Do you double crush supporters add rice hulls?  Or do you think my mesh screen in my round mash tun should be fine to create a grain bed?

I have never used rice hulls. I won't say that I have never had a stuck runoff, I have for sure but I stir it up and re-vorlauf. Adds maybe 15 minutes to the brew day, 20 when I did an all wheat ale. I had to stir and restart that one about 3 times. gotta love the cheap and easy batch sparge system.

I have been brewing with 50%+/- flaked grain lately and I don't even get a stuck runoff every time. maybe every other time.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: scottNU on August 19, 2013, 05:03:25 PM
I have never used rice hulls. I won't say that I have never had a stuck runoff, I have for sure but I stir it up and re-vorlauf. Adds maybe 15 minutes to the brew day, 20 when I did an all wheat ale. I had to stir and restart that one about 3 times. gotta love the cheap and easy batch sparge system.

I have been brewing with 50%+/- flaked grain lately and I don't even get a stuck runoff every time. maybe every other time.

I had also never used rice hulls in my previous batches.  During the last dunkelweizen I brewed, I decided to give it a shot.  I added 0.5 lb of rice hulls. The grist was 50%+ wheat.  It is hard to quantify the improvement, but I didn't have any stuck runoff with the batch. 

I spent about $0.75 for the rice hulls, so cost wasn't a big deal. The only thing I really didn't like was that the rice hulls made the spent grains hard to "chew on".  I like to taste the grist after the sparge is completed - it's dumb, but helps me recognize differences from batch to batch.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: dmtaylor on August 19, 2013, 05:18:29 PM
I crush hard enough to where I get stuck runoffs on occasion.  So I either just deal with it, with patience, or I throw in a handful of rice hulls and be done with it.  For whatever reason, I haven't really needed rice hulls for wheat beers, but it comes in handy when using a huge amount of rye (e.g., 40%), and probably oats too.  In my humble opinion, if you don't get a stuck runoff every once in a while, then you're either really awesome like Denny and have your mill tweaked exactly right, or... you aren't crushing hard enough.  Close that gap on your mill, or double crush, and watch your efficiency rise.  On the other hand.... I also have a theory that too great of an efficiency can adversely affect malt flavor.  So for that reason I recently opened the gap on my mill.  Not to mention I was getting more than a few stuck runoffs.... play around till you get it right for what you want.  To me, an average 85% efficiency is plenty.  I don't need to get 95% efficiency but with a lot of stuck runoffs, no thanks.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: scottNU on August 19, 2013, 06:29:09 PM
On the other hand.... I also have a theory that too great of an efficiency can adversely affect malt flavor. 

Interesting!  I see there may be a practical and reason to limit high efficiency.  Other than using more grain (and spending some more $$), is there a similar argument on the low end?  For example, if you are not at XX% efficiency, you don't develop a certain flavor or head retention characteristic? 

I know that this is a YMMV-thing, but is a range of 70% - 80% considered normal efficiency? 
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: morticaixavier on August 19, 2013, 06:59:38 PM
On the other hand.... I also have a theory that too great of an efficiency can adversely affect malt flavor. 

Interesting!  I see there may be a practical and reason to limit high efficiency.  Other than using more grain (and spending some more $$), is there a similar argument on the low end?  For example, if you are not at XX% efficiency, you don't develop a certain flavor or head retention characteristic? 

I know that this is a YMMV-thing, but is a range of 70% - 80% considered normal efficiency?

I run in the mid to low 60's but I often do no sparge. closer to high 60's low 70's if I sparge.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: mripa on August 19, 2013, 07:44:58 PM
http://www.flickr.com/photos/100511326@N02/9547203203/

This is the mill at my LHBS.

Any idea where to adjust?  Generally it is in the middle.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: dmtaylor on August 19, 2013, 09:44:20 PM
On the other hand.... I also have a theory that too great of an efficiency can adversely affect malt flavor. 

Interesting!  I see there may be a practical and reason to limit high efficiency.  Other than using more grain (and spending some more $$), is there a similar argument on the low end?  For example, if you are not at XX% efficiency, you don't develop a certain flavor or head retention characteristic? 

I know that this is a YMMV-thing, but is a range of 70% - 80% considered normal efficiency?

Yes, about 70-85% efficiency is all pretty normal, and anywhere in that range would be what I would consider to be a good balance between flavor and not wasting too much money.  If your efficiency is in the 50s or 60s... that kind of sucks as you're wasting money, but on the other hand, you'll make awesomely malty beer that way.  "They" say that the lower your efficiency, the more malty the beer can be.  For instance, if you do a no-sparge beer, you might only get 55% efficiency, but dang that beer tastes nice and malty because you're essentially making the beer out of nothing but first runnings.  You're not watering down with a lot of sparge/rinse water that needs a long boil to be concentrated.  Nope.  Just first runnings.  So yeah, efficiency sucks, but yum.... So that's kind of where I got my theory from for the other way around.  I can achieve 95% efficiency, but this requires a really hard crush and a lot of sparging.  So, you're getting more sugar out of less grain.  So, since you're using less grain, you get less grainy flavors.  That's the theory.  To date and to my knowledge, no one has bothered to prove it right or wrong.  I need to run more experiments.  Eventually.  Maybe.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: scottNU on August 19, 2013, 11:38:48 PM
Yes, about 70-85% efficiency is all pretty normal, and anywhere in that range would be what I would consider to be a good balance between flavor and not wasting too much money.  If your efficiency is in the 50s or 60s... that kind of sucks as you're wasting money, but on the other hand, you'll make awesomely malty beer that way.  "They" say that the lower your efficiency, the more malty the beer can be.  For instance, if you do a no-sparge beer, you might only get 55% efficiency, but dang that beer tastes nice and malty because you're essentially making the beer out of nothing but first runnings.  You're not watering down with a lot of sparge/rinse water that needs a long boil to be concentrated.  Nope.  Just first runnings.  So yeah, efficiency sucks, but yum.... So that's kind of where I got my theory from for the other way around.  I can achieve 95% efficiency, but this requires a really hard crush and a lot of sparging.  So, you're getting more sugar out of less grain.  So, since you're using less grain, you get less grainy flavors.  That's the theory.  To date and to my knowledge, no one has bothered to prove it right or wrong.  I need to run more experiments.  Eventually.  Maybe.

Thanks for the thoughtful answer!
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: hopfenundmalz on August 19, 2013, 11:54:07 PM
I have a single tier system, and use a pump to transfer. Thinking about a.grant someday, to keep from pulling a vacuum on the false bottom. Or trying a just using a small kettle to drain into, the pouring into the boil kettle.

I get stuck mashes with rye or some other grains. Guys like Denny never does, so I am looking into a process change to solve that. A blue cooler also might be in my future.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: malzig on August 26, 2013, 11:14:15 AM
I know that this is a YMMV-thing, but is a range of 70% - 80% considered normal efficiency?
If you sit down and do the math, an optimized, single batch sparge following complete conversion maxes out around 89% for a 1.050 beer, depending on the percent of your volume you boil off.  I usually get 87% for my typical 12 Plato beers batch sparged.  For a batch sparge, unless you have a large dead volume and leave a lot of wort behind in the tun, I would consider anything above 80% "normal" for a batch sparge, since that would indicate >90% conversion and about a pint of dead space.  For comparison, I get ~75% for a no sparge of a beer that same size, so I've almost completely abandoned sparging.

If you are stuck using a LHBS crush, you may never get good conversion without performing a step mash to higher gelatinization temperatures.  I crush very fine, and would have an occasional batch run slow if I opened the runoff too quickly.  Now I malt condition, so I never have a slow runoff.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: klickitat jim on August 26, 2013, 01:54:00 PM
Once a wise old brewer told me that consistent efficiency is more important that how high. That's good, cuz I think I run about 70%, but I am always within a few points of my target or expected OG
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: malzig on August 26, 2013, 04:08:30 PM
Once a wise old brewer told me that consistent efficiency is more important that how high. That's good, cuz I think I run about 70%, but I am always within a few points of my target or expected OG
I've found that one of the most reliable ways to get consistent efficiency is to learn how to approach 100% conversion on your system.  A pleasant side effect of converting all the starch is high efficiency.

I'm also happy with 75% efficiency, which is why I usually go no-sparge. It also gives me the arguable benefits to flavor.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on August 26, 2013, 06:18:19 PM
+1 to concentrating on conversion efficiency.  And big thanks to Kai for getting us all to think about it!
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: mripa on September 01, 2013, 11:39:07 PM
Update on my poor efficiency.  The beer came out great just low abv.  I brewed the same IPA recipe today and went from 51% to 65% efficiency.  I did a double crush. Seemed to help.  The adjustment knob on the mill at the LHBS moves if not really tight.  I think that was the problem.  A question for Denny....Should I stir after mashing for 1 hour - before vorlauf?  I'm using a rectangle coleman cooler with a ss braid hose.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: dmtaylor on September 02, 2013, 02:09:56 AM
I know you were shooting for Denny, but IMHO, the answer is, no, it doesn't matter.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: HoosierBrew on September 02, 2013, 02:14:48 AM
I know you were shooting for Denny, but IMHO, the answer is, no, it doesn't matter.
+1
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: mripa on September 02, 2013, 02:50:19 AM
I know you were shooting for Denny, but IMHO, the answer is, no, it doesn't matter.
Denny is a busy man I'm sure  :D
I haven't been stirring, but thought maybe that was part of my efficiency problem.
Thanks
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: HoosierBrew on September 02, 2013, 03:07:53 AM
The double crush definitely helps.  How did you do on your volumes this time?  Did you hit your target volume pretty closely?
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: mripa on September 02, 2013, 03:35:34 AM
Came close - I was about .25 gallons on the + side.
Still learning the water adjustments.  I think my evaporation rate was off a bit.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on September 02, 2013, 03:38:21 PM
I know you were shooting for Denny, but IMHO, the answer is, no, it doesn't matter.

And Denny agrees.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: mripa on September 03, 2013, 12:57:24 AM
How necessary is it to be exact on 2nd runnings water volume?
I drained all from first runnings and on 2nd running I stopped at my pre-boil amount.
I measured about .25 gallons of unused 2nd runnings.
 
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: dmtaylor on September 03, 2013, 01:01:54 AM
If you want the best efficiency, collect and boil every single drop.  Otherwise your efficiency will definitely take a hit.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: jeffy on September 03, 2013, 03:42:18 PM
One would think after all these years that I'd figure all the volumes out, but the last two batches I ended up collecting way too much wort and had to extend the boil by over an hour.  'Hit my numbers in the end but it took a lot longer.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on September 03, 2013, 04:24:07 PM
One would think after all these years that I'd figure all the volumes out, but the last two batches I ended up collecting way too much wort and had to extend the boil by over an hour.  'Hit my numbers in the end but it took a lot longer.

I have the same affliction.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: ynotbrusum on September 04, 2013, 12:04:45 PM
One would think after all these years that I'd figure all the volumes out, but the last two batches I ended up collecting way too much wort and had to extend the boil by over an hour.  'Hit my numbers in the end but it took a lot longer.

I have the same affliction.

I have a new grain mill and have been using a larger boil kettle, so I have been adjusting things one at a time - volumes have been big to allow for greater boil off, but external temperature and humidity have been giving me differences that I didn't expect.  Sometimes much longer boils or just a little different beer than intended.  Still dialing in....
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on September 13, 2013, 04:19:16 PM
So about to brew my Black IPA on Sunday, these tips will help out. I'm debating using a ratio of 1.5 or 1.75 qt/pd for initial mash-in. Will mash for 75 to be safe in my 10 gallon round rubbermaid mash tun. Will stir only at beginning and once 20 minutes before I mash out when I have to add my Midnight Wheat.  I also was wondering if perhaps I should slow my vorlauf to a trickle to increase efficiency?  I thought I did it slow in past but that meant getting wort out in 10-15 minutes, perhaps extend to 45 minutes. 

Guy at my LHBS told me one trick could be to collect first runnings, raise to 168 in kettle, recirculate those, then batch sparge one final time with sparge water to get final volume up to 6.7 gallons to get efficiency up better.  Does that sound like a useful exercise as well?

Lastly, using Denny's favorite as my yeast as a new experience.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on September 13, 2013, 04:27:33 PM

Guy at my LHBS told me one trick could be to collect first runnings, raise to 168 in kettle, recirculate those, then batch sparge one final time with sparge water to get final volume up to 6.7 gallons to get efficiency up better.  Does that sound like a useful exercise as well?

I don't see why you'd want to do that.  Just run off your mash and batch sparge with enough 185F water to hit your boil volume.  No point in needlessly complicating things!
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on September 13, 2013, 04:45:33 PM
As always Denny, I defer to your advice. Here's to hoping that I get a nice black wort that will make a black ale that will meet the approval of my girlfriend's palate for Black Ale's.

1. 1.5/1.75 qt/pd for mash in
2. add grains to water and stir at beginning and close mash cooler
3. 75 minutes to mash, add Midnight Wheat in final 20 min or so
4. Slowly vorlauf and extract wort
5. calculate your volume with dowl and figure out how much sparge water to add to make difference
6. add 185 degree sparge water, stir, let sit for 20 min
7. vorlauf sparge water.
8. Fin

Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on September 13, 2013, 04:59:17 PM
As always Denny, I defer to your advice. Here's to hoping that I get a nice black wort that will make a black ale that will meet the approval of my girlfriend's palate for Black Ale's.

1. 1.5/1.75 qt/pd for mash in
2. add grains to water and stir at beginning and close mash cooler
3. 75 minutes to mash, add Midnight Wheat in final 20 min or so
4. Slowly vorlauf and extract wort
5. calculate your volume with dowl and figure out how much sparge water to add to make difference
6. add 185 degree sparge water, stir, let sit for 20 min
7. vorlauf sparge water.
8. Fin

Sounds good to me!
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: Jimmy K on September 13, 2013, 05:31:40 PM

Guy at my LHBS told me one trick could be to collect first runnings, raise to 168 in kettle, recirculate those, then batch sparge one final time with sparge water to get final volume up to 6.7 gallons to get efficiency up better.  Does that sound like a useful exercise as well?

Maybe this would help, but it really sounds overly complicated. I always come up with ideas like this on the spot - but then my wife rolls her eyes and suggests something half as complicated and twice as effective.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on September 16, 2013, 05:57:35 PM
So I brewed and I think I figured out the problem. I still had an efficiency problem, though not quite as bad, did have double crush and it improved but not by a ton.

I use a 10 gallon round rubbermaid mash ton, and I am brewing 5-gallon batches so I am getting about 7.3 gallons of wort for boil. I did use 1.75 qt/pd for my mash in, but was still getting temperature drops from mash in at 153 drop to about 147 by the end. I have a fair about amount of deadspace above my mash because I have a big cooler. Could that be a big part of my efficiency problem?

How can I better insulate my cooler to stop this significant drop in temp?  Towels on bottom of tun and at the top?  Towel around the ball valve? How can I fill up some of that deadspace inside?  Foil inside my mash tun?

I am open to any and all ideas, particularly from those with experience with round mash coolers.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: kramerog on September 16, 2013, 06:13:40 PM
I usually loose 1 degree F during a 1 hour mash for a 10-gal mash after the water and grains are thoroughly mixed.  Your 6 F temp loss is not normal unless you left the lid off the mash tun for 1 hour.

However, I heat up my strike water 6-8 F hotter than what I calculate which compensates for evaporation and cooling during the water transfer and mixing, and heating the mash tun.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on September 16, 2013, 06:15:09 PM
So I brewed and I think I figured out the problem. I still had an efficiency problem, though not quite as bad, did have double crush and it improved but not by a ton.

I use a 10 gallon round rubbermaid mash ton, and I am brewing 5-gallon batches so I am getting about 7.3 gallons of wort for boil. I did use 1.75 qt/pd for my mash in, but was still getting temperature drops from mash in at 153 drop to about 147 by the end. I have a fair about amount of deadspace above my mash because I have a big cooler. Could that be a big part of my efficiency problem?

How can I better insulate my cooler to stop this significant drop in temp?  Towels on bottom of tun and at the top?  Towel around the ball valve? How can I fill up some of that deadspace inside?  Foil inside my mash tun?

I am open to any and all ideas, particularly from those with experience with round mash coolers.

The temp drop could affect your fermentability, but it's very unlikely that it affected your efficiency.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on September 16, 2013, 06:23:02 PM
Should I just bump up my strike water temperature to start at a higher fermentation temp bring it down a bit ?

I took a temperature in two spots right after stirring (152 F) then closed the lid, but by 75 minutes was down to 146. Could it be that I need to wait about 5-10 minutes after first stirring to get a true temperature reading of the mash after heat exchange?
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on September 16, 2013, 06:30:23 PM
Denny, so major change in temp doesn't effect the enzyme activity in the mash? Just that you get more fermentable sugars at lower temps (146) and more unfermentable at higher temps (156)? 

Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: kramerog on September 16, 2013, 06:36:28 PM
I looked at your plan.  Step 3 involved opening the tun and adding Midnight Wheat.  If you mixed the Midnight Wheat in well, you probably lost the bulk of your 6 degrees at that time.  Because you had already mashed for nearly an hour, the consequences of a temp drop at that time would be inconsequential.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on September 16, 2013, 06:47:16 PM
Thats true, I did add that, and opening and briefly stirring may have resulted in some of that. I was just wondering, if you stir at begging of mash in and you take temp, it will still drop more correct given that it takes time for strike water and grain to mix and create one solid temp. Should I strike slightly high with a reading of 154 if I want to hit 151? given it takes time for grain/water mix.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: morticaixavier on September 16, 2013, 07:06:24 PM
Thats true, I did add that, and opening and briefly stirring may have resulted in some of that. I was just wondering, if you stir at begging of mash in and you take temp, it will still drop more correct given that it takes time for strike water and grain to mix and create one solid temp. Should I strike slightly high with a reading of 154 if I want to hit 151? given it takes time for grain/water mix.

If you have stirred everything in really well the temp should not drop much more than your measurement. Do you see steam escaping around the lid on cold brew days? if so cover the whole thing in some heavy blankets and see if that helps. Add the midnight wheat right before you sparge instead of in the middle of the mash and it will matter even less than KRAMEROG stated.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on September 16, 2013, 07:11:20 PM
I did not see any steam. I have one these coolers as my mash tun: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Rubbermaid-10-Gallon-Water-Cooler-Orange-Cooler-FG1610HDORAN/202260809#.UjdXedK-q2E

The lid seems to be solid plastic, not necessarily insulate. But no steam escaped. When I would go to touch the lid, you could feel the plastic was hot. However, I am wondering if I should put towels over the lid and below the cooler and around the ball valve to limit any exchange of heat that could contribute to heat loss.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: kramerog on September 16, 2013, 07:19:51 PM

If you have stirred everything in really well the temp should not drop much more than your measurement.

+1.

I had a mash tun from the same Rubbermaid cooler.  I would loose only 1 deg F over an hour for 10-gal batches.  The lid should be fine.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on September 16, 2013, 07:42:20 PM
kramerog, if I was brewing a 5 gallon batch from say 13.5 lbs of grains and about 5.9 gallons of strike water in that 10 gallon MLT, would I lose more than 1 degree in heat?  Just wondering because I read a lot on blogs that if you are doing 10 gallon batches you should lose little, but more dead space on top of mash you lose more temp.

Thanks again.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on September 16, 2013, 07:49:29 PM
Denny, so major change in temp doesn't effect the enzyme activity in the mash? Just that you get more fermentable sugars at lower temps (146) and more unfermentable at higher temps (156)?

Correct.  You'll still get conversion at the lower temp.  I think it's likely you didn't stir enough.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: kramerog on September 16, 2013, 07:55:15 PM
I'm not aware of any correlation between heat loss and headspace.  I suspect that your 5-gal batch looses about the same amount of heat as a 10-gal batch but since your batch is smaller you would get a bigger temp drop on the order of 1.5 deg F.  In any case my mash volumes were not dramatically bigger than yours because I used to mash at 1.25 qts/lb until I got a bigger cooler.

If you are really worried about temp loss and headspace, use still more water!
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: Vin S on September 16, 2013, 08:03:36 PM
Nicosan 1, Did you increase temp of strike water for loss of heat because of temp of the grain? also do you pre heat cooler.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on September 16, 2013, 08:14:52 PM
Denny - I tried to get my strike temp too be 170 in my kettle so that when I transferred it using a one gallon metal jug I would lose a few degrees to be about 166 so that I could get it to 151 after adding grain. I was at about 156 after stirring for half a minute, then I stirred some more and added some pieces of ice to lower to about 152, after stirring for another half a minute.

VinS, I did pre-heat my cooler with 1 gallon of boiling water that left in sealed, emptied just before adding strike water.

Kramerog, I used 1.75 qt/pd so I guess I could go to 2 qt/pd to limit, though I probably won't have to do much of a sparge on that I suppose.


Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: morticaixavier on September 16, 2013, 08:20:36 PM
Denny - I tried to get my strike temp too be 170 in my kettle so that when I transferred it using a one gallon metal jug I would lose a few degrees to be about 166 so that I could get it to 151 after adding grain. I was at about 156 after stirring for half a minute, then I stirred some more and added some pieces of ice to lower to about 152, after stirring for another half a minute.

VinS, I did pre-heat my cooler with 1 gallon of boiling water that left in sealed, emptied just before adding strike water.

Kramerog, I used 1.75 qt/pd so I guess I could go to 2 qt/pd to limit, though I probably won't have to do much of a sparge on that I suppose.

I stir for about 5-10 minutes till I am getting consistent temp readings throughout the mash. Actually I stir till I am not seeing any more dough balls and that also tends to result in a consistent mash temp. If you are adding a couple degrees to your strike temp you don't really need to pre-heat with separate water, add the strike water and close up the tun for a couple minutes. Plastic will pre-heat very quickly.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on September 16, 2013, 08:38:02 PM
kramerog, if I was brewing a 5 gallon batch from say 13.5 lbs of grains and about 5.9 gallons of strike water in that 10 gallon MLT, would I lose more than 1 degree in heat?  Just wondering because I read a lot on blogs that if you are doing 10 gallon batches you should lose little, but more dead space on top of mash you lose more temp.

Thanks again.

It's not a big deal and it's not the cause of your lack of efficiency.  Stir for at least 3-5 min. before closing up your cooler.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on September 16, 2013, 08:40:41 PM
kramerog/denny, so perhaps stirring for about 5 minutes can improve extract efficiency and also give more time to get a better accurate temperature reading in multiple locations, then close the top of the lid, likelier to see less of a drop. 

I like making session beers, but wanted this one to be a step towards making a bigger beer, an RIS, I just want to make sure that I am not letting my pounds of grain go to waste.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on September 16, 2013, 08:43:55 PM
kramerog/denny, so perhaps stirring for about 5 minutes can improve extract efficiency and also give more time to get a better accurate temperature reading in multiple locations, then close the top of the lid, likelier to see less of a drop. 

I like making session beers, but wanted this one to be a step towards making a bigger beer, an RIS, I just want to make sure that I am not letting my pounds of grain go to waste.

I don't think stirring longer will have any effect on your efficiency.  It will just mean that you have an even temp throughout your cooler.   Your efficiency issue is either your crush (most likely), or volumes.  I don't recall the beginning of the thread...are you using a false bottom?
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on September 16, 2013, 08:45:22 PM
I am using a mesh screen.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on September 16, 2013, 08:48:51 PM
As for volumes, I had 13.5 lbs of grain, I did 1.75 qt/pd, used about 6 gallons for strike water, about 2.5 gallons for sparge water. My temp was a bit low for sparge as well, about 165. I got about 7.5 gallons of wort from the 1st and 2nd runnings.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: klickitat jim on September 16, 2013, 08:55:41 PM
Do you have a strike temp calculator? If not here's the math.
.2 x quarts per pound
X
Target temp - dry grain temp
+
Target temp
= strike water temp

I'd try dumping my strike water in, let sit a few minutes, dump back into hot liquor tank and bring back to strike temp. In other words preheat the mash tun. I'm also a fan of quickly stirring in grain, a quick temp check, then leave it alone. If your finished beer seems too dry just bump up YOUR mash temps accordingly. Remember it's homebrew, your home. So you may need to do these type of adjustments sometimes.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on September 17, 2013, 02:38:10 PM
thanks klickitat jim, I do plan to keep reheating mash tun, especially as I brew in my kitchen next to a window.   I think if I bump my temperature a little bit higher than my strike temp, I can stir off some heat during the 5 minutes or so I will be stirring grain to get to an even temp.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on September 17, 2013, 03:21:01 PM
thanks klickitat jim, I do plan to keep reheating mash tun, especially as I brew in my kitchen next to a window.   I think if I bump my temperature a little bit higher than my strike temp, I can stir off some heat during the 5 minutes or so I will be stirring grain to get to an even temp.

Sounds like a plan!
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: klickitat jim on September 17, 2013, 03:50:26 PM
Let us know how it goes.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: nicosan1 on October 15, 2013, 08:13:04 PM
Guys,

I did do a double crush this time, definitely helped my efficiency, though I still added some DME to pump up this Imperial Stout recipe. I think I mashed a bit high, was at 153 when I closed lid and when I started vorlaufing my first running they came in at about 149.5. 

In the end, for about 15lb of MO and misc. grains I probably would have gotten 1.080 post boil. Added two cups of DME and it bumped up nearly to 1.100.

One thing a couple of folks mentioned is testing my water ph to find out if that might effect my extract efficiency. Most folks have told me NYC (Brooklyn) water is just fine and don't need to mess with it. Do you have any thoughts on water ph affecting mash? 

BTW, thanks immensely for your help, I'm plugging away with your ideas and I feel like I am making progress and not spinning my wheels.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: denny on October 15, 2013, 08:15:10 PM
I think you should have your water tested so you know where you stand.  But your pH would have to be WAY off to have much effect on your efficiency.
Title: Re: Mash Efficiency Problem
Post by: kramerog on October 15, 2013, 08:22:02 PM
Guys,

I did do a double crush this time, definitely helped my efficiency, though I still added some DME to pump up this Imperial Stout recipe. I think I mashed a bit high, was at 153 when I closed lid and when I started vorlaufing my first running they came in at about 149.5. 

One thing a couple of folks mentioned is testing my water ph to find out if that might effect my extract efficiency. Most folks have told me NYC (Brooklyn) water is just fine and don't need to mess with it. Do you have any thoughts on water ph affecting mash? 


The temp of your first runnings are probably not representative of the mash temp at the end of the mash.  The exposure to air will likely drop the temps of your runnings a few degrees.

You should ask for a water report from your municipality that includes alkalinity and then you can plug those numbers into a spreadsheet to estimate mash pH beforehand.