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General Category => General Homebrew Discussion => Topic started by: DW on November 26, 2013, 01:41:03 AM

Title: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: DW on November 26, 2013, 01:41:03 AM
Hey, I'm doing mostly extract batches with small 1-2pound partial mashes.  I seem to get pretty poor efficiency from the initial steeping grains.  I just got a water report, which showed calcium=3, Mg=1, total hardness=12.  I'm not sure if the pH strips are accurate or not, but they seemed to show fairly acidic (like in the 4.0 range).  Is my soft water causing me to get poor efficiency?  Does this really matter since the bulk of the gravity comes from the malt extract?  I've also had some issues getting a reliable thermometer, so this might be part of the issue as well.  Do I need to adjust my water?
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: kramerog on November 26, 2013, 02:12:22 AM
What is your full water report and what are the units?  You are unclear about the the water you are testing with the pH strips.  It is pretty unlikely that drinking water or the mash would  have a pH of 4.0, but perhaps if you are using just mashing dark grains I suppose that the pH would be low.  What is the grain bill for the partial mashes that have a pH of around 4.0?
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: denny on November 26, 2013, 04:54:42 PM
It's possible that it's your water, but there are other things to consider.  Small mashes usually have poorer efficiency.  Efficiency is mainly related to the quality of the crush.  What grains are you mashing?
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: hopfenundmalz on November 26, 2013, 08:01:53 PM
The Congress mash uses distiller water. The malt is milled to a fine flour. Most efficiency comes back to the Congress mash numbers for that batch of malt, IIRC.

Breweries with a mash press can equal or exceed the Congress Mash numbers. They also use a hammer mill on the grain, to make flour.
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: redbeerman on November 26, 2013, 08:29:02 PM
What grains are you mashing/steeping?  Also what is your OG and how much extract are you using?  This information would be helpful in determining whether you really have an issue.  For instance 7 lbs. of pale liquid extract in 5 gallons should give you ~ OG of 1.050.  Adding a pound of crystal 20 may only bump it up to 1.051.
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: duboman on November 26, 2013, 10:12:23 PM
Hey, I'm doing mostly extract batches with small 1-2pound partial mashes.  I seem to get pretty poor efficiency from the initial steeping grains.  I just got a water report, which showed calcium=3, Mg=1, total hardness=12.  I'm not sure if the pH strips are accurate or not, but they seemed to show fairly acidic (like in the 4.0 range).  Is my soft water causing me to get poor efficiency?  Does this really matter since the bulk of the gravity comes from the malt extract?  I've also had some issues getting a reliable thermometer, so this might be part of the issue as well.  Do I need to adjust my water?

Maybe I'm misinterpreting this but are you actually mashing the grains or simply steeping in 170 degree water? If just steeping you really won't get much gravity contribution from the grain, mostly flavor and color.

How are you calculating your efficiency? Are you concerned because your OG readings are off? This is usually due to a poor mix of top off water and wort which is common. If so, the stated OG of the recipe is what it should be assuming you hit your volumes correctly.

A little more info will help :)
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: Joe Sr. on November 26, 2013, 10:22:13 PM
Maybe I'm misinterpreting this but are you actually mashing the grains or simply steeping in 170 degree water? If just steeping you really won't get much gravity contribution from the grain, mostly flavor and color.

Clarify for me your distinction here between "mashing" and "steeping."  Time?  Temp?

I "steep" my grains for 60 minutes at about 150 and get plenty of conversion.
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: duboman on November 27, 2013, 12:07:56 AM

Maybe I'm misinterpreting this but are you actually mashing the grains or simply steeping in 170 degree water? If just steeping you really won't get much gravity contribution from the grain, mostly flavor and color.

Clarify for me your distinction here between "mashing" and "steeping."  Time?  Temp?

I "steep" my grains for 60 minutes at about 150 and get plenty of conversion.

I've always considered the term steeping to mean like making a tea and in extract batches steeping usually is prescribed for 30 minutes. As I said, there might be some contribution to gravity in that process but not much, most being the extract.

In your example I would use the term "mash" as my main purpose is to achieve proper conversion of the grain as in mashing my grain;)
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: Joe Sr. on November 27, 2013, 12:31:43 AM
In your example I would use the term "mash" as my main purpose is to achieve proper conversion of the grain as in mashing my grain;)

I was being an ass, I know, but but other than time (and of course the specific grains) there's very little real difference between steeping and BIAB.

Regardless, I don't think the OP is using enough grain to get a significant gravity impact unless it's a really small batch.
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: duboman on November 27, 2013, 01:09:16 PM
In your example I would use the term "mash" as my main purpose is to achieve proper conversion of the grain as in mashing my grain;)

I was being an ass, I know, but but other than time (and of course the specific grains) there's very little real difference between steeping and BIAB.

Regardless, I don't think the OP is using enough grain to get a significant gravity impact unless it's a really small batch.



No worries Joe;)
I agree........
I think it has to do with poor mix of wort and top off but that's what I'm trying to clarify with the OP.

Gary
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: Joe Sr. on November 27, 2013, 03:31:48 PM

I think it has to do with poor mix of wort and top off but that's what I'm trying to clarify with the OP.

Gary

I've had this many many times.  Usually, I get a weird super high reading but I use a wine thief and draw from the bottom.  If he's drawing from the top, it would come out low.
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: denny on November 27, 2013, 04:59:45 PM
Maybe I'm misinterpreting this but are you actually mashing the grains or simply steeping in 170 degree water? If just steeping you really won't get much gravity contribution from the grain, mostly flavor and color.

Clarify for me your distinction here between "mashing" and "steeping."  Time?  Temp?

I "steep" my grains for 60 minutes at about 150 and get plenty of conversion.

To me, steeping means using non diastatic grains so you don't have conversion.
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: DW on November 30, 2013, 05:06:54 AM
Sorry for the late reply.  I was making the robust porter recipe in "Brewing Classic Styles", which I believe is 8.6lbs LME + 1 lb Munich + 0.5lb Black Patent + 1.0lb Crystal 40 + 0.75lb Chocolate malt.  I have been hitting my gravities pretty well.  I calculated my efficiency from "How to Brew", where I took the Congress Mash expected points and compared that to what I actually got. 
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: kramerog on November 30, 2013, 02:02:18 PM
DW, now we need the details of what you did.  How long did you steep/mash?  In how much water?  At what temperature?  Was there a sparge or subsequent rinse?  The lack of a sparge or subsequent rinse will cost you some efficiency.
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: hopfenundmalz on November 30, 2013, 02:51:42 PM
DW, for the grains you have, the Munich is the only one that needs to be mashed, and it has low Diastatic Power. If you had those all together, the DP would be around 20 or 25, which is under the 35 often stated for conversion.

With the LME, and only a little grain that needs to be mashed, how far off were you?
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: DW on December 02, 2013, 08:43:29 PM
DW, for the grains you have, the Munich is the only one that needs to be mashed, and it has low Diastatic Power. If you had those all together, the DP would be around 20 or 25, which is under the 35 often stated for conversion.

With the LME, and only a little grain that needs to be mashed, how far off were you?

So the Munich was not grain, it was LME, along with the Light LME.  The only grains I mashed were the Crystal 40, Chocolate, and Black Patent.  My PreBoil gravity was right on, but when I estimated the efficiency of extraction for just the mashed grains, my efficiency came to around 30%.  Even though my volume was 7 gallons pre boil, I went back and mashed those grained again and increased the volume to about 7.5gallons.  One problem I found was that my thermometer was about 20 degrees to low, so I was mashing in the 130 range.  I had held it there about 30minutes before I figured that out, so I raised the temp to the appropriate range and left it about 15 minutes.  I poured the extracted wort into the kettle along with the LME and only later went back and remashed and added up to 7.5gallons.-----------Having said all that, and I am appreciative of everyones' help, I transferred to the secondary today (I had good OG and FG), but found the color to be really more of a brown color than black.  Did I not extract enough of the CHocolate and Black Patent malt?  I know those malts need more alkaline water, and my water is much more suited for light beers. 

[img]Water1.pdf/img]
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 02, 2013, 08:50:19 PM
You've answered Duboman's question.  You are not mashing those grains.  You are steeping them.

There is no base grain in there to give you the diastatic power you need to convert the starches to sugar.  You are only getting color and flavor from steeping those grains.  I suppose you may extract some starches which could contribute to gravity, but you're not going to get much if anything.

If you want to mash, you'll need to include some base grains and hold the temp for 60 minutes.  Like I said in a previous post, the difference between mashing and steeping is really just time and what grains you've got in there.
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: kramerog on December 02, 2013, 09:13:59 PM
For those specific grains, there isn't any benefit to mashing.  There would be a benefit to steeping (1) in more water (2) for a longer time  (3) at a hotter temperature (4) with a finer grind.  I don't think changing your water chemistry will have much effect on your efficiency since there is little to no starch to convert into sugar.
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: duboman on December 02, 2013, 11:10:35 PM
So by your term of efficiency and with confirmation of steeped grains, not mashed for conversion it appears perhaps you are calculating you expected OG incorrectly assuming the steeped grains will contribute to the gravity when it really won't.

Also, you mention various volumes of wort being adjusted on the fly which will also affect your gravity readings and result in either lower or higher efficiencies results.

So to summarize it seems you need to work on your recipe creation and calculations as well as fine tuning your process to be more consistent.

Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: repo on December 04, 2013, 04:07:01 PM
You've answered Duboman's question.  You are not mashing those grains.  You are steeping them.

There is no base grain in there to give you the diastatic power you need to convert the starches to sugar.  You are only getting color and flavor from steeping those grains.  I suppose you may extract some starches which could contribute to gravity, but you're not going to get much if anything.

If you want to mash, you'll need to include some base grains and hold the temp for 60 minutes.  Like I said in a previous post, the difference between mashing and steeping is really just time and what grains you've got in there.
So by your term of efficiency and with confirmation of steeped grains, not mashed for conversion it appears perhaps you are calculating you expected OG incorrectly assuming the steeped grains will contribute to the gravity when it really won't.

Also, you mention various volumes of wort being adjusted on the fly which will also affect your gravity readings and result in either lower or higher efficiencies results.

So to summarize it seems you need to work on your recipe creation and calculations as well as fine tuning your process to be more consistent.



This is some misleading and erroneous advice. There is absolutely no need to mash those grains, and you will absolutely get some gravity points from steeping them. The starches have already been converted by the maltster.  While 30% is a little low, 50% would probably be an average  expectation for a muslin bag of those grains. It is very difficult to get all the sugars out of a "ball" of grain. 
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: duboman on December 04, 2013, 05:32:39 PM
You've answered Duboman's question.  You are not mashing those grains.  You are steeping them.

There is no base grain in there to give you the diastatic power you need to convert the starches to sugar.  You are only getting color and flavor from steeping those grains.  I suppose you may extract some starches which could contribute to gravity, but you're not going to get much if anything.

If you want to mash, you'll need to include some base grains and hold the temp for 60 minutes.  Like I said in a previous post, the difference between mashing and steeping is really just time and what grains you've got in there.
So by your term of efficiency and with confirmation of steeped grains, not mashed for conversion it appears perhaps you are calculating you expected OG incorrectly assuming the steeped grains will contribute to the gravity when it really won't.

Also, you mention various volumes of wort being adjusted on the fly which will also affect your gravity readings and result in either lower or higher efficiencies results.

So to summarize it seems you need to work on your recipe creation and calculations as well as fine tuning your process to be more consistent.



This is some misleading and erroneous advice. There is absolutely no need to mash those grains, and you will absolutely get some gravity points from steeping them. The starches have already been converted by the maltster.  While 30% is a little low, 50% would probably be an average  expectation for a muslin bag of those grains. It is very difficult to get all the sugars out of a "ball" of grain.

So to some degree I will agree with your statement but I do not think my final reply is misleading at all or erroneous as the OP does need to refine his process to improve his efficiency. I am not really sure your assessment of 50% would be true based on steeping at 130 for 30 minutes, adjusting temps and then taking more wort then necessary from having to raise the temp (Really diluted wort) into the kettle.

This thread to me, having re-read it again, sounds as though more contribution was given to steeped grains then realistic, too much wort was collected making a diluted wort, not enough was boiled off and total efficiency suffered as a result, hence my suggestion to improve overall process. The Op's pre-boil gravity was stated as spot on and that is because all the gravity came from the recipe's DME/LME, not the grains. Once the OP then added the steeped grain wort with the extra water added he threw everything off and it wasn't accounted for. (At least this is how I am reading it, perhaps the OP might clarify in response)

I suppose we are both nitpicking or semantics are getting in the way, hard to say since some of the info is a little disjointed........... :-\
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: repo on December 04, 2013, 08:02:49 PM
Sorry for the late reply.  I was making the robust porter recipe in "Brewing Classic Styles", which I believe is 8.6lbs LME + 1 lb Munich + 0.5lb Black Patent + 1.0lb Crystal 40 + 0.75lb Chocolate malt.  I have been hitting my gravities pretty well.  I calculated my efficiency from "How to Brew", where I took the Congress Mash expected points and compared that to what I actually got.
when I estimated the efficiency of extraction for just the mashed grains, my efficiency came to around 30%

You've answered Duboman's question.  You are not mashing those grains.  You are steeping them.

There is no base grain in there to give you the diastatic power you need to convert the starches to sugar.  You are only getting color and flavor from steeping those grains.  I suppose you may extract some starches which could contribute to gravity, but you're not going to get much if anything.

If you want to mash, you'll need to include some base grains and hold the temp for 60 minutes.  Like I said in a previous post, the difference between mashing and steeping is really just time and what grains you've got in there.
So by your term of efficiency and with confirmation of steeped grains, not mashed for conversion it appears perhaps you are calculating you expected OG incorrectly assuming the steeped grains will contribute to the gravity when it really won't.

Also, you mention various volumes of wort being adjusted on the fly which will also affect your gravity readings and result in either lower or higher efficiencies results.

So to summarize it seems you need to work on your recipe creation and calculations as well as fine tuning your process to be more consistent.



This is some misleading and erroneous advice. There is absolutely no need to mash those grains, and you will absolutely get some gravity points from steeping them. The starches have already been converted by the maltster.  While 30% is a little low, 50% would probably be an average  expectation for a muslin bag of those grains. It is very difficult to get all the sugars out of a "ball" of grain.

So to some degree I will agree with your statement but I do not think my final reply is misleading at all or erroneous as the OP does need to refine his process to improve his efficiency. I am not really sure your assessment of 50% would be true based on steeping at 130 for 30 minutes, adjusting temps and then taking more wort then necessary from having to raise the temp (Really diluted wort) into the kettle.

This thread to me, having re-read it again, sounds as though more contribution was given to steeped grains then realistic, too much wort was collected making a diluted wort, not enough was boiled off and total efficiency suffered as a result, hence my suggestion to improve overall process. The Op's pre-boil gravity was stated as spot on and that is because all the gravity came from the recipe's DME/LME, not the grains. Once the OP then added the steeped grain wort with the extra water added he threw everything off and it wasn't accounted for. (At least this is how I am reading it, perhaps the OP might clarify in response)

I suppose we are both nitpicking or semantics are getting in the way, hard to say since some of the info is a little disjointed........... :-\

No, I disagree with all you are saying. You are trying to help but there seems to be lots of confusion.  Those grains do not need to be mashed, steeping temperature is irrelevant, 5 minutes in room temp water will easily allow for 80% plus extraction of the sugars with a decent crush(the muslin bag was my 50%).  It is not his recipe, nor does it have unrealistic gravity expectations from the grains. 2 pounds at 50% extract efficiency would add about 32 points to 5 gallons, raising the og by a little over 6 points.  His process is sound, his thermometer failed him, even though he doesn't even need one. I don't know where the op talks about his postboil volumes or "overall efficiency" you reference. Hope this helps clear up something :-\
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: klickitat jim on December 04, 2013, 08:23:45 PM
Doesn't the pound of Munich need to be mashed?
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: morticaixavier on December 04, 2013, 08:33:32 PM
Doesn't the pound of Munich need to be mashed?

the op mentions later that the munich was actually LME.

Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 04, 2013, 08:38:19 PM
Doesn't the pound of Munich need to be mashed?

He clarified that the Munich was extract.

Those grains do not need to be mashed

No one said he should mash those grains.  The OP said he mashed.  He appears to be unclear on mashing. If the OP wants to worry about efficiency and extraction, he should mash grains that will convert.  Steeping I would not worry about.  For me, that's the take away here.  Relax, you're not mashing.  You'll get what you get from steeping.

You are correct, though, that there are sugars in the roasted grains.  Will those sugars give 6 points?  It's possible, but we don't know what he was expecting nor what he acheived.  I don't know your source for steeping grains for 5 minutes in room temp water, but if that works for you, great.  I've never before heard anyone discuss the efficiency of steeping.  IME, one does not steep grains to get fermentables but to get the flavor contributions to make an extract beer more complex. 

As far as process being sound, if you are correct that you can extract 80% of sugar in a 5 minute steep than there must be something wrong in his process if he only got 30% in a much longer steep.  Perhaps his gravity readings are off?

Overall, I think worrying about the gravity contribution of 2.25lbs of steeped grains in an extract batch containing 9.5lbs of extract is letting the tail wag the dog. 
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: duboman on December 04, 2013, 08:48:08 PM
Sorry for the late reply.  I was making the robust porter recipe in "Brewing Classic Styles", which I believe is 8.6lbs LME + 1 lb Munich + 0.5lb Black Patent + 1.0lb Crystal 40 + 0.75lb Chocolate malt.  I have been hitting my gravities pretty well.  I calculated my efficiency from "How to Brew", where I took the Congress Mash expected points and compared that to what I actually got.
when I estimated the efficiency of extraction for just the mashed grains, my efficiency came to around 30%

You've answered Duboman's question.  You are not mashing those grains.  You are steeping them.

There is no base grain in there to give you the diastatic power you need to convert the starches to sugar.  You are only getting color and flavor from steeping those grains.  I suppose you may extract some starches which could contribute to gravity, but you're not going to get much if anything.

If you want to mash, you'll need to include some base grains and hold the temp for 60 minutes.  Like I said in a previous post, the difference between mashing and steeping is really just time and what grains you've got in there.
So by your term of efficiency and with confirmation of steeped grains, not mashed for conversion it appears perhaps you are calculating you expected OG incorrectly assuming the steeped grains will contribute to the gravity when it really won't.

Also, you mention various volumes of wort being adjusted on the fly which will also affect your gravity readings and result in either lower or higher efficiencies results.

So to summarize it seems you need to work on your recipe creation and calculations as well as fine tuning your process to be more consistent.



This is some misleading and erroneous advice. There is absolutely no need to mash those grains, and you will absolutely get some gravity points from steeping them. The starches have already been converted by the maltster.  While 30% is a little low, 50% would probably be an average  expectation for a muslin bag of those grains. It is very difficult to get all the sugars out of a "ball" of grain.

So to some degree I will agree with your statement but I do not think my final reply is misleading at all or erroneous as the OP does need to refine his process to improve his efficiency. I am not really sure your assessment of 50% would be true based on steeping at 130 for 30 minutes, adjusting temps and then taking more wort then necessary from having to raise the temp (Really diluted wort) into the kettle.

This thread to me, having re-read it again, sounds as though more contribution was given to steeped grains then realistic, too much wort was collected making a diluted wort, not enough was boiled off and total efficiency suffered as a result, hence my suggestion to improve overall process. The Op's pre-boil gravity was stated as spot on and that is because all the gravity came from the recipe's DME/LME, not the grains. Once the OP then added the steeped grain wort with the extra water added he threw everything off and it wasn't accounted for. (At least this is how I am reading it, perhaps the OP might clarify in response)

I suppose we are both nitpicking or semantics are getting in the way, hard to say since some of the info is a little disjointed........... :-\

No, I disagree with all you are saying. You are trying to help but there seems to be lots of confusion.  Those grains do not need to be mashed, steeping temperature is irrelevant, 5 minutes in room temp water will easily allow for 80% plus extraction of the sugars with a decent crush(the muslin bag was my 50%).  It is not his recipe, nor does it have unrealistic gravity expectations from the grains. 2 pounds at 50% extract efficiency would add about 32 points to 5 gallons, raising the og by a little over 6 points.  His process is sound, his thermometer failed him, even though he doesn't even need one. I don't know where the op talks about his postboil volumes or "overall efficiency" you reference. Hope this helps clear up something :-\

Then you and I will just agree to disagree.

To the OP,
If you care to chime in again it would be a great help to see the recipe. It would help to get the expected OG and FG and what was to be expected as well as the expected and actual volumes you obtained. As it stands what you have provided thus far is somewhat vague. It would also help to know if this was partial or full boil as currently I am assuming full boil since you noted 7.5 gallons pre-boil.
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: repo on December 07, 2013, 01:53:17 AM

 
Those grains do not need to be mashed

No one said he should mash those grains.  The OP said he mashed.  He appears to be unclear on mashing. If the OP wants to worry about efficiency and extraction, he should mash grains that will convert.  Steeping I would not worry about.  For me, that's the take away here.  Relax, you're not mashing.  You'll get what you get from steeping.

You are correct, though, that there are sugars in the roasted grains.  Will those sugars give 6 points?  It's possible, but we don't know what he was expecting nor what he acheived.  I don't know your source for steeping grains for 5 minutes in room temp water, but if that works for you, great.  I've never before heard anyone discuss the efficiency of steeping.  IME, one does not steep grains to get fermentables but to get the flavor contributions to make an extract beer more complex. 

 


 

   
Chapter 13 - Steeping Specialty Grains

13.2 Mechanics of Steeping
To use the caramel and roasted specialty malts, the grain must be crushed to expose the sugars to the water. While the grain is soaking, the hot water is leaching the sugars out of the grain and dissolving them into the wort. The factors that influence how well the sugars are extracted are the steeping time, temperature and the particle size. Obviously, the finer you crush the malt the more completely you can extract the sugars. However, most supply shops have their mills adjusted for mashing and lautering purposes and if the particle size where much smaller, it would be difficult to contain within the grainbag.

Table 10 - Nominal Malt Steeping Yields in Points/Pound/Gallon

Malt Type
 
PPG Steep

Brown Malt
 
8*

Dextrin Malt
 
4*
 
Light Crystal (10 - 15L)
 
14*
 
Pale Crystal (25 - 40L)
 
22
 
Medium Crystal (60 - 75L)
 
18
 
Dark Crystal (120L)
 
16

Special B
 
16
 
Chocolate Malt
 
15
 
Roast Barley
 
21
 
Black Patent Malt
21
 
Malto - Dextrin Powder
 
(40)
 

Sugar (Corn, Cane)
 
(46)
Steeping data is experimental and was obtained by steeping 1 lb. in 1 gal at 160°F for 30 minutes. All malts were crushed in a 2 roller mill at the same setting.
 

From a book you might have heard of, or maybe not ::)  "How To Brew". You can read it on line. The OP referenced this book as well as the recipe was from "Brewing Classic Styles".  The flavor contributions you want come from the sugars. Make beer however you want.

 
 
 
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 07, 2013, 02:44:37 AM
steeping temperature is irrelevant, 5 minutes in room temp water will easily allow for 80% plus extraction of the sugars with a decent crush(the muslin bag was my 50%).


Chapter 13 - Steeping Specialty Grains

13.2 Mechanics of Steeping
To use the caramel and roasted specialty malts, the grain must be crushed to expose the sugars to the water. While the grain is soaking, the hot water is leaching the sugars out of the grain and dissolving them into the wort. The factors that influence how well the sugars are extracted are the steeping time, temperature and the particle size. Obviously, the finer you crush the malt the more completely you can extract the sugars. However, most supply shops have their mills adjusted for mashing and lautering purposes and if the particle size where much smaller, it would be difficult to contain within the grainbag.

His process is sound, his thermometer failed him, even though he doesn't even need one.

I'm not sure what you're arguing.  Time and temp doesn't matter (according to Repo), except it does (reference Repo's quote from "How to Brew" a book I may have heard of).

Rather than attempt to create an argument how about some constructive advice? 

If his process is sound and steeping is as simple as running room temp water over grains (your contention), why is his gravity low?  Do you have advice for the OP?  Or do you prefer to argue with those of us who have attempted to give advice?

I stand by my previous statements.  The gravity he will get from steeping grains is not something to worry about.  He is not mashing, so worrying about the efficiency of his steep is worrying too much.  He will not extract significant fermentable sugars from steeping and that is not the point of steeping.  If he wants to mash, he should go ahead and do it but the grains he is steeping are not grains you mash.

Your turn.  Constructive this time.

"con·struc·tive
adjective \kən-ˈstrək-tiv\

: helping to develop or improve something : helpful to someone instead of upsetting and negative"

From the Merriam Webster dictionary.  A book you may have heard of.
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: DW on December 07, 2013, 03:35:33 AM
This was a full boil.  If you have access to Brewing Classic Styles, it's the Robust Porter recipe.  I think I mentioned the recipe in earlier posts.  I was not precise in measuring the volumes, and my 30% efficiency could be off by +-5%.  Something that I learned from this thread was that I'm not really mashing but steeping.  I called it mashing, because I thought I was actually getting fermentable sugars from the steep, but you guys have taught that I'm really just getting flavor/color. 
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: repo on December 07, 2013, 03:36:47 AM
 
His process is sound, his thermometer failed him, even though he doesn't even need one.

I'm not sure what you're arguing.  Time and temp doesn't matter (according to Repo), except it does (reference Repo's quote from "How to Brew" a book I may have heard of).

Rather than attempt to create an argument how about some constructive advice? 

If his process is sound and steeping is as simple as running room temp water over grains (your contention), why is his gravity low?  Do you have advice for the OP?  Or do you prefer to argue with those of us who have attempted to give advice?

I stand by my previous statements.  The gravity he will get from steeping grains is not something to worry about.  He is not mashing, so worrying about the efficiency of his steep is worrying too much.  He will not extract significant fermentable sugars from steeping and that is not the point of steeping.  If he wants to mash, he should go ahead and do it but the grains he is steeping are not grains you mash.

Your turn.  Constructive this time.

"con·struc·tive
adjective \kən-ˈstrək-tiv\

: helping to develop or improve something : helpful to someone instead of upsetting and negative"

From the Merriam Webster dictionary.  A book you may have heard of.
[/quote]

lol, I am sure JP would change a few things in his book.  The quote was for the extract efficiency chart from steeping grains, you "never heard anyone talk of before"  I have offered advice. Not following yours here will help him improve his brewing in this particular instance, sorry if that upsets you.
[ [/quote]
This is some misleading and erroneous advice. There is absolutely no need to mash those grains, and you will absolutely get some gravity points from steeping them. The starches have already been converted by the maltster.  While 30% is a little low, 50% would probably be an average  expectation for a muslin bag of those grains. It is very difficult to get all the sugars out of a "ball" of grain. 
[/quote]
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: repo on December 07, 2013, 03:40:06 AM
This was a full boil.  If you have access to Brewing Classic Styles, it's the Robust Porter recipe.  I think I mentioned the recipe in earlier posts.  I was not precise in measuring the volumes, and my 30% efficiency could be off by +-5%.  Something that I learned from this thread was that I'm not really mashing but steeping.  I called it mashing, because I thought I was actually getting fermentable sugars from the steep, but you guys have taught that I'm really just getting flavor/color.

NNNNNNOOOOOO
No fermentable sugars, then what is the 30 +/- 5 %???????
 
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 07, 2013, 03:51:07 AM
NNNNNNOOOOOO
No fermentable sugars, then what is the 30 +/- 5 %???????

You are familiar with long-chain unfermentable sugars, right?

From "How to Brew."

Chapter 20 - Experiment!
20.1 Increasing the Body

Very often brewers say that they like a beer but wish it had more body. What exactly is "more body"? Is it a physically heavier, more dense beer? More flavor? More viscosity? In most cases it means a higher final gravity (FG), but not at the expense of incomplete fermentation. On a basic level, adding unfermentables is the only way to increase the FG and increase the body/weight/mouthfeel of the beer. There are two types of unfermentables that can be added: unfermentable sugars and proteins.

Unfermentable sugars are highly caramelized sugars, like those in caramel malts, and long chain sugars referred to as dextrins. Dextrin malt and malto-dextrin powder have been previously mentioned in the ingredients chapters. Dextrins are tasteless carbohydrates that hang around, adding some weight and viscosity to the beer. The effect is fairly limited and some brewers suspect that dextrins are a leading cause of "beer farts," when these otherwise unfermentable carbohydrates are finally broken down in the intestines.

Dark caramel and roasted malts like Crystal 80, Crystal 120, Special B, Chocolate Malt, and Roast Barley have a high proportion of unfermentable sugars due to the high degree of caramelization (or charring). The total soluble extract (percent by weight) of these malts is close to that of base malt, but just because it's soluble does not mean it is fermentable. These sugars are only partially fermentable and contribute both a residual sweetness and higher FG to the finished beer. These types of sugars do not share dextrin's digestive problems and the added flavor and color make for a more interesting beer. The contribution of unfermentable sugars from enzymatic and caramel malts can be increased by mashing at a higher temperature (i.e. 158°F) where the beta amylase enzyme is deactivated. Without this enzyme, the alpha amylase can only produce large sugars (including dextrins) from the starches and the wort is not as fermentable. The result is a higher final gravity and more body.

Proteins are also unfermentable and are the main contributor to the mouthfeel of a beer. Compare an oatmeal stout to a regular stout and you will immediately notice the difference. There is a special term for these mouthfeel-enhancing proteins - "medium-sized proteins." During the protein rest, peptidase breaks large proteins into medium proteins and protease breaks medium proteins into small proteins. In a standard well-modified malt, a majority of the large proteins have already been broken down into medium and small proteins. A protein rest is not necessary for further protein breakdown, and in fact, would degrade the beer's mouthfeel. A protein rest to produce medium-sized proteins for increased body is only practical when brewing with moderately-modified malts, wheat, or oatmeal, which are loaded with large proteins.

To add more body to an extract-based beer, add more caramel malt or some malto-dextrin powder. You can also increase the total amount of fermentables in the recipe which will raise both the OG and FG, and give you a corresponding increase in alcohol too.

Grain brewers can add dextrin malt, caramel malt, unmalted barley or oatmeal in addition to using the methods above. Grain brewing lends more flexibility in fine tuning the wort than extract brewing.
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: repo on December 07, 2013, 03:56:56 AM
NNNNNNOOOOOO
No fermentable sugars, then what is the 30 +/- 5 %???????

You are familiar with long-chain unfermentable sugars, right?

From "How to Brew."

Chapter 20 - Experiment!
20.1 Increasing the Body

.

 
Dark caramel and roasted malts like Crystal 80, Crystal 120, Special B, Chocolate Malt, and Roast Barley have a high proportion of unfermentable sugars due to the high degree of caramelization (or charring). The total soluble extract (percent by weight) of these malts is close to that of base malt, but just because it's soluble does not mean it is fermentable. These sugars are only partially fermentable and contribute both a residual sweetness and higher FG to the finished beer. 


What exactly are you trying to say???
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: Joe Sr. on December 07, 2013, 04:06:31 AM
What exactly are you trying to say???

You're obtuse or your trolling.  Read your last post in it's entirety, including the quotes.  I think it's quite clear.

You've also yet to offer anything constructive.

This has been fun.  Enjoy your weekend.  I'll join in for awhile next time.
Title: Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
Post by: repo on December 07, 2013, 04:12:10 AM
That you believe no fermentable sugars come from Caramel or roasted malts????
Yeah get some sleep. Enjoy the holidays.