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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: Herminator on February 17, 2014, 04:56:48 PM

Title: Worst Efficiency Yet
Post by: Herminator on February 17, 2014, 04:56:48 PM
So yesterday was an all time low for me.  I hit roughly 52% efficiency. I have been really tweaking my system and averaging 75% with exception to yesterday. 

I batch sparge with a screen.  I milled my grain by hand utilizing a barley crusher at my LHBS because that seemed to make a difference in previous batches.  I hit my strike and volumes right on the money. 

I just can't seem to understand why my eff. is so low on this one.  I probably would have been better off no-sparge on this batch....because from what I understand they even get better efficiency than I did yesterday. 

Any suggestions?  Obviously I know it is difficult to offer suggestions without knowing my process and equipment, but I really am having trouble wrapping my head around this low OG. 

Thanks. 
Title: Re: Worst Efficiency Yet
Post by: fmader on February 17, 2014, 04:58:41 PM
Post your malt bill, target gravity, actual gravity, and your volumes please.
Title: Re: Worst Efficiency Yet
Post by: morticaixavier on February 17, 2014, 05:01:12 PM
So yesterday was an all time low for me.  I hit roughly 52% efficiency. I have been really tweaking my system and averaging 75% with exception to yesterday. 

I batch sparge with a screen.  I milled my grain by hand utilizing a barley crusher at my LHBS because that seemed to make a difference in previous batches.  I hit my strike and volumes right on the money. 

I just can't seem to understand why my eff. is so low on this one.  I probably would have been better off no-sparge on this batch....because from what I understand they even get better efficiency than I did yesterday. 

Any suggestions?  Obviously I know it is difficult to offer suggestions without knowing my process and equipment, but I really am having trouble wrapping my head around this low OG. 

Thanks.

Yeah we need to know more details about your process, equipment, and recipe.

But generally look at volumes first, then crush, then think about water chemistry.

When I'v had that kind of efficiency hit i'v also had dough balls so check your stirring
Title: Re: Worst Efficiency Yet
Post by: Herminator on February 17, 2014, 05:05:38 PM
Yeah I am thinking it was possibly lack of stirring...which is funny because I felt that I stirred longer than normal and more often than normal, but looking back I am not sure if I did.

Recipe was

12# Pale
1.5# Crystal 10
8oz Munich

I batch sparge utilizing a cooler and screen.  Hit my temps and volumes right on.  I guess I will chalk this one up to a learning opportunity.  I really was just dumbfounded that I came out so low. 

I guess I have been wanting to brew more session beers...I guess I just did one on accident.  ha.
Title: Re: Worst Efficiency Yet
Post by: Stevie on February 17, 2014, 05:32:50 PM
Did the grains looked well cracked? Maybe somebody messed the the gap on the mill before you got to it.
Title: Re: Worst Efficiency Yet
Post by: denny on February 17, 2014, 05:34:05 PM
I'd bet that the mill at the LHBS was readjusted since the last time you used it.
Title: Re: Worst Efficiency Yet
Post by: fmader on February 17, 2014, 05:39:39 PM
One thing that I question, and I could be way off on this because I don't use a screen. By screen, I'm assuming a false bottom in the cooler tun? How much dead space is there? I'm just wondering if your grains are being saturated enough during the mash. I like to use at least 1.5 qts/lb in my mash. If a gallon of my mash water isn't even in contact with my grains, that ratio will be lowered significantly. It would even more detrimental to bigger beers.

Again, I could be miles off on this observation, but seems as though it should be considered.
Title: Re: Worst Efficiency Yet
Post by: HoosierBrew on February 17, 2014, 05:48:17 PM
I'd bet that the mill at the LHBS was readjusted since the last time you used it.

+1, especially if volumes were correct.
Title: Re: Worst Efficiency Yet
Post by: Herminator on February 17, 2014, 05:53:55 PM
The crush looked good....but next time I'm going to bring my gauge. 

The screen is a bazooka screen connected to a rectangle cooler (Denny's system influenced).  I am going to adjust my water ratio and stirring and go from there.  I am going to really dial in my volumes and time my stirring and see where that gets me. 

I am now wondering if it was a combination of stirring and strike volumes.  Thanks again for the suggestions.  I normally wouldn't post about a low OG but this one was so low it really had me thinking. 

Thanks again everyone. 
Title: Re: Worst Efficiency Yet
Post by: fmader on February 17, 2014, 05:58:01 PM
The crush looked good....but next time I'm going to bring my gauge. 

The screen is a bazooka screen connected to a rectangle cooler (Denny's system influenced).  I am going to adjust my water ratio and stirring and go from there.  I am going to really dial in my volumes and time my stirring and see where that gets me. 

I am now wondering if it was a combination of stirring and strike volumes.  Thanks again for the suggestions.  I normally wouldn't post about a low OG but this one was so low it really had me thinking. 

Thanks again everyone.

Gotcha.... Ok, my theory is out  :P

I'm now on the crusher bandwagon.
Title: Re: Worst Efficiency Yet
Post by: kramerog on February 17, 2014, 06:12:30 PM
Crush and doughballs are the number one suspects.  A possible suspect is pH, but pH can be ruled if you've made this same exact recipe before and hit your typical efficiency.  Another suspect could be that you are making a high gravity beer, which you don't normally do.
Title: Re: Worst Efficiency Yet
Post by: denny on February 17, 2014, 08:37:39 PM
The crush looked good....but next time I'm going to bring my gauge. 

Concentrate on just learning what a good crush looks like.  Much easier!
Title: Re: Worst Efficiency Yet
Post by: Herminator on February 17, 2014, 11:02:38 PM
The crush looked good....but next time I'm going to bring my gauge. 

Concentrate on just learning what a good crush looks like.  Much easier!

I thought the crush looked good and very comparable to my previous crushes where I hit my numbers.  But, for assurance,  and really study the crush and then take a measurement.  Thanks all. 
Title: Re: Worst Efficiency Yet
Post by: euge on February 18, 2014, 02:39:06 PM
Also, what was your grain to water ratio? A really thick mash can be problematic.

If your crush is a little coarser than normal try mashing for longer.
Title: Re: Worst Efficiency Yet
Post by: fistfullofhops on February 28, 2014, 03:28:01 AM
Lately I've been crushing as tight as possible. I don't measure the gap, I just aim to pulverize the grain. I've found that as long as I take my time setting the grain bed during the start of the batch sparge I don't have any problems. And in the event that the sparge does get stuck I just stir the mash and re-vorlauf. I'm hitting low 80's efficiency.
Title: Re: Worst Efficiency Yet
Post by: stpug on February 28, 2014, 04:39:47 PM
Seems like it was a "normal" brewday except for your efficiency. It's a total longshot but is it possible you left out some of your grain? Seems like it would take 1-2 lbs to come up that low.
Title: Re: Worst Efficiency Yet
Post by: Herminator on February 28, 2014, 04:48:53 PM
Nope, all the grain was mashed.  I think I did not stir enough, as my most recent brew day I hit my numbers spot on with the same process, except this time I stirred like a mad man.  Cheers.