Author Topic: poor all grain efficiency, don't know why  (Read 12650 times)

Offline denny

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Re: poor all grain efficiency, don't know why
« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2011, 09:27:50 AM »
I drain the mash, refill with the sparge until it covers the grain bed, and then pull off wort at an even pace to water going in.

What you're doing is actually a combo of batch and you;re not following standard practice for either.  If you want to fly sparge, you need to start adding sparge water as you run off the mash.  If you want to batch sparge, you need to thoroughly stir in the sparge water after draining the mash.  But I don't know how much of your problem is related to those.  The first thing I always look at in cases of poor efficiency is the crush.
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Offline stlaleman

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Re: poor all grain efficiency, don't know why
« Reply #16 on: December 28, 2011, 09:33:45 AM »
If you ended up with 6.5 gal of 1.060 wort, that's about 60% efficiency by my math. What would your typical efficiency be for a smaller beer? Lauter efficiency for that mash (it sounds like you were batch sparging) would be ~80%, so your conversion efficiency is in the 75% range.

Have you calibrated your thermometer(s) and hydrometer(s)? Did you check mash pH? Generally, for conversion efficiency to suffer, either the temperature or the pH has to be out of range.

No matter what, I'm thinking you may have some volume measurement error, since 10 gal - 18 lb * 0.12 gal/lb = 7.84 gal. Unless you're mechanically squeezing the mash dry, you shouldn't have been able to get 8+ gal out of it.

You hit the nail on the head with this one. To determine effiencies, one must have a fairly exact measure of all the inputs and outputs. Calibrate your buckets, etc. You might be surprised.

Offline hokerer

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Re: poor all grain efficiency, don't know why
« Reply #17 on: December 28, 2011, 10:04:20 AM »
I had the pot mostly covered the entire boil
That is generally not recommended.

hydrometer reading was 1.06 after I cooled the wort.  added two slap-packs of london 1028 (expected a higher OG) to the wort @ 85 degrees, left the fermenter in a 70 degree room.

Since the topic of "recommended" was brought up, while not having anything to do with your efficiency issue, you really need to cool your wort much lower before pitching and then control the temp during fermentation.

Joe

Offline WDE97

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Re: poor all grain efficiency, don't know why
« Reply #18 on: December 28, 2011, 10:05:55 AM »
hydrometer reading was 1.06 after I cooled the wort.  added two slap-packs of london 1028 (expected a higher OG) to the wort @ 85 degrees, left the fermenter in a 70 degree room.


Not related to your efficiency issue, but I noticed you pitched your yeast at 85F?  Generally you want to cool your wort below 80F before racking and pitiching yeast. One main reason is that at these higher temps, the yeast can produce much more diacetyl and fusel alcohols, which you don't want in your beer.  Since WY1028 has an upper temp tolerance of 72F, I would suggest cooling the wort down to your room temp (70F) before pitiching your yeast so it is fermenting in the proper range.  This should help with the quality of your finished product.

edit* Oh, looks like hokerer and I had the same thought at the same time. Sorry for the redundancy!
« Last Edit: December 28, 2011, 10:08:25 AM by WDE97 »
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Offline hokerer

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Re: poor all grain efficiency, don't know why
« Reply #19 on: December 28, 2011, 10:16:02 AM »
edit* Oh, looks like hokerer and I had the same thought at the same time. Sorry for the redundancy!

Don't be sorry.  You know, "great minds" and all that :)
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Offline WDE97

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Re: poor all grain efficiency, don't know why
« Reply #20 on: December 28, 2011, 10:22:39 AM »
edit* Oh, looks like hokerer and I had the same thought at the same time. Sorry for the redundancy!

Don't be sorry.  You know, "great minds" and all that :)

Haha!! I was thinking that same thing!  ;D
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On tap: Flander's Red, Scottish 80, ESB, Hard cider, Sour Blonde, Northwest Pale Ale.

Fermenting: Northwest Pale Ale.

Offline narvin

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Re: poor all grain efficiency, don't know why
« Reply #21 on: December 28, 2011, 12:31:57 PM »
If you ended up with 6.5 gal of 1.060 wort, that's about 60% efficiency by my math. What would your typical efficiency be for a smaller beer? Lauter efficiency for that mash (it sounds like you were batch sparging) would be ~80%, so your conversion efficiency is in the 75% range.

Have you calibrated your thermometer(s) and hydrometer(s)? Did you check mash pH? Generally, for conversion efficiency to suffer, either the temperature or the pH has to be out of range.

No matter what, I'm thinking you may have some volume measurement error, since 10 gal - 18 lb * 0.12 gal/lb = 7.84 gal. Unless you're mechanically squeezing the mash dry, you shouldn't have been able to get 8+ gal out of it.

You hit the nail on the head with this one. To determine effiencies, one must have a fairly exact measure of all the inputs and outputs. Calibrate your buckets, etc. You might be surprised.

Agreed.  Have you taken into account dead space in your mash tun?  You may have some wort loss there, and the sludge in the kettle contain some liquid too. Your efficiency is based on the total batch size before losses, which for many people is closer to 6 gallons.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2011, 12:33:28 PM by narvin »
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Offline bluesman

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Re: poor all grain efficiency, don't know why
« Reply #22 on: December 28, 2011, 07:09:55 PM »
What kind of mill and what gap does your LHBS use to crush grain?

I also recommend increasing your water to grain ratio. Try using 1.5:1 or greater. Calibrate your thermometer and hydrometer. Make sure to record accurate volume, weight and temperature measurements.

Try a fast ferment test prior to your next batch. You'll need a small sample of grain and yeast.

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Fast_Ferment_Test

Pitch your yeast in the low to mid 60's for ales as this will minimize any potential off-flavors and fusel alcohol production in your beer.
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Offline melferburque

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Re: poor all grain efficiency, don't know why
« Reply #23 on: December 29, 2011, 08:48:06 AM »
thanks for all the input, everyone.  I've picked up some pH test strips, and will plan to stir the mash more thoroughly.  I'll also abandon the fly sparge entirely and just stick to a straight batch sparge.  I do suspect the grinder at LHBS wasn't set properly.  when I went to the other one yesterday and looked at his grinder results, they looked much more ragged.  I've also ordered my own grinder so I can get more control over the process (and save money buying base malts in bulk).  I'll keep better records of volumes and temperatures as well.  I'll use more water for my initial mash as well (or at least seasure it more accurately). 

as for yeast pitching, I don't think I was clear.  when the kettle hit 85, I drained to the fermenting bucket.  in an ambient 40 degree temperature, it drops well below 80 quickly, especially with aerating through a sieve.  the yeast is pitched into the bucket at a safe temp.  as for my OG, it was 1.060, I just dropped the last zero.

for the various losses (dead space, leftover sludge, etc), isn't that factored into the efficiency to begin with?  I'm aiming for 70% and getting under 55%.  I figured the 70% had already accounted for the various issues a homebrewer would be up against.

Offline narvin

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Re: poor all grain efficiency, don't know why
« Reply #24 on: December 29, 2011, 12:33:02 PM »

for the various losses (dead space, leftover sludge, etc), isn't that factored into the efficiency to begin with?  I'm aiming for 70% and getting under 55%.  I figured the 70% had already accounted for the various issues a homebrewer would be up against.

There are two types of efficiencies.Wort losses are figured into overall brew house efficiency.  Most people are talking about mash/lauter efficiency when they quote a percentage, which doesn't include any losses and will be higher than BHE.
« Last Edit: December 29, 2011, 12:34:37 PM by narvin »
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Offline beer_crafter

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Re: poor all grain efficiency, don't know why
« Reply #25 on: December 30, 2011, 07:52:32 AM »
One thing I'll add is that you don't really know what effeciency you're getting, since your final volumes are not accurately measured. 

Offline melferburque

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Re: poor all grain efficiency, don't know why
« Reply #26 on: January 02, 2012, 08:39:35 PM »
okay, tried again today and I got better results.  still not where I want them, but it was an improvement.

11# maris otter
2# rye
1# crystal 80
1# carapils

mashed in six gallons water at 151 degrees for 60 minutes, pH 5.0
drained, batch sparged another four gallons at 170 degrees, pH 5.2
I got as much of the sparge out as I could, probably got an extra pint by tilting and shaking it after it seemed to run dry

after a sixty minute boil, I ended up with an OG of 1.064.  I figure that puts my efficiency around 65%.  I was hoping to hit 70%, but this is still an improvement over 55% last weekend.

I tasted the spent grains, and there was still some perceptible sweetness in there.  I think I need to stir more, I stirred for about four minutes at the beginning of the mash (to cool to my target), and then stirred another three minutes after the batch sparge.  thinking I need to stir a lot more than that.  I did forget to stir prior to draining the original mash.  I also only let the batch sparge sit for about five minutes.  does it need to sit longer than that?  it was my first batch sparge.  I'm also wondering if skipping the vorlauf stage is a mistake.  I've never been able to get the reciculated vorlauf back into the tun without causing a disturbance, so instead I've been draining through a fine-mesh sieve to collect the particulates floating around.  is this a bad idea?  should I be concerned about hot side aeration?  skipping the vorlauf does speed up the process and saves my back from a lot of bending, but if it's causing more problems than it's fixing I can suck it up and go back to doing it.

the other thing that concerns me is my pH.  beersmith said I should have a 5.2 mash and a 6.0 sparge.  any advice on how to bring that up?

getting my grains from a different HBS seems to have helped considerably.  I could SEE the difference with the cracking from this batch.  makes sense, he's only been open a few months and has a much newer mill.  he also said he suspects the other HBS intentionally left their gap too wide to avoid complaints about stuck mashes.

I did order my own barley crusher malt mill (15# hopper) so I can have more control over that aspect, and save some money buying my base grains in bulk.  I also got my post-boil kettle down to 65 degrees before I started my transfer to the fermenter, meaning the wort way about 60 degrees when I pitched. 

hoping that next weekend I'll be able to hit 70-72% efficiency.  anyone see anything I may have missed?

Offline euge

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Re: poor all grain efficiency, don't know why
« Reply #27 on: January 02, 2012, 09:03:49 PM »
Nice move on the mill. Play with it. ;) You will have to maintain the BC to get best performance.

Don't get too wrapped up in pushing your numbers efficiency-wise. Concentrate on making good beer. But, it's good to have an awareness of the problem with low or high PH. I've had plenty of harsh beers with good efficiencies behind them. But, poor pH can hurt your efficiency also, evidently.
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Offline bluesman

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Re: poor all grain efficiency, don't know why
« Reply #28 on: January 02, 2012, 09:26:03 PM »
As far as increasing your mash pH...add some baking soda to increase your ph. This will give your beer a better mouthfeel.

I suggest using one of the software programs like brew-n-water or brewers friend.

https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/

OR

http://www.brewersfriend.com/water-chemistry/
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Re: poor all grain efficiency, don't know why
« Reply #29 on: January 02, 2012, 09:29:19 PM »
beersmith said I should have a 5.2 mash and a 6.0 sparge.  any advice on how to bring that up?

Did you bring the sample down to room temperature?
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