okay, tried again today and I got better results. still not where I want them, but it was an improvement.
11# maris otter
1# crystal 80
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?