Author Topic: Low Efficiency....like really low  (Read 2381 times)

Offline redbeerman

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Re: Low Efficiency....like really low
« Reply #15 on: October 18, 2013, 10:08:04 AM »
Do you brew a lot of dark beers? What was the mash pH?

If you started with a rather low pH to begin with, the addition of dark malts would push the pH out of the lower end of the range.
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Offline hd3

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Re: Low Efficiency....like really low
« Reply #16 on: October 18, 2013, 11:25:11 AM »
Just had the water conversation with a group of homebrewers at our study group last night.  Really need to start working with the water.  Our water is rather low in everything. Need to pick up some salts for the next brew
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Offline hd3

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Re: Low Efficiency....like really low
« Reply #17 on: October 20, 2013, 02:20:59 PM »
Well....I think I figured it out!  It was my crush.  I just brewed a belgian dubbel with a 13.95# grain bill.  Decided to hand crush the grains using the mill at the LHBS.  The crush was noticeably finer and what I would expect a good crush to look like.  While it ended up being the longest brew day yet...I hit 76% efficiency.  Really happy with it and just a smidgen over my anticipated OG. 

While the efficiency was much better than I had hoped for, I did end up with a rather slow run-off on both mash out and sparging.  I think I may just go a little bigger on the gap next time. 

Thanks everyone for their suggestions.  Now if I could just seem to get my temps and water volumes spot on and not drop my ph strip in the mash, I would be very excited....but I am still tweaking my system. 

Thanks again and brew on!
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Offline duboman

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Re: Low Efficiency....like really low
« Reply #18 on: October 20, 2013, 03:22:46 PM »
You could also just throw a few handfuls of rice hulls in the mash to help with the run off!
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Offline tom-r2

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Re: Low Efficiency....like really low
« Reply #19 on: October 25, 2013, 06:08:42 PM »
That's the nice thing about having your own mill. Get a decent set of feeler gages and keep track of where it is set. I use a sharpie and mark the side of the mill what the gap is set for. I also use an overnight mash (start about 11pm in a square 'cube' blue cooler, and start draining it about 6-7am).  I can't remember when I didn't hit my numbers.
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Offline surfin_mikeg

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Re: Low Efficiency....like really low
« Reply #20 on: October 25, 2013, 07:41:13 PM »
That's the nice thing about having your own mill. Get a decent set of feeler gages and keep track of where it is set. I use a sharpie and mark the side of the mill what the gap is set for. I also use an overnight mash (start about 11pm in a square 'cube' blue cooler, and start draining it about 6-7am).  I can't remember when I didn't hit my numbers.

it's been said before - if you're lacking a feeler gages, use hotel room cards or whatever, but something thinner than a credit card. 

For me, getting the gap setting right is the key.  Double crushing grain has not resulted in notable increased efficiency, nor crazy lautering.  Maybe I'm missing something, but that's what lands its with the setup I have.

« Last Edit: October 25, 2013, 08:10:49 PM by surfin_mikeg »

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Low Efficiency....like really low
« Reply #21 on: October 25, 2013, 08:33:35 PM »
That's the nice thing about having your own mill. Get a decent set of feeler gages and keep track of where it is set. I use a sharpie and mark the side of the mill what the gap is set for. I also use an overnight mash (start about 11pm in a square 'cube' blue cooler, and start draining it about 6-7am).  I can't remember when I didn't hit my numbers.

it's been said before - if you're lacking a feeler gages, use hotel room cards or whatever, but something thinner than a credit card. 

For me, getting the gap setting right is the key.  Double crushing grain has not resulted in notable increased efficiency, nor crazy lautering.  Maybe I'm missing something, but that's what lands its with the setup I have.


Here's the thing - you're getting a good crush from the get go .  But alot of LHBS are notorious for crushing just enough "to give good results and not cause a stuck runoff".  But in reality the LHBS wants you to accomplish that but, in the process, maybe have to buy an extra lb or two of grain, hoping you assume that that is the efficiency you can achieve with a given grist. I got the big jump in efficiency because I worked on correcting everything else first, and then realized belatedly that a finer crush might help ( been brewing since good info was more scarce).
« Last Edit: October 25, 2013, 08:55:56 PM by HoosierBrew »
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Offline erockrph

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Re: Low Efficiency....like really low
« Reply #22 on: October 26, 2013, 06:22:41 AM »
That's the nice thing about having your own mill. Get a decent set of feeler gages and keep track of where it is set. I use a sharpie and mark the side of the mill what the gap is set for. I also use an overnight mash (start about 11pm in a square 'cube' blue cooler, and start draining it about 6-7am).  I can't remember when I didn't hit my numbers.

it's been said before - if you're lacking a feeler gages, use hotel room cards or whatever, but something thinner than a credit card. 

Hot tip - I use a 0.88mm guitar pick, which is roughly a 0.035" gap. You can pick a couple up at someplace like guitar center on the cheap.
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Offline denny

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Re: Low Efficiency....like really low
« Reply #23 on: October 26, 2013, 09:12:25 AM »
Pro tip:  I've never measured the gap.  I just adjust it til I get a good crush, then leave it alone!
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Low Efficiency....like really low
« Reply #24 on: October 26, 2013, 09:34:45 AM »
Denny is his own feeler gage. I like that method. Go by what it looks like, maybe a small adjustment here and there depending on the grain

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Re: Low Efficiency....like really low
« Reply #25 on: October 26, 2013, 09:40:38 AM »
Denny is his own feeler gage. I like that method. Go by what it looks like, maybe a small adjustment here and there depending on the grain

You're making grist, not gaps.  All I care about is the grist.  FWIW, I set the gap on my mill over 10 years ago, and it never changes no matter what grain I'm using.
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Low Efficiency....like really low
« Reply #26 on: October 26, 2013, 10:05:44 AM »
I use a Victory "corona" type mill. I adjusted it two or three times early on. The only other time I change it is for Maris Otter because it gets too powdery and too many dough balls if I don't. With a corona adjustments are easy though. I don't think a roller would have that problem with MO, probably.

Offline surfin_mikeg

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Re: Low Efficiency....like really low
« Reply #27 on: October 26, 2013, 04:19:06 PM »
Denny is his own feeler gage. I like that method. Go by what it looks like, maybe a small adjustment here and there depending on the grain

You're making grist, not gaps.  All I care about is the grist.  FWIW, I set the gap on my mill over 10 years ago, and it never changes no matter what grain I'm using.

It's both grist and gap - I made my crusher and can quickly rebuild/tune it, but I need a reference point.  I like the DIY hacking aspect.  Less $$$, more learning.  I still need to try Ph adjustments (the next "step up"), but for me the gap and crush quality is the most obvious factor in efficiency.

Obviously you and others have more experience than I, but it's what I'm observing in efficiency.


Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Low Efficiency....like really low
« Reply #28 on: October 26, 2013, 04:37:16 PM »
Technically I grind not crush. Early on I noticed an efficiency increase by tightening my grinder gap a bit. The next big increase came when I quit doing mid mash stirs. Denny suggested stirring at mashin and then leaving it alone. Helped a bunch. But my current efficiency is about 75-78%.  Not record setting, but good enough for me. More importantly it's stable and predictable.

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Low Efficiency....like really low
« Reply #29 on: October 30, 2013, 01:46:51 PM »
More importantly it's stable and predictable.

+1 - I don't want to adjust the mill setting (using a Schmidling Malt Mill), so for me a double crush at his factory setting doesn't result in a stuck sparge, but gets my efficiency up in the high 70's to 80's, without fiddling with the setting or adding rice hulls.  The grist looks right and I don't mind the time for a second pass while my sparge water gets to temp.
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