Author Topic: Poor efficiency/very soft water  (Read 2203 times)

Offline DW

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Poor efficiency/very soft water
« on: November 25, 2013, 06:41:03 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?

Offline kramerog

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Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
« Reply #1 on: November 25, 2013, 07:12:22 PM »
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?
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Offline denny

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Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
« Reply #2 on: November 26, 2013, 09:54:42 AM »
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?
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
« Reply #3 on: November 26, 2013, 01:01:53 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.
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Offline redbeerman

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Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
« Reply #4 on: November 26, 2013, 01:29:02 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.
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Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
« Reply #5 on: November 26, 2013, 03:12:23 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 :)
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
« Reply #6 on: November 26, 2013, 03:22:13 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.
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Online duboman

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Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2013, 05:07:56 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.

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;)
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2013, 05:31:43 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.
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Online duboman

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Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
« Reply #9 on: November 27, 2013, 06:09:16 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.



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
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
« Reply #10 on: November 27, 2013, 08:31:48 AM »

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.
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Offline denny

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Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2013, 09:59:45 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.

To me, steeping means using non diastatic grains so you don't have conversion.
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Offline DW

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Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2013, 10:06:54 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. 

Offline kramerog

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Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2013, 07:02:18 AM »
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.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Poor efficiency/very soft water
« Reply #14 on: November 30, 2013, 07:51:42 AM »
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?
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