General Category > All Grain Brewing

Brewhouse efficiency 'stuck' near 60%

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nofunsally:
Hello,
I have recently made the transition to all-grain brewing. However my brewhouse efficiency still makes me sad.   I am using the default setting on my barley crusher. I am using a 48 qt cooler as a mash tun.   I batch sparge until I collect 5.1 gallons in my kettle.  I haven't stirred the mash.  I experience 2 - 3 degrees F loss per hour.  I pre-conditioned my grain for the last two brews. Suggestions on how to achieve a more respectable level of efficiency are appreciated.

Cheers,
MJ

my last five brews (brewhouse efficiency %):

Cream Ale: 38%
Vienna Lager: 65%
Kentucky Common: 64%
Flanders Red A: 57%
Flanders Red B: 59%


--- Code: ---BeerSmith Recipe Printout - http://www.beersmith.com
Recipe: cream ale
Brewer: mj
Asst Brewer:
Style: Cream Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (35.0) A bit out of balance, poor extraction led to higher hop utilzation.

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 5.25 gal      
Boil Size: 5.10 gal
Estimated OG: 1.046 SG
Estimated Color: 3.0 SRM
Estimated IBU: 18.3 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU      
3 lbs         Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)            Grain        33.33 %      
2 lbs         Pilsner (2 Row) UK (1.0 SRM)              Grain        22.22 %      
1 lbs         Barley, Flaked (1.7 SRM)                  Grain        11.11 %      
1 lbs         Corn, Flaked (1.3 SRM)                    Grain        11.11 %      
1 lbs         Pale Malt (6 Row) US (2.0 SRM)            Grain        11.11 %      
4.0 oz        Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM)                     Grain        2.78 %        
0.85 oz       Sterling [6.00 %]  (60 min)               Hops         17.2 IBU      
0.60 oz       Hallertauer [1.50 %]  (10 min)            Hops         1.1 IBU      
12.0 oz       Sugar, Table (Sucrose) (1.0 SRM)          Sugar        8.33 %        


Mash Schedule: My Mash
Total Grain Weight: 8.25 lb
----------------------------
My Mash
Step Time     Name               Description                         Step Temp    
90 min        Step               Add 12.38 qt of water at 158.3 F    149.0 F      


Notes:
------
 Gravity reading was 1.028 ... I then maybe boiled a pound of DME and 12 more ounce of sugar and added it to the bucket after it cooled, maybe. OG ~ 1.028 + .015 (in after-brew additions) = 1.043.  I bottled with 4.25 oz of cane sugar on 02/15/10.  The FG = 1.002 for an estimated ABV 5.37%

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BeerSmith Recipe Printout - http://www.beersmith.com
Recipe: fred a
Brewer: mj
Asst Brewer:
Style: Flanders Red Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (35.0)

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 5.50 gal      
Boil Size: 5.10 gal
Estimated OG: 1.070 SG
Estimated Color: 16.6 SRM
Estimated IBU: 10.7 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU      
5 lbs 2.1 oz  Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM)                     Grain        33.93 %      
4 lbs         Pilsner (2 Row) UK (1.0 SRM)              Grain        26.46 %      
2 lbs 14.1 oz Munich Malt (9.0 SRM)                     Grain        19.05 %      
14.1 oz       Corn, Flaked (1.3 SRM)                    Grain        5.82 %        
9.6 oz        Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM)                  Grain        3.97 %        
8.0 oz        Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM)                Grain        3.31 %        
8.0 oz        Special B Malt (180.0 SRM)                Grain        3.31 %        
8.0 oz        White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM)                Grain        3.31 %        
1.00 oz       Strisslespalt [2.60 %]  (60 min)          Hops         6.5 IBU      
0.25 oz       Saaz [6.80 %]  (60 min)                   Hops         4.2 IBU      
1 Pkgs        Roselare Belgian Blend (Wyeast Labs #3763)Yeast-Ale                  


Mash Schedule: My Mash
Total Grain Weight: 15.12 lb
----------------------------
My Mash
Step Time     Name               Description                         Step Temp    
120 min       Step               Add 16.00 qt of water at 168.1 F    154.0 F      


Notes:
------
1.056 OG in the fermenter, preconditioned the grain with 4 oz of water

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BeerSmith Recipe Printout - http://www.beersmith.com
Recipe: fred b
Brewer: mj
Asst Brewer:
Style: Flanders Red Ale
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (35.0)

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 6.10 gal      
Boil Size: 5.10 gal
Estimated OG: 1.063 SG
Estimated Color: 17.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 14.1 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 71.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU      
5 lbs         Pilsner (2 Row) UK (1.0 SRM)              Grain        33.05 %      
3 lbs         Munich Malt (9.0 SRM)                     Grain        19.83 %      
2 lbs         Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM)                     Grain        13.22 %      
1 lbs 4.0 oz  White Wheat Malt (2.4 SRM)                Grain        8.26 %        
1 lbs         Caramel/Crystal Malt - 40L (40.0 SRM)     Grain        6.61 %        
1 lbs         Corn, Flaked (1.3 SRM)                    Grain        6.61 %        
1 lbs         Honey Malt (25.0 SRM)                     Grain        6.61 %        
9.0 oz        Special B Malt (180.0 SRM)                Grain        3.70 %        
3.0 oz        Acid Malt (3.0 SRM)                       Grain        1.26 %        
0.25 oz       Hallertauer [3.80 %]  (60 min)            Hops         1.9 IBU      
0.80 oz       Saaz [6.80 %]  (60 min)                   Hops         12.2 IBU      


Mash Schedule: My Mash
Total Grain Weight: 15.13 lb
----------------------------
My Mash
Step Time     Name               Description                         Step Temp    
90 min        Step               Add 16.00 qt of water at 167.0 F    153.0 F      


Notes:
------
1.053 in the fermenter,  preconditioned the grain with 4 oz of water

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BeerSmith Recipe Printout - http://www.beersmith.com
Recipe: ky common
Brewer: mj
Asst Brewer:
Style: Specialty Beer
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (35.0)

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 5.25 gal      
Boil Size: 5.10 gal
Estimated OG: 1.051 SG
Estimated Color: 19.1 SRM
Estimated IBU: 17.8 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU      
2 lbs 4.0 oz  Pale Malt (6 Row) US (2.0 SRM)            Grain        21.78 %      
2 lbs         Corn, Flaked (1.3 SRM)                    Grain        19.36 %      
1 lbs 14.1 oz Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)            Grain        18.20 %      
1 lbs 6.1 oz  Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM)            Grain        13.36 %      
8.0 oz        Aromatic Malt (26.0 SRM)                  Grain        4.84 %        
8.0 oz        Caramel/Crystal Malt - 10L (10.0 SRM)     Grain        4.84 %        
8.0 oz        Caramel/Crystal Malt - 120L (80.0 SRM)     Grain        4.84 %        
6.1 oz        Caramunich Malt (56.0 SRM)                Grain        3.68 %        
4.0 oz        Aromatic Malt                                     Grain        2.42 %        
3.0 oz        Carafa II (412.0 SRM)                     Grain        1.84 %        
0.75 oz       Glacier [7.40 %]  (60 min)                Hops         17.8 IBU      
8.0 oz        Sugar, Table (Sucrose) (1.0 SRM)          Sugar        4.84 %        
1 Pkgs        American Ale (Wyeast Labs #1056)          Yeast-Ale                  


Mash Schedule: My Mash
Total Grain Weight: 9.83 lb
----------------------------
My Mash
Step Time     Name               Description                         Step Temp    
75 min        Step               Add 12.00 qt of water at 167.4 F    155.0 F      


Notes:
------
soured 20% mash for 4 days at 100F, 1.047 OG in the fermenter

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BeerSmith Recipe Printout - http://www.beersmith.com
Recipe: vienna lager
Brewer: mj
Asst Brewer:
Style: Vienna Lager
TYPE: All Grain
Taste: (35.0)

Recipe Specifications
--------------------------
Batch Size: 5.25 gal      
Boil Size: 5.10 gal
Estimated OG: 1.054 SG
Estimated Color: 11.4 SRM
Estimated IBU: 18.2 IBU
Brewhouse Efficiency: 70.00 %
Boil Time: 60 Minutes

Ingredients:
------------
Amount        Item                                      Type         % or IBU      
5 lbs         Vienna Malt (3.5 SRM)                     Grain        44.52 %      
3 lbs       Pilsner (2 Row) UK (1.0 SRM)              Grain        27.60 %      
3 lbs         Munich Malt (9.0 SRM)                     Grain        26.71 %      
2.1 oz        Carafa II (412.0 SRM)                     Grain        1.16 %        
1.00 oz       Liberty [4.30 %]  (60 min)                Hops         13.4 IBU      
0.30 oz       Sterling [6.00 %]  (30 min)               Hops         4.3 IBU      
0.50 oz       Hallertauer [1.50 %]  (5 min)             Hops         0.5 IBU      
1 Pkgs        North American Lager (Wyeast Labs #2272)  Yeast-Lager                


Mash Schedule: My Mash
Total Grain Weight: 11.23 lb
----------------------------
My Mash
Step Time     Name               Description                         Step Temp    
60 min        Step               Add 12.00 qt of water at 165.6 F    152.0 F      


Notes:
------
octoberfest lager wyeast, 1.050 in the fermenter

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

--- End code ---

hokerer:
You may be better off than you think.  The most important thing in determining your efficiency is accuracy of measurement.  How accurately are you measuring your volume?  Are you correcting your hydrometer reading for temperature?  Also, I'm a bit confused by your Boil Volume being less than your Batch Size - are you topping off or what?

Once you've got measurement accuracy straight, how 'bout some more info on how you're lautering - braid/manifold/etc. - sparge volume - that kind of stuff.

makemehoppy:
I doubt the problem is your barley crusher I know a number of people use it at the default setting with no problem. Pre-conditioning the malt will help with stuck sparges by keeping the husk more complete, but I doubt that effect efficiency much. You have a relatively large cooler for some small grain bills and you are mashing on the low side as well. I would suggest taking a temperature reading 15 minutes in to verify the temp. Finally, stir the mash.

gail:
In addition to Hokerer's questions, I'm wondering about the mineral composition of your water.  Your lightest beer reflected your worst efficiency and that might be a clue to a pH problem in your mash--if all your volume and hydrometer measurements are correct.
Gail

nofunsally:
Hello,

I am toppping off at the end. I have 21 quart brew pot. I keep the lid 80% on to maintain the boil on my stove top.  I usually lose about 2 quarts during the boil.  I top off to 5.25 gallons (usually) in the fermenter.  I pre-heat the mash tun before use. I am using a SS braid for my manifold.

My cream ale also had a stuck sparge, I have since switched to the SS braid.  I was also trying to hit 149 for the mash, but it was probably low. It was my first all grain.  I think its particularly low efficiency was first time all-grain issues and I consider its results to be somewhat anomalous now.

I feel confident in my hydrometer readings. I take them after aeration right before I pitch the yeast. Admittedly I don't know my water profile. I am using carbon filtered Chicago (via Lake Michigan) water.

I will begin to check the temp into the mash, as well as additional stirring.  Should I just go for 155F for a 'standard' mash temp?

Thanks,
MJ

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