Author Topic: Another efficiency thread  (Read 2447 times)

Offline Joe Sr.

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Another efficiency thread
« on: July 03, 2015, 10:22:16 PM »
Finished my first out door all-grain batch today.  I did one all-grain on the stove top, years ago, so this maybe counts as my first.

Anyway, on to the questions.

My efficiency is maybe around 65%, which seems low.  I milled my own grain, and I've got it set pretty tight.

Strike water was 160 and dropped to 140 in the tun.  I add boiling water to bring it back up to 150.

I mashed for 90 minutes.  Recipe is Saison d'ete from NB.  Pils, Vienna, torrified wheat.  Expected OG = 1.041.

Mash was three gallons (I mashed in two round coolers, so 3 gallons each).  Sparge was 4 gallons.

My boil was pretty hard (Dark Star burner,  LOTS of soot but NB is sending a new one with a redesign to control the soot).  I wound up with 8 gallons at 1.048.

Curious as to thoughts on how to increase efficiency.  Was my mash and sparge water not enough?  I think pH was fine but didn't check.  Crush, as I said, was pretty fine.  The mash had trouble draining. Sparge drained pretty much OK.

I've been doing partial mash batches on the stove-top, BIAB.  That efficiency has been crappy, too.  But there wasn't much sparge with that process and I never worried about it because I adjusted with DME.

Here's Himself (Jr.) stirring the mash.

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Offline euge

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Re: Another efficiency thread
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2015, 10:39:04 PM »
My goodness!

That looks like a real production!

That being said any time I have a problem with my lauter it seems eff is affected. It's probably better to add extra strike water or raise the strike temp to account for the tun and grain temp. Split mash.

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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Another efficiency thread
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2015, 10:43:26 PM »
Thanks, Euge.  It was a beautiful day so it was nice to sit outside and get it done.

It seemed like the screen on the drain (I'm using a stainless mesh deal, like a sure screen) was floating up in the mash.  Not sure if that caused an issue or not.  It seemed to.

Do I need to weight that down somehow?
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Another efficiency thread
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2015, 10:45:47 PM »
First off, congrats Joe. Looks like, all in all, things went pretty well. I don't use the strike water temp calculators - I have better results on my system/cooler by adding 15 or 16 degrees to my target mash temp to figure strike water temp and usually get within a degree or two F (sometimes on the high side). I'd rather be a little high than low, because a few ice cubes will cool you to target quickly and easily. Sounds like your crush was good. Do you use Bru'nwater or similar to predict pH? PH in the good range helps with efficiency, as does being able to drain all the sugars possible from the tun. I prop up the end of the cooler with a piece of wood and, when the cooler runs dry, I move the hose at the valve around several times to encourage it to drain thoroughly. Wort (ie., sugars) will trickle out for a few minutes after the steady flow stops. More sugars obviously = higher efficiency. I think you're on the right track !
Jon H.

Offline euge

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Re: Another efficiency thread
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2015, 10:53:14 PM »
I coiled some wire and inserted it into my screens, which keeps them from flexing much. Screens shouldn't float but it is possible for grain to displace one so I stir carefully around mine.
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Offline brewday

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Re: Another efficiency thread
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2015, 11:12:09 PM »
I use the braided supply line type of screen with a stainless plug clamped to the end.  Seems to stay put.
Jon Weaver

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Re: Another efficiency thread
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2015, 11:22:51 PM »
How are you sparging? If it's batch, check your numbers against this: http://seanterrill.com/2013/10/05/batch-sparging-calculator/ It could be incomplete draining of the first runnings if the mash was sticking due to the wheat.

If you're fly sparging, then the floating screen was probably the issue.

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Offline johnnyb

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Re: Another efficiency thread
« Reply #7 on: July 04, 2015, 01:48:59 AM »
First off, congrats Joe. Looks like, all in all, things went pretty well. I don't use the strike water temp calculators - I have better results on my system/cooler by adding 15 or 16 degrees to my target mash temp to figure strike water temp and usually get within a degree or two F (sometimes on the high side). I'd rather be a little high than low, because a few ice cubes will cool you to target quickly and easily. Sounds like your crush was good. Do you use Bru'nwater or similar to predict pH? PH in the good range helps with efficiency, as does being able to drain all the sugars possible from the tun. I prop up the end of the cooler with a piece of wood and, when the cooler runs dry, I move the hose at the valve around several times to encourage it to drain thoroughly. Wort (ie., sugars) will trickle out for a few minutes after the steady flow stops. More sugars obviously = higher efficiency. I think you're on the right track !


I do my strike water calcs as a 2 step process.

My spreadsheet calculates the water temp to add to the cooler based on all the usual info. (i.e. - pounds of grain, volume of water, thermal mass and weight of mash tun.) I have my calculation add 1 degree to the "book' estimate to account for time stirring in whatever water salts I'm adjusting with for that batch.

Then I have a separate calculation that tells me at what temp to actually mash in at. I'm usually right about there when I'm done stirring in the salts, but sometimes it's a little high. I can adjust this quick with ice cubes. Then when I mash in I'm almost always dead on my desired mash temp.

I'm pretty sure for most people the problem with missing mash temps are issues with estimating the thermal mass and weight of the mash tun. Once the tun and water are actually at the calculated strike temps the book calculations seem to be very accurate.

« Last Edit: July 04, 2015, 01:50:53 AM by johnnyb »

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Re: Another efficiency thread
« Reply #8 on: July 04, 2015, 03:24:30 PM »
It shouldn't really make any difference if part of the braid floats.  All the draining happens at the outlet and that's not gonna float.  It could be that the torrified wheat, being much smaller kernels than the barley, didn't get crushed well enough.  Crush is always the first place to look for efficiency issues.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Another efficiency thread
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2015, 05:48:30 PM »
Thanks for all the responses.  I'm batch sparging, not fly sparging.  I thought I had the crush set pretty fine, but I did not adjust it for the torrified wheat.

I'll have to give it another go and see if I can improve.  So far, draining the mash has been the biggest issue I've encountered.  The sparge water drains a LOT better than the original mash.
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Re: Another efficiency thread
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2015, 06:00:13 PM »
Thanks for all the responses.  I'm batch sparging, not fly sparging.  I thought I had the crush set pretty fine, but I did not adjust it for the torrified wheat.

I'll have to give it another go and see if I can improve.  So far, draining the mash has been the biggest issue I've encountered.  The sparge water drains a LOT better than the original mash.

Crush til you're scared.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Another efficiency thread
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2015, 06:08:15 PM »
Crush til you're scared.

If every mash drains as miserably as these ones, I'm scared.

The sparge ran much easier and it looked like all the flour rose to the top and settled on the grain.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

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Re: Another efficiency thread
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2015, 06:10:17 PM »
If every mash drains as miserably as these ones, I'm scared.

Wheat, particularly torrified wheat, is going to be pretty rough on a false bottom. Rice hulls will probably help. Or, if you're always going to be batch sparging, you could switch to a lauter setup that's less prone to sticking.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Another efficiency thread
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2015, 06:19:09 PM »
you could switch to a lauter setup that's less prone to sticking.

Elaborate, please.

Thinking about it, though, it may be the wheat.  This is the second time I've mashed in these coolers and the last time one (the orange one) drained well and the blue one did not.  My recollection is that one of the beers was a Bavarian wheat and the other was a tripel.  My guess would be that the wheat beer was mashed in the blue cooler.
It's all in the reflexes. - Jack Burton

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Re: Another efficiency thread
« Reply #14 on: July 07, 2015, 10:30:08 AM »
+1 to adding rice hulls to the mash - they really do work well. 

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