Author Topic: Maximizing the maximum OG for my system  (Read 751 times)

Offline richara

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Maximizing the maximum OG for my system
« on: November 01, 2010, 07:19:52 PM »
I have a 10 gallon system which includes a 15 gallon stainless mash/lauter tun and a 15 gallon boil kettle.  When making "big" beers, my mash/lauter tun maxes out at about 34 lbs of grain. I can collect a maximum of 13 gallons of wort in the kettle, which I boil down to 11, before cooling and transferring to the carboys.  Yesterday, I used 34 lbs of grain (26# 2-row, 4# munich, and 4# crystal) to make a winter ale.  I was happy to get an OG of 1.083, as this is better than my typical efficiency.  After collecting the 13 gallons in the kettle, I still had about 7 gallons of wort in the lauter tun.  I tested the gravity and found that it was still at about 1.025.  So I started wondering, how can I get that sugar into my beer, if my kettle is full up?  It occurred to me that I could begin my boil, boil off a gallon or so, and then add more of the wort from my lauter tun to the kettle.  I figure that adding two gallons of the "extra" wort in this manner could get me another 50 GU which should bump the OG from 1.083 to 1.088.  I'm not sure if the extra hour of time (and propane) is worth it, but has anyone ever tried this approach?  Or, better yet, do you have any another ideas (without using  adjuncts) for increasing the maximum OG that I can achieve on my system.  I realize that I could keep boiling and make less than 10 gallons of beer, or increase my efficiency some other way, but is there another approach?
Thanks,
Andrew
Bellingham, WA

beveragebob

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Re: Maximizing the maximum OG for my system
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2010, 08:02:31 PM »
Is your boil kettle 13 gallons? 7 gallons left in your mash tun sounds pretty excessive. When I do big beers in my converted 15.5 ket-mash tun, I usually use no more than 9 or 10 gallons of water for the mash and usually 8 gallons of the sparge. Let's see how it adds up to what I do(I'm at work and don't have access to my notes so beer with me)

Want to end with 11 gallons Plus
34 * .1 gallons per # grain absorption (let's say 3.5 gallons for ease of use)
I boil for 90 minutes and lose about 2.5 gallons of wort
liquid left in mash tun and boil kettle ~ .5 gallon so all together, I use 17.5-18 gallons of water and wind up ~ 14 gallons of sweet liquor and no liquid left in the HLT and ~ .25 gallons in the MT.

Ok, after looking at my rot, I can't understand how you are left with 7 gallons in the mash tun. What is your rot for water use when you brew? Maybe that will help us answer your question better.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2010, 08:43:55 PM by beveragebob »

Offline Mikey

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Re: Maximizing the maximum OG for my system
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2010, 08:23:08 PM »
"I'm at work and don't have access to my notes so beer with me"

We're always "beer" with you, Bob. :D

beveragebob

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Re: Maximizing the maximum OG for my system
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2010, 08:28:37 PM »
LOL my spell checker didn't pick that up of course!  :D

Offline richara

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Re: Maximizing the maximum OG for my system
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2010, 08:33:00 PM »
My kettle is about 15 gallons, but I don't like to collect more than 13 gallons, so there is some room for a vigorous boil.  When I first started brewing, I definitely paid attention to my total water calculations.  However, I heard "somewhere" that when fly sparging, it wasn't a good idea to let the water level drop below the top of the grain bed.  I can't remember why, but it may have had to do with preventing compaction of the grain, or there may have been an extraction argument.  Since then, I pretty much just start with "plenty" of water, so I always have extra water in my lauter tun when I am finished collecting.  My total water volume is basically 2 gallons of foundation water, 8.5 gallons in the mash, and 10 gallons in the hot liquor tank.  To me, it doesn't seem like getting rid of this extra water will cause more sugar to end up in my first 13 gallons collected.  But please, let me know if I am crazy (or just wrong).
Thanks,
Andrew
Bellingham, WA

Offline Mikey

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Re: Maximizing the maximum OG for my system
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2010, 08:33:53 PM »
I like that moving smiley face.

beveragebob

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Re: Maximizing the maximum OG for my system
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2010, 08:51:10 PM »
Well the water has to run out sometime from your HLT causing it to go below the surface of the grain bed as the MT drains into the boil kettle. I think(just a wag) that you are trapping more sugar by using more water and not letting the MT drain. I know what you mean by a vigorous boil. I'm sure you are also concerned as I am about foam overs during the hot break. I just turn down my flame and stir the top of the wort with one hand and have my garden hose ready with the other in case I have to "Spritz" the top of the wort to knock down the foam. To that end, I may have found a source for some really affordable anti foam to quell those issues. I'll post when I nail it down here in the next couple of days. As for foundation water...do you have a siphon drain under your mash screen or do you us a manifold?

You might want to refer to this thread for additional info:
http://www.homebrewersassociation.org/forum/index.php?topic=4166.0
« Last Edit: November 01, 2010, 08:55:09 PM by beveragebob »

Offline richara

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Re: Maximizing the maximum OG for my system
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2010, 09:19:00 PM »
I have a false bottom in my mash/lauter tun that sits about 2 inches off the bottom.  The spigot is about 1/2 inch above the bottom, and is not attached to a manifold.  Thanks for your input, Bob.  I think you have me convinced to try starting with less water in my HLT, so that the MT will completely drain as I finish collecting my wort. 
Andrew
Bellingham, WA

beveragebob

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Re: Maximizing the maximum OG for my system
« Reply #8 on: November 01, 2010, 10:13:36 PM »
One more thing. See if there is enough thread o nthe inside of your kettle to put on a 1/2" brass 90 degree street elbow so it'll act as a pickup tube. Make sure to "pickle" it using the John Palmer method(it's in his book How to brew) before you install it. Let us know how your next brew goes.