Author Topic: Improving Efficiency  (Read 4284 times)

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #15 on: March 11, 2011, 05:53:50 PM »
Leaving behind wort in the mash tun is one way to negatively impact your gravity. ;)
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #16 on: March 11, 2011, 05:58:22 PM »
Sounds like some of your loss was during the lautering but I'm wondering how well you converted. One way to determine that is by measuring the gravity of your first runnings. Knowing that number and the volume collected will give your answer next time.
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Offline tubercle

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #17 on: March 11, 2011, 06:03:11 PM »
There are several way to improve your efficiency.

Starting with the most obvious, how long did you boil?

 :D :D :D :D :D

Just the plain 60min boil.  I thought about going longer but then I'd have less beer!  :D

Can you boil longer say 90min, and then top up in the end to raise the gravity, that doesn't make any sense in my head at all.  But I already am relaxing with a homebrew so I could be compromised.

 You're kind of new here. I shouldn't have said anything. It's an old inside joke. ;D

 You CANNOT increase efficiency by lengthening the boil. :o
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #18 on: March 11, 2011, 06:09:30 PM »
You CANNOT increase efficiency by lengthening the boil. :o

...and all this time I've been boiling the hell out of my beer. Awww shucks!  ;D
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Offline srnoel

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #19 on: March 11, 2011, 07:03:42 PM »
Ah yeah, that joke flew right over my head.

On a similar note I did mash in a BLUE coleman xtreme cooler.  Maybe my cooler was too dark a blue?  I should probably leave it out in the sun for a few days so it fades to a lighter more brew friendly blue.

Offline hokerer

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #20 on: March 11, 2011, 07:59:32 PM »
Just the plain 60min boil.  I thought about going longer but then I'd have less beer!  :D

Can you boil longer say 90min, and then top up in the end to raise the gravity, that doesn't make any sense in my head at all.  But I already am relaxing with a homebrew so I could be compromised.

The "boil longer to get more efficiency" thing is sort of a standing joke around here.  Don't waste any time trying to make sense of it because it doesn't make sense.
Joe

Offline gmac

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #21 on: March 11, 2011, 08:47:34 PM »
Ah yeah, that joke flew right over my head.

On a similar note I did mash in a BLUE coleman xtreme cooler.  Maybe my cooler was too dark a blue?  I should probably leave it out in the sun for a few days so it fades to a lighter more brew friendly blue.

Mine's blue too.  Is that a problem?  It's white on the inside but I can paint it if that'll help.

Offline srnoel

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #22 on: March 12, 2011, 10:33:21 PM »
So, I was skimming back through How to Brew about this.  I read that you should stir the mash and check the temp every 15-20min during the hour long rest.  I did not do this, I got the mash to the temp I wanted it to be and closed the cooler and forgot about it for an hour basically.  Is this just a recommended thing to do and not necessary, or can this improve efficiency?

Offline maxieboy

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #23 on: March 12, 2011, 10:46:07 PM »
I never check and stir, just lets heat out of the cooler. I might lose 1* in hour. I get 80% consistently.
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Offline malzig

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #24 on: March 13, 2011, 05:13:37 AM »
So, I was skimming back through How to Brew about this.  I read that you should stir the mash and check the temp every 15-20min during the hour long rest.  I did not do this, I got the mash to the temp I wanted it to be and closed the cooler and forgot about it for an hour basically.  Is this just a recommended thing to do and not necessary, or can this improve efficiency?
Stirring might help speed up conversion a little, which could help your efficiency if you are simply stopping the mash too soon, but it is completely unnecessary.  Your biggest gain would most likely come from crushing finer (or double-crushing, if you can't adjust the mill).  If you're stuck with a coarse crush, mashing longer might help.  Probably better still, stepping the mash temperature up to 158-162°F for about 20 minutes after the main mash will improve gelatinization and speed up conversion to get more of those remaining points out.  

It appears that you only got about 75% conversion efficiency.  If you want to maximize your efficiency, you need to mash until you get 100% conversion.  Kai has gone to the trouble to make this table for us, which gives you the gravity that your first runnings should be for a given mash thickness, when you've hit 100% conversion:

However, tschmidlin pointed out a big problem with your process, you left a lot of wort behind and have a big dead space.  Particularly in light of your small batch size.  With a dip tube, you can reduce your dead space, I have about 1 cup dead space, for example.  In addition, you should add only enough sparge water to hit your kettle volume, so that you drain the tun completely.   

Reducing your dead space alone could have raised your efficiency by about 5%.  Collecting all the second runnings combined with reduced dead space could have raised your efficiency nearly 10%.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2011, 05:31:48 AM by malzig »

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #25 on: March 13, 2011, 07:56:14 AM »
Ended with about 3 gallons of wort, I didn't really measure it though.

This ^^^^^^^^^^ might be a BIG part of your problem.  You can't measure brewhouse efficiency accurately without measuring volumes exactly accurately.

The crush is the other most important thing to look at it.  Make sure it's crushed very fine.  If done at your LHBS, mill it twice.  LHBS's are notoriously bad at milling grains.  I mean, what's in it for them if they mill it too fine?  More complaints of stuck mashes and less grain sold --neither is good for them.

My bet is that your problem is a little of both.  Fix both, and your efficiency will skyrocket.  Every other possible concern is peanuts compared to these two huge elephants.
Dave

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Offline denny

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #26 on: March 13, 2011, 08:57:45 AM »
So, I was skimming back through How to Brew about this.  I read that you should stir the mash and check the temp every 15-20min during the hour long rest.  I did not do this, I got the mash to the temp I wanted it to be and closed the cooler and forgot about it for an hour basically.  Is this just a recommended thing to do and not necessary, or can this improve efficiency?

AFAIAC, the only thing that happens when you open the cooler is that you lose heat.  I've tried it both ways and found that I didn't gain anything by stirring. 
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Offline bluesman

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #27 on: March 13, 2011, 09:11:23 AM »
Ended with about 3 gallons of wort, I didn't really measure it though.

This ^^^^^^^^^^ might be a BIG part of your problem.  You can't measure brewhouse efficiency accurately without measuring volumes exactly accurately.

The crush is the other most important thing to look at it.  Make sure it's crushed very fine.  If done at your LHBS, mill it twice.  LHBS's are notoriously bad at milling grains.  I mean, what's in it for them if they mill it too fine?  More complaints of stuck mashes and less grain sold --neither is good for them.

My bet is that your problem is a little of both.  Fix both, and your efficiency will skyrocket.  Every other possible concern is peanuts compared to these two huge elephants.


+1

So to summarize...

- take accurate volume and grain measurements
- review milling process (crush)
- minimize dead space losses
- assure temperature readings with calibrated thermometer
- follow sound mashing schedule
- assess mash pH
- then relax, don't worry...and you know the rest.  :)
« Last Edit: March 13, 2011, 09:19:07 AM by bluesman »
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #28 on: March 13, 2011, 09:17:00 AM »
Back when I was using the highly alkaline tap water that I have, it helped to get the pH in the right range.  Efficiency drops fast oncy you get above 5.7-5.8 in the mash.   It really helped for the lighter beers.

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Offline malzig

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #29 on: March 13, 2011, 09:25:32 AM »
You can't measure brewhouse efficiency accurately without measuring volumes exactly accurately...

The crush is the other most important thing to look at it.  Make sure it's crushed very fine.  If done at your LHBS, mill it twice...

My bet is that your problem is a little of both.  Fix both, and your efficiency will skyrocket.  Every other possible concern is peanuts compared to these two huge elephants.
I mostly agree with this.  Crushing finer has the potential to gain the OP 25% efficiency, but if he actually has 1 qt dead space and continues to leave 1-3 qts in the tun, assuming those volumes are reasonably accurate, he'll be tossing 5-10% of that gain onto the compost pile.