Author Topic: Improving Efficiency  (Read 4281 times)

Offline srnoel

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #30 on: March 13, 2011, 09:50:12 AM »
Thank you for all the responses and information everyone.  I will be much more prepared for the next brew day, maybe next weekend  ;) .  Now that I got the process down from the first attempt I can fix all the silly things I was doing.  For measuring I had marks on my mash paddle, slight cuts into the handle, but they were hard to read (to many other scratches).  I was thinking about marking over them with a sharpie.  Would this cause problems of the ink getting into my beer?

Offline Tristan

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #31 on: March 13, 2011, 10:14:35 AM »
Congrats on your first all-grain brewing effort!  I'm sure your beer will turn out wonderful and probably a really nice session beer.

Awesome advice in this thread.  Water, being the ingredient that makes up the highest percentage of beer, needs the most attention.  Listening to lots of pod casts I heard over and over that it was the last thing that should be tweaked once your process is dialed in.  JMHO, it's worth starting early because it's a subject that takes more time to grasp.  The other juicy tidbits are a bit easier to implement.  Ward Labs offers water tests for under $17 that will give you all the details required.  John Palmer's spreadsheet is excellent.  Once implemented, this tool helped increase my efficiency from the mid 60's to the 78-82% range.  

On the subject of accurate volumes, one of the best tools is a long spoon or mash paddle with markings for every .5 gallons calibrated for your kettle and then calibrated for your carboy on the opposite side.  This will give you some confidence when you calculate your efficiency into the kettle, the fermentor and overall brewhouse efficiency.  You can mark the outside of your carboy with a magic marker for every half gallon.  However, I find the markings wear off rapidly, especially if ferment your beer in water baths.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2011, 10:16:42 AM by Tristan »
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #32 on: March 13, 2011, 10:34:15 AM »
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.

You are right, malzig.  Dead space is also a killer.  I use a big rectangular cooler and when running off, I always lift up the one end of the cooler to get every last drop out.  If you don't, you could lose a lot of sugar that way.  Right on.
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Offline denny

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #33 on: March 13, 2011, 10:53:04 AM »
Thank you for all the responses and information everyone.  I will be much more prepared for the next brew day, maybe next weekend  ;) .  Now that I got the process down from the first attempt I can fix all the silly things I was doing.  For measuring I had marks on my mash paddle, slight cuts into the handle, but they were hard to read (to many other scratches).  I was thinking about marking over them with a sharpie.  Would this cause problems of the ink getting into my beer?

I use a Sharpie on a wooden paddle also.  No problem, other than every couple years you have to do the marking over.
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Offline mabrungard

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #34 on: March 13, 2011, 12:05:35 PM »
I have a long-handled nylon spoon that I use as my measuring stick.  I scratched in volume markings on the spoon for my kettle.  Sharpie was really short lived on that nylon but I would imagine it will last a while on wood. 

Water adjustments can improve efficiency if your mash pH is way out of whack, but I would be surprised if it was more than a few points.  There are plenty of water programs out there.  Until Palmer's and Kaminski's Water book come out, I suggest that brewers download Bru'n Water for the Water Knowledge section alone.  You may prefer other programs for calculating your water adjustments, but you're not going to get the volume of knowledge that Bru'n Water provides.
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Offline tubercle

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #35 on: March 13, 2011, 12:17:11 PM »
Touch a sharpie to your tongue.

 If you are still alive tomorrow then continue on.

 If not, leave me all you brewing stuff to me in your will. ;)
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Offline gmac

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #36 on: March 13, 2011, 01:22:59 PM »
I was reading that a 20 minute rest at 114F before bringing the mash to temp will also increase efficiency.  Is this true? 

Also, does water volume in the mash matter?  Some people seem to be using a quart, some 1.25 or so.  Is more better or less or it doesn't really matter when it comes to efficiency?

Offline malzig

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #37 on: March 13, 2011, 02:24:38 PM »
I was reading that a 20 minute rest at 114F before bringing the mash to temp will also increase efficiency.  Is this true? 

Also, does water volume in the mash matter?  Some people seem to be using a quart, some 1.25 or so.  Is more better or less or it doesn't really matter when it comes to efficiency?
A 114°F mash doesn't usually do very much for modern malted grain because they've essentially already gone through that step during malting.  That's what you'll often see described as "fully modified".

Thinner mashes, about 1.5-2 qt/# aid gelatinization and conversion.  This can help efficiency quite a bit, for some people.  1-1.25 qt/# is thick enough to slow down conversion and potential reduce efficiency.  Not that you can't get good efficiency with a thick mash, but it's suboptimal.

Offline mthhurley

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #38 on: March 13, 2011, 03:01:47 PM »
Sorry for the hijack but hopefully it's not completely useless. 

When we talk about "first wort runnings" and their gravity (i.e. Kai's chart), is this the gravity of the first few drips of runnings of the drain valve?  Or upon draining of all the mashed wort? 

Offline dbeechum

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #39 on: March 13, 2011, 03:15:47 PM »
It' the first part of the runnings out of the tun. How much comprises the first runnings is something of a semantics debate.
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Offline tubercle

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #40 on: March 13, 2011, 03:19:37 PM »
Sorry for the hijack but hopefully it's not completely useless. 

When we talk about "first wort runnings" and their gravity (i.e. Kai's chart), is this the gravity of the first few drips of runnings of the drain valve?  Or upon draining of all the mashed wort? 

It' the first part of the runnings out of the tun. How much comprises the first runnings is something of a semantics debate.

 Would not all the liquid in the tun be uniform after mashing as far as sugar content? If not, would a quick stir make it so? The "first drip" should be he same as the last.
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #41 on: March 13, 2011, 05:31:47 PM »
Would not all the liquid in the tun be uniform after mashing as far as sugar content? If not, would a quick stir make it so? The "first drip" should be he same as the last.

You do get stratification in the mash, IME. I've seen wort at the bottom that's more than twice the gravity of a sample taken from the top. I recirculate for the last 10 minutes of the mash for just that reason.

Also, the full runoff volume is only one constant gravity in batch sparging. In fly sparging, ideally you'd monitor the gravity of the runnings throughout the sparge, and stop sparging when they drop below about 3°P.
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Offline denny

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #42 on: March 14, 2011, 08:52:38 AM »
It' the first part of the runnings out of the tun. How much comprises the first runnings is something of a semantics debate.

In a batch sparge, it's the runnings you get from the mash.  The runnings from the sparge are the 2nd runnings.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2011, 08:58:13 AM by denny »
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Offline malzig

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Re: Improving Efficiency
« Reply #43 on: March 14, 2011, 08:25:33 PM »
When we talk about "first wort runnings" and their gravity (i.e. Kai's chart), is this the gravity of the first few drips of runnings of the drain valve?  Or upon draining of all the mashed wort? 
It' the first part of the runnings out of the tun. How much comprises the first runnings is something of a semantics debate.
In a batch sparge, it's the runnings you get from the mash.  The runnings from the sparge are the 2nd runnings.
Particularly in this case.  For the purpose of determining Conversion Efficiency, we mean something very specific by First Runnings.  What we are interested in is the gravity of all the wort in the tun, not the potentially higher gravity of the first couple drops of wort.  You don't need to completely drain the tun, but you need to stir it very well before pulling a sample and testing it's gravity.