Author Topic: Help me improve my efficiency  (Read 1839 times)

Offline rjharper

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 441
    • View Profile
    • Angry Scotsman Brewing
Help me improve my efficiency
« on: September 04, 2011, 09:22:49 PM »
I have a HERMS rig.  I mash at 1.2-1.5 qt/lb depending on style, then add mash out water to batch sparge with equal volumes between and mash and sparge.  My mash out is a 5 min recycle at 170.  After draining, sparge is a 10 min recycle at 170.  My grain is crushed by the store.  I've calibrated an equipment profile on Beersmith for my system w/ dead volumes etc yet I cant seem to get past 65% efficiency.  I know that grain crush can make a big difference, and that brew store crushes are notoriously inefficient, but what else can i try.  I went straight from extract to AG so I dont have a previous number to compare.  Help?!

Offline dannyjed

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 568
  • Toledo, OH
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my efficiency
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2011, 05:53:37 AM »
You're on the right track when considering the crush of your grains.  You could have the LHBS run the grain through twice, but I suggest getting your own adjustable mill.  After I got my mill,  I went from low 60's to 75-80% efficiency.
Dan Chisholm

Online hopfenundmalz

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4534
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my efficiency
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2011, 06:24:09 AM »
You're on the right track when considering the crush of your grains.  You could have the LHBS run the grain through twice, but I suggest getting your own adjustable mill.  After I got my mill,  I went from low 60's to 75-80% efficiency.
This is true.  Crush is numer one.  They have a setting that will not stick on most systems, but is coarse.

Check your temp calibration, temps are #2.

pH is #3.
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, AHA Member, BJCP Certified
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline ukolowiczd

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 144
  • Burlington, VT
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my efficiency
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2011, 06:27:56 AM »
I'm not too familiar with the HERMES system, but can you fly sparge with it? I've never had good results with batch sparging. I always end up under 70%. With fly sparging I'm always at least at 70% if not at 85%. I know many swear by batch sparging but I'm either doing it wrong or don't understand it.

Offline rjharper

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 441
    • View Profile
    • Angry Scotsman Brewing
Re: Help me improve my efficiency
« Reply #4 on: September 06, 2011, 08:27:35 AM »
You can fly sparge on HERMS (I think) if you have 2 pumps.  I only have the one pump for now, so I'm sticking with batch sparging.  I've read that fly and batch should have similar efficiencies, but I'm wondering if , like you, I'm doing something wrong.

Online denny

  • Administrator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 11654
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Help me improve my efficiency
« Reply #5 on: September 06, 2011, 09:04:43 AM »
If you have a 15+ point efficiency difference with batch sparging, it certainly sounds like you must be doing something wrong.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

Offline JKL

  • Assistant Brewer
  • ***
  • Posts: 180
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my efficiency
« Reply #6 on: September 06, 2011, 09:07:20 AM »
You're on the right track when considering the crush of your grains.  You could have the LHBS run the grain through twice, but I suggest getting your own adjustable mill.  After I got my mill,  I went from low 60's to 75-80% efficiency.

+1

I was stuck at 65% also before I bought my BarleyCrusher.  I'm now at around 77% for 1.050(ish) beers. 

Something else to maybe consider is mash length.  After a failed attempt a few months ago to brew a IIPA when the gravity came up short.  I took some advice I read here on the forum about mash length and mash out temp.  I'm a batch sparger as well.  I brewed a Black RyePA(?) yesterday and I'm proud to report I made the biggest beer to date w/o the use of brewing sugars.  1.077 OG at 68% eff.  I'm not sure if it had anything to do with it but I did a 90min mash and attempted to mash out but only got my grainbed up to 163F.
-J.K.L.
"Fermentation may have been a greater discovery than fire." -David Rains Wallace

John K. Lee
AHA Member
Rock City, AR

Offline mabrungard

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1097
    • View Profile
    • Bru'n Water
Re: Help me improve my efficiency
« Reply #7 on: September 06, 2011, 09:40:18 AM »
I'm not sure I would rank crush as the #1 influence for efficiency.  I'd rank duration of mash and duration of runoff as high influences for mashing efficiency.  If I want poor efficiency, all I have to do is runoff quickly.  Extending  runoff duration to 30+ minutes is a great efficiency booster in my experience.
Martin B
Carmel, IN

BJCP National
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI)

Brewing Water Information at:
https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/

Like Bru'n Water on Facebook for occasional discussions on brewing water and Bru'n Water

Online denny

  • Administrator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 11654
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Help me improve my efficiency
« Reply #8 on: September 06, 2011, 10:01:01 AM »
I'm not sure I would rank crush as the #1 influence for efficiency.  I'd rank duration of mash and duration of runoff as high influences for mashing efficiency.  If I want poor efficiency, all I have to do is runoff quickly.  Extending  runoff duration to 30+ minutes is a great efficiency booster in my experience.


In fly sparging, maybe so.  But the OP is batch sparging, where the runoff speed makes no difference at all.  In that case, crush is the #1 factor.  Even if he was fly sparging, a poor crush could yield results as poor (or even moreso) as a fast runoff.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe

Online jeffy

  • Brewmaster General
  • *******
  • Posts: 2444
  • Tampa, Fl
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my efficiency
« Reply #9 on: September 06, 2011, 10:16:47 AM »
Denny and most batch spargers use picnic coolers where there is no dead space at the bottom.  In a system set to run with HERMS, I'd assume you have a vessel with significant dead space under the grain bed.  I mash in a converted keg with a sabco false bottom, which leaves 4 quarts of liquid under it.  Could batch sparging with a system like this possibly leave more wort in the tun?
Jeff Gladish, Tampa (989.3, 175.1 Apparent Rennarian)
Homebrewing since 1990
AHA member since 1991, now a lifetime member
BJCP judge since 1995

Online hopfenundmalz

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4534
  • Milford, MI
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my efficiency
« Reply #10 on: September 06, 2011, 11:06:15 AM »
I'm not sure I would rank crush as the #1 influence for efficiency.  I'd rank duration of mash and duration of runoff as high influences for mashing efficiency.  If I want poor efficiency, all I have to do is runoff quickly.  Extending  runoff duration to 30+ minutes is a great efficiency booster in my experience.

This can be true.  My post assumed that the process was under control.  I learned a long time ago that 60 minute mashes and 45 minute fly sparges work great on my system.

Other factors to consider are the accuracy of the grain weights, and accuracy of the volumes. 
Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild, AHA Member, BJCP Certified
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline rstansbu

  • 1st Kit
  • *
  • Posts: 11
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my efficiency
« Reply #11 on: September 06, 2011, 12:54:51 PM »
I have never batch sparged, but I have seen significant differences in efficiency in fly sparging driven by a final mash out prior to sparging.  I would probably expect about a 5% bump in efficiency if I bring the mash temperature to around 160F before I sparge.

Offline mabrungard

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1097
    • View Profile
    • Bru'n Water
Re: Help me improve my efficiency
« Reply #12 on: September 06, 2011, 01:03:02 PM »
Denny, wouldn't batch sparging also be subject to poor efficiency if you ran off the first runnings and then refilled and ran off the second runnings with little time in the mash?  That is sort of like fly sparging too rapidly, isn't it?
Martin B
Carmel, IN

BJCP National
Foam Blowers of Indiana (FBI)

Brewing Water Information at:
https://sites.google.com/site/brunwater/

Like Bru'n Water on Facebook for occasional discussions on brewing water and Bru'n Water

Offline James Lorden

  • Brewer
  • ****
  • Posts: 337
  • Forest Hill, MD
    • View Profile
Re: Help me improve my efficiency
« Reply #13 on: September 06, 2011, 01:04:05 PM »
I'm at work and don't have details but I can tell you that when I first started using beersmith I disagreed with the efficiency calcs I was getting.  I built a quick spreadsheet and started calculating it manually and sure enough I was right.  Turns out that the way I was entering some other variables was effecting the number the program was spitting out (perhaps the equipment or batch size, can't remember which)... also, beer smith calculates efficiency 3 different ways, right?  are all three of them the same for you?

James Lorden
Beer Drinker Beer Maker & Beer Judge

Online denny

  • Administrator
  • I must live here
  • *****
  • Posts: 11654
  • Noti OR [1991.4, 287.6deg] AR
    • View Profile
    • Dennybrew
Re: Help me improve my efficiency
« Reply #14 on: September 06, 2011, 02:10:35 PM »
Denny, wouldn't batch sparging also be subject to poor efficiency if you ran off the first runnings and then refilled and ran off the second runnings with little time in the mash?  That is sort of like fly sparging too rapidly, isn't it?

Nope, not at all, Martin.  The difference is that with fly sparging you're rinsing sugars and with batch sparging you're draining sugars.  For my average 7.5 gal. boil volume, I vorlauf, run off the mash, stir in the sparge water, vorlauf again, and run off the sparge all in less than 15 min.  Of course, you don't have to go that quickly.  The speed is an advantage, not a requirement.  I've experimented with lots of different runoff speeds and wait time after adding sparge water, and longer times provide no increase in efficiency.
Life begins at 60.....1.060, that is!

www.dennybrew.com

The best, sharpest, funniest, weirdest and most knowledgable minds in home brewing contribute on the AHA forum. - Alewyfe