Are all the high efficiency numbers I read about real?

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by Brewer #183761, Jan 7, 2019.

  1. Ron Reyes (Papa Piggy)

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2018
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    39
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Vancouver BC Canada
    Are all the high efficiency numbers I read about real?

    Im an all grain brewer. I just started back into brewing last summer. I’m 12 batches in. My hardware is 2 of the Northern Brewer 10 Gallon Coolers for the HLT and Mash Tun with a false bottom. And I use a SS brewtech 10 Gallon Kettle with a downtube that gets most of the wort into the fermenter. I am now using pellet hops exclusively and I recirculate the wort during cooling to create a whirlpool so I don’t worry about trub too much and cooling is nice and fast. My evaporation rate seems high. I need to start off with almost 8 gallons to get 5.5 gallons in the fermenter. And I do loose a little wort in the recirculation lines/pump.

    But so far using Brewersfriend software the absolute best efficiency I can get is 65%. That’s up a little bis since I started crushing my own malt.

    As for Mashing and sparging. I use a 1.5 qt to lb grain ratio. Typically at 152-156 degrees. I mash out with about 6 qts of near boiling water, let that sit for about 10 mins, vorlof, then I batch sparge slowly with hot water to collect about 7.5-8 gallons. I If I collect 8 gallons I boil for about 90 mins. Otherwise about 60-75 mins to end up with 5.5 G in my fermenter.

    I use salt additions as per the software, add a little lactic acid if called for and my PH is within range. I think it was at about 5.3 on my most recent batch.

    My Gravity come in within a couple points of the software. And yet im still cruising at 64-65% efficiency. I really don’t care too much but when I read about guys getting high 70’s -80’s and more I wonder…
     
  2. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Messages:
    3,003
    Likes Received:
    1,967
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Everything got better when I switched to a recirc system and better still when I got really good mash temp control. I noticed a boost some time ago when I started using acidulated malt to adjust grist PH. I noticed consistently higher efficiency when I took longer to fly sparge. Until recently my current system/process would pretty routinely give me mid-high 70s, in kettle efficiency (and most of that goes into the fermenter). Then I started really using the water chemistry calculator and along with getting water profile in line with salts, started adding lactic acid to sparge water. Since making that change, 5 of the last 6 brews have been over 80% with the last 2 being 86%.

    I've resigned myself to a long brew day with a proper dough-in, spending a little extra time in each of the temp rests, refractometer gravity readings to determine the best time to raise temp, turning the grain bed a couple of times, constant recirc, proper mash-out and very slow fly sparge with 35-45 percent of total liquor volume.

    You'll definitely benefit from milling your own and maybe giving a little extra time overall during mash, probably see a boost with sparge water treatment. Pro brewers who are mashing in a 20 barrel tun and computer-controlled everything can see extremely high efficiencies with a single infusion. I think we have to work a little harder to get the most out of the malt. ;)
     
    Trialben likes this.
  3. Ron Reyes (Papa Piggy)

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2018
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    39
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Vancouver BC Canada
    I dont see a recirculation mash system in my future. I do stir midway. Then again at mashout before first runnings. And again at sparge. Ive been pretty serious about water chemistry using the software. And will be trying acidulated malt next time instead of lactic acid.
     
  4. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2012
    Messages:
    7,473
    Likes Received:
    4,176
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Aurora, CO, USA
    I generally see mid-80's for step mashes and decoctions, high 70's to low 80's for single infusions. I don't recirculate but I do treat my water, ensure a mash pH of 5.4 or lower and acidify my sparge water. FYI, there's no difference in the lactic acid between acidulated malt and the acid itself. Acidulated malt is malt sprayed with soured wort, used to remain compliant with the German Reinheitsgebot. "Pure" lactic acid is likely made the same way, through a lactic fermentation, then purified. I use both, depending on whim, mostly.
     
    I_playdrums and J A like this.
  5. Ron Reyes (Papa Piggy)

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2018
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    39
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Vancouver BC Canada
    Hmm ok. So i "salt" all of my brew water about 10 gallons at the begining. And only add the lactic acid to the original mash water. Is that a problem?
     
  6. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2017
    Messages:
    2,455
    Likes Received:
    1,609
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Edmonton
    That's pretty much what I do and I get around 70-75% efficiency most of the time with my mash in a bag rig. 65% is a bit low but not ridiculously, I get that when I no sparge. Some people have really fancy rigs that do a better job.

    Efficiency is nice but I wouldn't stress to hard about it as long as it's consistent.
     
  7. Ron Reyes (Papa Piggy)

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2018
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    39
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Vancouver BC Canada
    on a funny side note i recently did a batch using almost 3 ounces of lactic acid instead of 3 grams... Took forever to convert, was cloudy as hell and tart tasting. I was just gonna toss it but ill taste it again after fermentation and then decide to package it or not.
     
    Beer_Pirate and Trialben like this.
  8. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2017
    Messages:
    2,455
    Likes Received:
    1,609
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Thats a lot of lactic
     
  9. ChicoBrewer

    ChicoBrewer Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 12, 2018
    Messages:
    908
    Likes Received:
    904
    Trophy Points:
    93
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Healthcare IT Manager
    Location:
    Chico, CA
    Maybe you found the next craze. Hazy is done now brute next...
     
    Mark Farrall likes this.
  10. Hogarthe

    Hogarthe Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2014
    Messages:
    518
    Likes Received:
    254
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Maybe you need to crush finer. Or mash longer. Or your set up is just setup for 65%. Not the end of the world if the beer tastes good. Unless you are trying to make money off your brewing efficiency isn't too important. Consistent brewing is more important than high efficiency.
     
    Trialben and thunderwagn like this.
  11. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Messages:
    3,003
    Likes Received:
    1,967
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    yowszer! :eek: What you got there is a lazy kettle sour. Depending on style, it could be quite a nice beer. :)

    As Nosy points out, acidulated malt doesn't do anything that adding lactic to the mash can't accomplish. I just use it because it's very easy to measure and throw into the mill. It costs more than lactic acid per use, but at 2-4 ounces per 5 gallons, it's not too costly.
    You definitely want to look at acidifying your sparge water. After going to all the trouble of making the water just right for the mash, you end up undoing a lot of the good you did by not adjusting the PH for the rest of the process.
     
  12. HighVoltageMan!

    HighVoltageMan! Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2015
    Messages:
    568
    Likes Received:
    431
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Big Lake MN
    I have a RIMS system too and I get 85% on on a regular basis and on the high side I get 92-95%, so the numbers are true. But overall I wouldn't worry too much about efficiency, the bigger concern is the overall beer quality. Are you happy with your beer? If so, then don't worry about it. Grain is cheap enough not to worry about efficiency.
     
    Hawkbox and thunderwagn like this.
  13. Ron Reyes (Papa Piggy)

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2018
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    39
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Vancouver BC Canada
    #13 Ron Reyes (Papa Piggy), Jan 8, 2019
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
    I was under the impression that the sparge water's PH was not an issue with Batch Sparging??? would it be ok to "acidify" all the brew water up front like i do with my salt addition? there seems to be an option for "acid added to mash only" which is the process I have been doing.
     
  14. Ron Reyes (Papa Piggy)

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2018
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    39
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Vancouver BC Canada
    wow thanks fellas for all the good advice. all in all im not so worried about being at 65% so much, because most of my batches so far have been pretty good. I was just wondering if there was something i was obviously missing or doing wrong.
     
  15. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2017
    Messages:
    2,455
    Likes Received:
    1,609
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Edmonton
    Keeping good notes and paying attention to changes is probably the best way to track that kind of thing. I fluctuate around 5% on any given batch depending on whatever variables I've not tracked closely enough or are out of my control.
     
  16. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Messages:
    3,003
    Likes Received:
    1,967
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    I don't know why it would matter...sparge is sparge. You're raising the PH of your grain bed and maybe risking leaching tannins(?). I think it may just be that sugars react and release better when the PH is lowered. All you have to do is try it and see if your efficiency goes up.
    I still think that fly sparging or at least very slow sparging is a key factor. Try acidifying and do things the way you've been doing and see if it makes a blip in your numbers.
    Another factor that almost certainly plays a part is the shape and size of the grain bed. If you're not setting the bed so that water can filter through it evenly, you may be converting pretty well and just leaving a lot of sugar "attached" to the grain husks. Try not stirring after mash out and adding a vorlauf step in your sparge by draining slowly and pouring back in without disturbing the grain bed until your sparge is running very clear. That can eliminate the channeling that will let water just run out of the tun without taking sugars with it.
     
    Medarius likes this.
  17. Ron Reyes (Papa Piggy)

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2018
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    39
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Vancouver BC Canada
    lol yeah keeping great notes is not my strength. But Thanks at least to the software which helps.
     
  18. Ron Reyes (Papa Piggy)

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2018
    Messages:
    83
    Likes Received:
    39
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Vancouver BC Canada
    I think im pretty careful and slow with my vorlaufing and sparging but really do want to try fly sparging at some point. thanks
     
    J A likes this.
  19. Trialben

    Trialben Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2016
    Messages:
    6,854
    Likes Received:
    4,627
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Pest control tech
    Location:
    Palmwoods QLD
    Are you getting good extraction /hitting your preboil. You should be easily in 90,s on extraction if not it's the mashing. But if extraction is good it's in the kettle/ losses.
     
    thunderwagn likes this.
  20. Yooper

    Yooper Administrator
    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2013
    Messages:
    1,799
    Likes Received:
    971
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Happily retired
    Location:
    Upper Michigan/Florida
    With batch sparging, the beauty of it is that it's so quick. And you don't have to mash out.

    When you're ready to sparge, drain your MLT completely. And the sparge water (no mash out), stir like it owes you money, do a quick vorlauf, and open it up full way, and drain. Think of it like a washing machine on the rinse cycle- agitate to get the sugars free flowing in the water, then drain it. You may find that a more complete stirring and faster draining will actually increase the lautering efficiency when you batch sparge.
     
    thunderwagn and Hawkbox like this.

Share This Page

arrow_white