consistently lower efficiencies

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by oliver, Nov 8, 2015.

  1. oliver

    oliver Well-Known Member

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    OK, i've posted before about my lower efficiency due to not sparging hot enough, but now i don't believe that's the reason.... Today i brewed a batch, 3 gallon boil, 2 gallon batch. I mashed for 60 minutes today, then i moved my mash bag into a strainer over my boil pot, sparged it with a 3 quart tea kettle, then recirculated the wort from my mash tun through the grains into the boil pot. i think i ended up sparging 7 more quarts to get my wort up to 3+/- gallons. Preboil efficiency read out at 1.040, and i successfully boiled off about a gallon, and my gravity was down at 1.057, 10 points under the 75% efficiency projection. Is there anything i'm not doing, or anything i can do to better hit my projections.
     

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  2. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    you can get a lower beginning gravity from sparging with too much water, this my not be the case but it can be an issue, how is you crush, it should be 20% flour and very fine grain for that type of set up
     
  3. oliver

    oliver Well-Known Member

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    i guess i trust my home-brew shop here in nola, they mill my grains in some cabinet looking specimen...?

    Am i sparging too much? I usually do 5 lbs of grain, and 1.25 quarts water per pound, (today i did 4.75 lbs + 6 quarts mash water) then let the mash bag drain into my boil pot, and sparge until i achieve 3 gallons.

    Or could i be losing sugars during the mash out? Today i heated the wort up to 160ishºF before pulling the bag.

    The beginning of the mash was running a bit high today also, around 160 consistently for about 15 minutes or so. moved back to 145, and then consistently held 150 for the majority of the time.
     
  4. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    tell them to run it through twice, and I bet you will get a higher efficiency
     
  5. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    Could be lots of different things going on here. If you're over 60% then you're on the right track. Could be crush, could be wheat needs 90 minutes to mash(white IPA just guessing wheat involved),could be your measurements vary a little. Wouldn't take much in water or hydrometer calibration to be off some here and there. if your beer comes out consistently the same, then try to check one thing at a time and pretty soon something will pop up. In 3 gal of water 1 qt is like about 8% so measuring to get precise efficiencies can get frustrating. Acquire consistency with your process, something that works best for you, then monitor efficiencies. if you stay consistent around 65% add more grain.
     
  6. Marc ook

    Marc ook New Member

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    Just a thought: I you measure density with a hydrometer, have you calibrated it with water?
    Should read 1.000 with fridge-cold water (4 Deg C) or 0.996 at room temp. I've had one where the paper scale had shifted about 0.006 points...
     
  7. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    oh yes wheat is an efficiency killer for a non recirculating brew and a bag, didn't see that :oops: you will need to crush finer and mash longer with wheat for sure
     
  8. LlewellynBrewHaus

    LlewellynBrewHaus Active Member

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    i have a sneaking feeling that your efficiency if prob right on ...but what is off is the projected starting gravity from the recipe editor. I have found that when targeting the fermentor as the final - my actual gravity/projected is consistently low.
    Now if you go back into the recipe and edit it to target the kettle and input the volume you got after your boil I would bet money that the editor changes the recipe to read a projected starting gravity of 1.057 =/-
    just my personal experience

    cheers !!
     
  9. oliver

    oliver Well-Known Member

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    that might be true, but I've got it consistently in past few brew days in recipes without wheat.


    i might be a little confused. the OG doesn't change when i switch from ending kettle to fermentor.

    And actually, i'm confused between the difference of my target being "ending kettle" or "fermenter". In my crude kitchen situation, my ending kettle goes into my fermenter, and my hydrometer readings are no different when taking from either sample.
     
  10. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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  11. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    You say you sparged then recirculated then sparged more? Fly sparging, you do not recirculate wort back through grains. Batch sparging you drain the mash tun then add a pre-specified amount of sparge water then drain into first runnings to make a specific amount for boil kettle. Then maybe sparged 7qts more for 3+/-? Without exact measurements you will never be able to use the efficiency calculator and come out with proper readings. That doesn't mean you can't make good beer, it just means the info into the software is not precise every time. I measure carefully and my conversion efficiency will vary from 90% to 110%. Over time and observing and comparing each batch I can see small differences that cause this. Different grains, mistaken readings with volumes and hydrometers etc. Have you tested your hydrometer? Are you doing temperature corrections for the hydrometer? It looks consistently low. That might be a place to start. If it's correct and your process works well for you and you like the beer then just add more grain and accept the lower efficiency. BIAB at +60% is ok.
     
  12. oliver

    oliver Well-Known Member

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    my hydrometer works, i tested in tap water and it reads 0. It's calibrated to 60º and i've been temp correcting on the calculator, i ruled that one out a few weeks ago. As for my process, that might seem confusing since i'm very low scale in my kitchen. I have a 10 quart pot that i mash in, and a 16 quart pot i boil in, neither has a valve to open. I mash for an hour or so, then take the steeping bag out of the 10 quart pot and put it in a colander above the 16 quart pot and let it drain. What i've been doing is sparing once with a three quart tea kettle while the wort left over in the 10 quart wort heats up, then use that as sparge water through the grains, while another kettle heats up. I then sparge with hot water until i achieve 3 gallons of boilable beer. but i'm new, i'm all ears if there is a better way to mash out and sparge, it's the most laborious part of brew day the way i've been doing it.
     
  13. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    You don't need to be sparging with the first run wort(the stuff left in mash tun after lifting out bag of grain). That is the same as rinsing soapy dishes with the dishwater if you get what I mean. It can go directly into the boil kettle when you place grain in colander. The sparge water (@160-170 deg F) can then be rinsed through the grain slowly to remove the rest of the sugar left in the grain, with the grain above (not in)the collected wort in boil kettle. You could also batch sparge, which would mean draining all wort from mash tun into boil kettle, then placing the grain back in the mash tune with your sparge water,trying to rinse the sugar out , then draining that wort into your boil kettle.
    Something you might consider is mashing in the boil kettle. The other smaller pot could then be heating up your sparge water so when mash is finished you could just lift the grain out of wort then either place in colander and fly sparge or place directly in heated water(smaller pot) and batch sparge.
     
  14. oliver

    oliver Well-Known Member

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    OK, that should help me out, hopefully. Need to have a brew day this weekend and figure something things out, but just to clarify, i have two concepts in fixing the sparge.

    A. mash in my 16 quart pot, and with about 20 minutes left, heat my 10 quart pot with enough sparge water. Then lift the mash bag out of the 16 quart pot, slip the colander under the mash bag over the 16 quart pot, then pour the water from the 10 quart pot into the 16 quart pot through the grains.

    OR

    B. Mash in the 16 quart pot, and with about 20 minutes left, heat my 10 quart pot with enough sparge water. Then take the mash bag out of the 16 quart pot, and soak it in the hot water of the 10 quart pot. Stir that up to release the sugars, and pour back into the 16 quart pot.
     
  15. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    the second will work just fine and it will be easier too, just don't pour all of the water back in, "unless its the right amount" just pour whats needed and discard the rest
     
  16. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for helping Ozarks, I been busy the last few days and couldn't get back promptly. My thoughts too. Just wanted to try and explain the difference and I think you got it Oliver! Simpler is usually better. Brew On!
     
  17. oliver

    oliver Well-Known Member

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    thanks for all the responses gentlemen. or ladies. who knows.

    Here's my newest problem, hah, my 10 quart pot won't fit 9 quarts + 5 pounds of wet grain.. I think i'll probably have to do a 4.5 quarts rinse, and then pour that into the boil pot. Leave the grains in a colander over the Boil pot while i heat another 4.5 quarts, do another rinse??
     
  18. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    Or back to plan A, or reduce batch size.
     
  19. oliver

    oliver Well-Known Member

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    back at it again, frustrated as ever. Today i brewed a batch that i thought was sure fire going to have a much larger OG than i ever brew. I even threw in half a pound of brown sugar for a batch under 2 gallons, and boiled it down pretty hard for 90 minutes. Still, my OG was reading out at 1.068, when it should have been above 1.080...

    Today I did a doppelbock, and mashed 5 pounds of grain in 6.25 quarts water. And today I sparged about 4 quarts from my 10 quart pot, near boiling water. Then took the grains and put them into the hot 10 quart pot, rinsed those bastards for 10 minutes, removed grain, let drain into kettle, and added the remaining 4 quarts back into the boil pot, and got just above 3 gallons. Conversion efficiency readings were down. Pre-boil readings were down. And my brewhouse efficiency was way down. 59%. Where am i losing sugars?
     
  20. GernBlanston

    GernBlanston New Member

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    First off, when you are working with small volumes, your measurements (water volume, grain) must be accurate, as the margin of error is smaller. Also, pouring water through a grain bag is not the best way to extract the sugars. Contact time with the grain is minimal, and the water will take the easiest route through (or around the perimeter).
    The efficiency "norms" you are seeking, are based on tried and true methods. Mashing in a vessel with calculated volumes, and sparging with calculated volumes in a particular fashion. Fly sparging with a braided hose does not yield the same efficiency as with a false bottom, or a manifold. Batch sparging is most efficient when the total volume of water is evenly split between mash and sparge, and while it can yield well, it is not as efficient as a proper fly sparge. BIAB has its own issues with efficiency, but is still within the range of acceptable yields. If your process is something different than these, and you are not achieving comparable results, then perhaps you are getting the numbers that your process will achieve.

    That said, and rest assured, I am not being a smart ass, I must ask: does your beer taste good? Are you happy with the results of you efforts? Ive been brewing for over 20 years and have never bothered to calculate, let alone keep track of efficiency. Big breweries do it as a mater of good business. Efficiency is money. However on a home brew scale, profit is not a concern. Making good beer is. I'm not saying that you shouldn't track what you want to track, just make the best beer you can FIRST. If you feel tracking this data is making your beer better then I guess that's cool, just don't get too wrapped up in the numbers, and don't forget the goal. Fantastic beer!
     

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