consistently lower efficiencies

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

  1. oliver

    oliver Well-Known Member

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    i've been marginally happy with my results. I don't dislike my beer, but it could be better. And i don't know if that comes from aging slightly colder to tame certain flavors, or if it's my recipes, or my process due to losing a lot of sugars. I think you're right, i probably need to stop stressing over taking readings during the brew day like conversion, and pre boil, and all that. Just take 1 reading at the end of the day, and subsequent readings when primary ferm is done, because i have in the past hit my projections, and those were enjoyable batches. and the only thing done on that was lift the bag out, sparge rinse with my tea kettle until the boil kettle gets to 3 gallons.
     
  2. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    the only thing I keep track of religiously is the grain amount,the water amount and boil off amount, its very important to have your ending volume after the boil match the gravity it should be, if you keep track of your water correctly and boil off rate over and over again you'll eventually find a pattern or what I call a sweet spot and then you be able to stop measuring like we do and trust your gut
     
  3. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    You say marginally happy and you are concerned about the amount of sugars you are extracting from the grain my guess is you think the beer is thin maybe? As I said before add a little more grain and reduce your expected efficiency on the recipe builder and brew on. And for heaven's sake don't stress on beer making. Stress has been known to cause drinking problems :lol: . Read a little more about brewing and relax with a fresh pint.
     
  4. oliver

    oliver Well-Known Member

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    Hey now. Alcoholism is a disease. It's very dangerous. And delicious. Ok. happy brewing. Checking in tonight... St. Sebastian Grand Reserve, Poperings Hommelbierg, La Fin Du Monde, and a German Ale slow slipping home brew of mine to top it off.

    No, you're right. I've hit my gravity in the past, and need to just enjoy my brews. Because I've been enjoying my fermentations lately. Thanks for the responses to everyone who helped. I'm done brewing for this calendar year, here's to a great 2016.
     
  5. TheZel66

    TheZel66 Member

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    don't know if anyone mentioned, but if your mashes are light colored, you may have a high pH. Pick up some 5.2 pH stabilizer, and put some in your mash and sparge water. It will help drain the sugars from your grain bed.
     
  6. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    i didn't see anything about squeezing the bag after you're done sparging, but that would help to increase the gravity a bit.
    like gern, I don't really measure anything so I can't say for certain how much this would help. but the liquid coming out of a squeezed bag looks, smells, and tastes like wort, so it's got to be contributing something to the overall gravity
     
  7. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I don't BIAB but I do know there's a lot of brewing lore out there that says squeezing the grain bag is bad. It comes out looking like wort, smelling like wort, tasting like wort but I've heard - no empirical evidence, mind you - that there are evil things lurking in that sweet liquid, tannins. Tannin extraction is a function of pH and temperature - your temperature or pH get too high and tannins are extracted from the grain husks. And tannins cause astringency. What I don't know is if the physical action of squeezing the bag, in essence, compressing the mash, leads to tannin extraction. And how does that differ from, say, placing the bag in a colander over the bucket and letting the wort drain, compressing the wort using gravity instead of the pressure of the grain bag? So I'd say basically, if your process works, use it. If you're getting astringency problems, try not squeezing the bag for a batch or two and see if the problem goes away. If it doesn't, your problem is elsewhere, go back to squeezing the bag and check your sparge temperature OR your sparge pH.
     
  8. oliver

    oliver Well-Known Member

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    i think i'm going to go back to the old way we've done it, in that pulling the bag straight out of the kettle, and only pouring hot water over the bag, no colander, no squeezing, nothing but grains suspended above the boil pot and hot water trying to pull some more sugar. because i've achieved my targets in that past that way, and trying to sparge in a less laborious manner has caused some issues. and i should probably stop screwing around with things i don't know about, and stick to my pale ales and variations, those seems to be the most successful all around.
     
  9. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

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    i've read / heard that too nosy, but then again, i've also read that it doesn't matter. like you said, it's all about the ph and temperature. go figure that there's differing opinions out there about a brewing technique :lol:
    I'll keep an eye out for any astringency in future batches, but I haven't noticed it yet (i'm far from being any kind of reliable judge on that though)

    also, i admit it is a little harder to do. I don't have a pulley system, so the wife has to hold the bag up while i squeeze it. my rubber gloves are also not all that insulated, so my hands can get pretty hot after a little bit.

    and oliver, you'll never get success with the other beers if you never brew them. making mistakes is almost, if not more, valuable than getting it right each and every time
     
  10. Ozarks Mountain Brew

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    I press the grain down while its draining with a pizza screen, not a whole lot but just enough to push more liquid out, now my ph is correct and I can make very clear great tasting blonds with no off flavors, I think the old stories to worry about this or that are not as true today with all of the modern ways of making beer and modern malt processes
     
  11. GernBlanston

    GernBlanston New Member

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    Sorry, I couldn't get past that bit.
     
  12. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    I put an upside colander in my old fermenting bucket. I put the full grain bag on it to allow it to drain. No wife required!
     
  13. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Bet your hands stayed cool, too.... ;-)
     
  14. Brew Cat

    Brew Cat Active Member

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    I'm late to this party, but what temperature was the OP mashing at? Plenty of Brewers get low efficiency and make good beer. Just adjust your recipe to match your efficiency. I get a bit less efficiency when I do biab as opposed to my tun. I adjust my recipe accordingly.
     
  15. oliver

    oliver Well-Known Member

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    usually mashing around 145-150, i never have covered my mash with a lid or a towel, so i leave the thermometer stuck in the grains, and check/stir it every 15ish or so minutes.
     
  16. EbonHawk

    EbonHawk New Member

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    148° is my lowest temp I'll mash at, but that's just a number I found in a few homebrewing mash schedules... Not sure what going down to 145° would do. Might not be optimal for the enzymes to work efficiently, but I don't know enough about the chemistry behind it to tell.

    What about pH — has anyone asked that yet? pH can have a drastic effect on enzyme activity. Going outside the optimal range will result in lower yields as well.

    Just a random excerpt I found on another site (byo.com):
    "In my commercial breweries, I found that changing the mash temperature from 149° to 156° F raised the beer’s terminal gravity from 1.008 to 1.014. This is a significant difference."

    Another thing to look at would be the malt you're using. Is it fully modified or is it lacking in some essential nutrients. Some all-grain mashings suffer from low or unmodified grain issues. It's usually clearly marked on the malt or in the name if it's not well modified. So that shouldn't be an issue..

    Also, did I read that right? You're sparging with "near-boiling" water? My sources say to use 175° water, no higher. But, since sugar conversion should be done at that point anyway, I don't see where it would matter except in the taste department (too-high sparging temps release tannins if the grist mixture stays above 170° for too long). Adding near-boiling water at that point would definitely put it over the ideal temps.

    Have you ever tested for starch-to-sugar conversion? It can help you detect levels of starch in your mashing mixture. A little iodine or iodophor dripped onto a sample of your mash liquor at that point will tell you if there is still starch in the mash (and potential gravity points lost).

    Just throwing out ideas to consider at this point.
     
  17. Brew Cat

    Brew Cat Active Member

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    Covering it wouldn't make a difference as long as you keep the temperature in range 145 to 150 you should get very good extraction. Like mentioned if you mash higher you will get less which is not your problem unless your thermometer is off. It's happened to me with digitalis that's why I use only dials now. PH could also be a problem. But after looking closely at the screen shot your BG was pretty close at 73% only off .005. I'm thinking you lost the other .005 t volume. By the way have you ever gotten 75% in any of your biab ?
     
  18. oliver

    oliver Well-Known Member

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    One time I hit 74%, OG was 1.060 on the nose, I think the expectation on the calculator read out at 1.061 (when set at 75%). But that was a while ago when we still were rather confused about what we were doing. If I remember that batch correctly, we simply pulled the bag out of the mash pot, let it drip, and then used a hot tea kettle to continually sparge until I got my boil volume. I won't be able to brew until late January, but it seems like what everyone says regarding BIAB, simpler is better.
     

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