Efficiency dilemma

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by W1IA, Jul 7, 2013.

  1. W1IA

    W1IA New Member

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    I have been keeping extensive records of my past brew sessions.
    Using the 5 gallon Igloo mash system I'm trying to get my brew house efficiency close to text book. I seem to a average 68-70%. I may be answering my own question; it appears the marginal results are due to over-crushed grain (more than 10% flour) from a local supplier?
    In the past I have achieved typical 75%. Anyone else using Igloo system with similar iresults. A few discussion notes:
    1) Spring water used on all batches (no specific chemistry available)
    2) Same IPA recipe brew many time (refer to my Jasper's IPA brew sessions)
    3) Same Infusion mash technique for 151 degree 60 min mash
    4) Sparge water 178 deg. for 168 sparge temp. Recirculate first gallon till clean, then collected to boiler.
    5) same yeast Wyeast 1056
    Thanks,
    Brent
    Derry, NH
     
  2. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    68% brew house efficiency is not bad. I would not sweat that. Your ending kettle efficiency is probably 75%, which is good too.

    Crush is very important to efficiency, so if you can, double check the gap on your mill. Mine is at 0.040 inches. In my batch sparking, I found a 30 minute spage rest at 170 can make a positive improvement, vs say 20 min.

    Hops absorption hurts BHE. If you had 70%+ on less hoppy beers this makes sense. I squeeze out my hops bags, which mitigates this.

    Are you using the brew feature to get conversion efficiency? That will help narrow down the issue.

    What does the mash and water calc tell you for estimated mash pH? I have been adding a bit of acidulated malt to my lighter color IPAs to get down to 5.5.
     
  3. TheZel66

    TheZel66 Member

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    I agree with Larry, crush is biggest factor I've seen in conversion efficiency, but anything higher than 65% brew house efficiency is pretty decent. The key is consistency; it really doesn't matter what your efficiency is. Key is to get the same every time, then you can tweak to improve.
     
  4. LarryBrewer

    LarryBrewer Active Member

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    Higher OG beers will have lower overall efficiency because of grain absorption.

    The flip side is, ten gallon batches are more efficient than five gallon batches on the same system because the dead-loss volume is the same. The dead-loss represents a smaller percentage of overall volume in a ten gallon batch.
     
  5. W1IA

    W1IA New Member

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    I think I found the answer? I am trying 5.2 buffer in the mash and as I type I'm chilling a Dunkel. My pre-boil came in @ a 1.043 for 7 gallons, this appears to be around 73% for 12 lbs of grain. Just checked my OG from boiler and came in @ 1.054. Not to bad. Finished a 90 min boil and got 5 gallons in the fermenter. Lost 2 quarts in the kettle.
     
  6. W1IA

    W1IA New Member

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    I'm going to start checking my mash pH on a regular basis. When I can get some money together I want to send off a sample of my water to be tested. I have been using a distiller to make H2O, but its time consuming. I have to resort to buying spring water; but its worth the money. Yes, I use the calculators on the web site and they are great! takes the guess work out of record keeping. By the way you have some fine recipes and I have been following you efforts. All-grain is the way to go. I just filled my mug with the latest IPA I made and all I can say is YUM! I hope you make the Jasper's IPA. It is a staple in this house and my friends keep draining my kegs. :D I may pick up a march pump as I need better control on the lower converted malts; protein rests etc...I will be able to recirculate to the kettle for heating and be able to raise my mash temp in a controlled process versus decotion.
     
  7. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    If you're adding salts anyway, save yourself some money and use distilled water. That way you know absolutely your base is nearly pure water.
     
  8. W1IA

    W1IA New Member

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    I never tried salts until my last batch of Dunkel...it was the 5.2 buffer. The jury is out as to whether or not I picked up any efficiency. The brew did come in close (73%) but I attribute that to the 90 min boil giving me a higher OG? I guess I just splitting hairs trying to get the last few percent of efficiency. Do you have the luxury of good water? NH water sucks, very hard and a high Iron content.
    As you know iron is a beer killer.
     
  9. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    I don't think the salts would affect efficiency, more flavor and potentially astringency. If your efficiency is down, look first to the malt's crush and make sure it's fine enough (biggest factor). Second is rest time: If your primary rest is too short, it would affect conversion. Third is temperature. If your mash is much below 150 degrees Fahrenheit, you'll need extra time to convert. Fourth is absorption losses in grain and hops, particularly if you use whole hops - consider a hop sparge to reclaim some of that sugar. Fifth is "dead" loss - wort left under a false bottom or manifold. Consider as well your measurement, possible cause number six: If this is off, either in volume of liquids, weight of grain or temperatures, you'll see strange results. Salts are very low on the list of potential causes. This is why I advocate consistent process: We have one effect, decreased efficiency, and with a little brainstorming, eight potential causes. Look to anything that causes you to leave sugars in the kettle or fermenter first.
     

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