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Brewday efficiency woes

Hey all,

I wanted to post a log of my last brew this weekend, and get some advice as to why my efficiency was really poor.

I did the NB Big Honkin’ Stout. Here’s what happened:

  • double crushed the grain at my LHBS, since i felt like the previous run was a little thin.

  • dumped the grain into the mash tun (5gal cooler)

  • added my strike water at 163 (ish), so that it filled the cooler. Pretty sure i didn’t reach my qts per lb grain ratio, though, as the bill has me at 13.75 lbs, which filled much of the cooler.

  • let sit for 60 minutes, then drained the tun (i did not do a vorlauf, as i perhaps should have).

  • i ended up with about 3gal wort at this point, so i added another 3gal of hot water (again, at about 163f (ish)) to the tun, and let sit for 20 minutes.

  • drained that and then sparged once through the tun, leaving with a little over 6gal in the kettle.

  • boil as normal, got it down to just over 5gal as expected.

My OG ended up at 1.054, and beersmith reports my efficiency as 55.8%.

what did i do wrong? :frowning:

thanks

Did you mix the grain thoroughly? You just said that you added the water…

Often the grain will ball up - like flour when making gravy. If you don’t thoroughly mix the grain, and break up any lumps of grain - there can actually be dry spots that never get wet.

Also - If it was really thick, and you were trying to put too much in too small of a mash tun, that could cause some problems.

Another thought - If your strike water was 163, and you added it to a cooler that was room temperature, and it was full(more than normal) of room temperature grain - you could have had a low mash temp. Did you take a mash temp after mixing in?

When I used to use coolers, I would fill it with hot water for 15 minutes or so before I got going - this helped bring it up to temp, so that less heat would be lost when I added strike water.

Those would be some things that occur to me based on your description.

Thanks braufessor. I didn’t mix it, which could definitely be a worry. I was actually using a siphon hose to add the strike water - sort of like if you were to water a plant, you wouldn’t want to dump the water on but sprinkle it. this may also have contributed to a higher than expected temp dropoff.

I’ll try stirring more and keeping a better eye on the internal temp.

Not mixing and low temps would be two likely problems. You probably lost a lot of heat putting the strike water in that way. And, if you did not stir, you definitely had spots of the mash that did not get converted well.

The process I used in the past with cooler mashtun is as follows:

*Warm up cooler with Hot water to decrease heat loss.
*Empty.
*Add the strike water to the cooler first - before the grain.
*Add crushed grain to cooler, stirring every couple pounds to make sure it is not clumping.
*Continue til it is all added, and mixed thoroughly.
*Put temp probe in (I used a digital one with the long rubber coated wire and temp. probe - like you would use for BBQ/monitoring internal temp of a roast)
*Put lid on.
*Make sure it settles in at my desired mash temp.
*If not, I would always have about a gallon of water boiling on the stove to increase temp. and a pitcher of water in refridge to lower if needed. Have the hot/cold water ready in advance, just in case.
*Add about a cup or two of hot or cold water and stir it in, continue until the temp settles where I wanted it.

[quote=“Braufessor”]

The process I used in the past with cooler mashtun is as follows:

*Warm up cooler with Hot water to decrease heat loss.
*Empty.
*Add the strike water to the cooler first - before the grain.
*Add crushed grain to cooler, stirring every couple pounds to make sure it is not clumping.
*Continue til it is all added, and mixed thoroughly.
*Put temp probe in (I used a digital one with the long rubber coated wire and temp. probe - like you would use for BBQ/monitoring internal temp of a roast)
*Put lid on.
*Make sure it settles in at my desired mash temp.
*If not, I would always have about a gallon of water boiling on the stove to increase temp. and a pitcher of water in refridge to lower if needed. Have the hot/cold water ready in advance, just in case.
*Add about a cup or two of hot or cold water and stir it in, continue until the temp settles where I wanted it.[/quote]

This is almost my exact method as well. After conversion (60-75min) I will run off my first runnings slowly at first then full throttle. Double batch sparge to reach my boil volume. SO if i collect 3 gallons from 1st runnings i’ll sparge with 2 equal parts of 1.75 gal to reach 6.5 gal preboil. YMMV tho depending on boil off rate, etc. I’ve found 1.5-1.7 qt/lb works well for me when doughing in as well. Since doing the double sparge and thinner mash i’ve bumped my eff. from about 65% to 73%+ consistently.

In addition to what’s been said, my efficiency drops off as I max out my cooler. When I do a big beer, I count on 65% and have extract on hand if I need to bump things up. It’s well worth taking a pre-boil gravity reading to know where you are so you can adjust as needed.

+1

+1 to the other posters. Add grain to water, not water to grain. And be sure to stir thoroughly for 60 seconds.

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