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Cooler System Efficiency

I have been brewing the same beer now several times trying to get my system and technique dialed in but can’t seem to get the efficiency I want out of my system, Beersmith is measuring it at 52%. The last batch I did we were meticulous about all of our steps and temperatures. We increased hot liqueur temperature from 168F to 170F and made sure to do a good long sparge (we are fly spargeing). Gravity about 3/4 of the way through the sparge was 1.066, target preboil was 1.047, and ended up with a preboil of 1.034. I can’t figure out what is going wrong and how the gravity could drop so low so quickly. The one thing I did note was that the mash temp after the 1hr rest was down to 144F (strike temp was 162F and it was exactly 152F when the lid went on. I’ve never taken the temp after the rest. The end result was a OG of 1.042, the estimated OG was 1.057.

Any thoughts on what I’m missing here?

How does your crush look? A lot of times poor eff is from a poor crush.

as far as crush go’s I had the same problem. my mash eff was at 51% and next time I ran my grain thought the mill twice then the eff went to 63%. still not the best eff but a lot better then 51%.

Crush is the #1 effector of efficiency. It could also be a poor lauter design. Try batch sparging a batch. If your efficiency goes up, you know the problem is with lauter design.

[quote=“bitty1088”]I have been brewing the same beer now several times trying to get my system and technique dialed in but can’t seem to get the efficiency I want out of my system, Beersmith is measuring it at 52%. The last batch I did we were meticulous about all of our steps and temperatures. We increased hot liqueur temperature from 168F to 170F and made sure to do a good long sparge (we are fly spargeing). Gravity about 3/4 of the way through the sparge was 1.066, target preboil was 1.047, and ended up with a preboil of 1.034. I can’t figure out what is going wrong and how the gravity could drop so low so quickly. The one thing I did note was that the mash temp after the 1hr rest was down to 144F (strike temp was 162F and it was exactly 152F when the lid went on. I’ve never taken the temp after the rest. The end result was a OG of 1.042, the estimated OG was 1.057.

Any thoughts on what I’m missing here?[/quote]

I don’t think this will explain what’s going on, but your numbers look a little odd if I understand them correctly.

If you had SG of 1.066 3/4 of the way through the sparge, it implies that your SG prior to that point was lower than 1.066 (substantially lower, it would seem), otherwise you could never have ended up at 1.034 when you reached the 100% mark.

If I’ve got that right, I think you should start looking for sources of error in your measurements–volumes, SG’s, temperature correction…something seems off.

[quote=“bitty1088”]I have been brewing the same beer now several times trying to get my system and technique dialed in but can’t seem to get the efficiency I want out of my system, Beersmith is measuring it at 52%. The last batch I did we were meticulous about all of our steps and temperatures. We increased hot liqueur temperature from 168F to 170F and made sure to do a good long sparge (we are fly spargeing). Gravity about 3/4 of the way through the sparge was 1.066, target preboil was 1.047, and ended up with a preboil of 1.034. I can’t figure out what is going wrong and how the gravity could drop so low so quickly. The one thing I did note was that the mash temp after the 1hr rest was down to 144F (strike temp was 162F and it was exactly 152F when the lid went on. I’ve never taken the temp after the rest. The end result was a OG of 1.042, the estimated OG was 1.057.

Any thoughts on what I’m missing here?[/quote]

Are you preheating your cooler? You lost 8 degrees during you mash, if it happened soon into the mash that might affect your efficiency. Also what target efficiency was the recipe based off? And a simple one are you sure are you volume markings are calibrated? I’d also try batch sparging a batch as Denny said to rule out your system being the problem.

By the way, another possible contributing factor could be mash pH. Do you know the details of your water chemistry? Also, what’s the recipe you’'re trying to dial in (in particular what color/SRM are you shooting for)?

[quote]
I don’t think this will explain what’s going on, but your numbers look a little odd if I understand them correctly.

If you had SG of 1.066 3/4 of the way through the sparge, it implies that your SG prior to that point was lower than 1.066 (substantially lower, it would seem), otherwise you could never have ended up at 1.034 when you reached the 100% mark.

If I’ve got that right, I think you should start looking for sources of error in your measurements–volumes, SG’s, temperature correction…something seems off.[/quote]
+1 Make sure all your measurements are correct, volumes, temps, readings. Also make sure your hydrometer reading is adjusted for the temperature of your sample.

I’d be more inclined to think it was a fly sparging issue, with channeling causing you not to rinse the entire mash. Take Denny’s advice and try a batch sparge.

You can also test the specific gravity of your mash prior to running off, that’ll tell you if you have a conversion issue. If the sugar is there but not getting into your kettle, its a sparge problem.

+1. I immediately go to grain crush when I hear anything about low efficiency. When I was getting my grain crushed other places (LBHS’s, friends mills, etc) I could get anything from 60-80% efficiency. Now I have my own mill, run a tight gap (BIAB allows this) and I can routinely hit between 75-85% depending an the amount of grain.

My efficiency went from 72 to 88 with the purchase of a Monster Mill 3. I opted to hand crank the grains to put more sweat equity in the beer. Labor of love. :cheers:

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