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Efficiency Question

I tried a slight change to my typical brewing routine yesterday. At the end of the mash (basic infusion) rather than vourlaf into a container and pour the contents back into the cooler, I ran the wort into a pump and recirculated that way for a minute or so. This made for a much clearer wort, which was the goal, but I also noticed a small bump in efficiency from 70% or so to about 80%.

Is there any reason this would have occurred as a result of the change in vourlaf technique, or was it more likely due to some other variable?

Most likely due to some other factor (some are of greater significance than others):

1.) Better crush
2.) Slightly higher qts/lb ratio
3.) Correct water treatment
4.) Decoction mash
5.) More sparging/runoff
6.) Longer mash
7.) Proper mash temperatures
etc…

I’ve never ran an experiment and it’s probably highly unlikely but recirculation may help to dissolve a point or two more sugars simply because of the constant mechanical flow of the fluid.

Though I would compare it to trying to dissolve more sugar by stirring more often; which probably doesn’t help either.

It certainly wasn’t a decoction…

I did use a higher water to grain ratio, though; that’s a good point.

[quote=“PupThePup”]Most likely due to some other factor (some are of greater significance than others):

1.) Better crush
2.) Slightly higher qts/lb ratio
3.) Correct water treatment
4.) Decoction mash
5.) More sparging/runoff
6.) Longer mash
7.) Proper mash temperatures
etc…

I’ve never ran an experiment and it’s probably highly unlikely but recirculation may help to dissolve a point or two more sugars simply because of the constant mechanical flow of the fluid.

Though I would compare it to trying to dissolve more sugar by stirring more often; which probably doesn’t help either.[/quote]

It could be one of those but I think I read somewhere about the shearing force the pump has on the grain that it can bump efficiency… I will try to find it, but I could be dead wrong.

Unless you’ve brewed exactly the same recipe with the same grains before, you can’t really point to the pump as the factor. I recently did exactly what you did and I haven’t noticed any increase in efficiency at all.

A mashout step can sometimes give an ever so slight boost to efficiency.

I don’t typically do a mash out step. I batch sparge with water at 170 degrees or so and runoff right to the kettle.

Denny, did you notice a clearer wort when you tried this? Did you notice any actual benefits to taste, or is it just for aesthetics?

[quote=“gprix”]I don’t typically do a mash out step. I batch sparge with water at 170 degrees or so and runoff right to the kettle.

Denny, did you notice a clearer wort when you tried this? Did you notice any actual benefits to taste, or is it just for aesthetics?[/quote]

Yes, the wort was clearer. It also confirmed my belief that clearer wort doesn’t make better or clearer beer. You just have clearer wort. Other than that, I saw no benefit. The only reason I do it at all is that I had the pumped hooked up already to pump to the kettle.

I bet it was the water ratio - I got a spike in efficiency when I used closer to 1.75 to 1.80 quarts per pound from below 1.50 previously with the same recipe, malts, etc…

Same here.

Have you found any changes in the mouth feel of the beer by using a thinner mash?

I’ve read that a thicker mash would result in a more dexterous beer. I know that temperature probably plays a far larger role, but is there any sort of a noticeable difference between thickness of the mash at the same temperature?

Have you found any changes in the mouth feel of the beer by using a thinner mash?

I’ve read that a thicker mash would result in a more dexterous beer. I know that temperature probably plays a far larger role, but is there any sort of a noticeable difference between thickness of the mash at the same temperature?

[quote=“gprix”]Have you found any changes in the mouth feel of the beer by using a thinner mash?

I’ve read that a thicker mash would result in a more dexterous beer. I know that temperature probably plays a far larger role, but is there any sort of a noticeable difference between thickness of the mash at the same temperature?[/quote]

None whatsoever IME.

So if I am having general efficiency problems, what I gathered is that I can use more water initially.

Could I then increase boil time (from 60 up to 90mins. say) to get a higher OG?

If my hop schedule is set for a 60 min boil, could I just start after 30mins to attain the same hop profiles?

[quote=“Gitster”]So if I am having general efficiency problems, what I gathered is that I can use more water initially.

Could I then increase boil time (from 60 up to 90mins. say) to get a higher OG?

If my hop schedule is set for a 60 min boil, could I just start after 30mins to attain the same hop profiles?[/quote]

1.) yes, but a finer crush will make a LOT more difference.
2.) you could if you end up with more total preboil volume
3.) yep

[quote=“Denny”]
1.) yes, but a finer crush will make a LOT more difference.
2.) you could if you end up with more total preboil volume
3.) yep[/quote]

Thanks. I remember reading that a longer mash time could yield a lower FG, could a longer mash increase OG as well?

[quote=“Gitster”][quote=“Denny”]
1.) yes, but a finer crush will make a LOT more difference.
2.) you could if you end up with more total preboil volume
3.) yep[/quote]

Thanks. I remember reading that a longer mash time could yield a lower FG, could a longer mash increase OG as well?[/quote]

Only if conversion wasn’t complete at 60 min. That’s unlikely unless you screw something up, but possible. You can check conversion efficiency with the chart here…http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?ti … Efficiency

But really, the first thing you should look at is the crush.

Gotcha, I will probably invest in a good mill eventually, but its not something I have access to right now. I am at the mercy of my LHBS or NB. (I usually have a brewer friend pick up my supplies for me.)

I need to work on my sparging technique as well. My first two batches, the heat from the hot water swelled the high temp tubing to my false bottom, and it became disconnected. I have since used a hose clamp. There was no way to tell until I dumped all the spent grains. I have also tunneled into the grains batch sparging.

I need a gentler hand.

[quote=“Gitster”]Gotcha, I will probably invest in a good mill eventually, but its not something I have access to right now. I am at the mercy of my LHBS or NB. (I usually have a brewer friend pick up my supplies for me.)

I need to work on my sparging technique as well. My first two batches, the heat from the hot water swelled the high temp tubing to my false bottom, and it became disconnected. I have since used a hose clamp. There was no way to tell until I dumped all the spent grains. I have also tunneled into the grains batch sparging.

I need a gentler hand.[/quote]

Tunneling into the grains on a batch sparge doesn’t matter. It happens to me on nearly every brew and I still average 83% efficiency. Ask your LHBS to run the grain through the mill twice and see if that helps.

If you haven’t already done so, read about Denny’s brewing system at dennybrew.com. John Palmer’s “How to Brew” is also excellent. An early edition is on-line; google how to brew.

I use a pump to recirculate because I’m lazy; it’s easier than running off into a pitcher to clear the wort every time I stir the mash. It also lets me run the wort through a heat exchanger (stainless tubing coil submerged in an electrically heated, thermostatically controlled water bath) so I don’t have to mess with infusion water - I sprained a brain cell once trying to do infusion temperature calculations.

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