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Fixed the stuck sparges...now my efficiency sucks

[quote=“rebuiltcellars”]There is a clear inverse relationship between OG and mash efficiency. I’ve never plotted the curve, but I’ll typically get 70-75% with a really big beer (1.080+), around 78-82% with a normal beer of about 1.050, and at least 85% with very low gravity beers (<1.040). As far as I can tell, the only “fix” for that problem would be to sparge with more water and then boil longer, which is one traditional method of getting to higher gravities if you don’t mind the extra time.

As far as other factors that affect the mash, pH plays a minor role, mash thickness is a bit more important and decoction can give a significant boost, but crush has by far the biggest impact. You could try tightening up your mill again and condition your grain before milling it. If done properly (warning - there is a learning curve involved), that allows you to set the rollers very close, resulting in a very fine crush but still leaves intact, fluffy husks that will allow the mash to drain fully.[/quote]

Somehow I missed this post until now. Rebuilt is right on.

What is your real name anyway, rebuilt, if you don’t mind my asking? I like to know in case I ever bump into you or read articles by you someday. I’ll start. Hi, my name is Dave Taylor. Someday. I will be a beer writer but I just haven’t pulled the trigger yet. Still learning too much. :slight_smile:

Hrmm… something is awry with that brewers friend calculator…

Plugging your numbers into Kai’s equations

6.46369kg of grain
22.9254 liters of strike water
80% fine grind extract

FWmax = 100 * ((6.46369kg * 80%) / (22.9254 + (6.46369kg * 80%)))

FWmax = 18.4P *4 = ~1.0736SG point

Assuming the first runnings chart is correct you would have:

FWmeasured = 1.072
FWmax = 1.074

CE = 100 * (1.072 / 1.074) = 99.8% conversion efficiency.

Of course I can only extrapolate your numbers from the information you gave but it looks like you’re doing fine.

[quote=“Bitter”]Hrmm… something is awry with that brewers friend calculator…

Plugging your numbers into Kai’s equations

6.46369kg of grain
22.9254 liters of strike water
80% fine grind extract

FWmax = 100 * ((6.46369kg * 80%) / (22.9254 + (6.46369kg * 80%)))

FWmax = 18.4P *4 = ~1.0736SG point

Assuming the first runnings chart is correct you would have:

FWmeasured = 1.072
FWmax = 1.074

CE = 100 * (1.072 / 1.074) = 99.8% conversion efficiency.

Of course I can only extrapolate your numbers from the information you gave but it looks like you’re doing fine.[/quote]

How did you come up with the FWmeasured? The only thing I measured was my pre-boil after sparge which was 1.047

[quote=“mattnaik”][quote=“Bitter”]Hrmm… something is awry with that brewers friend calculator…

Plugging your numbers into Kai’s equations

6.46369kg of grain
22.9254 liters of strike water
80% fine grind extract

FWmax = 100 * ((6.46369kg * 80%) / (22.9254 + (6.46369kg * 80%)))

FWmax = 18.4P *4 = ~1.0736SG point

Assuming the first runnings chart is correct you would have:

FWmeasured = 1.072
FWmax = 1.074

CE = 100 * (1.072 / 1.074) = 99.8% conversion efficiency.

Of course I can only extrapolate your numbers from the information you gave but it looks like you’re doing fine.[/quote]

How did you come up with the FWmeasured? The only thing I measured was my pre-boil after sparge which was 1.047[/quote]

That’s what Kai’s chart is telling you. Posted earlier by someone else and also on his efficiency page.

From the subtitle of the chart:

“Table 1 - Extract content or gravity of the first wort based on the mash thickness.”

IOW - You plug your mash thickness into the chart and voila you have an estimate of first wort gravity. Read Kai’s write-up to understand more.

As mentioned previously it’s only an estimate and you really should measure but close enough for government work.

Yeah definitely going to start doing that going forward just to get closer to pinning down any issues.

Yeah definitely going to start doing that going forward just to get closer to pinning down any issues.[/quote]

Doesn’t look like you have any issues. Appears as if you’re doing everything correctly.

You’d really have to work at it to get a low conversion efficiency. Of course, being human, things happen and processes don’t always go as planned. Never hurts to measure.

More than you might think. Maybe 10% higher efficiency. My decoctions end up in the 90s for efficiency.[/quote]

So do my single infusions…

Oh yeah, mine too, but I’m actually trying to hit 80s and just can’t seem to not hit 90s especially with decoction.

Well I think I might know where I’m losing some efficiency. Using a water absorption rate by grain of 0.12 gallons per pound and 14.25lbs of grain in mash and 6 gallons of strike water I should be getting 4.3 gallons of runoff. I got about 3.3 gallons. So there appears to be about 1 gallon of deadspace in my mashtun. I’m using a coleman extreme 72qt cooler with a hose braid. Does this seem like an excessive amount of deadspace?

Yeah, it does. Using the same setup I leave no more than a cup behind, if that. Do you tilt the cooler at the end of run off? Does your braid lay flat on the floor of the cooler? If you use a ball valve, it can be difficult getting it to do that sometimes.

If you only left a few cups behind in your first post and now you left a gallon behind…

Truth be told, I’m on your side.

It seems your conversion efficiency is near perfect, your mash efficiency is great and your brewhouse efficiency is dead on.

Ohhhhh I see, you’re looking for an excuse to build one of those big electric systems… :wink:

Not sure what you mean about brewhouse efficiency being dead on? dead on what? I’m getting 61%. According to both brewersfriend.com and Beersmith2. My point is I don’t think 70% brewhouse efficiency is an unreasonable goal for my system.

As far as my original post saying I only left a few cups that was determined by eyeballing it. The second post was based off math. It certainly didn’t look like a gallon left over but the math shows otherwise. Maybe I have some super-absorbant grain.

Well Matt, perhaps you didn’t appreciated my sarcasm.

The truth of the matter is that without knowing all of your numbers and process nuances from the beginning to the end, all anyone can do is speculate.

Makes for great conversation on the internet.

Unless you start to take the time to record everything, all numbers and nuances, such that it can be reported and reviewed concisely and succinctly - it’ll be difficult to narrow down.

Do you have an appropriate brewing record book with itemized fields?

Try it on your next brew, you’d be amazed at what you’ll find.

Perhaps you missed the intent of my post. The reason I posted in the first place was to ask for people to help speculate reasons. There are plenty of people more experienced than me (you seem to be one of them) so I was hoping that someone could give me some ideas or ask the right questions so I could figure this out.

[quote=“Bitter”]Do you have an appropriate brewing record book with itemized fields?

Try it on your next brew, you’d be amazed at what you’ll find.[/quote]

I track as much info as I can (or remember to) in Beersmith. Is there a specific piece of information you think will help? One piece I will definitely record next time is the first runnings gravity.

FWIW, MAtt, I’ve found it very useful to use a spiral notebook to take notes in conjunction with my software. it’s easier for me to record things that the software may not have a place for.

More than you might think. Maybe 10% higher efficiency. My decoctions end up in the 90s for efficiency.[/quote]

So do my single infusions…[/quote]
I don’t understand what you’re doing that no one else is doing (or that I’m not doing for that matter)… I’m usually around 75-80%, I don’t know how I could possibly bump it up. With good water chemistry, a good crush, and 90 minute mashes…something has to be missing. The difference of a pH5.2 and 5.5 can’t make that big of a difference in efficiency can it? I always assume that Bru’n water gets me into that range somewhere… even if I had a pH meter and hit 5.3 dead on, I somehow doubt it’d automagically boost my efficiency up to 90%.

Yes, in addition to all of the specific measurements, you’ll need to record all of the nuances or happenstances that you observe.

  • Scooping grain out of mash tun, discovered unwetted grain
  • Forgot to add yeast nutrient after boil
  • Hops absorbed 5 gallons of wort instead of 2 oz.
  • Boiled for 13 hours instead of 1 due to getting struck by lightning
  • Add hops 2 minutes late

Then you need to record what you will to fix those items:

  • Stir mash with beater on high for 10 minutes solid
  • Set yeast nutrient bottle closer to boil
  • Don’t use the funny green ones
  • Open boil in neighbors fire-pit during thunderstorm isn’t a good idea
  • Add hops on time

Yes, in addition to all of the specific measurements, you’ll need to record all of the nuances or happenstances that you observe.

  • Scooping grain out of mash tun, discovered unwetted grain
  • Forgot to add yeast nutrient after boil
  • Hops absorbed 5 gallons of wort instead of 2 oz.
  • Boiled for 13 hours instead of 1 due to getting struck by lightning
  • Add hops 2 minutes late

Then you need to record what you will to fix those items:

  • Stir mash with beater on high for 10 minutes solid
  • Set yeast nutrient bottle closer to boil
  • Don’t use the funny green ones
  • Open boil in neighbors fire-pit during thunderstorm isn’t a good idea
  • Add hops on time[/quote]

Let’s try again. Is there any piece of information I haven’t provided that you would need if you had this same problem (low efficiency) and wanted to solve it. I only brewed a couple days ago so chances are pretty good I would remember.

I would need an accurate, complete and succinct summary of all brewing equipment, measurements taken and nuances of the brew day. I know you’re looking for a precise answer but I can’t give you one simply because I would need the bigger picture and then perhaps question some inane minute detail of each step.

If you really left a gallon of liquid in your mash tun - simply tilt your mash tun to get it out! Seems to work for me, but I have the red model. :wink:

I couldn’t find any mention of using rice hulls and a fine crush. Have you tried that?

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