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Improve efficiency

I’m a new AG brewer, 6 batches now. I understand that some experienced brewers would suggest not worrying about improving efficiency, but rather keep it consistent. But I just want to improve it a little!

I brewed an IPA two days ago, mashed 14.313 lbs of grain in 4.5 gal water at 1.25qt/lb at 147F. Stepped up to 155F with .75 gallons water for 15 minutes, then raised temp (sort of like a mash out) to 158F with .5 gallon water, now 1.6qt/lb. Vorlaufed and drained, collected 3.8 gallons wort, took hydrometer sample once it cooled and it was 1.073 then added sparge 3.8 gallons water at 169F, stirred, waited 1 minute, then vorlaufed and drained again. Pre boil gravity 1.051 in 7.7 gallons wort, 75% efficiency.
After the boil, I had 5.1 gallons wort in carboy at 1.066, so 65% efficiency. I strained some of the trub/hop debris, but there was more liquid in there, just hard to get at. It had 7.5 oz hops in boil.

So my main question is, who has suggestions for straining that hop debris to get more wort into the fermenter? Or, should I focus on improving efficiency pre-boil?

Crushing your own grain or having the store do it?

Crush until you are scarred.

I crush my own grain with a Barley Crusher. I get some flour, most grains are broken with husks fairly intact. .036" gap. I will adjust the mill slightly for my next brew. Thanks! I must be missing something else though for better efficiency…

I was wondering about two sparges versus just one? I figured at 1.25qt/lb at 147F for 60 minutes I would’ve extracted a lot of sugars. I just want my “to the fermenter” efficiency to be at least 70%, not 65%.

You could always sparge 7 or 8 gallons and boil down to what you want. Would take longer, but it’s an idea. I sometimes setup a fan near the top of the kettle to increase evaporation rates. Did a RIS stout several months ago and sparged 18 gallons for a 11.5-12 gallon batch. You could also increase your grain to water ratio to 1/5 qts per lb. This ratio typically doesn’t require a mashout.

*1.5 quarts of water per pound of grain.

Hmmm. Not sure I understand the value in that. You’re not really getting improved efficiency if you have to use more water. You might as well just use a few more ounces of grain, because if you boil longer you’re going to pay for the extra propane used and take more time.

To the OP, check out this podcast from John Palmer and Jamil. Some solid advice from guys who really know their stuff. I tend to trust them over some stranger on the internet (no offense to the rest of you…I’m a stranger on the Internet too). :wink:

http://thebrewingnetwork.com/shows/564

One of the things that I picked up from the podcast is: ensure that when you are draining your first runnings, you get as much wort out as you can before adding your sparge water.

Some of my thoughts based on my experience (as a stranger on the internet):

+1 to 1.5+ quarts per pound

+1 to a good crush, but it sounds like you’re already OK here

Make sure that you are accounting for factors like deadspace in your MLT when you are calculating how much water to use

I misunderstood the question. To improve your efficiency look at grain crush as mentioned, and really make sure your thermometer is calibrated correctly. I know some would disagree, but I sometimes add up to 10% sugar too. Once you fine tune your mashing process, things may get better for you.

So the gravity of my 1st runnings was 1.073 for 3.8 gallons. that is 53% eff?
11.5 lbs 2 row
2 lbs Light Munich
10 oz Carapils
3 oz Carastan
combined gravity of 1st and 2nd runnings (total preboil) 1.051 for 7.7 gallons, 75% eff.
and gravity to the fermenter was 1.066 for 5.1 gallons, about 65% eff.
Which stage(s) (mash, sparge, transfer from BK to fermenter) might be the problem(s)?
I will listen to that show tonight, thanks for the link.

If you’re “fermenter efficiency” is lower than your pre-boil, you’re losing wort somewhere (all the sugar is in the kettle, so these should be the same).

[quote=“Nighthawk”]Crushing your own grain or having the store do it?

Crush until you are scarred.[/quote]

That would be “scared”, not “scarred”. We don’t want anybody gettin’ hurt! :cheers:

[quote=“jonesbrewer”]I crush my own grain with a Barley Crusher. I get some flour, most grains are broken with husks fairly intact. .036" gap. I will adjust the mill slightly for my next brew. Thanks! I must be missing something else though for better efficiency…

I was wondering about two sparges versus just one? I figured at 1.25qt/lb at 147F for 60 minutes I would’ve extracted a lot of sugars. I just want my “to the fermenter” efficiency to be at least 70%, not 65%.[/quote]

I found that as long as I could get all the sparge water in the tun at once, multiple sparges got me so little gain in efficiency that it wasn’t worth the effort.

[quote=“jonesbrewer”]So the gravity of my 1st runnings was 1.073 for 3.8 gallons. that is 53% eff?
11.5 lbs 2 row
2 lbs Light Munich
10 oz Carapils
3 oz Carastan
combined gravity of 1st and 2nd runnings (total preboil) 1.051 for 7.7 gallons, 75% eff.
and gravity to the fermenter was 1.066 for 5.1 gallons, about 65% eff.
Which stage(s) (mash, sparge, transfer from BK to fermenter) might be the problem(s)?
I will listen to that show tonight, thanks for the link.[/quote]

According to Kai’s chart (http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?ti … Efficiency), you only got about 76% conversion efficiency. That’s a big problem. With that low conversion efficiency, there’s almost no way to make up gravity points down the line. To me, it points to either crush or water. The fact that your efficiency after lautering is so close to that means that you’re getting pretty close to 100% lauter efficiency.

[quote=“jonesbrewer”] Pre boil gravity 1.051 in 7.7 gallons wort, 75% efficiency.

After the boil, I had 5.1 gallons wort in carboy at 1.066, so 65% efficiency.[/quote]

I don’t think the efficiency can change just because you boil. Doesn’t efficiency have to do with how much sugar you get out of the amount grain throughout the entire process? The dilution of it does not affect efficiency?

[quote=“Denny”][quote=“Nighthawk”]Crushing your own grain or having the store do it?

Crush until you are scarred.[/quote]

That would be “scared”, not “scarred”. We don’t want anybody gettin’ hurt! :cheers: [/quote]

Yes, please keep your fingers out of the crusher. :oops:

[quote=“560sdl”][quote=“jonesbrewer”] Pre boil gravity 1.051 in 7.7 gallons wort, 75% efficiency.

After the boil, I had 5.1 gallons wort in carboy at 1.066, so 65% efficiency.[/quote]

I don’t think the efficiency can change just because you boil. Doesn’t efficiency have to do with how much sugar you get out of the amount grain throughout the entire process? The dilution of it does not affect efficiency?[/quote]

If he lost volume to hops or kettle dead space, it could alter his efficiency.

[quote=“Denny”]If he lost volume to hops or kettle dead space, it could alter his efficiency.[/quote]That’s what I was hinting at in an earlier post. :wink:

well, thanks for all the replies. yes, I know I left some sugars behind in the kettle, so I may look at ways to strain it.

I have never checked the pH or anything of my water. I’m actually moving in a month and a half, and probably won’t be brewing until I am in the new house in northern California. I will have to get a water report, and I will look into ways to measure/alter mash pH.

I will also decrease the gap on my barley crusher a little. I just got feeler gauges. When using these, do I insert the gauge with my intended gap setting, tighten the roller until it touches, then back the adjustment knob off slightly to get the gauge out? or do I need to make a mark on the knob once the roller contacts the feeler gauge, then loosen it to remove gauge, then readjust back to the mark?
thanks again everybody

Forget the guages. It doesn’t matter what the gap measures. You’re making grist, not gaps. Just start closing down the gap and see what happens. If you get a stuck run off (which I doubt you will), jus open it back up a bit.

I wouldn’t forget the feeler gauge entirely. Do as Denny says and experiment until you have the right crush. When you are happy with the results of your crush, check the gap with the feeler gauge and record the setting so you can easily reset it if it wanders or if for some reason you have change it temporarily.

[quote=“jonesbrewer”]

I will also decrease the gap on my barley crusher a little. I just got feeler gauges. When using these, do I insert the gauge with my intended gap setting, tighten the roller until it touches, then back the adjustment knob off slightly to get the gauge out? or do I need to make a mark on the knob once the roller contacts the feeler gauge, then loosen it to remove gauge, then readjust back to the mark?
thanks again everybody[/quote]

Make your adjustments, then check with your feeler gauges…You should feel a SLIGHT drag when checking your clearances.
Don’t adjust the rollers to the feeler blades.

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