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Improving Efficiency

I have recently started all grain brewing. My first batch was a Chinook IPA. I didn’t check my efficieny but it only yielded about 3% alc. My second batch was a Belgian Dubbel had an OG of about 1.046. My third batch was a Peace Coffee 2nd Crack Stout that yeilded an OG of about 1.055, which I have calculated to be about 70% efficient. My mash temp seems to be right on target and it stays within a degree. I have done two mash outs and the last time I didn’t do one. Be patient there is a question in here. Should I increase the mash time? Does any one have any suggestions on increasing my efficiency?

Crush harder or double crush. That’s probably all there is to it.

+1. The double crush give me an average of 8 to 10% more than my pre-double crush average. That seems high, but that’s the way it has worked for me.

I don’t have a grain mill yet. When ordering my grains can I just ask them to double crush. I have to get my supplies from the Internet. The nearest brew shop is an hour away and the reviews are not the best.

I have a mill, so this is just what I’ve heard: I think Northern Brewer will double-crush grains if you ask nicely.

It is a tedious process, but you could try putting your crushed grains into a blender a cup at a time for a few seconds to get an even better crush. I used a blender for years before getting a grain mill and it works great.


Don’t mean to overtake the subject but can you crush too finely and obtain bad results? Just curious. I’m considering a mill purchase myself.

Yes, you can over crush your grains.

It may lead to a stuck sparge if you have too much flour in your grist. Set your gap until your crush looks good. (You’ll have to learn what a good crush looks like!)

Some say that it may also leach more astringency/tannins into your wort, however, tannin extraction is based more on the pH of your mash.

You can also use some rice hulls to aid in lautering if you happen to crush too fine.

I agree that milling finer tends to increase brewhouse efficiency. But I’m not sure you should worry a lot about improving it until you’ve measured well and calculated it as accurately as you can (you need accurate volume and gravity measurements) for several more brews. Only then can you know really what it is and whether its consistent from batch to batch. If you’ve got consistency, then decide if you care about efficiency.

If you use the BIAB method you can crush your grains very fine with no fear of a stuck sparge.

I bought a Barley Crusher recently and it improved my efficiency significantly.


I know it sounds a bit cheesy but there is a cheaper answer than a traditional grain grinder. Go buy a Latino grocery store (most common and cheapest source) or a flea market if you are as cheap as me. Get a Corona grain grinder. They run from 40-80 dollars. You will have to turn the crank by hand but it really isn’t bad. I run everything from 6 to 20 lbs of grain a batch through it. A low OG beer might take 5 min to grind and a powerful RIS say 10 min. I have crazy efficiencies and have had since I started using this thing (well past 100 batches). They are viewed with some disdain but really… they do the job, do it well and are not expensive (mine cost me 10.00 at the local flea market). It does not need to be bright and new either. you are going to boil the crap out of anything you put through it so the used concerns are not as powerful.


Gotta make sure you stir your mash really thoroughly at the start. Double milling and thorough stirring helped my efficiency quite a lot.

Another thought would be your water. If your water is very alkaline, those paler mashes are going to have trouble converting whereas that stout should convert better.

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