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LHBS worst crush ever, now what?

I purchased grain from a home brew shop in St.Louis for the 1st time last weekend. They had a 2 roller monster mill with an attached 1/2" drill for customer use. So I crushed 15# of light Munich and 5# of US Pils. I have a Octoberfest that is already overdue coming off the yeast cake and wanted to make a Dopplebock using that yeast. Well the crush I got was not good at all. Most grains were broken into 2 or 3 pieces and about 30% were still whole.

The back story is that I was visiting St. Lou to see my dad in the hospital and stopped by the LHBS on the way because it was only a few minutes from the hospital. I live about 200 miles away. Well, I my haste to get to the hospital, I didn’t even look at the crush. I brewed this morning because I had the morning off from work. When I checked the grain this morning I was very surprised with the poor crush. I knew I was going to get very poor extraction but I only have today to brew for the next few weeks. I brewed anyway but now my dopplebock is only a bock. I used 19# of grain and only got a FG of 1.053 after a 90 minute boil. Very disappointing.

My question, does the drill speed (RPM’s) make a significant difference in the crush? Did I run the drill too fast and get a poor crush. Is 2 row Munich smaller than standard 2 row. Or was the mill gap set incorrectly? So I need some advice, should I contact the LHBS? If so, what do I expect them to do about this?

i’ve heard most shops run their mills loose, so beginners don’t get stuck mashes or whatever the reasons. i doubt speed had alot to do with it. i think optimum speed is around 200 rpm. depends on the shop but they probably won’t do anything, don’t hurt to ask tho.

The mill setting may not have been optimum for you, but it may have been for the next guy, or the previous. I think it’s our responsibility to verify the crush when using a brew-shops mill. They may not have even known it was set wide if the guy before you opened it up.

I know this can vary depending on your system and how fine your false bottom is but what is a good setting for the grinder? Our efficiency is a bit low and am wondering if the grind isn’t fine enough. Would it help to run it through twice just to make sure you get a good crush?

Just curious

[quote=“cam0083”]I know this can vary depending on your system and how fine your false bottom is but what is a good setting for the grinder? Our efficiency is a bit low and am wondering if the grind isn’t fine enough. Would it help to run it through twice just to make sure you get a good crush?

Just curious[/quote]

I’m no expert by any means, since my experience is limited to the NB mill in ST. Paul, and my Barley Crusher set to factory settings. I’ve never adjusted either and I average 70-80 percent. I have heard many comments about double milling helping. I believe the factory setting on the Barley Crusher is .039.

I don’t think the drill speed has anything to do with it. However, LHBS’s are notorious for setting the gap too wide. There are two main reasons from what I can tell. If they can get you used to a lower efficiency, then they’ll sell more malt. And it also prevents against complaints of stuck mashes if they do an extra crappy job milling for you. So there’s no incentive for them at all to narrow the gap setting.

Easy way around this (well I guess there’s three options): Run your grains through twice or even three times. Or, buy your own mill. Or, do like I used to do and use your regular ordinary household blender. It works. Search the forum for dmtaylo2 and blender and you’ll find the instructions.

[quote=“cam0083”]I know this can vary depending on your system and how fine your false bottom is but what is a good setting for the grinder?[/quote]Depends on your system and your grist, you have to figure out what works for you. Best bet is to use a known good recipe and then tighten the gap a little, see if you get good results and keep repeating until you get the efficiency you want or you get a stuck sparge and have to back off a little.

Was it StL Wine and Beer? I’m sure they’d have let you adjust the crusher. Malt kernel sizes do vary a lot, you have to be prepared to adjust gap unless it is already set really narrow.

With a coarse crush I think you could still get a decent efficiency if you mash a long time and stir a lot. Those big chunks have to have time to hydrate and get exposed to the enzymes in the liquid.

A quick decoction and/or a second rest up near 160°F could help get into those big chunks, too.

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