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Mash Efficiency Question

Ok new to All grain with about 5a batches under the belt. I use brew smith as the software and do 5still gallon batches. My question deals with efficiency. I am averaging 61% and I am getting frustrated. Beers tastet great but I want better efficiency. My MT is a rectangle Coleman 50qt. My temps have been spot on only loosing upto 1degree over 60 min. I am batch sparging and know that lessens efficiency. The only thing can think of is the ph which I haven’t checked because I don’t have a ph meter. I k ow ph is important but from what I have read it seems that ph doesn’t influence efficiency as much as temp does. Only other thing I can think of is the mill at my HBS maybe it isn’t milling good enough.

Any thoughts and help would be very welcome.

For me getting my own mill and a pH meter made dramatic changes to efficiency. I saw the biggest jump with the mill. Probably more important is that you get that same efficiency all the time so you can build recipes around it. I like the bump up in efficiency but I like more that I know I pretty much get 80% all the time.

:cheers:

There are lots of variables, but the very first thing to check is always the crush. If you’re not sure if the grain is milled finely enough, run it through twice. Your efficiency can jump by 10 or more points from that alone.

The other big thing is volume measurements. If you are trying to make 5 gallons but actually end up with 6 gallons after the boil, it will screw up all your efficiency calculations. In fact, the only way you can ensure accurate efficiency data is to hit all of your pre-boil and post-boil volumes spot-on exactly right. Otherwise it’s like measuring the length of a boat in cubits – good luck with that.

pH is the very last thing I would worry about. Make sure you have everything else in order first. Consider the two things above first if you haven’t already, and then let us know where you’re at.

By the way… high efficiencies are totally possible with batch sparging. I can hit 90s no problem, and so can our friend Denny Conn. I say nay right back to the naysayers.

[quote=“dmtaylo2”]There are lots of variables, but the very first thing to check is always the crush. If you’re not sure if the grain is milled finely enough, run it through twice. Your efficiency can jump by 10 or more points from that alone.

The other big thing is volume measurements. If you are trying to make 5 gallons but actually end up with 6 gallons after the boil, it will screw up all your efficiency calculations. In fact, the only way you can ensure accurate efficiency data is to hit all of your pre-boil and post-boil volumes spot-on exactly right. Otherwise it’s like measuring the length of a boat in cubits – good luck with that…[/quote]

Thanks guys!

gallons might be off by maybe 2 qt at the most. I have my fermenter marked and it hits 5 gallon mark with nothing but trub and the 2qts or so in the kettle. I will double check the crush…what is the proper setting for the mill? When I check my HBS mill I would like to know the best setting to have. Plus I will look in to getting my own mill to fine tune. :cheers:

If you can crush it yourself, you want to see every kernel cracked open, loose husks, and little kernels of grain. If you have to let them crush it for you, tell them “crush it twice and I don’t mind a little flour”, and that ought to get you a pretty good grist.

Efficiency is important, but great beer, on a consistent basis, is my goal. I’m happy with 65% efficiency no-sparging a big beer because I like the results.

I use a Coleman Extreme cooler with a bazooka and get about 60% with 10 gallon batches. I think it is related to volume errors because I don’t have an easy way to measure the wort that goes into the fermenters. To be honest, I am not sure if I should be measuring the wort in the fermenters or the wort in the keggle post boil. My crush looks good to me. I use a barleycrusher at 38 thousandths.

So I just adjust my spreadsheet and use more malt.

Def will be telling them to crush twice… at least till I can get my own mill. May just give it a double crush shot this weekend…the hard question is what to brew (always the toughest decision IMO :slight_smile: ).
Thanks Fellas!! :cheers:

I’ve got to ask if temperature plays a part.

If you mash at 152, 153 and up, aren’t you denaturing some of your enzymes used for conversion and causing your efficiency to drop?

Would it be better to start 147-149 for 30 minutes and either remain there or then bump it up for higher efficency?

[quote=“Waszup”]I’ve got to ask if temperature plays a part.

If you mash at 152, 153 and up, aren’t you denaturing some of your enzymes used for conversion and causing your efficiency to drop?

Would it be better to start 147-149 for 30 minutes and either remain there or then bump it up for higher efficency?[/quote]

I should clarify that earlier I stated I lost up to 1 degree…that doesn’t happen all the Time in fact. The last three time I only had a .5 degree loss. I believe that amount could be a factor, given the circumstances is minor at best. Now a five plus degree swing now that a different story.

In my experience, any mash temperature from like 147 to 154 F (or even more? I don’t mash hotter) is just fine and doesn’t affect efficiency much if at all. Maybe a point here and there, but nothing to be concerned about. Control of mash temperature is much more important for controlling fermentability than it would ever be a concern for efficiency.

How much does the temp affect the ferment? High, low…more, less fermentability?

The short answer is a lower mash temperature will give you a more fermentable wort and a higher temperature will give you a less fermentable wort.

+1. The way I think about it is if I want a higher final gravity, then I need a higher mash temperature. And vice-versa, lower FG <–> lower mash temp.

On the other hand, I don’t find a whole lot of detectable difference in final gravity between two batches mashed at 148 F versus 151 F (for example). It takes at least a good 3 or 4 degrees F to really make a discernable difference. For that reason, I usually shoot for about 150 F but don’t care too much if I hit 148 F or 152 F – it’s not going to be that big of a deal unless I’m way off and get up to like 154 F or down to 146 F. In other words, hit your desired mash temp within a couple of degrees, and you’re in good shape, no need to fret about it unless it’s beyond 2 or 3 degrees.

Excuse me, but that’s not necessarily true. I get batch sparge efficiency as high or higher than most fly spargers.

Excuse me, but that’s not necessarily true. I get batch sparge efficiency as high or higher than most fly spargers.[/quote]

How is your crush? You mill or your HBS. I don’t think my HBS has their mill set fine enough.
Hopefully soon I will get results like you I like to keep it simple yet efficient.

By the way Denny how fast do you let it run off? Ive heard when batching you can run off fast maybe I should slow down the run off???

Runoff speed doesn’t make any difference in batch-sparging - all the wort is the same gravity in the MT, so you can drain as fast as your equipment allows.

Crush does make a huge difference. I mada a double batch of munich helles and when I was getting my supplies the first batch I accidently used the wrong mill that was for doing small amounts of specially grain for partial mash. The second batch I used the the mill they had in back that crushes 10 lbs of grain in 2 seconds. The first batch I got 70 percent efficiency and the second batch I got 80 percent. Both recipes were identical except which mill was used.

Excuse me, but that’s not necessarily true. I get batch sparge efficiency as high or higher than most fly spargers.[/quote]

How is your crush? You mill or your HBS. I don’t think my HBS has their mill set fine enough.
Hopefully soon I will get results like you I like to keep it simple yet efficient.[/quote]

I mill with my own mill and the crush is pretty fine. You could try running ti through the mill at your LHBS twice.

How much does time matter when mashing?
If I let the mash go for 90 minutes instead of 60; does it increase efficiency much?
I see almost every recipe says 60 minutes but have never known why.

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