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Old Ale - Low Efficiency

Hi All,

I’m still running into a efficiency issue on my larger grain bills and I can’t seem to figure out why.

I just brewed a 11gal batch of an old ale on Sunday, below are the specifics.

25lbs Maris Otter
2lbs 60L
1lb 20L
milled the grain myself, it had a very nice crush

Mashed at 152

Mash water - 9.5gals, 100% distilled, with 3.5g of Gypsum, 1.9g Epsom salt, 1.9g of baking soda, 4.8g of Calcium Chloride added into the mashtun.

PH was 5.4, I left this as is but possibly should have added some lactic acid to get it closer to 5.3??

Sparge water - 9.5gals, 100% distilled, with 3.5g of Gypsum, 1.9g Epsom salt, 4.8g of Calcium Chloride added into the mashtun.

I did a very slow runoff as well but for some reason my gravity was 1.060. I use a brix and double checked with a hydrometer. The brix was 15.4

I ended up with exactly 11gals after boil, so we nailed the volume but my OG was off .012!

Any thoughts? I’m nailing my gravity on all beers 1.50 and under with 75% efficiency, but once I get past 1.50 I’m down to about 50% efficiency!

Thanks,
Dave

Can you tell us a little more about your setup? Cooler/manifold?

I find that with our 1/2 bbl system that has a fly sparge arm and recirc capability, we get very consistent efficiency, but this can change with batch sparge/BIAB.

Hi Petro,

I use a 120qt cooler with a 12" stainless steel braid. I’m working on adding a fly sparge arm but for now I pump my 180 degree sparge water into it (settles down to about 170 degree), let it sit for 10 minutes, then settle the grain bed before draining via gravity. I will have the option to recirculate if that will help when I add my sparge arm.

Thanks,
Dave

Dave, you seriously need to take a look at this:

viewtopic.php?f=1&t=123620#p1078741

Hi other Dave,

This is interesting and is very true in my case. I’m usually around a constant of 120, so it makes sense that this turned out at 1.060 when my intended gravity was 1.072 since I calculated the recipe at 75% efficiency. So you’re saying I should have figured my grain bill 48% efficiency.

This really doesn’t get down to the root of my problem though, should I really be planning for a 48%'efficiency on a 1.072 beer. I’m thinking I need to work on my sparging then hopefully efficiency will improve, right? Hopefully by adding a sparse arm and recirculating the mash and sparge, I can get this in the 70% range.

For big beers, you really just need to plan for a double sparge. Collect 1/3 your boil volume from the mash, then sparge with another 1/3 and again with a final 1/3. For example, if you need to collect 12 gallons before the boil to end up with your 11 gallons post-boil, then you need to collect about 4 gallons out of the mash, and another 4 gallons out of two sparges. Then your efficiency will kick butt.

A hard crush of the grains is also very important. If your constant for gravity plus efficiency is only 120, then you aren’t crushing as hard as you could, plain and simple. Crush harder. Or double-crush.

For what it’s worth, I’m a batch sparger and my constant is about 147. Crush it hard. Sparge it well. YMMV.

Sweet advice Dave, I’ll try it out on my next batch!

I never really had this problem before when I brewed 5g batches on my smaller system, now since I went to 10g batches the inconsistency has really been bugging me. I’ll report back, I guess the only way to really test my adjustments out is on a 10g BVIP batch.

Two attorneys went into a diner and ordered two drinks. Then they took out sandwiches from their briefcases and started to eat.The waiter became quite concerned and marched over and told them,“You can’t eat your own sandwiches here!”The attorneys looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders and then exchanged sandwiches


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