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Poor efficiency lately

I have recently been suffering from some poor efficiency in my last 3 brews. I have brewed them before and usually get around 70-75% efficiency. The latest 2 recipes were suppose to hit original gravity of 1.068 and 1.067…the results 1.056 and 1.054. I have a JSP Maltmill with no gap settings and it therefore did not change.

I had bought some grain in bulk when the LHBS went out of business 2 years ago. I stored in a large 50 gallon rubbermaid container. Could grain this old be an issue? I have used the same single infusion mash with no mash out for the last 5 years and have brewed all of the recipes before. The mash ratio is around 1.2 to 1.3 depending on the recipe.

I was wondering if I should double crush my grains and try another known recipe to see if this helps or would the old grains be an issue with the efficiency. The beers taste fine with no off flavors and taste to the originals with fresh malt.

Any help or thought would be appreciated.

Any changes to your water recently?

No changes to the water. It is the same well water I have always used.

If it’s well water and you aren’t testing it, how do you know it hasn’t changed?

But it’s definitely possible that the two-yr-old grain has absorbed some moisture over time and now weighs a little more than it used to, which would drop your yield.

I think it may be a combination of the old grain gaining moisture and the grain crush through the mill. I looked at the grain today in the compost pill closely. It looked like a lot of it was still in the husk. Some of the grain husks were barely cracked so I am not sure how much of the sugars would have gotten out. I am going to have to inspect the mill as a bearing may be broke which would allow the 2 rollers to move apart. I have been using a drill for crushing, and if I remember correctly, the mill was designed for hand cranking only.

You could always go to a double crush with your grain. The second pass should gain you points, but watch for too fine a crush - you may need to add rice hulls to avoid a stuck mash, if the milling makes the grain too powdery.

I would advise you to just try the second crush before messing too much with mill settings.

I will do the second crush with the mill. I think that should help and I think I have some rice hulls around from a wheat beer I tried a while back.

Brew a recipe that you have brewed with your old efficiency and see if you get a different efficiency. What type of sparging are you doing?

Have you been checking mash ph? What kind of beer was it?

No, I do not have the equipment for checking mash ph. The recipes have all been stuff I have brewed before. Denny’s BVIP and a Belgian Dubbel.

One thing I noticed on my last batch:

Usually I heat my sparge water or at the very least it is still pretty close to mash temp by the time I sparge. On my last beer my schedule was a bit off and it was cool and windy out, so my sparge water was pretty cool. My efficiency was on its way to dropping by 25% (for the volume I had collected when I measured) so I went back and heated some more sparge water to a more appropriate temperature and collected more wort. In the end things worked out fine.

I had never worried much about the temp of my sparge water before and had gotten away with putting in cool sparge water before, but in retrospect I think that was always towards the end of my lauter when I was just short a few liters.

Sorry, I do fly sparging…or at least a variation of it. I usually heat the sparge h2o to about 170-180 degrees. I then sparge for about 5-10 minutes. I know in this type of sparging the sparge should be longer but I have not noticed a big difference between a 45 minute sparge to a 10 minute sparge.

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