Author Topic: Home Brew discussion  (Read 61000 times)

skunkfunk

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Re: Home Brew discussion
« Reply #200 on: October 28, 2014, 09:55:02 AM »
So I've recently had to start brewing without any helpers. My efficiency has dropped from 75% to a consistent 57.5%. WAT?!! Seriously three batches in a row at exactly 57.5%. Luckily except for the first one I adjusted the recipe accordingly and nailed the OG anyway. Except that first one, the doppelbock recipe turned itself into more of a bock.

I have no idea why going solo would do this. I'll explain below my process that I used last night. Recipe - 13.5# 2-row, 3.5# flaked corn, 6 oz white wheat, 5 oz amarillo at various times. 7.5 collected and 5.25 into bucket (all exactly as expected, except .25 gallon low into bucket. Phone turned off mysteriously and lost my boil timer.) OG 1.071, yeast belle saison pitched without rehydrating.

Anyway on to the process. 12 gallon coleman cooler with a kinda beat up stainless steel braid for lautering. Heat up mash water, add grain, stir, mash in at 148F with 6 gallons water. 20 minutes later, add 1 gallon boiling water to bring up to 157F until sparge water heated (15 minutes or so.) Stir again. Vorlauf, drain into kettle lined with grain bag. Add 175F 2.75 gal sparge water, stir, wait 5-10 minutes, drain (standard batch sparge.) No vorlauf on the sparge, I had everything including the pitcher full of wort already so just filtered with the grain bag. I boil in 2 kettles so I tried to take an average of the 2 kettles to get the boil gravity which I calculated at 1.056 which was obviously off since I ended up at 1.071 @ 5.25 gallons. Didn't think refractometers needed temp correction. 90-ish minute boil.

There's of course some dead space and some water left over in the grain, but it should be pretty weak wort left behind right? Is there something intrinsically wrong with the way I'm sparging, should I break it up into multiple steps?

I don't know if anybody can see anything wrong in this description, but I figured since I can't figure it out I might as well ask here.

del2h1

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Re: Home Brew discussion
« Reply #201 on: October 28, 2014, 07:55:17 PM »
Are you doing a 5 or 5.5 gallon batch?  Your mash and sparge volumes seems way off compared to what I normally do.  I usually mash with about 4 gals and sparge with 5.  Plugging in your numbers to my calculator give me a mash volume of 5.8 and a sparge of 3.8.   This is assuming a desired mash thickness of 1.33 qts/lb.

If you calculate your volume numbers correctly and know what your equipment bias is you should be able to drain the entire sparge volume into your boil kettle.  Generally when the sparge water gets to a gravity of 1.008 you've extracted everything you can and the sparge is done.

Also, consider stirring at 15 minute intervals during the mash but not right before draining. (stir at 60,45,30,15)  This will let the grain bed set and act as a filter along with keeping an even mash temp throughout the tun.  Rice hulls are a huge help with this and I always use at least a pound.  Otherwise I find that my mash temp varies too much depending on where the thermometer is.

How long do you drain your sparge for?  You should shoot for 30 minutes minimum. 45 minutes is ideal.  Going too fast will hurt your efficiency.

I started with the braided hose and got tired of replacing it.  Once it gets kinked up badly its probably time to replace it.  A decent false bottom is worth the investment and the risk of a stuck sparge much less.  You'll notice a small rise in efficiency too.

The last time I had a massive efficiency problem the thermometer on my kettle was way off.  So I was mashing in at a temp 12 degrees much higher than desired. 

Hope this helps

skunkfunk

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Re: Home Brew discussion
« Reply #202 on: October 29, 2014, 08:14:31 AM »
Are you doing a 5 or 5.5 gallon batch?  Your mash and sparge volumes seems way off compared to what I normally do.  I usually mash with about 4 gals and sparge with 5.  Plugging in your numbers to my calculator give me a mash volume of 5.8 and a sparge of 3.8.   This is assuming a desired mash thickness of 1.33 qts/lb.

If you calculate your volume numbers correctly and know what your equipment bias is you should be able to drain the entire sparge volume into your boil kettle.  Generally when the sparge water gets to a gravity of 1.008 you've extracted everything you can and the sparge is done.

Also, consider stirring at 15 minute intervals during the mash but not right before draining. (stir at 60,45,30,15)  This will let the grain bed set and act as a filter along with keeping an even mash temp throughout the tun.  Rice hulls are a huge help with this and I always use at least a pound.  Otherwise I find that my mash temp varies too much depending on where the thermometer is.

How long do you drain your sparge for?  You should shoot for 30 minutes minimum. 45 minutes is ideal.  Going too fast will hurt your efficiency.

I started with the braided hose and got tired of replacing it.  Once it gets kinked up badly its probably time to replace it.  A decent false bottom is worth the investment and the risk of a stuck sparge much less.  You'll notice a small rise in efficiency too.

The last time I had a massive efficiency problem the thermometer on my kettle was way off.  So I was mashing in at a temp 12 degrees much higher than desired. 

Hope this helps

Thanks for the suggestions. I think my mash numbers were virtually the same as yours, as I used 6 gallons and you used 5.8. Checked the thermometer  at your suggestion, seems good. Likely culprits seem to be mash PH or the too-fast sparge, perhaps dough balls. Will try and fix all that next time out and see how it goes.

Angie55

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Re: Home Brew discussion
« Reply #203 on: October 29, 2014, 08:39:07 AM »
First thing to check is always mixing the mash well. Paint mixer on a power drill fixed my original issues with low efficiency. Found the paint mixers gets all the grain incorporated without dough balls in 1-2 minutes. Its also much easier to lower the mash temperature with it. Mix on high for one minute usually can lower the mash temp ~.5F. Are you hitting your mash temps? That's the other main thing that can be a big factor. Maybe you are doing everything with the same temps and forgot something like preheating your mash tun?

Also, getting to a lower gravity on sparge only applies to fly sparging. If you are batch sparging in a cooler it doesn't really mean anything since everything should be mixed very well there would be no reason that the end runnings would have a lower gravity than the beginning runnings of the same batch.

Also, good trick I found to fix my stainless braid... Added a piece of copper tubing inside the braid with slits in it. Great filter, never gets clogged even when I'm in a hurry and pump out my mash/sparge instead of draining.

skunkfunk

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Re: Home Brew discussion
« Reply #204 on: October 29, 2014, 08:44:07 AM »
First thing to check is always mixing the mash well. Paint mixer on a power drill fixed my original issues with low efficiency. Found the paint mixers gets all the grain incorporated without dough balls in 1-2 minutes. Its also much easier to lower the mash temperature with it. Mix on high for one minute usually can lower the mash temp ~.5F. Are you hitting your mash temps? That's the other main thing that can be a big factor. Maybe you are doing everything with the same temps and forgot something like preheating your mash tun?

Also, getting to a lower gravity on sparge only applies to fly sparging. If you are batch sparging in a cooler it doesn't really mean anything since everything should be mixed very well there would be no reason that the end runnings would have a lower gravity than the beginning runnings of the same batch.

Also, good trick I found to fix my stainless braid... Added a piece of copper tubing inside the braid with slits in it. Great filter, never gets clogged even when I'm in a hurry and pump out my mash/sparge instead of draining.

Good idea on the drill. I have been nailing mash temps. I actually don't pre-heat anymore, I've found that I can nail it if I just account for the room temp thermal mass of the cooler. My only trepidation on the drill is my way-too-long braid getting mixed up in it. If I do the copper tubing I may try out the drill mixer thing.