Help figuring out efficiency issues

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Help figuring out efficiency issues

Postby kast » Fri Feb 14, 2014 8:55 pm

I have a question for you all-grain brewers regarding sparge and lautering efficiency.

I just started brewing all-grain a few weeks ago. My first brew turned out great. It's a foreign extra stout that tastes great, real smooth, and ended up at 6.4%. The whole process took a while but was lots of fun.

Last weekend I brewed my second all-grain beer attempting an American Pale Ale. I'm not sure what I did wrong but my wort ended up WAY below my target OG. I was supposed to hit 1.054 and get around 24L to boil down to 20L. However, something went wrong and my efficiency suffered. greatly. The gravity never got very high and dropped rapidly. I ended having to stop collecting wort early because the gravity fell below 1.008. I only ended up collecting 20L that boiled down to 17L. After adding sugar and boiling my final gravity still was only 1.036. I was a bit disappointed that my gravity was so low and I ended up with less beer too!

Do you have any ideas why my efficiency would be so low? I used the fly sparge method just like the time before. Not sure what I would have done wrong. Perhaps the crush was too coarse and not efficient? Or too fine and got clumpy and stuck? I did have a brief stuck sparge but after stirring everything was fine. I think the water temperature was okay.

Let me know if you have any ideas or if you have experienced this before and what fixed it. I’m going to try again in another week or so. Also, do you all fly sparge or batch sparge? Have you noticed a difference in efficiency between the two methods? Batch sparge seems to be a lot easier but I've ready the fly sparging is more efficient and extracts more sugars.
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Re: Help figuring out efficiency issues

Postby stoutman » Sat Feb 15, 2014 9:48 am

What was your mash temperature? Single Infusion or other? What was your sparge water temperature? Did you mash out? -These would affect your efficiency.

Grain crush will also greatly affect efficiency. Crushing the grains too fine would actually INCREASE efficiency. So if you did not crush them enough, you would get lower efficiency. Please provide the grain bill and mash temps etc. If all your temps and crush were ok then perhaps you miscalculated the grain bill. More info please ;)
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Re: Help figuring out efficiency issues

Postby kast » Sat Feb 15, 2014 4:58 pm

My mash temperature was 68C for 60 minutes. Used 12L of water (at 78C) added to 4.6Kg of grains which brought the mash to 68C at my target. It's possible that I didn't get the lid on the cooler tight enough and I forgot to take a temp reading at the end of 60 minutes to see if there was much heat loss. So that's a possibility but not sure.

Single infusion mash was used. I didn't mash out....and I'm still trying to figure out exactly what that means and how to do it?? Do I just add hot water to bring temps up to 76-77C for a period of time? My water for sparging was heated to 82C. However, I sort of lost track of things and the water got much hotter than that and I had to let it cool down. It's possible that the water was too hot during the sparging. Would that make a difference?

I'm going to try to grind the grains finer next time for sure. Not sure what else I could change or improve on.

Batch sparging seems a lot easier since you basically don't have to do too much at once. Just drain it all. Add more hot water, stir, and wait a few minutes. Then drain it all again. Have you tried that? I'm trying to fly sparge and keep the water continually flowing to maximize my efficiency, but I really screwed up somewhere...

Sparging is a lot of work but also quite fun too. Hopefully in the end it's worth all the extra work over just doing BIAB brewing???
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Re: Help figuring out efficiency issues

Postby stoutman » Sat Feb 15, 2014 11:13 pm

well nothing wrong with those temps. should have had good conversion. you didn't mention what your grain bill was. what grains and how much were you mashing? The only thing I can think of is you miscalculated the amount of grains/mash efficiency so you didn't use enough grains to get the gravity you were after. If it wasn't that, you didn't grind the grains enough but that doesn't seem to make sense because you said you had a partial stuck sparge. If you had more whole grains not crushed enough, you probably wouldn't get a stuck sparge.

Mash Out is essentially raising the mash temp at the end to stop the enzyme activity and really loosen up the sugars making the wort more fluid. This helps to get more sugar out when lautering.

Whatever method you use it just takes some practice then you will figure out your real brewhouse efficiency and be able to more accurately mash.
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Re: Help figuring out efficiency issues

Postby badlee » Sat Feb 22, 2014 11:34 pm

I reckon that you didnt bring the mash temperature up high enough after the initial rest.
You need the grain be to be at least 75c,so sparging with water at 85c probably wasn't hot enough to reach tat temp.
The reason you need to do this is that during the mash, when sugars are converted, the mash tends to cool down and thus the sugars are harder to rinse out of the grain. If the mash is not hot enough during your sparge you are gong to leave behind a lot of fermentable sugars in the grain bed.
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Re: Help figuring out efficiency issues

Postby kast » Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:56 am

Thanks for the advice. I'm going to try again next weekend. I'll remember to take the temperature of the mash after my 60 minute rest and then add sparge water to bring the mash up to at least 75C. I'm going to try fly sparging again to see if I can get better at it.
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