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Efficiency issue

K

KernelCrush

The last many brew sessions I have had a terrible time trying to hit my OG. Some mashes have gone on for hours.  And still didn't finish according to where they should be.  I stopped them, they didn't.  So I figured I would mimic a recipe exactly, and who better than Gordon Strong. But the latest bout last weekend I hit the pleasantly magical number of 42%.  Had to adjust with other fermentables that aren't shown in the recipe.  My mash pH was 5.6 room temp, I hit every temp within a degree and every volume within the accuracy of my graduated stick.  My meter was calibrated, my graduated stick has been checked many times recently.  Based on above I am starting to blame my crush pic attached. https://www.dropbox.com/s/1dsrpx37t7vr5tw/20140324_190959.jpg But it looks OK to me?  And recipe is attached. Have I messed up a setting somewhere in the software?  I don't get it.  Been staring at this crap for weeks.  Thanks for any help.

 

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cmbrougham

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When is the last time you checked the accuracy of your thermometer that you use for measuring mash temperatures?
 

grathan

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You've got %60 mash efficiency and then 3 gallons lost to trub and fermenter loss.


%42 is Brewhouse efficiency not mash efficiency, You understand the difference right?


Your predicting %72 brewhouse efficiency so you're setting yourself up for failure because you never reach the estimated %85 mash eff.


Change the brewhouse efficiency in your equipment profile to %42 if you want more accurate gravity predictions from the software.




 
K

KernelCrush

When is the last time you checked the accuracy of your thermometer that you use for measuring mash temperatures?

Yes I have a thermometer on every vessel for guidance and I cross check it with a DTQ450X every time.

You've got %60 mash efficiency and then 3 gallons lost to trub and fermenter loss.
%42 is Brewhouse efficiency not mash efficiency, You understand the difference right?

Yes I hope I understand but I've been terribly terribly wrong before.  I have never had the problem til recently using the same settings. Always had settings at 70% brewhouse. 
 

brewfun

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Looking at this from a couple of angles....

Two gallons of Trub loss is huge. It's 15% of your volume. That means that even if you get 100% mash efficiency, you are only getting 85% Brewhouse efficiency (aka sugar into the fermenter). Is that accurate to what you system does? Is there any way to reduce this loss?  ???

I do see that your equipment settings expect 70% mash efficiency, which is reasonable.

I'm thinking that mash chemistry is an issue.

For a beer this pale, a mash of 5.2 to 5.4 would increase extraction. As-is, a half pound of acidulated malt would help.

The calcium level could be higher. Perhaps at least 6.5 grams gypsum and 5 grams chloride. Along with the acidulated malt, this would be very close to 5.2 pH.

The mash could be thicker. A thicker mash will hit pH easier and allow you to reduce the acidulated malt by 25%. ...Mostly, this is my opinion, but with well modified grains you only need single step and only 1.1 qt/lb. This gives you plenty of room in both space and temperature for a mashout infusion.
 
K

KernelCrush

I lose 1.5 G to kettle trub in an about 22" wide kettle leaving about an inch in the bottom of the kettle  and .5 G to coil chiller.  I wish I could reduce this, it doesnt take much depth in the bottom of the kettle to add up.  I sometimes chase it from the chiller if I need a bit more. 

I got 5.6 room temp mash pH, and if I am understanding the offset, that translates to a 5.3 pH at mash temperature?  I actually bumped up the minerals slightly from the original recipe seeing they were low. Looks like still not enough.

What I dont get is this low efficiency is only a recent problem and its over a range of beers.  Ive been using the same equip profile for a long time and always landed at 68-72% brewhouse efficiency, in an hour.   

 

all grain

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when I see that you say your eff% went down but nothing has changed in your process, this makes me think that its water or grain quality. Then there's mash thickness,  my numbers went up when I used 1.6qt to 1 # of grain. I used to use 1.25 /1#grain.
What king of water do you use? water from city/wells can change with the seasons. Its the mix that the city uses that drives the changes in some places. 
 
K

KernelCrush

I am on a well with a RO water system.  I was worried about the grain too till I dumped my inventory and started with fresh and got the same results.  The raccoons loved me for it.
 

all grain

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do you do any tests on your RO? And do you use iodine test for conversion?
as far as RO go's its what I use also, since the city water is vary hard here(300+on carbonate).
A while back I had poor eff and never found out why but after changing to ro and using 1.5+ on mash thickness I'm back to 70%+or-   
 

Maine Homebrewer

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Try making a batch and leaving the trub in there. What have you got to lose? A gallon and a half is not an insignificant amount to waste.  I leave the trub in my brews, and they come out great. Then again, I do leave it behind when I rack to secondary.
 
K

KernelCrush

Allgrain,  I haven't tested my water recently, but did several times in the past and it really doesn't change.  I don't have the water report handy but the numbers are attached. The membrane gets changed often.  I test for gravity during the mash using a refractometer and then double check with a hydrometer when I feel like gouging out my eyes at the refract reading.  I don't get anywhere close to where I should for the first runoff after an hour. 

Maine, your right, all I have to lose is a 1.9% beer. 
 

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all grain

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sounds like we you may have to brew more beer in order to figure this one out. all I can say is change one thing at a time and see what works. good luck.
 

grathan

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You've got %60 mash efficiency and then 3 gallons lost to trub and fermenter loss.
%42 is Brewhouse efficiency not mash efficiency, You understand the difference right?
Yes I hope I understand but I've been terribly terribly wrong before.  I have never had the problem til recently using the same settings. Always had settings at 70% brewhouse.

Actually you have it set to %72.

So you want to improve your efficiency instead of changing the software?


Yeah, then start with that crush. You need to go from %60 to %85 mash efficiency. You have several large white chunks hidden in husks. Buy some feeler gauges and adjust your mill gap, make it damn tight. You should see some white dust on top of that grain pile.

If you use a pump or want to be cautious, buy some rice hulls to keep on hand in case you get a stuck sparge.
 
K

KernelCrush

I see the 72%.  I had 70 on the brain cause that was my setting for quite a while.  I had recently bumped it up to 72% to follow my results trend. What I am trying to understand is why the bottom suddenly fell out and I either had to mash for multiple hours or throw in the towel like I did last weekend.  Thanks for looking at the crush.  I will tighten it up. 
 

RiverBrewer

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Just looking @ your recipe, mash, & notes.

    Just my opinion:

Your initial mash for the first 30 minutes is .9 qt./lb. The majority of conversion takes place quickly during this crucial time. Is your mash WAY TO THICK to handle all the sugars created. I do see that more water is added to the mash, but is it too late?

I had trouble hitting my numbers using pilsner malts. (Until I started mashing whole or partial pilsner mashes for 90 minutes)

Your RO was acid treated. This is the way I do it too, but you will have to add more acid to get the mash pH DOWN to ~ 5.2 - 5.3.
I have found pilsner raises the pH more than 2-row. The mash grains will change your total water pH.

Unrelated.........Pilsner malt = 90 min boil
 
K

KernelCrush

Yea, I followed Gordons recipe to the tee.  It was thick, but it was actually the first time I was able to step infusion in my cooler with any success.  The mashout temp was difficult to get, and I think brewfun suspected that in his reply.  Yes I have the same results with pils raising pH (it raised this one .2) but I measured 5.6 room temp, 5.3 mash.  I caught the 90 minute boil thing, too late for this one.  Lots of oops lately.  Nice fermentation though. Gonna be dry.  Next weekend will go at it different.
 

RiverBrewer

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Just reread Brewfun's post and have to agree your Ca is low, ~21, Shoot for 50 ppm Ca minimum while maintaining your ratio.
 

brewfun

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The crush looks ok. It *could* be a bit tighter, but only to halve the size of the grits. Grain in husk isn't a problem if it is exposed to the water.

I hadn't looked in the notes section of your recipe. The pH's I got were just RO, minerals and grain. If you added Phosphoric, it may have bound with some of the calcium (probably the CaCl) and not worked like you intended. You didn't have much Ca in there to begin with. I use phosphoric to augment acidulated malt, not in place of it.

I'm not seeing anything in your recipe, ingredients, process or expectations that point to a single issue. I think there is more at work than is in evidence. About a year ago, I had to substitute Pilsner brands. The substitute only had 50% potential, compared to the 80+% of my regular.
 

tom_hampton

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Ok.  No one has suggested taking some data.

First verify your measurement tools. Hydrometer, refractometer, volumetric tools. Cross check everything with something else.

There's 3 places that efficiency goes on brew day:

1.  It never gets converted. 
2.  It gets converted but stays in the mash tun.
3.  It gets left in the kettle.

How do you find out which?  Take data.  Gravity, temperature, and volume at each point.  If you batch sparge then take these measurements for each batch.

There is a fixed relationship between mash thickness and the expected gravity of your first runnings. You can find the table over at braukaiser.com. This will tell you if you are having a conversion problem.

After you are done with the lauter, you can refill the mash with 1 qt per pound and stir.  Then take a gravity reading.  Again, there is a table over on braukaiser.com that will tell you how much sugar you left in the mlt. If the gravity is high then your lauter needs attention.

Then there is the kettle. This one is easy and documented above. You are leaving a lot of wort in the kettle. 



 
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