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Efficiency issue

KernelCrush said:

I forgot about the spreadsheet.  I have a bunch of those left from when I was trying to figure out what was going on.  I used to fill one out for each brew, and saved each copy separately for historical data.  I used to place a "link" to the spreadsheet in the notes section of the brewlog entry.  I did the same thing with copies of EZ Water. 
Plan to do this on Saturday since I was too late to read the info last session.  When you add water to achieve 1.4:1 to 1.5:1 ratio, since conversion is complete, would you target a temperature rise or just maintain 150F?
brewfun said:
I had a chance to try the method I posted. I did get an increase in both yield and gravity on my least efficient beer, Double IPA.
I gained a lot of kettle efficiency, going from 87% up to 91%. That represents 8% of the grain that could be removed from future batches. My sugar yield was up by 0.7 Plato (1.003) and volume by 15 gallons. This may not seem like much, but scaled to homebrew it's nearly 2# of grain in a 5 gallon batch.
In other words; in 5 batches, you'd save enough grain to make the 6th one for free. Not bad!
I need to type up the notes and then I'll post the recipe and data.

Do you expect some differences in taste/flavour (compared to your former Double IPA)?
I've had a chance to try the 1:1 sparge method on two batches now. Both are large grists for my mashtun and lose some kettle efficiency as a result.

BACKGROUND: This is the result of a seminar on lauter efficiency that I attended this month. The presenter used essentially identical methods to my own. This is a different reference point to the "calibration batch" posts I started and have only half completed in this thread. I want to complete this part of the conversation because it represents good working practices for a variety of mash/sparge methods.

It's very important to note that what I'm finding correlates very well with Tom Hampton's posted methods for his mashes. In both of these recipes, my kettle efficiency went up.

I'm posting the recipes as brewed, except for the kettle sugar addition. There's nothing really remarkable about them as IPA's go. Each of these recipes has 3.5% dextrose but that's set to zero because we're interested in the grain efficiency. All of my other ingredients are in there for those interested in such things.

To make things work with Beersmith and still track an inventory, some ingredient translation is in order: Hop extract represents 1 can at 175 gm of AA, rather than a pound. Makes it easier to count. Yeast at one "pkg" is 15 gallons of slurry.

To get accurate numbers, you may need to change your grain absorption to match mine at 0.725 [options > advanced > grain absorption].



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My normal method is to dough in at 1:1 qt/lb and rest for 45 minutes, running a mash mixer for the duration. I then add some heat for 10 minutes to start the rise towards mash out. Then I underlet the mash to bring the ratio up to 1.2:1 and raise the temperature a little, with the mixer still on for about 10 minutes. I then recirculate for about 20 minutes (still with heat on) because that's how long it takes to get clear wort. Including dough in, total time is about 90-100 minutes.

Sparge takes 70 to 120 minutes depending on the recipe, using 170-174F water. I sparge to 2 Plato, but can go as low as 1.6 in some cases without astringency. Target mash pH is 5.3-5.4.

The goal of this new mash/lautering method is to extend out the higher gravity wort into the sparge and then stop before lower gravity wort is extracted (below 5 Plato or about 1.020). Those last runnings should still carry the final bit of sugar.

There's one paper out on the fermentability of wort under 8 Plato (1.035) and it shows that this isn't very fermentable.

A "perfect" sparge should look like this, where the top line is temperature of the runnings and the slope is the gravity.

More realistic is this slope of a fly sparge. The early slope up is recirculation as underletting is mixed in and heat is applied.

Batch sparging looks something like this:

To attain something closer to the "perfect" graph, more consistent heat and a longer slope are needed. Therefore, more water in the mash and less in the sparge become best practices. The concept of a 1:1 SPARGE is that an equal amount of water is used in both the mash and sparge.

AH-HA #1: It turns out that underletting or adding water to the first wort to thin the mash is counter productive. A mash ratio over 1.25:1 is also counter productive because an equal sparge tends to yield too much wort and too low a final gravity, though efficiency didn't seem to suffer. Best practice is going to be some kettle top-up water rather than sparging longer.

RECIPE METHOD: The water ratios are accurate, though not optimal. The DIPA simply can't take any more water and the IPA got a little too much. Between the two versions, I like the one that's a little drier, as it also hit my desired mash temperature of 152.

The mash mixer was turned off during the conversion rest and pre-recirculation heat up period. Of course it's off for recirculation and sparge. This allowed more air to stay in the mash bed.

RECIPE ANALYSIS: Conversion time was not affected.
DIPA 1st runnings: 25.7 Plato
IPA First runnings: 21.6 Plato
  Both of these represent 100% conversion efficiency and beat the table on Kai's website. According to Kai, this is expected on a pro scale. We mill finer than most homebrewers.

Past practice says we expect 10 Plato runnings with the kettle about half full (10 barrels), then lose 1 Plato per barrel until full (20.5 barrels). There is a slope change at about 3 Plato where it slows to 0.7 Plato per barrel for about 3 barrels.

1:1 Sparge results: In this method we shut off sparge when the volume was very nearly equal to the mash volume. Ideal would be completely equal.

DIPA: 24.5 Plato at 9 barrels. 17 Plato at 13 barrels. 11 Plato at 16.5 barrels. 7.7 Plato at 18.5 barrels. Final runnings 5 Plato. Preboil volume 21.25 barrels (21.0 was the target). Preboil gravity 18.9 Plato. Net kettle efficiency gain of 10%, net yield gain of 6%.

IPA: 18.7 Plato at 10 barrels. 13 Plato at 12 barrels. 9 Plato at 14 barrels. Final runnings 3 Plato. Preboil volume 20.6. Preboil gravity 15 Plato. Kettle efficiency 95.5% where typical is ~93%. Net of 5% increase in yield.

Time and temperature both improved as well. The outflow temperature stayed steady at 164F throughout the sparge. Previously this has had a variance of up to 12 degrees F over the course of the sparge. First falling then rising near the end.

CONCLUSIONS: The tighter mash ratio and lower sparge volume seemed to net a greater increase in efficiency. I'll temper that with the fact that a pro brewer needs to be close to 90% efficient to maximize yield and profitability. However, my DIPA represents the least most efficient beer I make, so the added efficiency shows some real promise.

I'm going to stick to a 1.15:1 mash ratio and sparge with an equal amount of water. As of now, I don't think adding water to the mash would be ideal. However, it seems that a mash ratio nearer 1.5:1 works about as well as a tighter mash ratio.

I'm going to apply this method to lighter gravity beers that already have very high efficiency. The aim will be to improve flavor and fermentability. I plan to stop sparge at equal volume OR when gravity falls to 8 Plato, with the idea that final runnings will not be below 5 or 6 Plato but full extraction is attained.

KernelCrush said:
Plan to do this on Saturday since I was too late to read the info last session.  When you add water to achieve 1.4:1 to 1.5:1 ratio, since conversion is complete, would you target a temperature rise or just maintain 150F?

I have come to the conclusion that adding water is unnecessary and perhaps detrimental. Add it all up front, then go right into recirculation and sparge.

I'm a bit out on a limb with this method. I'm showing my adaptations and learning curve as I go, with this one. Forgive me for any contradictions as I figure it out. I hope it could be useful to show my process, errors and all.
I’m going to put this into practice in my own brewery and report how well the results match the expectations above. I’d appreciate reports from anyone that uses the procedure as laid out.

I was knee deep into this on Saturday before I saw the new recommendations.  Got 99.6 conversion, 91.4 kettle, what I was unprepared for is the temp drop from, I suspect, using a smaller volume in a larger cooler. 
Am I understanding this correctly? So for a 5 gallon batch I need 8 gallons of water. Ideally If I am mashing 12.5lbs of grain then I should mash with 16 quarts of water and fly sparge with the same to get the 1:1 strike/sparge ratio. This should give me a 1.28qt/lb water grain ratio. Which should in term produce a first running gravity of about 1.094 initially?
KernelCrush said:
Got 99.6 conversion, 91.4 kettle, 

Excellent! That's a huge improvement!

TAHammerton said:
Am I understanding this correctly? So for a 5 gallon batch I need 8 gallons of water. Ideally If I am mashing 12.5lbs of grain then I should mash with 16 quarts of water and fly sparge with the same to get the 1:1 strike/sparge ratio. This should give me a 1.28qt/lb water grain ratio. Which should in term produce a first running gravity of about 1.094 initially?


Plus any additional water to top up the kettle. Your sparge efficiency should be the only variable. Once you have full conversion (the gravity doesn't keep rising) you can proceed with sparging. Once your runnings drop to 1.032 (8 P), stop adding water and let the grain bed run dry. Your final runnings should be about 1.020 (5 P).
Thanks brewfun!

I was thinking about the calibration brew discussed and I thought I would try to brew the same beer 3 times- each time refining the process. That way I can really fine tune my settings and procedures. But I do want to have something decent to drink. So I thought about doing a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale Clone. I made up a recipe and saved a copy to the could as "SNPA Clone Classic Recipe" also pasted below (I could not figure out how to embed the recipe). I was also thinking maybe of trying the first two batches with a single hop variety, maybe Citra and Galaxy to better understand the hop flavours and aromas. The third batch would be an attempt to be as close as possible to the original. I thought the SNPA would be a good beer recipe for this experiment as it is a simple recipe representative of what people brew, is widely available and I don't know anyone who does not like it. It could be the standard that all homebrewers calibrate to.

Anyone else interested in brewing the recipe and sharing their results and experiences?

Also anyone want to check the recipe and procedure and suggest improvements? It is not my creation - it is based on a recipe by Beerfan on Northern Brewer forum - I just plugged it into BeerSmith with my set-up and local ingredients.

SNPA Clone Classic Recipe
American Pale Ale
Type: All Grain Date: 01 May 2014
Batch Size (fermenter): 5.00 gal Brewer: Tom Hammerton
Boil Size: 6.12 gal Asst Brewer: 
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: Tom 10gal mash tun V2
End of Boil Volume 5.72 gal Brewhouse Efficiency: 67.00 %
Final Bottling Volume: 5.01 gal Est Mash Efficiency 73.7 %
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage Taste Rating(out of 50): 30.0
Taste Notes: 

Ingredients Amt Name Type # %/IBU
10 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 91.7 %
14.4 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM) Grain 2 8.3 %
0.38 oz Magnum [12.20 %] - Boil 60.0 min Hop 3 16.1 IBUs
0.50 oz Perle [8.60 %] - Boil 30.0 min Hop 4 11.6 IBUs
0.88 oz Cascade [9.00 %] - Boil 10.0 min Hop 5 10.1 IBUs
1.88 oz Cascade [9.00 %] - Boil 0.0 min Hop 6 0.0 IBUs
1.0 pkg California Ale (White Labs #WLP001) [35.49 ml] Yeast 7 -

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.053 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.053 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.011 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.011 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 5.4 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 5.5 %
Bitterness: 37.8 IBUs Calories: 175.9 kcal/12oz
Est Color: 8.9 SRM 
Mash Profile

Mash Name: Single Infusion, Medium Body Total Grain Weight: 10 lbs 14.4 oz
Sparge Water: 3.80 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F Tun Temperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: TRUE Mash PH: 5.20
Mash Steps Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
Mash In Add 15.50 qt of water at 168.8 F 152.0 F 60 min
Mash Out Heat to 168.0 F over 5 min 168.0 F 10 min

Sparge Step: Fly sparge with 3.80 gal water at 168.0 F
Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).
Carbonation and Storage

Carbonation Type: Bottle Volumes of CO2: 2.3
Pressure/Weight: 3.94 oz Carbonation Used: Bottle with 3.94 oz Corn Sugar
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 70.0 F Age for: 30.00 days
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage Storage Temperature: 65.0 F
Poorly crushed grain will affect your efficiency, as does pH and awful water.

Munich water is terrible, so it gets boiled for an hour, then racked the next day.  You want the mash pH reading at room temperature.  No need to make things complicated ;). Best is a pH meter with ATC.

I'm sure you'll get to the bottom of this...
Its about time for a Big Thank You to all who helped.  Karma to all.  It gone from abysmal to Whoa Nellie.  It was the crush from the start.  Sieve testing was the fix but I use all the other info from this thread every brewday now.  I will post a pic next time I crush.  If anyone uses the Crankenstein 3D try the third click down from finest.
Learned a lot along the way, Thanks to you.  The search continues..
Great thread. I'm sure it will all make sense when i read it another 85 times!  :eek:

2nd attempt at all grain boiling now. Finer mill this time. Tried to stick to the 1:1 suggestion but checked temp 30min into mash; had dropped to 52 (+/-) degC. Strike at 67C. Added hot water to bring it up tp 66C again and extended mash by 15min (75min total). Still ended up with extremely poor efficiency. App was telling me expected OG of around 1050 but came out into boiler at 1022!  :eek:

Definitely need to check water quality (rain water in Limestone country so quite hard). But seriously, can water effect efficiency so dramatically? Am i losing a lot of efficiency because of rapid loss of temp at strike? Using 80L commercial esky (cooler) for mash tun, 70L stainless pot for hot kettle and 100L stainless pot for boiling wort.

Sorry to barge in. This is my first post but i did read this thread before going at my second attempt.

No big deal to make a light beer on my second attempt (brought OG up with dextrose last run) but would really like to get efficiency up. Only way i can make the app meet my results is to set total efficiency setting to around %40!

Anyhoo. I'll re-read the thread a few times before my next run (two weeks time).

Thanks for any further tips beyond what's already posted. I'm in Tasmania, by the way.