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My Poor Efficiency Is Biab The Answer

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scmgre

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Hi I started AG about 2 years ago. I have been using an eski with a copper manifold to do simple infusion mashing and decoction mashing. I was getting about 53% efficiency for infusion mashes and about 5 % better for decoction mashes. This was really frustrating so I started mucking about with the water chemistry by adding various additions like calcium Chloride calcium sulphate and citric acid (but the beer started tasting like swimming pool water yuck).
2 brews ago I did an acid mash for a pilsner a couple of days beforehand then added it to the main mash and got 60% brewhouse efficiency.
Last weekend I tried a BIAB stout and got a whopping (for me) 67.5 % efficiency.
I think BIAB is the way to go for efficiency but I don't like the cloudiness of the wort compared to infusion mashing in the eski.
has anyone got any tips for improving infusion mashing efficiency?
I have a monster mill for cracking my grain very well. The eski is a bog standard square one. I tend to batch sparge as I don;t have the equipment for fly sparging.
 

glenwal

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What is the mash (pre-boil) efficency you are achieving?

What size batches are you doing? How much water are you using for the mash and for sparging? What temperature sparge water are you using?

edit: And you say "cracking very well" - what does this mean?
 

jyo

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What's your manifold like? Maybe post a pic.

How fast do you drain when sparging, mate?
 

scmgre

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What is the mash (pre-boil) efficency you are achieving?

What size batches are you doing? How much water are you using for the mash and for sparging? What temperature sparge water are you using?

edit: And you say "cracking very well" - what does this mean?
I use brewsmith so I normally use what the program dictates, I usually aim for 22 litres in the fomenter which means I take 2 litres off whatever brewsmith states for a particular recipe for the sparge water.
The temperature of the sparge water is usually between 70 and 75 degrees c.

The volumes vary depending on the recipe and method (decoction|infusion). I find i get better efficiency on dark beers over lights hence the recent acid and calcium additions for wheat and lagers. I don;t have a PH meter so i can;t measure the mash PH.
 

jyo

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I use brewsmith so I normally use what the program dictates, I usually aim for 22 litres in the fomenter which means I take 2 litres off whatever brewsmith states for a particular recipe for the sparge water.
The temperature of the sparge water is usually between 70 and 75 degrees c.

The volumes vary depending on the recipe and method (decoction|infusion). I find i get better efficiency on dark beers over lights hence the recent acid and calcium additions for wheat and lagers. I don;t have a PH meter so i can;t measure the mash PH.

Increasing your sparge water to 85-90' should earn you a few extra points I reckon, mate.
 

scmgre

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Why don't you like cloudy wort - does it affect your end product?
Not sure if the end product is affected, it's definitely not going to be noticeable in a stout.
But lagers and pales I prefer clear. I guess after a few months in the keg they will probably clear.

the manifold is a copper water pipe i bent and welded and drilled holes in I never get a stuck mash. the drain rate is that it takes about 15 minutes to get the first runnings.

075.PNG
 

scmgre

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thanks for the hint on sparging i will definitely give it a go on the next one.
 

scmgre

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Hi Glen I meant by `cracking very well` that I can adjust the rollers get a good crush on the grain.
 

Acasta

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Also, adding a mash-out step I find helps with eff. Add just enough boiling water to get the bed to 76C. You can use Brewing Softwear to calc this.
When you sparge, add the sparge water minus the water you added for Mash out.

Also, if there is enough sparge water, split it to two sparges.

To create more sparge water you can also increase the thickness of your mash.
 

mr_tyreman

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do you completely drain out the esky for you first runnings?

refill the esky, stir up the mash, recirc and drain completely for second runnings

continue...

- Also what is the gravity of the first runnings? are they around 1.075?
 

Yob

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Not sure if the end product is affected, it's definitely not going to be noticeable in a stout.
But lagers and pales I prefer clear. I guess after a few months in the keg they will probably clear.

the manifold is a copper water pipe i bent and welded and drilled holes in I never get a stuck mash. the drain rate is that it takes about 15 minutes to get the first runnings.

Channeling is a potential issue with that design.. the outer copper lines are hard up against the side... water will take the easiest route and this will be down the side of the tun..

not saying it is.. just something to look at...

ed: You also might want to get some of those PH test strips to help you dial into your water/system.. if you are blindly making additions then this is also potential for driving the PH out of optimum range.. after using them for the last few batches I know that if I add a half tsp citric acid to my HLT, I get to about a PH of 5.2 to 5.4 in the mash

I also noticed a huge difference when I switched to fly sparging (slowly ;))
 

glenwal

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I use brewsmith so I normally use what the program dictates, I usually aim for 22 litres in the fomenter which means I take 2 litres off whatever brewsmith states for a particular recipe for the sparge water.
Do you mean Beer Smith, or Brew Mate ;) ?

I think i see your problem here though. How are you determining that you were getting 53% efficency. Brewing software isn't designed to tell you what to do out of the box, you have to adjust it to your system. If you are doing 22L batches, but have your software set at 24L batches, then you're going to be way off the mark. You're probably actually getting much better efficency, its just the calculation is wrong because its trying to calculate for a different size batch.

The same will apply to any losses you have in the system (eg. How much wort you leave behind when draining the mash tun or kettle), and this will have a big impact to your brewhouse efficency.

Concentrate on your mash efficency first (this is something you calculate by putting numbers into your software, and remember to look at your actual efficency, not the estimated one). Mash efficency is important because it will effect your recipie, and is something you can look to improve through process changes (eg. Hotter sparge water).

You can then look at improving your brew house efficency (which is based around the size of your batch into the fermenter) by looking at your trub losses and how to minimise them (eg. Whirlpooling).
 

scmgre

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i use beer smith. Thanks for all the responses i will be putting all the advice to use in my next brew.
 

manticle

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Glen W's post is where I would start before playing around with anything else (ie. make sure the efficiency you think you're getting is the actual efficiency you are getting).

As an aside - how much Calcium Chloride did you add to make it taste like a swimming pool?

Channeling is a potential issue with that design.. the outer copper lines are hard up against the side... water will take the easiest route and this will be down the side of the tun..
I believe mainly relevant to fly sparging - if Gareth is batch sparging, less of an issue. You can also drain faster if you are batching Gareth. No need to go slow except maybe at the start to reduce splashing.

Still, the manifold should have some clearance from the sides - can you cut a bit off the laterals?
 

dr K

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Sorry old Kurtz is about to be boring...about 12 years of being boring about efficiency and counting !
It certainly helps to know how your brewery works and to have reasonable understanding of kilo's of grain in litres of beer out and ABV. not only is this helpfull with recipe design but is a good indicator of when something is astray.
Tools like Beersmith/Promash/Beertools etc all are vey helpfull in this regard.
Efficiency is really the last thing you should be chasing/improving/worried about, unless of course the quality of a beer is directly related to the efficiency of the brewery or indeed you want some very strange bragging points.
Efficiency (as calculated) takes only grain into account, say I am paying $4 per kilo for BB/JW/WM then 20 litres of 1044 beer at 70% "efficiency" costs for base malt $16, at 50% $22 and sadly at 85% $13, energy same price, yeast same price, hops same price, for those who pay less than $100 a sack of malt it becomes sadder.
K
 

scmgre

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Sorry old Kurtz is about to be boring...about 12 years of being boring about efficiency and counting !
It certainly helps to know how your brewery works and to have reasonable understanding of kilo's of grain in litres of beer out and ABV. not only is this helpfull with recipe design but is a good indicator of when something is astray.
Tools like Beersmith/Promash/Beertools etc all are vey helpfull in this regard.
Efficiency is really the last thing you should be chasing/improving/worried about, unless of course the quality of a beer is directly related to the efficiency of the brewery or indeed you want some very strange bragging points.
Efficiency (as calculated) takes only grain into account, say I am paying $4 per kilo for BB/JW/WM then 20 litres of 1044 beer at 70% "efficiency" costs for base malt $16, at 50% $22 and sadly at 85% $13, energy same price, yeast same price, hops same price, for those who pay less than $100 a sack of malt it becomes sadder.
K
Thats true I pay about 65 dollars a 25kg sack of JW, but the disposal of the spent grain is an issue. Its not really about the cost, spending 6 hours doing a brew is not very cost efective but very enjoyable :) I use a lot of the spent grain to make sour dough bread, but there's only so much grain we can eat, a loaf lasts a couple of days.
I was putting it in the garden compost but now i seem to have encouraged a mouse explosion. we now have them in the house from a couple of days ago. So reducing my waste will help me. Knowing what works and what doesn't is also very helpful when designing my beers, currently I seem to be getting a range of 53 -> 67 percent efficiency depending on darkness of beer and the method used.so ia m very grateful for all the responses received.
 

kelbygreen

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As said the outer pipes should be about half the distance of the inner spacing so so the spacing in between the outer pipe and the middle pipe is 100mm the outer pipes should be 50mm from the side of the tun I also found this is needed at the ends to. But if batch sparging then its not as bad. Few things do a double batch sparge if your batch sparging and if fly sparging run off slower and look for channeling and try to stop it if you see any. I got a very long tun so I found about 3-4inch from the front and back should have no holes in the manifold or it will channel at the front or back (usually the front as it draws from there)

Edit: 6 hours a brew??? I have done a double batch pale ale and a single batch pilsner with a decoction step and mash in, sach and mash out with both in 4 hours 45mins from filling the HLT to having the pots draining in the sink lol. Mind you it was a full on day and used all 3 of my pots at once and a 20lt pot on the stove for decoction step and running in and out of the house stiring and checking temps lol. I prob average 5 or so now but that usually involves a sleep for a hour and a half lol. Only day I dont have to look after the daughter or work I brew so make the most of it :p
 

dicko

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Hi Glen I meant by `cracking very well` that I can adjust the rollers get a good crush on the grain.
Changing the size of the crush will have a major affect on mash efficiency, the finer the crush the more efficiency until your mash will become unworkable in the home brew environment.

Adjust your rollers so that you get all the grains broken open but the husks are stil intact.

On a tangent some commercial breweries crush extremely fine and then clear the wort by centrifuge and they achieve extremely high efficiencies, after all, accountants want the maximum out of every process.

Have an experienced brewer look at your grain crush or just adjust your rollers until you get all the malt exposed without "shredding" the outer husk.

Of course, the other advice mentioned above is not to be ignored either.

Good luck and have fun

Cheers
 

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