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ghost_batch

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Reply with quote  #1 
OK,

I just brewed a nice batch of good beer (I hope) and this is what happened.  I mashed my grains using a pretty thick mixture (0.66 qts/lb).  The mash went well.  After the mash, I poured the mixture into my sparge tun so that I could heat up the sparge water, which took about 10 minutes.  I then started to sparge and found that it was stuck.  YUCK!  It was stuck in my sparging wand because a wee bit of burnt stuff was clogging the pin holes.  Anyways, it took forever to sparge 5 gallons (about 1 hour including the stuck time) and I found that my wort was down to about 114 deg F when I was finished.  I stopped the aprge short because the gravity was getting too low (down to 1.034 when I was shooting for 1.06!).  So after I boiled and cooled the wort I was stuck with 1.055 and only 4 gallons when I was aiming for 5 gallons!!!  Plugging these numbers into promash, I get 39% mash efficiency!  =(

Does this sound accurate for a false bottom system?  Are there any tricks to increasing my efficiency?  I mean at this efficiency, I do not even have enough room in my 5 gallon tun to mash a 5 gallon batch of wheat!

Thanks,

Tim
JDonovan

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Reply with quote  #2 
Most brewers will eventually move to a system were the mash and sparge are done in the same vessel, thus eliminating some of the said problems. However, in your case what I would be sure to do is to heat some water first and poor that into the sparge vessel so that the level comes to about 1" above the false bottom. This will keep the grains from hard clogging the false bottom when you make the mash transfer.

What type of false bottom is it? How big are the slots (or holes)?
How long did you sparge for?

- Jeff

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ghost_batch

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Reply with quote  #3 
J,

Can you recommend a mash system or is this something I can make on my own?  I did some calulations and I realize that I need to use direct heat to do multistep mashing or else I end up with way too much water!

Should I just start cutting and wleding my pot and attach the false bottom to it for my mashing???

BTW - right now I have a SS false bottom with ~1.5mm diameter holes cut into it.  I bought it from the homebrew shop.  I've just been putting this into a bucket with a plastic spigot.

My sparge time for the last batch was about 1 hour including the stuck time. 

Is it common to see efficiency as low as 40%?

Thanks
robowobo

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Reply with quote  #4 
go get a 10 gallon cooler like a rubbermaid  look at it to see  if you can take the spout out .get a valve ,a nipple, and some washers put your valve in where the spout is cause its thick and stronger than the walls and make up some 1" pvc pipe (mine is like a "TEE"  cap it and drill a million holes 1/6" in it . get or make a sparge arm & there ya go.  i made mine from copper but pvc is easier to work with  do not glue the pc
JDonovan

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Reply with quote  #5 
40% is not uncommon starting out on a new system. What's uncommon is to continue with the system without making some drastic improvements. I generally achieve about 70%-75% on average and I'm sure I could improve that if I *really* wanted to but that works for me.

As far as recommending a system, there are so very many possibilities (esp. with some of the more high end HB shops) I would be hard-pressed to recommend one over the other....You can take a look at some of my own brewing rigs to get you an idea of what I built on my own:

Rig1

Rig2

Rig3

Each one is a little different and took a couple brews to really dial in the numbers....

- Jeffe


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ghost_batch

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Reply with quote  #6 
Something must be wrong then, because I'm not starting out on a new system.  I've been brewing with this system for a while.  I just got my pc back up and running and found that I indeed did achieve ~80% efficiency with this same setup.  I think that my recent problems have been due to bad thermometers that I did not realize were bad until I got to the boiling stage!  Plus, last time I brewed I had a stuck mash and the grain ended up cooling down so I'm thinking that had alot to do with it.  Oh well, I guess I'll just have to brew again to try and root cause the situation.  =)

I like your setups!  Man i wish I had the time and money to wled those stands and buy those pots like you got.  they look like the polarware pots (SWEET)! 

BUT, I just scored a stainless steel keg!  WOOHOO!  I also have access to a plasma cutter, so get ready to check out pics of my new system very soon!  I'm thinking of welding the spigot attachment on the bottom of the keg instead of the side.  Do you see any issues with this?


JDonovan

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Reply with quote  #7 
There shouldn't be any problem with the spigot on the bottom, most pro-rigs (10 bbl's and higher) are bottom spigotted....So long as the keg is in the air high enough you'll be fine.

- Jeff



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ghost_batch

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Reply with quote  #8 
For rig #2, was it possible to apply direct heat to the fat-man?  I'm wondering if, for my converted keg system, will there be an issue with having the drain plumbing with a spigot welded to the bottom of my keg and applying direct propane heat to it?

Thanks,
JDonovan

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Reply with quote  #9 
FatMan was steam jacketed originally and in theory I could direct heat with steam...However I was pretty sure direct heat via flame underneath might damage it so I never attempted it. Amazingly enough it holds heat better than any other vessel I have....

Yes I would imagine direct heating the keg with a bottom spigot may cause some problems. They could be avoided if very, very careful. Is there a particular reason you don't want to make a side spigot?

- Jeff

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ghost_batch

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Reply with quote  #10 
The only reason i was thinking that a bottom spigot would be better is because it would be easier to install/remove/clean the false bottom.  That's all...  I guess this is a big deal to me since cleanup is probably the biggest part of brewing!   

Are you thinking that the weld joint will crack since the different material thicknesses (elbow vs. ss keg thinwall) will cause differences in thermal expansion?  Or, is there another issue that I am not considering?

Thanks
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