First brew on BM50L... crap efficiency

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First brew on BM50L... crap efficiency

Unread postby Goose » Thu Mar 03, 2016 3:36 am

I am midway through very first brew on my newly acquired BM50, and getting to boil as I type.

Experiences so far;

- was a relatively simple recipe calling for 10.15 kg grain. I decided I am not going to sparge if I can avoid it, and so I calculated basis trusty Beersmith profile that i needed 67 litres of water. This was basis a grain absorbtion of a tad more than 1.0 litre/kg. So I doughed in with 55 litres of water at 38 deg C, carefully stirring the mash so as not to cause any overflow. After starting the pumps, the malt pipe filled and flowed over just as I'd seen in the videos. I then added 12 litres more (beersmith total water vol told me 67l) and set my steps, 5 mins at 55C, 45 mins at 67C and a 20 min mashout at 76 C. Mash seemed to go fine, while the water covered even half the wingnut, I could see some flow of wort and it seemed to clear reasonably well by the end of the process. It is almost impossible to judge flow through the pipe when it is completely submerged, (I guess this one benefit of the sparge method).

- Unfortunately at the end of mash I measured only 1.036 :oops: which was way lower than my 1.047 target which I based on an 80 pct mash efficiency. Crap.

- After pulling out the malt pipe and allowing it to drain (bottom quarter of it was still submerged in wort I might add), and removing it, I calculated the pre boil wort volume and it was 61 odd litres, meaning I'd only lost 6.2 litres to grain absorbtion, not the 10 + I expected. Anyhow, I collected 4 l of wort more than I wanted. Based on 61 litres and FG of 1.036, my mash efficiency was a lousy 70%. Therefore I now have to boil 1 hour longer than I wanted too, and add some dme to make up for expected OG.

Double Crap.

Maybe something wrong with my water volume calculations or I stuffed up my grain bill weight (don't think so) though.

My crankandstein 3 roller grain mill was set at 0.050 inches (1.27mm) and next brew I will try 0.060 in (1.52 mm) or is that too wide ?

Still trying to figure other reasons for crap efficiency. Mash pH was 5.4, but spent malt tasted a bit sweet so I suspect flowrate through the bed not what it should have been, though I didn't notice any wort fountains though given it was so submerged I doubt I could have detected it anyway. Wondering if the head of water above the pipe compacted it too much to allow a satisfactory flow ? :?:

Can anybody see any obvious flaws ?
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Re: First brew on BM50L... crap efficiency

Unread postby john.donovan62 » Thu Mar 03, 2016 9:12 am

You have had a good learning experience Goose. You now know that your system absorbs less water than BS predicted. Make that adjustment and next brew you will get a higher gravity preboil. Also, the larger the grain bill the lower the efficiency, if you used 9kgs you may have had the same gravity reading. Perhaps leave your mill adjustment until after you have tried the other things first. As for the sweet taste, you will get that as you have no sparged. Small steps with a BM, I'm on my 7 or 8 brew and still adjusting. Don't stress it
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Re: First brew on BM50L... crap efficiency

Unread postby Goose » Thu Mar 03, 2016 9:39 am

Thanks JD.

I was thinking next time to try the sparge method but it just seems like a massive step backward for me when I used to use a really simple 2 pot mash to boil system. For that I used to sparge with repeated jugs poured into the mash tun that then drained to the boiler. (That's exactly what I'd be required to do if I sparged the BM.)

I then moved to a rolls royce 3 V RIMS system and got very used to that, but so many of you guys blow the BM trumpet :) I just had to try it when the opportunity arose (I acquired one quite cheaply from someone that gave up brewing).

I now have both systems in my brewshed and trying to work out which one to sell. Pro's and cons on both. Going to see if I can crack this efficiency nut on the BM though before I decide.
Last edited by Goose on Thu Mar 03, 2016 9:41 am, edited 1 time in total.
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First brew on BM50L... crap efficiency

Unread postby mbarn » Thu Mar 03, 2016 9:40 am

There is a 50l profile on here which gains good feedback.
I'm using a 20l and I always sparge with 4-6 litres, and I'm yet to miss my OG target. I usually hit it or exceed it by a point.
What size do you mill at or order? I'm using 1.3.
There are many who sparge and don't sparge, but my efficiency is better sparging.
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Re: First brew on BM50L... crap efficiency

Unread postby Goose » Thu Mar 03, 2016 9:43 am

mbarn wrote:What size do you mill at or order? I'm using 1.3.


Using a 3 roller crankandstein and set it at .050 " or close enough to the 1.3 mm as most people recommend.

As mentioned, I found the grain bed remaining too sweet vs what I achieve on my 3 V system. Something is not right.
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Re: First brew on BM50L... crap efficiency

Unread postby john.donovan62 » Thu Mar 03, 2016 9:58 am

I've used different systems to Goose and the BM is standout for clean up and also overnight mashing. The program also means repeating brews without a lot of thought. Love it, wish they were making them when I started.
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Re: First brew on BM50L... crap efficiency

Unread postby Goose » Thu Mar 03, 2016 10:36 am

john.donovan62 wrote:I've used different systems to Goose and the BM is standout for clean up and also overnight mashing. The program also means repeating brews without a lot of thought. Love it, wish they were making them when I started.


Agreed, pros and cons. Some 3 V RIMS also facilitate repeatability through PLC units. IMHO Its not really true that the cleaning of the BM is easier than a 3V, since I never clean the HLT, just the mash tun and boiler. In the BM, I have to clean the malt pipe and larger tun, same number of vessels as far as I am concerned.

If I could achieve same or superior mash efficiency with a no sparge method, the BM might be ahead for certain brewing applications.

But as said, I am in the process of learning the BM, but at present a tad disappointed with the mash efficiency and to be off by 10% must mean I am doing something wrong... :oops:
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Re: First brew on BM50L... crap efficiency

Unread postby ibbones » Thu Mar 03, 2016 4:42 pm

But as said, I am in the process of learning the BM, but at present a tad disappointed with the mash efficiency and to be off by 10% must mean I am doing something wrong... :oops:

Do not base your first brew on a bad efficiency. Get to know the BM and you will be selling your 3v system really soon.
Good luck with your next brew.
"BONES"
20 Liter BM
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Re: First brew on BM50L... crap efficiency

Unread postby Goose » Sat Apr 30, 2016 2:53 am

Report back, as all to often people solve their problems or not, but never report back at least to close.

After a few further brews, trying sparge and no sparge I've settled on the no sparge learning much along the way. I am doing a Czech Pils right now, and just measured OG which gives mean efficiency of a shade under 78%, which to all intents and purposes I am happy with.

The steps to improving were:

1) identifying that only one of my pumps was operating properly. It turned out I had a defective or the wrong type of impeller in my pump, which was solved by a replacement from Grain and Grape.
2) by reducing the size of my crush in my 3 roller crankenstein to 1.1 mm
3) calibrating my volumes correctly using weight. my original estimate of grain absorption was way too high.
4) general drainage technique, now I use a heavy duty fridge rack as per pic below as opposed to the supplied brace. This way i can see what volume I am collecting and only need one bucket to move the spent malt pipe over to after i collect target volume. Because I do not have a hoist I do however need help to slide under the rack as I lift the malt pipe. I also press down hard on the upper lid of the pipe to eek out as much liquid as I can (thanks for that tip mr Dicko!).

Please excuse temporary unsanitary exit valve, but anything was better than the original. I await tri clamp sanitary valve and fittings....

Image
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Re: First brew on BM50L... crap efficiency

Unread postby Dicko » Sat Apr 30, 2016 6:55 pm

It is great that you reported back, goose.

That impeller problem was a strange one, but not knowing the history behind your BM it made it reasonably hard to detect the difference.

I had a 3 roller Crankenstein when I first got my BM and After I dialled it in I was getting 78% mash effeiciency on a regular basis. I now have a geared Mashmaster mill with the fluted rollers and achieve the same result although the gap is closer to suit the fluted rollers.

I used to sparge but from receiving some sound advice from Nesto and others I went over to the no sparge method and it is IMO so much easier on brew day for the same result.

There are many stainless fitting suppliers on ebay now if you are having difficulty getting valves and fittings.
The NPT/BSP reducer will work ok. I use a a couple of turns of thread tape on the threads.

Dont do what I did and assume that the heat of the boil will clean the internals of the tap and reducer.
I recently had to tip a full batch due to an infection found to be coming from a build up of crap in the tap area.
Yes....I had tears as I watched it go down the drain and was waking up during the night in cold sweats for weeks after that disaster. :lol:

:cheers:
The worst thing that can happen if I die is that my wife will sell all my brewing equipment for what I told her I paid for it
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Re: First brew on BM50L... crap efficiency

Unread postby Goose » Sun May 01, 2016 1:11 am

Dont do what I did and assume that the heat of the boil will clean the internals of the tap and reducer.
I recently had to tip a full batch due to an infection found to be coming from a build up of crap in the tap area.


Do you undo the threads after each brew ?

Fully agreed Dicko and a point I think oft overlooked. Before i went 3V years ago my boiler was just a 50l pot with a hole drilled into its base to which I attached a simple ball valve but the join to the pot was a compression fitting sealed with an o ring. You know the type. I also assumed the heat of the boil would kill any nasties lurking in the gaps. After using it for a year, despite the fact it looked clean I decided to pull it apart and was amazed by the amount of sludge that had built up in areas I was unable to see while it was installed. It was definitely the source of a taint in my beers I could'nt figure for a long time.

When i went 3V I went sanitary tri clamp on all fittings, and now doing same on the BM outlet. Unfortunately the need for threaded reducers is not as sanitary as i'd prefer (a welded tri clamp fitting would be ideal) but at least having an easily removable tri clamp valve will allow me to use a small bottle brush to double up on the CIP with PBW I use after each brew.

Hoping to have the parts here prior to next run.
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Re: First brew on BM50L... crap efficiency

Unread postby Dicko » Sun May 01, 2016 6:46 pm

Yes mate I now undo the threads, remove and dismantle the tap, give it all a sanitary clean and re assemble with new thread tape.
I fit the old original tap back into the kettle so I can still clean the rest of the BM with boiling water and PBW.
At the same time I place all the tap parts and fittings into the hot solution.

:cheers:
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Re: First brew on BM50L... crap efficiency

Unread postby MattSR » Sun May 01, 2016 11:12 pm

I'm just thinking now that maybe thread sealant is a better bet than tape - since it provides a proper full seal, theres no gaps for mould or other crud to start to live...

Then again, I have my BM all set up the way I want it, so I am loathe to take it apart again!!!

:)
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Re: First brew on BM50L... crap efficiency

Unread postby Goose » Mon May 02, 2016 1:21 am

Dicko wrote:Yes mate I now undo the threads, remove and dismantle the tap, give it all a sanitary clean and re assemble with new thread tape.
I fit the old original tap back into the kettle so I can still clean the rest of the BM with boiling water and PBW.
At the same time I place all the tap parts and fittings into the hot solution.

:cheers:


That is very thorough!

When I have my tri clamp connector the one risky part will be definitely be the threads. teflon tape is a must for the seal but never considered a thread sealant. From years gone by the name "loctite" springs to mind but it might not be the best way to go if you want to take it apart after each brew.
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Re: First brew on BM50L... crap efficiency

Unread postby mashy » Mon May 02, 2016 7:53 am

MattSR wrote:I'm just thinking now that maybe thread sealant is a better bet than tape.


If you insist on taking it apart loctite 55 cord is fantastic.

(i do think it might be OCD though - sorry)
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