The GrainFather

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Futur
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Re: The GrainFather

Postby Futur » Wed Jul 27, 2016 11:08 pm

I have a question in regards to using a higher water to grain ratio in the grainfather.

I want to maximise amount of mash water within the grainfather to increase the efficiency of a no sparge mash whilst maintaining the grainbed to essentially filter the mash during recirculation.

I'm torn between where the top plate should be located in respect to the water level with a maximum mash volume. I see a few options available:

1. Don't use the top plate at all and just recirculate directly with the wort return arm hose facing directly down in the mash tun.
2. Put the top plate slightly below the water level in it's standard position with the wort return in it's standard position also. (This will cause a very thin mash between the top and bottom plate).
3. Place the top plate on the grainbed somehow to create a mash thickness similar to what the OEM recommendeds. (A large volume of water will be above the top plate).
4. Forget the top plate and malt pipe altogether and just use a bag with recirculation.

I tried method one for my last batch and only received ~55% efficiency with poor wort clarity.

Does anyone have input on what the best option would be here?
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mchrispen
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Re: The GrainFather

Postby mchrispen » Fri Jul 29, 2016 4:11 pm

I use option 1 when using the basket during mash, and leave the malt pipe up and well above the waterline. I also check my BeerSmith volume calcs against the GrainFather calculator on their website. The challenge is that the lower sparge volumes seem to impact efficiency, and finding the right mill size for the GF is also problematic. I had been using the mill settings I use on my RIMS system, but doesn't seem to work very well on the GF.

I don't find the plate top all that useful - and understand that the danger here is that if the mash sticks, water will stack up on the mash and leave the burner area dry - can also cause the pump to malfunction. The plate should prevent husks and grits from spilling through the malt pipe into the boil area - but it doesn't prevent gelatinized protein from forming down there.

I just bought a Brewbag for my GF, but haven't brewed with it yet. Feels like a better solution for no-sparge... and if you can no sparge to a reasonable gravity with a lower volume of liquor - then you could top up the boil to the desired pre-boil gravity. I am really impressed with the quality of the Brewbag - the fine mesh twill should run very clear wort. I will use the top plate rested off the pump filter to keep the bag off the burner area.
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Futur
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Re: The GrainFather

Postby Futur » Fri Jul 29, 2016 7:13 pm

Thanks mchrispen for the detailed response. It's very difficult to get information like this anywhere, as it seems everyone sparges with their grainfather(who would have thought)!

Just as a thought do you think having the malt pipe pointing directly down into the mash could cause channelling? Could the top plate at the very least reduce the risk of this as it disperses the returned wort more evenly in the top of the mash?

I brewed again (sparged) last night and did my house APA and used SMB in the recommended amounts. Ive brewed this beer a dozen times and normally target around 80% mash efficiency and I got 55%. Which is the same efficiency I got with my last sparged beer I did when using SMB. I had tightened up my mill gap this time to 0.8mm)(from 1mm) to try and improve efficiency but it seemed to have no effect.
phishie
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Re: The GrainFather

Postby phishie » Fri Jul 29, 2016 7:23 pm

What about using the top plate - having it submerged 2-3 inches below the wort level - and having the return silicon tube running straight down 1/2 to 1 inch below the work level? That way you diffuse the return into the wort while keeping the advantage of the top plate.
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mchrispen
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Re: The GrainFather

Postby mchrispen » Fri Jul 29, 2016 8:25 pm

The thing with RIMS is that you circulate to pull liquor through the mash - creating a pressure differential between the bottom and the top. This gives a much more uniform distribution of liquor, sets a good mash bed, and the mechanical movement helps to create a more uniform temperature distribution and, theoretically, encourage liquefaction of all of the starches (that occurs as the grits hydrate from the outside to the in). The GF has airspace all around the basket and the malt pipe - so no pressure differential. It relies on gravity to pull the liquor through the grist, and the narrow tall mash bed profile requires a slow sparge to maximize efficiency. A middle sized crush lets me mash, without overflow into the malt pipe, and have the mash drain only through the basket. After 20+ brews on it - I still struggle with it compared to my big system. I get protein build up, and a fair amount of small grits in the boiler using their system - so that is why the Brewbag. Edge to edge mash bed should get me closer to my RIMS performance, and the fine twill bag should keep ALL of the grits out of the boil.

I don't think that the SMB is the culprit, although I see slightly lower mash efficiency with it. Your theory with the top plate is sound, but if the overflow is not going into the pipe, I don't see that as a channeling problem. The GF suggests pushing down the top plate during the mash, keeping it level. After 30 minutes, I can usually push it about 1-2" down from the grain in time. Having a tight mash bed toward the end of the mash circulation and going into the sparge should slow the filter rates. The basket is not very conducive to stirring during grain in - and it is possible that there are dry spots.

So - if I can deal with this bad back, I hope to brew with the bag in a few days and see how that goes. I am hoping to no sparge, slowly lowering the bag for grain in and giving it a very good stir or two, and then topping up with boiled water to hit gravity and volume.
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mchrispen
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Re: The GrainFather

Postby mchrispen » Fri Jul 29, 2016 8:34 pm

Phishie, do you mean bury the top plate under the malt an inch below or so? I haven't tried that - but the division of the mash would mean a lot of loose malt spinning around - and two perf plates that could have reduced flow. Honestly I hate that malt pipe - I get it, but it's insurance in case the mash sticks.

FYI - I increased the length of the return hose such that I can lay it on the mash and have a slow whirlpool during circulation. I always make sure the hose outlet is below the top of the water level - and check periodically to make sure it hasn't moved or floated.

FYI - if the mash sticks, good luck. I tried to stir once, but managed to somehow knock the malt pipe in a way that opened a gap in the bottom plate and let mash fall through. Was a disaster.
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lupulus
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Re: The GrainFather

Postby lupulus » Fri Jul 29, 2016 8:55 pm

Quick and to the point - BTW Brewbag rocks :-)
There is no big secret to efficiency
CONVERSION INTO SIMPLE SUGARS
One needs to get the amylose and amylopectin chains in contact with liquid (need to get to the gelatinization point of the grain you are mashing)
Your grains need to have sufficient enzymes, and be at the right temperature and pH
EXTRACTION (OR RINSING OR SEPARATION)
You need to rinse or separate the sugars you converted from the grains

Can you narrow down which one of the two you think is failing?

FYI - I have a similar BIAB recirculation system, and I get about 70% at the end of the boil (cold with trub) if I do no sparge. If I batch sparge, I can get to about 75%. Once I separate the hot and cold break from a 70% (into the fermenter), I get about 62%, not far from yours. The 75% beer gets to 66% after trub separation. If I do trub filtering (I may do this for an IPA -not so subtle beer-), I can recover about 2/3 of the trub, at the expense of some astringency.
Ich trinke Bier nur an Tagen die mit G enden , und Mittwochs
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Futur
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Re: The GrainFather

Postby Futur » Sat Jul 30, 2016 6:13 am

I'll be interested to see how you go using the bag mchrispen - I might try using it next batch I make but that will be a while away yet. I really have to start correcting for the lower efficiency I've been getting of late as I'm quite sick of undershooting my gravity by 20 points!

I really want to attempt a full volume mash (30L) also using the top plate and just pulling the overflow pipe as high as it will go to prevent overflow. Or possibly blocking off the overflow pipe all together with some sort of cap which will put more pressure on the grain bed as the water level rises.

With my system the only thing that can be killing my efficiency is the SMB or the malt conditioning.I know for a fact without malt conditioning and SMB I can get 80% mash efficiency and without I'm at 55%. I'm just wondering if all SMB is created equal? I'm going to have to brew another two batches with and without SMB to find out.

To be honest lupulus, I don't know but I would probably put my bets on conversion. The only variables which have changed in my system are those I've mentioned above. My efficiency into the fermenter would be far less than 62% and that's with a fly sparge!

Interestingly I did a no sparge batch with about 70mg/L of SMB in the GF and got a mash efficiency of about 55% (I fly sparged and got 55% also with 100mg/L of SMB). This might be a data point indicating that reduced SMB from the recommended 100mg/L improves efficiency, in my system anyway.
delomixal
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Re: The GrainFather

Postby delomixal » Wed Jan 18, 2017 5:20 am

Hello, new to LoDO new to GF as well
First i don't like the grain bag idea. A different crush or an additional mesh would address some problems i believe.
I also want to ask if forming a CO2 blanket over the wort would help with absorbed O2 during sparging?
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Weizenberg
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Re: The GrainFather

Postby Weizenberg » Thu Jan 19, 2017 5:20 am

The Quest for Edelstoff - http://edelstoffquest.wordpress.com

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