In case you missed it, I was on Rick Jensen’s Thirsty Thursday (WDEL 1150AM) last week. I had a great time talking about beer! Check out the podcast, and be sure to check out Thirsty Thursday on WDEL every week at 3pm. Check out his other podcasts.
It is time to go all-grain. I’ve got my mash/lauter tun (MLT), my false bottom, my stainless steel valves, my high-temp silicone tubing, my mash paddle, and a good thermometer.
But here’s the thing: I can’t formulate recipes until I know the efficiency of my MLT. Basically, when you mash, you stew the malted grain in hot water, converting the starches to fermentable and unfermentable sugars. When you measure the amount of sugars in the resulting extract (sweet wort) you get it’s specific gravity, which is its density (water @ 60° F = 1.000). Different malts will have varying potential extract, but efficiency is never 100%. In order to hit a target gravity for a recipe, I need to know how much malt to use based on my personal efficiency. I’m hoping for at least 75%, but my false bottom is renowned for its efficiency so I might very well get it in the 80’s.
A couple things affect mash efficiency:
The false bottom I will be using is fairly similar to those used by professional breweries,except the liquid has to flow up tomeet the valve, where a professional brewery would have it drain straight down and be pumped, through tubes, into the brew kettle.
The false bottom design allows even draining. The positioning of slotted pipes must be considered carefully to allow for maximum flow and evenness. Pipes and braids simply make more sense for rectangular MLT’s only. See this guide on “Tun Geometry and Flow Potential” from John Palmer’s “How to Brew.”
Galena, of which I recently scored a cache from the Dock Street brewpub. Galena was developed in the late 60’s as Brewer’s Gold that was openly pollinated (free love, man) in Idaho. It was once one of the most widely grown hops. The water will be straight Philly tap and the yeast, you guessed it, 1056 American Ale.
After the mash I calculated my efficiency to be between 67% and 75%, depending on the specific potential of the malt, which could be between 34 and 38 GUs per pound per gallon. It’s not a bad efficiency, but I could have definitely done a better job of mashing out closer to 170° F, perhaps upping my efficiency into the 80s.
In a month in a half “Straight Shooter: All-American Free Love” will be ready to drink.
I’m sick of cleaning copper.
I’m going to get that stainless steel wort chiller I’ve had my eye on.