During the development and testing of the Spike Solo, we averaged roughly 70% mash efficiency. This is a standard efficiency for a single vessel, no-sparge brewing systems. If you are having trouble hitting these numbers, here are some tips to help raise your efficiency!
Manage Mash Temperature Accurately
For the most accurate Solo mash temperature, we recommend measuring your grain bed after a few minutes of recirculation with a thermometer. Due to the design of the system, the liquid in the kettle is made by reading at a higher temperature than the liquid within the grain itself. If your grain temperature is below expectation, simply raise your PID a few degrees until the internal mash temperature reaches your desired mash temperature. We also recommend stirring the mash 1-2 times during the one hour mash to ensure consistent temperatures. Be sure to turn off the pump when stirring.
Make sure to mash long enough to fully convert starches to sugars. For most recipes, we recommend mashing for 60 minutes.
Prevent Grain Bed Channeling
During the mash and vorlauf steps of brew day, grain bed channeling can occur and will often lead to lower efficiency than expected. Channeling occurs when water follows a shorter path or channel through the bed, and never fully flows through other sections of the grains. To prevent channeling, make sure to keep an inch of liquid above the grain bed, and do your best to evenly distribute the liquid over the grain bed, instead of into a specific location.
In our testing, we found a grain crush of .035” worked best to avoid stuck mashes and achieve the highest efficiencies.
Brew Day Process
- Avoid grain bed compacting – When mashing is complete, keep 1-2 inches of liquid above the grain bed before lifting the basket. Once the basket is hooked onto your kettle, turn the pump back on to vorlauf until the wort runs clear, typically for ~10 minutes. Keeping liquid above the grain at all times during this step will make sure compaction doesn’t occur.
- Collect Wort Longer After Mash – The longer you can let your wort drain from the basket the better. After letting the basket sit on your kettle for 10-20 minutes, place the basket on a secondary kettle or bucket and continue to collect. You can then add this wort back to your boil kettle to help on the efficiency.
- “Squeeze” The Basket – After the basket is drained of wort, apply downward pressure on the grain to push out any last wort.
Note the last two processes will increase your batch volume