Personally, I go down the Camden tablet for 24hrs and then pitch Champagne yeast. Of course, I like really dry cider...
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Dave, when it comes to an American Stout vs. a Robust Porter, I have always contended that a porter, any style of porter for that matter, should not have black patent in the grist bill. If it does, it's a stout. That's just my opinion, but one I feel is accurate.
I'm at work and don't have details but I can tell you that when I first started using beersmith I disagreed with the efficiency calcs I was getting. I built a quick spreadsheet and started calculating it manually and sure enough I was right. Turns out that the way I was entering some other variables was effecting the number the program was spitting out (perhaps the equipment or batch size, can't remember which)... also, beer smith calculates efficiency 3 different ways, right? are all three of them the same for you?
Denny and most batch spargers use picnic coolers where there is no dead space at the bottom. In a system set to run with HERMS, I'd assume you have a vessel with significant dead space under the grain bed. I mash in a converted keg with a sabco false bottom, which leaves 4 quarts of liquid under it. Could batch sparging with a system like this possibly leave more wort in the tun?