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General Category => All Grain Brewing => Topic started by: yso191 on February 02, 2015, 07:13:45 PM

Title: High gravity efficiency troubles
Post by: yso191 on February 02, 2015, 07:13:45 PM
I have regularly missed Beersmith's predicted OG on higher gravity beers.  Usually by 5-10 points.  This isn't a major issue because it will make good beer regardless, but I want to fix this so that I get what I want/expect. 

Saturday I brewed an American Barleywine.  Predicted OG was 1.101; actual OG was 1.085.  Anticipating your question, here are the details:

Leviathan, American Barleywine (19 C)
Start of Boil Vol: 7.88 gal
Est Mash Efficiency: 71.3 %

Ingredients:
23 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM)  92.0 %
1 lbs British Crystal (55.0 SRM)  4.0 %
1 lbs Cara Munich I (60.0 SRM) 4.0%


I brew with 100% RO water.  I used the 'Amber Bitter' profile in Brun' Water, and matched the targets quite well, resulting in a predicted mash pH of 5.4.

I mashed at 150* for 90 minutes and only lost about 4 degrees over that time.  I batched-sparged, starting with a 1.35 qt per lb of grain, which only left 2.5 gallons of 170* sparge water.

Where do you think my problem is?
Title: Re: High gravity efficiency troubles
Post by: Wort-H.O.G. on February 02, 2015, 07:21:12 PM
only thing i can think off is trying thinner mash. i'd just recirculate the wort if i didn't have enough sparge water.

2qts/lb

EDIT: MO yield may be lower than projected in software. every malt is just a projection, and you may find some don't yield as much as others.
Title: Re: High gravity efficiency troubles
Post by: dmtaylor on February 02, 2015, 07:26:06 PM
Bigger beer = lower efficiency.  It's probably as simple as this.  I can easily average more than 90% efficiency on normal gravity beers, but based on experience I know that if I made a beer around 1.100, my normal mash and sparge methods would take efficiency way down to around 50%.  Play around with partigyle or longer boil times to get more points out if you want.  Or just take the hit.  Your option.  Bigger beer = lower efficiency.

EDIT: Okay, I'll give you another idea.  You actually need to mash THICKER so that you can sparge a lot more so you're not wasting so much sugar.  Keep on collecting until runnings get down to 1.010.  Then boil 'er way down.  Might be a 2 or 3-hour boil, somewhere in there.  Guaranteed huge efficiency increase.
Title: Re: High gravity efficiency troubles
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on February 02, 2015, 07:35:25 PM
Normally my efficiency suffers on high gravity brews as well. Some of the issues you can't change (a higher grain bed height, for example), but you can minimize loss in a few ways:

1. Keep your mash and sparge water volumes as close to equal as you can. You obviously need to have enough water for proper conversion, but you can probably trim it down from 1.35 qts/lb to around 1 qts/lb. If you use rice hulls, it helps to stir them in immediately before run-off instead of during mash in.

2. Slow down your runoff. A slower runoff will minimize channeling in that great big grain bed. Some batch sparging folks don't see a difference in efficiency w/ runoff speed, but I sure did!

3. Be prepared to adjust with DME. In high gravity beers, a few pounds of extract won't affect the flavor profile. It may affect the color, if you're brewing something lightly colored, like a tripel or a DIPA. In this case, it may be beneficial to overshoot your gravity and add water.

4. Be prepared beforehand and adjust your recipe efficiency. As you brew more high gravity beers, the efficiency drop is easier to predict.
Title: Re: High gravity efficiency troubles
Post by: denny on February 02, 2015, 07:47:37 PM

EDIT: Okay, I'll give you another idea.  You actually need to mash THICKER so that you can sparge a lot more so you're not wasting so much sugar.  Keep on collecting until runnings get down to 1.010.  Then boil 'er way down.  Might be a 2 or 3-hour boil, somewhere in there.  Guaranteed huge efficiency increase.

Yeah, I think so, too.
Title: Re: High gravity efficiency troubles
Post by: kramerog on February 02, 2015, 07:53:41 PM
The other way to improve efficiency is to use more sparge water and do a longer boil to boil off the extra sparge water.  I have seen comments that English barleywines typically involve a long boil which develops some of their flavor and color.

Typically, I make a first runnings barelywine and a low alcohol second runnings beer when making all malt beers.
Title: Re: High gravity efficiency troubles
Post by: a10t2 on February 02, 2015, 09:23:31 PM
Did you check gravity of the first runnings for conversion efficiency? Lauter efficiency for that mash should be ~71%, so most likely conversion simply wasn't complete due to the low temperature. Sparging with much hotter water to bring the grain bed into the 170s during the second vorlauf/sparge could help.
Title: Re: High gravity efficiency troubles
Post by: kramerog on February 03, 2015, 04:14:29 AM
The BJCP guidelines indicate for both American and English barleywines generally have "a lengthy boil."
Title: Re: High gravity efficiency troubles
Post by: reverseapachemaster on February 03, 2015, 03:49:53 PM
The other way to improve efficiency is to use more sparge water and do a longer boil to boil off the extra sparge water.  I have seen comments that English barleywines typically involve a long boil which develops some of their flavor and color.

Typically, I make a first runnings barelywine and a low alcohol second runnings beer when making all malt beers.

I agree with this.
Title: Re: High gravity efficiency troubles
Post by: jaftak22 on February 05, 2015, 11:14:19 PM
So I am glad that someone had brought this up because I myself have been having this problem. Don't know if its still my in-experience (all grain for 1.5 years). So this weekend I brewed a 2.2 gallon batch of a IPA that I just kind on made on the fly. Brewtoad told me that my SG should have been 1.089 and I am embarrassed to say that it was 1.059. Did everything that I always do.

On the Fly IPA
6 lbs American 2 Row
.3 lbs Crystal 40
.2 lbs Victory
.3 oz Simcoe (60) minutes
.2 oz Citra (60) minutes
1 pellet each Cascade and Citra every 5 minutes until flame out

Mashed with 2.75 gallons of water at 153.5 for 60 minutes
Sparged with 1.5 gallons of water.

I always let the sparge water rest for about 10 minutes before I vorlof.

So my preboil gravity was 1.041 and it was then that I thought I had a problem. Didn't think about adding any DME until the whole thing was over with.

Is this a problem with how much water I may be sparging with or could it be a grain issue.
Title: Re: High gravity efficiency troubles
Post by: jaftak22 on February 05, 2015, 11:20:10 PM
Forgot to mention that I did a 75 minute boil to try and make up for some of the missed gravity points
Title: Re: High gravity efficiency troubles
Post by: dmtaylor on February 06, 2015, 02:08:47 PM
Brewtoad wasn't much help there, eh.  The most I would have expected out of that grain bill for 2.2 gallons would have been 1.069.  Since you only hit 1.059, this points to problems with your crush or pH or waste of good wort due to dead space in your mash tun.  You used the right volumes of water so my first guess (as always) would be that you need to crush harder.
Title: Re: High gravity efficiency troubles
Post by: a10t2 on February 06, 2015, 03:15:24 PM
So my preboil gravity was 1.041 and it was then that I thought I had a problem.

What was your pre-boil volume? You should have extracted 3.5 gal using that mash schedule, giving a post-boil of ~1.066.
Title: Re: High gravity efficiency troubles
Post by: jaftak22 on February 06, 2015, 09:15:32 PM
Brewtoad wasn't much help there, eh.  The most I would have expected out of that grain bill for 2.2 gallons would have been 1.069.  Since you only hit 1.059, this points to problems with your crush or pH or waste of good wort due to dead space in your mash tun.  You used the right volumes of water so my first guess (as always) would be that you need to crush harder.

Must be the crush. I use the mill at the LHBS for now. What are some other ways to pick up the dead space in my mash tun that anyone could recommend? All this stuff wasn't in the brochure when I started home brewing!
Title: Re: High gravity efficiency troubles
Post by: dmtaylor on February 06, 2015, 10:28:14 PM
Dead space?  There doesn't really need to be any, if you use a Bazooka or stainless hose, Dennybrew style.  I always pick up one end of the mash tun to drain every last drop from both the first and second runnings.  This matters more if you batch sparge.  If fly sparging it won't matter as much.  If BIAB, then this entire paragraph is irrelevant.
Title: Re: High gravity efficiency troubles
Post by: brewinhard on February 06, 2015, 10:57:03 PM
+1 to an extended boil.  I like to no sparge a lot of beers (even big daddy ones) which drops my efficiency to 45-50% sometimes.  This sometimes means a 2-3 hr boil to hit my intended gravities.  Oh well...just more time to clean out the mash tun I guess!
Title: Re: High gravity efficiency troubles
Post by: colinhayes on February 09, 2015, 08:15:14 PM
As others have said, try mashing thicker to sparge more. Be sure the sparge is SLOW as well.

I had the opposite problem yesterday. Normally my mash efficiency on bigger beers is down near 65%, so I actually set BeerSmith to assume for this beer I made yesterday so that I wouldn't miss OG be 10 points. I hit 83% efficiency, and overshot pre-boil by 18 points. Guess this beer will be about 2% stronger than I wanted...

Now I have to figure out what the hell I did that got me normal strength efficiency on a beer with 17.5 lb of grain.