I agree with dmtaylor and mtnrockhopper on this one. What are your volumes at each step in your process? The crush definitely is/can be the first thing you can correct easily if this concerns you. Not that I have to, but I double crush my grains. It's more about reaching consistent numbers than shooting for a specific number. If I felt all I could get was 60%, with the effort I wanted to give, and I got that every time using a specific method, then I'd be happy and wouldn't worry about chasing 70% or 95% unless my pocketbook or quality was affected.
The way you are calculating efficiency through BrewersFriend suggests you may not be accounting for your final volume, which can be different from what the recipe states. Your volume measurements may swing your efficiency around 5-10% if you aren't careful. Gravity is not the only factor in calculating efficiency.
So to answer some of the questions asked (and not just those in the above post)
- I did not double crush. My LHBS lets me crush my own grains, so running it through twice shouldn't be an issue
- I did hit final volume on both beers 5.5 gal. I had to actually add a little water on the IPA.
- My pre boil volumes: IPA 7.25-7.5 gal (pre-boil, mash was closer to 7); Kolsch 8 gal (mash and pre-boil volumes)
- IPA was the one I did a little bit of a sparge.
The most likely culprits to me appears to be crush, squeezing, and maybe pH. After I posted, I also read in another BIAB thread that it was recommended to bring the temp up to 165 or so for about 10 mins. Can anyone explain why this would aid efficiency.
I am not worried about the low efficiency if I can be consistent. What I am worried about is that I start scaling up recipes to compensate, and I end up with some monster out of balance by accident for my 3rd BIAB. I guess I will still just target the upper ABV for the style, and if I net out a little low, it will still be okay.
Luckily, the IPA has dropped to 1.004. The Kolsch is still TBD. I did a Brix and Gravity on the IPA and both seem to converge at around 7% which is what I was targeting. I don't think that sort of attenuation is repeatable though.
Thanks for all the responses! I really appreciate it.