Author Topic: Hitting the numbers  (Read 1943 times)

Offline DrewG

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Hitting the numbers
« on: April 19, 2012, 09:24:02 AM »
I feel like I've got pretty good control and processes on the cold side of things. Pitching rates, ferm temps, sanatization, etc.  Now I'd like to really be able to dial in hitting my gravity numbers. I'm looking at getting a refractometer, and I'm going to re-read some stuff on adjusting with water and dme.

What kind of things do you do, adjust, what are your processes, etc when trying to hit your gravity?
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Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: Hitting the numbers
« Reply #1 on: April 19, 2012, 09:31:33 AM »
I am almost never under my target gravity, but when I am I try to use DME that closest resembles my base malt. I use Beersmith on the fly to calculate how much Ill need, but a good rule of thumb is 4 pts per pound.

I am over my estimated Pre-boil from time to time and usually adjust with RO water before the boil starts to get my Pre-boil gravity where it needs to be since I know how many points a 60,90,and 120 minute boil are going to give me for my OG. 

If you are unsure about what your boil is going to add then you can obviously boil off some water separately and add it to your fermenter or boil up some DME and add that before pitching as well. If I miss my numbers after pitching because I was too intoxicated to take a gravity reading(which hasnt happened yet thankfully!) I would probably just stick with what I got and not adjust.

Beersmith is a great tool to calculate how much top up water or DME you need to hit a target, I'm sure there are others out there too.
Jason
-Head Brewer, Brewtus Brewers in the Shenango Valley. Hopefully opening a brewpub/nano brewery in the next couple years.

Offline a10t2

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Re: Hitting the numbers
« Reply #2 on: April 19, 2012, 09:32:19 AM »
As long as your mash pH and temperature are in range, there's no reason why you can't hit your target gravity every time. For a given MLT, the lauter efficiency will vary based on the grist mass, but predictably. So as long as you can get (nearly) 100% conversion efficiency in the mash, the overall efficiency will also be predictable.

For batch sparging, Kai's spreadsheet should be spot on. http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Batch_Sparge_and_Party_Gyle_Simulator

For fly sparging, you'll need to work out your own efficiency curve by keeping good records.
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Offline weithman5

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Re: Hitting the numbers
« Reply #3 on: April 19, 2012, 10:04:58 AM »
i have only missed much when i have some method change that alters my efficiency.  now i don't make many drastic changes in method.  i don't do anything to adjust the gravity to hit a target on a particular brew. if it is off it is off. 
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Offline DrewG

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Re: Hitting the numbers
« Reply #4 on: April 19, 2012, 10:28:12 AM »
Thanks Jason, I'll poke around in Beersmith some more and find those tools.

Quote
As long as your mash pH and temperature are in range, there's no reason why you can't hit your target gravity every time. For a given MLT, the lauter efficiency will vary based on the grist mass, but predictably. So as long as you can get (nearly) 100% conversion efficiency in the mash, the overall efficiency will also be predictable.

I haven't progressed to the point of tinkering with water yet, but I am fairly competent at getting my mash temp where i want it. With the crush at my LHBS I'm getting 80-83% (I am batch sparging, btw) out of my system. The one time I did not was with a morebeer kit and that was considerably lower, around 70% (the crush was visibly coarser than what I'm used to). Which brings me to another question: When  I want to brew a recipe based on, say 75% efficiency and I know I'm going to get 82%, how do I adjust from the get go? I understand it would involve reducing the amount of grain, but how much?

Thanks in advance
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Offline richardt

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Re: Hitting the numbers
« Reply #5 on: April 19, 2012, 10:31:15 AM »
Beersmith allows you to adjust the efficiency rating.  This allows "behind the scene" adjustments in water volumes, grist amounts, etc.

Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: Hitting the numbers
« Reply #6 on: April 19, 2012, 10:33:29 AM »
Thanks Jason, I'll poke around in Beersmith some more and find those tools.

Quote
As long as your mash pH and temperature are in range, there's no reason why you can't hit your target gravity every time. For a given MLT, the lauter efficiency will vary based on the grist mass, but predictably. So as long as you can get (nearly) 100% conversion efficiency in the mash, the overall efficiency will also be predictable.

I haven't progressed to the point of tinkering with water yet, but I am fairly competent at getting my mash temp where i want it. With the crush at my LHBS I'm getting 80-83% (I am batch sparging, btw) out of my system. The one time I did not was with a morebeer kit and that was considerably lower, around 70% (the crush was visibly coarser than what I'm used to). Which brings me to another question: When  I want to brew a recipe based on, say 75% efficiency and I know I'm going to get 82%, how do I adjust from the get go? I understand it would involve reducing the amount of grain, but how much?

Thanks in advance

The easy less involved answer is reduce the base malt the appropriate amount. If you have Beersmith its easy just adjust until you hit the OG from the recipe.

The more involved answer. You need percentages. If you have those great. If not plug the recipe into Beersmith at 75% efficiency. That will give you the percentages of each malt. Start a new recipe with your efficiency. Play with reducing each malt until you get the same percentages. Same thing with the AA% of your hops.
Jason
-Head Brewer, Brewtus Brewers in the Shenango Valley. Hopefully opening a brewpub/nano brewery in the next couple years.

Offline a10t2

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Re: Hitting the numbers
« Reply #7 on: April 19, 2012, 11:14:54 AM »
Which brings me to another question: When  I want to brew a recipe based on, say 75% efficiency and I know I'm going to get 82%, how do I adjust from the get go?

Just reduce all the quantities to 75/82 = 91% of what the recipe calls for.
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Offline anday6

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Re: Hitting the numbers
« Reply #8 on: April 19, 2012, 01:22:45 PM »
Beersmith has the option to lock the recipe to percentages or change the ingredients by percentages.  I do:
1. Input the recipe at the designed efficiency (75% for brewing classic styles, etc.)
2. Then you can lock to percentages and adjust your efficiency to what you actually get
3. Tweak the OG slider/bar to the desired target OG, that should keep the percentages the same

Offline jmcamerlengo

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Re: Hitting the numbers
« Reply #9 on: April 19, 2012, 01:23:31 PM »
Beersmith has the option to lock the recipe to percentages or change the ingredients by percentages.  I do:
1. Input the recipe at the designed efficiency (75% for brewing classic styles, etc.)
2. Then you can lock to percentages and adjust your efficiency to what you actually get
3. Tweak the OG slider/bar to the desired target OG, that should keep the percentages the same

Cool didnt know about the slider bar!
Jason
-Head Brewer, Brewtus Brewers in the Shenango Valley. Hopefully opening a brewpub/nano brewery in the next couple years.

Offline DrewG

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Re: Hitting the numbers
« Reply #10 on: April 19, 2012, 01:51:31 PM »
Quote
1. Input the recipe at the designed efficiency (75% for brewing classic styles, etc.)

Is this in the "total efficiency" from the recipe page?
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Offline anday6

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Re: Hitting the numbers
« Reply #11 on: April 19, 2012, 07:59:16 PM »
That's the one.  Just make sure you equipment is set up right and double check that the volumes all make sense.  I usually knock out 6 gallons to plan on losing about a gallon in the kettle and fermenter.

Offline euge

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Re: Hitting the numbers
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2012, 10:30:57 PM »
I
I feel like I've got pretty good control and processes on the cold side of things. Pitching rates, ferm temps, sanatization, etc.  Now I'd like to really be able to dial in hitting my gravity numbers. I'm looking at getting a refractometer, and I'm going to re-read some stuff on adjusting with water and dme.

What kind of things do you do, adjust, what are your processes, etc when trying to hit your gravity?

What are you getting now? To "dial it in" and "hitting numbers" means to achieve consistency. Unless your current numbers are ridiculously low or wildly all over the place for the same type of beer/recipe you should be able to consistently reproduce. Furthermore, don't base your efficiency based upon another brewer's brewing. If they say they get 85% all the time and you consistently get 70% don;t think you are doing something wrong. If you can sort out a problem with the system, technique or chemistry and gain percentage points then that is great but I wouldn't chase the digits. What's important is that the beer is good and that you can rely on your own skills and brewing system to produce what you want.

The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool. -Richard P. Feynman

Offline DrewG

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Re: Hitting the numbers
« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2012, 07:38:04 AM »
Quote
That's the one.  Just make sure you equipment is set up right and double check that the volumes all make sense.  I usually knock out 6 gallons to plan on losing about a gallon in the kettle and fermenter.

I adjusted the "total efficiency" to 77% and it changed the estimated mash efficiency to 82%, which is right about what I get. Volumes look ok, I do about the same as you, 7 gallon boil, 6 at knockout, 5.5 to fermentor and 5 to bottles.

Quote
What are you getting now? To "dial it in" and "hitting numbers" means to achieve consistency. Unless your current numbers are ridiculously low or wildly all over the place for the same type of beer/recipe you should be able to consistently reproduce. Furthermore, don't base your efficiency based upon another brewer's brewing. If they say they get 85% all the time and you consistently get 70% don;t think you are doing something wrong. If you can sort out a problem with the system, technique or chemistry and gain percentage points then that is great but I wouldn't chase the digits. What's important is that the beer is good and that you can rely on your own skills and brewing system to produce what you want.

I'm getting 82ish% out of my mash. I'm not trying to eek out more efficiency, more like you said, I want to achieve greater consistency, and be able to adjust so that I can hit a target gravity in a recipe.
"Well, the Mexicans got a saying - what cannot be remedied must be endured."

-Barbarosa