Author Topic: Mash Efficiency in Big Beers  (Read 1197 times)

Offline fmader

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Mash Efficiency in Big Beers
« on: February 15, 2014, 07:54:53 AM »
As long as my yeast is ready, I'll be brewing my first barleywine next weekend. I'm targeting a minimal OG of 1.100. One of the concerns that I'm learning about with a beer this big is efficiency and that many first time barleywiners fall short of the target gravity. So I've been doing a lot of note studying of my past beers (bigger ones) and came to this realization and question. For my 10.5 gallon batch of my Good Morning Stout, I used about 9.5 gallons of mash water and about 31 pounds of grain. 70% efficiency was calculated when creating the recipe. I overshot my target gravity of 1.078 and hit 1.082. My volumes were correct. With my stouts, my dark grains are cold steeped, so that water gets added to the boil to bring my volume up to where it needs to be. Here's my recipe for that...
Batch = 10.5
OG = 1.078

24 hour cold steep (room temp) in 3.5 gallons of water
Chocolate malt = 4 lb
Roasted Barley = 3 lb
Black Patent Malt = 1 lb

60 minute mash @ 155
Mash Water = 9.5 Gallons
Sparge Water = 4.75 Gallons
Total Mash/Sparge Water = 14.25
Total Water = 17.75 Gallons

80% Two Row Pale = 23 lb 10 oz
18% Flaked Oats = 6 lb 5 oz
2% Caramel/Crystal 120L = 11 oz

Here is my barleywine mash and grain schedule....
Batch = 5.5
OG = 1.100
90 minute mash @ 148 (Strike 166)
Mash Water = 9.5
Sparge Water = 3 (185)
Total Water = 12.5
2 gallon of boil off and 1.5 gallons of mash/hop loss accounted for

***Assuming 60% Efficiency***

38% Two-Row Pale – 10 lbs
38% Maris Otter – 10 lbs
20% Munich – 5.5 lbs
4% Victory – 1 lb

120 minute boil

My question is this... Except for the final volume, these beers are very similar in amount of grain and water used in the mash. Why should I expect a major drop in efficiency in brewing a beer this big? Is there more chemistry in this than I'm seeing?
Frank

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Mash Efficiency in Big Beers
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2014, 08:21:48 AM »
What happens here is that you're mashing MUCH more grain to end up with the same volume, so the ratio of water to grain goes down proportionally . I like to mash a normal beer at ~ 1.8 to close to 2 qts/lb. Efficiency tends to go up as your water : grain ratio goes up , and vice versa.  I can get pretty good efficiency from a 1.078 beer like yours, but I think when you go much over 1.080 is when you start to see the efficiency drop a bit. 1.100 is obviously quite a bit over that. It'll come out great - I like your recipe. Just get a lb of DME to keep on hand and take a refractometer reading after the wort comes up to a boil, so you can adjust if need be. A beer that big is a different animal !
Jon H.

Offline duboman

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Re: Mash Efficiency in Big Beers
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2014, 08:22:21 AM »
Typically for my really huge beers I will calculate about a 5% drop in efficiency and it works out pretty well. I attribute it to the really large grain bill and ability to stir, mix and Lauter as I batch sparge.

Do you mill your own grain? If not, you may have gotten a better crush on your stout resulting in a better efficiency then calculated. The same may or may not hold true when doing your barley wine.

Just my initial thought...
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Offline fmader

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Re: Mash Efficiency in Big Beers
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2014, 08:30:05 AM »
What happens here is that you're mashing MUCH more grain to end up with the same volume, so the ratio of water to grain goes down proportionally . I like to mash a normal beer at ~ 1.8 to close to 2 qts/lb. Efficiency tends to go up as your water : grain ratio goes up , and vice versa.  I can get pretty good efficiency from a 1.078 beer like yours, but I think when you go much over 1.080 is when you start to see the efficiency drop a bit. 1.100 is obviously quite a bit over that. It'll come out great - I like your recipe. Just get a lb of DME to keep on hand and take a refractometer reading after the wort comes up to a boil, so you can adjust if need be. A beer that big is a different animal !

I understand this logic, Jon. But my grain to water ratio is roughly the same in these to beers... Between 1.4-1.5. The reason for this, even though the stout is a double batch, 3 gallons of water bypass the tun and go directly to the boil. By stretching the boil out to two hours, I was able to get more water in the mash.

I guess I'm just not seeing a difference in the mash schedule as far as grain/water ratio goes.
Frank

Offline fmader

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Re: Mash Efficiency in Big Beers
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2014, 08:30:49 AM »
Typically for my really huge beers I will calculate about a 5% drop in efficiency and it works out pretty well. I attribute it to the really large grain bill and ability to stir, mix and Lauter as I batch sparge.

Do you mill your own grain? If not, you may have gotten a better crush on your stout resulting in a better efficiency then calculated. The same may or may not hold true when doing your barley wine.

Just my initial thought...

I crush my own grains... I all but pulverize them.

In addition, this was calculated at 70%. Beers under 1.070 usually are calculated at 75%.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 08:39:43 AM by fmader »
Frank

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Re: Mash Efficiency in Big Beers
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2014, 08:31:02 AM »
No chemistry, just physics. The more grain you have, the more water it absorbs. If the batch volumes stay constant, that absorption loss will represent a larger fraction of the total water used. That's really all there is to it, though, and the math is fairly straightforward.

http://seanterrill.com/2013/10/05/batch-sparging-calculator/

If I'm interpreting this correctly, you're looking for a 5.5 + 1.5 = 7 gal post-boil volume, and that would hit 1.100 OG (71% mash efficiency) as long as conversion is complete. With the low mash temperature you may want to plan on, say, 95% conversion efficiency, and add another pound or two of malt.
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Offline fmader

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Re: Mash Efficiency in Big Beers
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2014, 08:38:43 AM »
No chemistry, just physics. The more grain you have, the more water it absorbs. If the batch volumes stay constant, that absorption loss will represent a larger fraction of the total water used. That's really all there is to it, though, and the math is fairly straightforward.

http://seanterrill.com/2013/10/05/batch-sparging-calculator/

If I'm interpreting this correctly, you're looking for a 5.5 + 1.5 = 7 gal post-boil volume, and that would hit 1.100 OG (71% mash efficiency) as long as conversion is complete. With the low mash temperature you may want to plan on, say, 95% conversion efficiency, and add another pound or two of malt.

Ok. I thought it was just physics here. Actually I'll end up with 5.5 gallons of puts boil wort. I know my schedule is confusing and doesn't make sense to most, but those are the general numbers I use to hit my volume and gravity.

This recipe was calculated at 60%. Which I'm nervousness of overshooting after this realization in my recipes... Hence the reason for the post.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 08:41:07 AM by fmader »
Frank

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Mash Efficiency in Big Beers
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2014, 09:12:54 AM »
I see your points now - should've read a little slower.  ;)  Be sure to post what you actually end up with (OG and efficiency). But if you're making a BoPils that ends up @ 6% instead of 4.8%abv, that's a pretty big overshoot. But this style practically has no ceiling. I target 1.100 for Barleywines - sometimes I'm a little over, sometimes a little under. They're always good. Just use plenty of yeast and oxygenate like crazy !
Jon H.

Offline fmader

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Re: Mash Efficiency in Big Beers
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2014, 09:21:43 AM »
I see your points now - should've read a little slower.  ;)  Be sure to post what you actually end up with (OG and efficiency). But if you're making a BoPils that ends up @ 6% instead of 4.8%abv, that's a pretty big overshoot. But this style practically has no ceiling. I target 1.100 for Barleywines - sometimes I'm a little over, sometimes a little under. They're always good. Just use plenty of yeast and oxygenate like crazy !

Thanks. I think I'm just going to roll with it. I have DME on hand that I use for starters. This might sound silly, but I'm nervous on having to use it, because I really don't know anything about extract lol.

As far as yeast goes, I'll be using the cake from a hoppy imperial amber (hoppier version of Nugget Nectar) that I have fermenting now. It should be cleaned out by Saturday.

What are your thoughts on using corn sugar in a BW to help it dry out a touch?
Frank

Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Mash Efficiency in Big Beers
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2014, 09:38:34 AM »
I see your points now - should've read a little slower.  ;)  Be sure to post what you actually end up with (OG and efficiency). But if you're making a BoPils that ends up @ 6% instead of 4.8%abv, that's a pretty big overshoot. But this style practically has no ceiling. I target 1.100 for Barleywines - sometimes I'm a little over, sometimes a little under. They're always good. Just use plenty of yeast and oxygenate like crazy !

Thanks. I think I'm just going to roll with it. I have DME on hand that I use for starters. This might sound silly, but I'm nervous on having to use it, because I really don't know anything about extract lol.

As far as yeast goes, I'll be using the cake from a hoppy imperial amber (hoppier version of Nugget Nectar) that I have fermenting now. It should be cleaned out by Saturday.

What are your thoughts on using corn sugar in a BW to help it dry out a touch?

As for the sugar, I haven't used it here, but it would lighten body a little- however body will still be big regardless. As for DME, it adds 45 gravity points per lb in a gallon of water. So if you dilute it to 5 gallons you get 9 points from the lb of DME. So, if my preboil reading (reading X preboil volume / postboil volume) shows me (let's say ) 4 points low of intended, then i would need to add 4/9 of a lb of DME - roughly 1/2 a lb - to hit my target OG. It's pretty helpful on big beers. Good luck ! 
Jon H.

Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Mash Efficiency in Big Beers
« Reply #10 on: February 15, 2014, 09:41:14 AM »
Your own send sound and I don't think you will see a huge hit in efficiency. 5% drop is probably accurate.

However you med a bit more water, your 1.5 gallon loss to grain and hops should be closer to 3 which may have been a typo as you said you would use 12.5 gallons total

26lb of grain will hold on to about 3 gallons then 2 gallons boil off. So 5.5 into fermenter means ~11 gallons into the mash



I would totally use some sugar in this. I used ~2 lbs of maple syrup in my last bw and it is still plenty chewy
« Last Edit: February 15, 2014, 09:43:06 AM by morticaixavier »
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Offline fmader

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Re: Mash Efficiency in Big Beers
« Reply #11 on: February 15, 2014, 10:04:27 AM »
Your own send sound and I don't think you will see a huge hit in efficiency. 5% drop is probably accurate.

However you med a bit more water, your 1.5 gallon loss to grain and hops should be closer to 3 which may have been a typo as you said you would use 12.5 gallons total

26lb of grain will hold on to about 3 gallons then 2 gallons boil off. So 5.5 into fermenter means ~11 gallons into the mash



I would totally use some sugar in this. I used ~2 lbs of maple syrup in my last bw and it is still plenty chewy

Thanks, Jonathon. Yeah, I knew my water measurements would draw question. Don't worry about that... It works out haha. It's the numbers I use for for all of my brews, and with the numbers I use to calculate the recipes, it works out in my system. It's kinda my own deal... Might not be the simplest, but it works for me.

I might consider making adjustments to add a pound or so of sugar.
Frank

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Re: Mash Efficiency in Big Beers
« Reply #12 on: February 15, 2014, 12:12:31 PM »
Actually I'll end up with 5.5 gallons of puts boil wort. I know my schedule is confusing and doesn't make sense to most, but those are the general numbers I use to hit my volume and gravity.

In that case you're looking at a HUGE beer (~1.13 assuming full conversion), but you're going to need to boil off 3.8 gal. I'd reduce both the grain and the water, personally. You're going to take a mash efficiency hit, but you'll save just as much in gas or propane.
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Offline fmader

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Re: Mash Efficiency in Big Beers
« Reply #13 on: February 15, 2014, 01:09:18 PM »
Actually I'll end up with 5.5 gallons of puts boil wort. I know my schedule is confusing and doesn't make sense to most, but those are the general numbers I use to hit my volume and gravity.

In that case you're looking at a HUGE beer (~1.13 assuming full conversion), but you're going to need to boil off 3.8 gal. I'd reduce both the grain and the water, personally. You're going to take a mash efficiency hit, but you'll save just as much in gas or propane.

Again... Please ignore that part. This is what works for my calculation and system. These numbers are standard for all my brews. Whether the water is lost in boil, hops, or system, that's unknown.., it just works out in the end.
Frank