Author Topic: What kind of efficiency can I expect  (Read 1022 times)

Offline Frankenbrew

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 669
  • South Shore Brew Club, SE Massachusetts
    • View Profile
What kind of efficiency can I expect
« on: January 14, 2015, 10:15:46 PM »
I've been brewing all-grain for about five years now, after brewing with extracts for fourteen years. When I went all-grain, I traded a corny keg with a buddy for a Corona grain mill. I've used this mill all this time and have made good beers with it, even a few competition winners.

Generally I set my efficiency on BeerSmith at 75% overall, and I usually realize an actual yield of somewhere between 70-80%. I'm pretty okay with that, though I would like to be dialed-in to a smaller range. Also, I've recently built a bar in my basement, so with the additional homebrew that's flowing, I've gone to brewing double batches (ten gallons). This change in production, coupled with the fluctuations in efficiency have led me to invest in a new grain mill.

I've been lurking the forums for months and reading about the mills, and of course all the wonderful knowledge and wisdom shared herein and decided on a JSP Maltmill, Model P without the adjustable rollers. The reason I went with the non-adjustable model is that I want to limit all the variables, including my own fumbling fingers. I don't care if I improve my efficiency over the seventy-five percent I had, I just want to anticipate it more accurately.

So, to my question: what kind of efficiency can I expect from my mill? Can I tighten the range a bit over my old Corona?

Thanks in advance for the advice!
Frank C.

And thereof comes the proverb: 'Blessing of your
heart, you brew good ale.'

Offline Steve Ruch

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1022
    • View Profile
Re: What kind of efficiency can I expect
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2015, 10:51:56 PM »
I think the only way to know is to rebrew a batch using the new mill and compare the resulting gravity.
Crescent City, CA

I love to go swimmin'
with hairy old women

Offline Frankenbrew

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 669
  • South Shore Brew Club, SE Massachusetts
    • View Profile
Re: What kind of efficiency can I expect
« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2015, 01:01:16 AM »
I think the only way to know is to rebrew a batch using the new mill and compare the resulting gravity.

Thanks, Steve!

I kind of figured that, but I was hoping that someone with a similar mill could chime in and give me an idea of how predictable my numbers could be depending on the set crush, with all the other variables the same. I'm especially wondering how consistently repeatable the efficiency might be.
Frank C.

And thereof comes the proverb: 'Blessing of your
heart, you brew good ale.'

S. cerevisiae

  • Guest
Re: What kind of efficiency can I expect
« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2015, 01:37:20 AM »
I owned an original fixed-gap Schmidling Malt Mill that I sold when I left the hobby for a few years, and I currently own a newer fixed-gap Schmidling Malt Mill.   The roller gap on the newer fixed-gap Malt Mill is smaller than that of the original Malt Mill (0.040" versus 0.045").  If your technique is good, you can expect to be within a gravity point per pound between batches with "like" grists.   

If it is any consolation, I own a 3-roller Monster Mill (MM), and I use my fixed-gap Schmidling Malt Mill more often than I do the MM.   There's something to be said about keeping things simple.

Offline JT

  • Senior Brewmaster
  • ******
  • Posts: 1304
  • Bloatarian Brewing League - Cincinnati, OH
    • View Profile
    • Bloatarian Brewing League
Re: What kind of efficiency can I expect
« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2015, 02:38:05 AM »
If I had it to do over again, I'd likely grab a fixed gap for the same fumbling fingers reason.  I'm fairly confident I've set my MM3 correctly, but overall I have little interest in squeezing every drop of efficiency out of my grain (I'm a batch sparger anyway). 

Offline Frankenbrew

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 669
  • South Shore Brew Club, SE Massachusetts
    • View Profile
Re: What kind of efficiency can I expect
« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2015, 11:19:14 AM »
I owned an original fixed-gap Schmidling Malt Mill that I sold when I left the hobby for a few years, and I currently own a newer fixed-gap Schmidling Malt Mill.   The roller gap on the newer fixed-gap Malt Mill is smaller than that of the original Malt Mill (0.040" versus 0.045").  If your technique is good, you can expect to be within a gravity point per pound between batches with "like" grists.   

Wow! I can only hope that I can predict my yield anywhere even close to that.

If I had it to do over again, I'd likely grab a fixed gap for the same fumbling fingers reason.  I'm fairly confident I've set my MM3 correctly, but overall I have little interest in squeezing every drop of efficiency out of my grain (I'm a batch sparger anyway). 

Yeah, I'm a batch sparger, too. And like you, I'm not as interested in maximum efficiency either. I'm looking for predictability and consistency. And with an adjustable mill I think I'd be up, down, up down, and all over the place like I was with the Corona.

Thanks, guys!
Frank C.

And thereof comes the proverb: 'Blessing of your
heart, you brew good ale.'

Offline Wort-H.O.G.

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4439
  • Play Nice
    • View Profile
    • Harvey's Brewhaus
Re: What kind of efficiency can I expect
« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2015, 01:31:37 PM »
i dialed my mill in to .027 gap and now just leave it there. when the gap was higher, i did adjust it for wheat-but now just leave it as it works well for everything i put through it. my efficiency really only fluctuates based upon the grain bill, but stays consistent for repeated recipes.
Ken- Chagrin Falls, OH
CPT, U.S.Army
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Harveys-Brewhaus/405092862905115

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=The_Science_of_Mashing

Serving:        In Process:
Vienna IPA          O'Fest
Dort
Mead                 
Cider                         
Ger'merican Blonde
Amber Ale
Next:
Ger Pils
O'Fest

Offline Frankenbrew

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 669
  • South Shore Brew Club, SE Massachusetts
    • View Profile
Re: What kind of efficiency can I expect
« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2015, 02:07:40 PM »
i dialed my mill in to .027 gap and now just leave it there. when the gap was higher, i did adjust it for wheat-but now just leave it as it works well for everything i put through it. my efficiency really only fluctuates based upon the grain bill, but stays consistent for repeated recipes.

Wow! That's tight.

Yeah, that repeatability is really what I'm looking for. I'm brewing up a ten gallon batch of Kolsch today. I just mashed in. I'll update the post later and report just what I got for efficiency. I'm hoping that it's going to be close to the 75% mark, 'cause that's what the recipes based on. If I get higher, I'll just dilute. Yay! More beer.
Frank C.

And thereof comes the proverb: 'Blessing of your
heart, you brew good ale.'

S. cerevisiae

  • Guest
Re: What kind of efficiency can I expect
« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2015, 03:50:49 PM »
Wow! I can only hope that I can predict my yield anywhere even close to that.

My extraction rate is consistent enough that I rarely need to run the numbers.  In fact, I do not use brewing software.  I've never needed it because I work in points per pound per gallon (PPG), which is a brain dead simple way to track efficiency and/or formulate/scale recipes. 


S. cerevisiae

  • Guest
Re: What kind of efficiency can I expect
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2015, 03:53:28 PM »
Wow! That's tight.

That's too tight for a continuous sparged mash bed.

Offline Wort-H.O.G.

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4439
  • Play Nice
    • View Profile
    • Harvey's Brewhaus
Re: What kind of efficiency can I expect
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2015, 04:06:32 PM »
Wow! That's tight.

That's too tight for a continuous sparged mash bed.

batch sparge
Ken- Chagrin Falls, OH
CPT, U.S.Army
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Harveys-Brewhaus/405092862905115

http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=The_Science_of_Mashing

Serving:        In Process:
Vienna IPA          O'Fest
Dort
Mead                 
Cider                         
Ger'merican Blonde
Amber Ale
Next:
Ger Pils
O'Fest

Offline Frankenbrew

  • Brewmaster
  • *****
  • Posts: 669
  • South Shore Brew Club, SE Massachusetts
    • View Profile
Re: What kind of efficiency can I expect
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2015, 04:11:26 PM »
Wow! I can only hope that I can predict my yield anywhere even close to that.

My extraction rate is consistent enough that I rarely need to run the numbers.  In fact, I do not use brewing software.  I've never needed it because I work in points per pound per gallon (PPG), which is a brain dead simple way to track efficiency and/or formulate/scale recipes.

I love my BeerSmith! It's not that I couldn't do the math. It just doesn't give me the same buzz that I get from the other aspects of brewing.
Frank C.

And thereof comes the proverb: 'Blessing of your
heart, you brew good ale.'

Offline a10t2

  • Official Poobah of No Life.
  • *
  • Posts: 4421
  • Ask me why I don't like Chico!
    • View Profile
    • SeanTerrill.com
Re: What kind of efficiency can I expect
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2015, 04:56:04 PM »
I kind of figured that, but I was hoping that someone with a similar mill could chime in and give me an idea of how predictable my numbers could be depending on the set crush, with all the other variables the same. I'm especially wondering how consistently repeatable the efficiency might be.

If all variables are the same, then your efficiency won't change. All other things being equal, the biggest factor will be wort gravity. My typical lauter efficiencies run from about 88% for a small beer to 68% for something huge.

That said, there a lot of variables that go into it, so even when re-brewing the same beer I expect a variation of ±2%. I wouldn't even think about taking action unless it's ±5%, because in most beers you just can't taste that.

That's too tight for a continuous sparged mash bed.

… On some systems. With other combinations of bed depth, lauter geometry, flow rate, etc. it's fine.
Sent from my Microsoft Bob

Beer is like porn. You can buy it, but it's more fun to make your own.
Refractometer Calculator | Batch Sparging Calculator | Two Mile Brewing Co.

S. cerevisiae

  • Guest
Re: What kind of efficiency can I expect
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2015, 05:29:03 PM »
batch sparge

My post was a reflex. Your mill setting brought back memories of the bad old days.  I used to continuous sparge with grain crushed with a real Corona mill before I broke down and purchased my first fixed-gap Schmidling Malt Mill.  That was always a miserable experience because it was difficult to get a decent crush on a Corona Mill without substantial husk damage. 

There are things that one can get away with when batch sparging that would result in horrible efficiency when continuous sparging, and too fine of a crush on a 2-roller mill is one of those things.   I purchased my 3-roller Monster Mill because I wanted a closer endosperm crushing gap without the husk damage that comes from setting the rollers on a 2-roller mill too close.  I wound up going back to my Malt Mill because it is easier to move around and clean.  I still have my Malt Mill mounted on its original base, and I still hand crank.  I know that people think that hand cranking a mill is crazy, but it's an integral part of the ritual now.   My 3-roller Monster Mill is mounted to a table that I built out of 1" thick HDPE sheet. It's motorized because only Hercules could hand crank a 3-roller Monster Mill.

S. cerevisiae

  • Guest
Re: What kind of efficiency can I expect
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2015, 05:38:06 PM »
I love my BeerSmith! It's not that I couldn't do the math. It just doesn't give me the same buzz that I get from the other aspects of brewing.

I just do not want to be tied to a computer when brewing, and I often make changes on the fly.  I have also never found software that was flexible enough to handle all of my brewing needs.  I have thought about rolling my own software several times.  However, every time I do so, I realize that I brew to get a break from interfacing with deterministic finite automata.  Plus, at my age, running the number helps to keep my mind and math skills sharp.