Author Topic: 6 Tips For Dealing With Efficiency Problems  (Read 3177 times)

Offline brulosopher

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6 Tips For Dealing With Efficiency Problems
« on: September 10, 2015, 12:04:56 PM »
Of all the process concerns/complaints I hear and read about when it comes to homebrewing, one seems to pop up more often than others: s***ty efficiency. Here are some tips I've used over the years to help improve my efficiency and consistency of my brewing!

http://brulosophy.com/2015/09/10/6-tips-for-dealing-with-efficiency-problems/

Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: 6 Tips For Dealing With Efficiency Problems
« Reply #1 on: September 10, 2015, 12:45:41 PM »
Nice write up. One that is often overlooked is to make sure your thermometer is calibrated and accurate in the mash temperature range. I say this from personal experience, dial thermometers can be off.
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Offline macbrews

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Re: 6 Tips For Dealing With Efficiency Problems
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2015, 01:42:33 PM »
The most important tip is #1. 

Don't worry about it.  Sparge until you get the pre-boil gravity you desire and don't worry so much about the volume whether a little high or low.  Your goal is to make good beer.  Adjust any other additions on your kettle volume.

If things are really off, proceed to tip #2.

Offline AmandaK

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Re: 6 Tips For Dealing With Efficiency Problems
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2015, 02:20:41 PM »
After reading Kai's article a couple of years ago, I realized that I was (when I was initially trying to dial in my system) worrying about brewhouse efficiency when I should have been looking at conversion efficiency. I was making all of these changes that would only affect brewhouse efficiency and wasn't seeing a change.

Turns out that my conversion efficiency was really terrible, so nothing I did previously was working. (Kinda like putting a Band-Aid on a problem that needs a splint - doesn't really help much.) I was screwing with crush, different sparging techniques, calibrating my volume sticks/thermometers, etc. When all that was wrong was that my mash pH was awful (Martin helped many of us out with this), I had dough balls (I now stir with a giant wisk before starting the RIMS), and I now perform a mash out. I now double check my conversion efficiency against the chart below to make sure I'm on above 90%, courtesy of Kai's website:

http://www.braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Understanding_Efficiency
I'm aiming for 1.5 qts/lb in the Sabco, so I like seeing my wort at around 1.072 or higher before I start the sparge.
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Offline hopfenundmalz

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Re: 6 Tips For Dealing With Efficiency Problems
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2015, 02:27:26 PM »
After reading Kai's article a couple of years ago, I realized that I was (when I was initially trying to dial in my system) worrying about brewhouse efficiency when I should have been looking at conversion efficiency. I was making all of these changes that would only affect brewhouse efficiency and wasn't seeing a change.

Turns out that my conversion efficiency was really terrible, so nothing I did previously was working. (Kinda like putting a Band-Aid on a problem that needs a splint - doesn't really help much.) I was screwing with crush, different sparging techniques, calibrating my volume sticks/thermometers, etc. When all that was wrong was that my mash pH was awful (Martin helped many of us out with this), I had dough balls (I now stir with a giant wisk before starting the RIMS), and I now perform a mash out. I now double check my conversion efficiency against the chart below to make sure I'm on above 90%, courtesy of Kai's website:

http://www.braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Understanding_Efficiency
I'm aiming for 1.5 qts/lb in the Sabco, so I like seeing my wort at around 1.072 or higher before I start the sparge.
Another thing that I do also. I need to print that table, and tap it to the wall for reference.

When I used my alkaline tap water, and did not use a pH meter, I was getting some crappy efficiencies. High pH will do that.

It is not one thing that is a silver bullet.

Jeff Rankert
Ann Arbor Brewers Guild
AHA Governing Committee
BJCP National
Home-brewing, not just a hobby, it is a lifestyle!

Offline AmandaK

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Re: 6 Tips For Dealing With Efficiency Problems
« Reply #5 on: September 10, 2015, 02:31:18 PM »
It is not one thing that is a silver bullet.

Ain't that the truth!  :D
Amanda Burkemper
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: 6 Tips For Dealing With Efficiency Problems
« Reply #6 on: September 10, 2015, 02:33:23 PM »
Jon H.

Offline homebrewdad7

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Re: 6 Tips For Dealing With Efficiency Problems
« Reply #7 on: September 10, 2015, 02:53:19 PM »
What, there's no simple fix to every brewing problem?  ;)

Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: 6 Tips For Dealing With Efficiency Problems
« Reply #8 on: September 10, 2015, 03:10:16 PM »
Nice write up. One that is often overlooked is to make sure your thermometer is calibrated and accurate in the mash temperature range. I say this from personal experience, dial thermometers can be off.

Changing thermostats helped me dramatically.  My dial thermo reads 10F high.
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: 6 Tips For Dealing With Efficiency Problems
« Reply #9 on: September 10, 2015, 04:05:57 PM »
What, there's no simple fix to every brewing problem?  ;)

Au contraire, I do believe the fix to *most* brewing problems is *usually* very simple.  For efficiency, 9 times out of 10 people need to start with a harder crush.  Then move on from there if that ain't it.
Dave

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Offline denny

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Re: 6 Tips For Dealing With Efficiency Problems
« Reply #10 on: September 10, 2015, 04:22:32 PM »
Increasing liquor to grist ratio improved my efficiency considerably.  I also find no benefit to stirring the mash. 
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: 6 Tips For Dealing With Efficiency Problems
« Reply #11 on: September 10, 2015, 04:58:22 PM »
Increasing liquor to grist ratio improved my efficiency considerably.

Didn't matter for me.  YMMV

I also find no benefit to stirring the mash.

This I believe is scientific fact, with the only possible exception if you do a super crappy stir at the beginning, which nobody around here would be doing, right?  :)
Dave

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Offline MDixon

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Re: 6 Tips For Dealing With Efficiency Problems
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2015, 08:35:15 PM »
Since my mash is direct fired I stir the mash quite a bit at the beginning and then a few times during to be sure my temp is right on. My efficiency has been off the chart ever since I started crushing my own grain, but I've pretty much always stirred since I quit trying to hit temps in a cooler with an infusion and that was about the same time I started crushing my own grain.
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Offline dmtaylor

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Re: 6 Tips For Dealing With Efficiency Problems
« Reply #13 on: September 10, 2015, 08:59:19 PM »
On your next couple batches, try leaving the mash alone after the initial stir unless you batch sparge, in which case stirring is appropriate at the point at which the sparge water is added.  Bet you don't see any difference in efficiency compared to normal.
Dave

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Offline brulosopher

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Re: 6 Tips For Dealing With Efficiency Problems
« Reply #14 on: September 10, 2015, 11:10:25 PM »

Nice write up. One that is often overlooked is to make sure your thermometer is calibrated and accurate in the mash temperature range. I say this from personal experience, dial thermometers can be off.
Totally, good call!
It is not one thing that is a silver bullet.

Ain't that the truth!  :D
Yes!
What, there's no simple fix to every brewing problem?  ;)
Yeah-- stop brewing :)
On your next couple batches, try leaving the mash alone after the initial stir unless you batch sparge, in which case stirring is appropriate at the point at which the sparge water is added.  Bet you don't see any difference in efficiency compared to normal.
This would make a good xBmt.