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Author Topic: Variable mash efficiency  (Read 5291 times)

Offline dIPA2

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Re: Variable mash efficiency
« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2019, 11:00:36 am »
Thanks all for the thoughts and comments! I've avoided bulk grain storage as my LHBS has a killer $39 virtual bag for 50 lbs of 5 base grains. But sounds like in an attempt for more consistency I either get a sack and repeat brew or test out batch sparging. Decisions decisions...

Offline ynotbrusum

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Re: Variable mash efficiency
« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2019, 12:44:32 pm »
You will figure it out - and you have relatively high efficiency (compared to me, at least), so you just need to get to a consistency level that suits you.  Brew, Brew, Brew and you will be there in no time.
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Offline dIPA2

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Re: Variable mash efficiency
« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2019, 01:50:12 pm »
Thanks man. It's certainly the consistency that I'm hunting for, efficiency is not all that important at the homebrew scale unless it is unusually low. My "problem" now is I have three beers on tap, two in reserve, and two fermenting. Have to hit pause or have a party or find some more friends...

Offline chinaski

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Re: Variable mash efficiency
« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2019, 05:45:28 pm »

Chinaski since you switched to batch sparging, I assume from fly sparging, do you have a recommendation for a starting point for brewhouse efficiency? Given good mashing and fly sparge rinsing, it appears I can hit 90%, should I aim for 80% batch sparge?

Thanks again!
I average about 75% brewhouse efficiency with batch sparging and its damn consistent with most brews.  I vorlauf very very little before run-off and then go as fast as I want into the kettle.  Sometimes I skip a mash-out step as well.  What sold me was the rock-solid consistency that let me easily design recipes and it eliminated an astringency issue I had because of over-sparging.  I don't stress about lot analyses, differences in malt bills, etc. - just use some generic ppg numbers that were in the spreadsheet I downloaded years ago and modified.

Good luck!

Offline dIPA2

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Re: Variable mash efficiency
« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2019, 07:19:24 pm »
Thanks for the additional info and help. That's exactly what I'm looking for, consistency. Tired of designing a recipe only to have OG be significantly higher or lower depending on my mash efficiency variability. Once I get a free fermentor I'm batch sparging, bummer it's likely going to be about a month until I can brew again.

Offline Robert

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Re: Variable mash efficiency
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2019, 07:27:48 pm »


Once I get a free fermentor I'm batch sparging, bummer it's likely going to be about a month until I can brew again.

Normal people would say there are worse problems than having too much beer with no additional effort.  We truly are obsessed with brewing, those of us who just want the beer to go away so we can get back into the weeds!
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Offline BrewBama

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Variable mash efficiency
« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2019, 06:21:11 am »
I believe efficiency is a form of responsibility. Inefficiency is not craft or artisan. It’s irresponsible to be wasteful. Consistent, measurable processes will get you there. However, we are dealing with an agricultural product that itself is a variable.

The good news is I don’t believe anyone that tastes your beer will say, “You know, this beer tastes like you had low Brewhouse Efficiency.”


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« Last Edit: November 06, 2019, 06:44:00 am by BrewBama »

Offline goose

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Re: Variable mash efficiency
« Reply #22 on: November 06, 2019, 08:16:11 am »
I’ll admit I did not read through this entire thread. If you covered the below please disregard.

If you used Pilsner, Munich, Vienna, ‘regular’ Pale 2-row, Maris Otter, Golden Promise, etc., etc. in various batches I think the efficiency variation can be correlated to the base. I’ve had low performance for Golden Promise as a 100% base malt for example.  I throw some 2-row in for a boost now.

% of base to ‘character’ malt variations should also be examined and an efficiency correlation can probably be expected.


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I agree with both Brewbama and Denny on different extraction efficiencies for different base malts.  Looking up the lot numbers for the base malts (which are usually listed on the grain bag)  will shed some light on how much they will differ not just from base malt to base malt but from lot to lot for a specific malt.

I posted this a couple weeks ago that I had tried Crisp Maris Otter, in lieu of Munton's Maris Otter, for my ESB and Irish red Ales because I liked the flavor Crisp imparts into these specific beer styles.  My extraction went down between 6 and 7% when I used it.  Crisp, according to the esteemed members of this forum is 100% Maris Otter while Munton's is about 60% mixed with another two row variety.  For this reason I went back to Munton's to get the efficiency without sacrificing too much on the flavor components.

Rob is also correct on finding the sweet spot for your water/grist ratios.  I doinked around with this as well and now try to hit at least 1.5 qts/lb here.
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Offline dIPA2

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Re: Variable mash efficiency
« Reply #23 on: November 06, 2019, 09:36:18 am »
Honestly I think the grain variability issue comes down to the crush and hence efficiency. But the crush is hard to control. I struggled with that some too, actually got a #14 sieve and tested gap settings. Ended up with a much tighter gap than I anticipated and have had no sparging issues, and saw ~10% jump in efficiency. This is why ssbrewtech's new grain mill is tempting me, easy, on-the-fly mill gap adjustments. I've been too lazy to try and adjust the mill gap for different grains, but I wouldn't be surprised if the extraction decrease you saw with Crisp Maris Otter wasn't at least partially crush related. Based on my sieve test it's extremely hard to just look at the crush or run your hand through it, and know if it's dialed in. Though efficiency is the true indicator.

Yeah, I have my profile default at 1.5 qt/lb, and I'm planning to keep that constant as I test out some batch sparges. If I go back to fly sparging I would do 1.75, and hold that constant.

Offline Robert

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Re: Variable mash efficiency
« Reply #24 on: November 06, 2019, 10:21:31 am »
Had to do some math, but as far as my sweet spot.  I mash in the kettle, transfer to LT with false bottom for fly sparge.  I work in metric and I've found my sweet spot at 3.4 L/kg or even a bit more, which is about 1.7 qt/lb of I converted right, close to the value dIPA2 has settled on.  Maybe coincidentally, as every system has its own variables.
Rob Stein
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Offline Visor

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Re: Variable mash efficiency
« Reply #25 on: November 06, 2019, 10:36:08 am »


Once I get a free fermentor I'm batch sparging, bummer it's likely going to be about a month until I can brew again.

Normal people would say there are worse problems than having too much beer with no additional effort.  We truly are obsessed with brewing, those of us who just want the beer to go away so we can get back into the weeds!


   And that would be why I still "keg" all my beer in glass, the only limitations on my brewing are time and available fermenters. I just counted and I currently have about 40 batches of beer in stock, I don't even want to think about the size and cost of a setup to handle that many kegs. The downside of course is that thus far I've cleaned, sanitized, filled and capped over 5,700 bottles of beer. Fortunately I'm old enough now that the tedium isn't intolerable.
I spent most of my money on beer, tools and guns, the rest I foolishly squandered on stupid stuff!

Offline dIPA2

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Re: Variable mash efficiency
« Reply #26 on: November 06, 2019, 11:15:22 am »
All I've got is WOW! You don't have a space limitation? I simply don't have space to store 80 cases of brew. I'd also be worried about shelf life for certain beer styles. My brain is spinning at that inventory, I'll stick to my 5 kegs that my brain can absorb.

Offline charlie

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Re: Variable mash efficiency
« Reply #27 on: November 06, 2019, 08:26:36 pm »
I would have a better feel for the issue if I knew how many pounds of grain you used in each brew, and what your beginning and final boil volume was. Also, refractometers aren't particularly accurate, so I wouldn't rely on refractometer readings to verify SG.
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Offline Visor

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Re: Variable mash efficiency
« Reply #28 on: November 07, 2019, 09:26:14 am »
All I've got is WOW! You don't have a space limitation? I simply don't have space to store 80 cases of brew. I'd also be worried about shelf life for certain beer styles. My brain is spinning at that inventory, I'll stick to my 5 kegs that my brain can absorb.

   Most of those beers have only a sixer or two left so it's nowhere near 80 cases, but you'd be surprised how many cases can be stored on a couple 6' shelving units. I have decent sized house with a full basement and live alone, so the space is mine to use as I please, and I do love variety ;D.
I spent most of my money on beer, tools and guns, the rest I foolishly squandered on stupid stuff!

Offline dIPA2

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Re: Variable mash efficiency
« Reply #29 on: November 07, 2019, 10:03:01 am »
I would have a better feel for the issue if I knew how many pounds of grain you used in each brew, and what your beginning and final boil volume was. Also, refractometers aren't particularly accurate, so I wouldn't rely on refractometer readings to verify SG.

Sure, volumes are hot. Brown 11 lb 8oz 8.5 6.67, Marzen 11 lb 2oz 8.25 6.16, Dry Stout 9 lb 7.81 6.58, Black IPA 12 lb 14 oz 7.76 6.76, German Pils 9 lb 6 oz 7.51 6.42, Winter Ale 11 lb 4 oz 7.75 6.58. I've been fighting evap with the propane burner so beginning and final volumes have been moving around as I try to adjust my boil-off rate with my eyeball of boil vigor. I plan on 5.75 into the fermentor and 0.5 lost in the kettle, I've moved some of the loss into the fermentor on batches that boiled off to much and I've put more into the fermentor on batches that didn't boil off enough.

I've verified my digital refractometer many times with hydrometer readings, I think it's good. I use that for OG and a narrow range hydrometer for FG. I pulled pre-boil wort on the last batch and the refractometer and hydrometer matched.