Efficiency question # 57

People post that they are getting 80-85% efficiency. This is what I brewed on Saturday and I got an 66.6% using Beersmith Software. I am consistently at this level should I just accept this and not be concerned. please feel free to criticize my methods.
Batch Sparge using 50 qt. cooler with a SS braided manifold.
Recipe: Belgian Farmhouse Biere
8.75 lbs. of Belgian Pilsner 2 row double crushed
.75 lbs. Honey malt. double crushed
1 oz. Tradition for 60
4.50 ml. of lactic acid to mash
mash in 12 qts. water at 151’F. held for 60 minutes 151"F. at end of mash.
7 qts. boiling water temp. raised to 161’F. held for 10 minutes.
first runnings 1.061 3.30 gallons
3.50 gallons of 180’F added temp. 163’F
second runnings: 1.25 3.60 gallons last runnings 1.010
pre boil:
1.034 6.90 gallons
Post boil
1.046 5.25 gallons to fermenter oxygenated and 3711 .60 ltr. starter pitched at 64’F.
fermentation active within 6 hours 1" kruesen and contiued activity after 72 hours.
I’m hitting my temps. I use a calibrated refractometer for my readings.

Could be that your mill setting is too wide, even if you’re double crushing.

66.6%! \m/ 8)

I’ve been using Kai’s spreadsheet for (most, but not all of) my batches, and it helps:

http://braukaiser.com/documents/efficie ... ulator.xls

It’ll identify whether or not your likely culprit is your crush or your sparge, which are the two most likely culprits assuming that you have no large deadspaces in your mashtun or kettle. FWIW, I get 75-85% efficiency for the sparging, which IIRC is about all you can expect from batch sparging. However, I’m also apparently not converting everything I should be, and that suggests and issue with crush…

I’d say take a good look at your crush if it looks good check you thermometer for accuracy, if your mashing too low you may not be getting complete conversion.

4.50 ml. of lactic acid to mash [/quote]

What calculator are you using to determine your mash pH? And, are you checking it with a pH meter? Early on, I added quite a bit of lactic acid to my mash, and–in retrospect–I’m 99% certain that it dropped my pH below 5.0, and perhaps below 4.8. I still made beer and it still tasted fine, but I recall mid-60s efficiencies (this was before I began writing everything down).

If you’re not checking you pH, and if your pH is out of range, I bet you could get another 5-6 points just by getting into proper range. If you are checking your pH, explore using a different software for estimation. I use Bru’n’water and Kai’s new calculator ( http://www.brewersfriend.com/mash-chemi … alculator/ )… if you haven’t yet looked at Kai’s, I’d recommend taking a peek. It uses a different method and so produces a different result compared to Martin’s spreadsheet… Martin’s spreadsheet is usually right for me, but with my most recent beer it was way off and Kai was within 0.02 pH units. Food for though.

Does your beer taste good? I say if you like your beer and you don’t mind adjusting your recipes to hit the OG you are seeking, then consider your consistency a blessing. Chasing increased efficiency may bring other, bigger problems. Brew on…

That is the beauty of the da*n numbers. Especially the last recipe I hit my numbers dead nuts. Temps. right on. Beersmith2 recipe calculator gave me 66.6% eff. My beer is tasty, but that being said it still took me a year and a Thermapen to feel confident in my AG process. Now I’m trying to refine and improve the little things. If I wasn’t lurking here, probably more than I should, I’d be blissfully unaware, ignorant, and happy.