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How does efficiency change your brews

Curious as to what, if any does this do? The higher the efficiency , the less malt in any style of brew? How do you perceive this. Sneezles61

I don’t have experience with my system, as my efficiency stays relatively consistent. There is a local brewery here, though, that has a grain filter system. They grind their malt to flour and get high 90s efficiency. All of their beers I’ve tried have a harsh, assertive graininess. Who knows, they might be using Breiss, though :wink:


I would think maybe more of an opposite. The higher the efficiency , the more alcohol, and wouldn’t that counter the malt flavor? Less efficiency, less alcohol, more malt flavor? I am looking to see how others perceive this… Maybe it irrelevant… Sneezles61

Well you’re not just extracting sugars from the grain, and not all the sugars you extract are fermentable, so it isn’t quite as straight-forward as higher efficiency leads to more alcohol and less malt flavor. However, I think of it like this… there is a maximum number of IBUs you can extract from bittering hops, 80-100-ish. So one school of thought is that if you add more hop material to get calculated hops over 100, you’re just wasting hops. Rubbish. Hop up a DIPA to 200 IBU or so, and you’re going to have a drastically different beer than if you only hopped it to 80 IBU. There’s more than bitterness that gets extracted, but flavor, aroma, mouthfeel from all those little hop particles floating around in your beer, foam from the proteins extracted, etc.

So in that sense, if you make a beer with 95% efficiency to get a 1050 wort, and then scale up the recipe and hit the same gravity but at 65% efficiency, you’re going to use a LOT more malt at 65% efficiency. Will they be exactly the same beer? Too many variables to say, but my confirmation-biased opinion is that the quality of my beers suffers a bit when efficiency jumps up over 85% or so.

I get very high effciency with my BIAB/sparge process. Almost always in the 90s with beers under 1.080 and high 80s for bigger beers.

I’ve adjusted my gap wider so I’m crushing to .032. I started out at about .024 I think. I’ve adjusted my recipe efficiency to 85. So I’m using a little less grain but I’ve heard adjusting recipes for super high efficiency and lowering your grain bills can lead to “watery” taste and mouthfeel. Loss of maltiness and possible astringency due to high water to grain ratios? I haven’t done much experimentation with this but will likely do so before long. My WAG is that this is another brewier’s urban myth that can be overcome with good process and correct mash pH.

The end result of the higher efficiency is higher OG and ABV than most recipes predict. Bittering needs to be adjusted of course. Yes there’s a higher alcohol content but I don’t see any offset in malt flavors. Actually I’d think just the opposite due to higher extraction.

I would think what @uberculture describes is caused by the brewery trying to save grain and writing their recipes for higher efficiency. Maybe combined with incorrect pH? pH would be critical if you’re mashing really really thin. Or…briess…haha:grin:

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My system has produced efficiences as high as the low 90’s and I also found that the potential for graininess and astringency were higher. I’ve purposely moved to reduce my system efficiency to avoid that grainy/astringency problem and I feel its worth it. Somewhere in the low to mid 80’s is efficient enough.


What did you do to reduce efficiency Martin?

I ran an experiment last year with efficiency as the primary variable. For one batch, I did a crummy crush and sparge and only hit like low 60s for efficiency, the other I did normal and got in the 80s. I had 16 or 17 people taste the beers. While almost all of them could taste a difference, none of the differences seemed to have anything to do with the efficiency, e.g., one version had a little more sulfur or oxidation than the other or whatever. No one noticed any difference in maltiness or sweetness, or even alcohol, even though they ended up differing in alcohol by almost one percent. This is from memory; I would have to look at my notes for details. But suffice it to say that MAYBE there’s a difference, I’m honestly not sure, and as always, more experiments are needed!


My system usually ran right in the neighborhood of 80%, and my thoughts about some other brewers I mingle with, are of the mindset, that a lower efficiency, gives them a bigger/fuller mouth feel. I can’t dismiss their thinking as I haven’t done any side by side comparisons. One guy sez my doppel bock is a little flabby… But he likes stouts best and his, well you can stand a stick up in it without falling over… I just wonder then, is he comparing apples and oranges, which I think, and he claims 60% as mandatory for his stout. Sneezles61

IMHO yes comparing a stout of any variety to a doppel bock is comparing apples to oranges. If his “stout” has a thick mouthfeel then what’s flabby about the bock?

Anyway, I think there are too many variables to consider even if you brewed the same exact recipes at 60 and 80% efficiency. You have to account for all the other parameters that affect mouthfeel, like mash temp, mash pH, water chemistry, yeast, ferm temp, etc.

I look at your list and would pick yeast as one, if not the biggest contributor, to mouth feel. An under attenuating yeast will leave some of the complex sugar chains in the brew. I know that mashing high, and too low pH will contribute to mouth feel, yet I was under the impression that was more of a tannin extraction. Theres more to this question, and will really need to dig around to find it. I wonder of the unfermentables, flavenoids, that are extracted from the grain its self… In the starch family, that doesn’t get converted to maltose sugars, is what is apparent with efficiency and mouth feel… I’ll need to ask more questions of brew friends process. Sneezles61

A little follow up… I found an article on the mash filter the brewery I mentioned uses:

They grind to flour and press the mash to get 94-98% efficiency. I’m apparently the only person in Minnesota who doesn’t like their beer. I’m trying their oat/wheat IPA right now, and there’s that graininess. Kind of a weird, drying harsh hit at the back of my throat, too. I’ve never been sure exactly how astringency tastes (I don’t suck tea bags regularly), but this seems like it.

No flame for that brewery(I’ve never been there or had their beer) but I agree with you approaching 100% efficiency isn’t recommended by anyone is it? At some point you’ve got to be atomizing husks, membranes, shoots, and everything other than the endosperm, and extracting a lot more than sugar.

High efficiency is not equal to great beer ( necessarily ).

Thats pretty crazy stuff. I have some peeps that reside down there during the week, and up here on the W/E. I will need them to snag a growler of their elixir… So if the big shooters use such a system, what becomes of the spent… whatchamacallit? TOFU? Sneezles61

They have cans, now… crowlers, too. People swear by it, but I’ve now had 5 of their beers and haven’t really liked any of them. Mine is definitely the minority opinion, though. I don’t even think I’m really that picky.

You know there peeps out there standing an allegiance even if it aint their style… Sneezles61

94% efficiency… and that’s the lowest they can go? That’s nuts. I’ve read that over-milling grains can lend to astringency.

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I’m apparently the only person in Minnesota who doesn’t like their beer.

You’re not the only one…trust me. :wink:

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The general public in my experience is pretty forgiving of poorly crafted beers. There’s one place nearby here that has the murkiest, most muddled tasting swill I’ve ever seen and people just suck it down like it’s nectar. I’ve never had a good beer there.

It sounds like this place could be a testing ground for over-milling and “squeezing the bag”. A giant french press huh…I just skimmed the article but I’ll go back and look later…see if I can find pictures of this system.

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Meura mash filters have been around for decades, but are more common in much larger production facilities. The spent grains that come out of them are pretty much dry.

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