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Mash efficiency survey

Yep, that is precisely my theory. The way I would state it is that the less grain you need to use (per same volume water), the less grainy and more watery the beer will taste. Simple as that, really. Yes, I think there is magic in all those impurities from the husks, etc. that you most likely would love to maximize in your beer. In theory. More experiments…

Yep, that is precisely my theory. The way I would state it is that the less grain you need to use (per same volume water), the less grainy and more watery the beer will taste. Simple as that, really. Yes, I think there is magic in all those impurities from the husks, etc. that you most likely would love to maximize in your beer. In theory. More experiments…[/quote]

Good point Old Dawg and thanks Dave for breaking it down like that. That makes some sense to me.

It sounds like opening the gap in my mill would be the place to start if I want to bring the numbers into the optimal range suggested. And more importantly make better beer. Regardless what some guys seem to think, bragging about efficiency was not the point of my post.

I’ve noticed that the ESB I’ve brewed a few times in the last year has not had the same body or mouth feel recently. Now looking back in my notes I can see that began after I got my mill and started to see my efficiency numbers increase. I wasn’t able to see the relationship because I thought the higher efficiency was a good thing. So I guess I’ve inadvertently helped advance your theory Dave. Now I have something to brag about. :cheers:

Slainte boys(&girls)!

When I first started all grain brewing I was jealous of the 80%+ numbers that I was seeing. But now that I have my own mill and could adjust it I’ve realized that the 2 years of consistency hitting 70% +/- a point or two is much more important. Jumping 20% efficiency would have to have an impact on all the recipes that I’ve made at 70%.

at 70% efficiency 9#/90% 2 row and 1#/10% crystal would hit an OG of 1.051
at 90% efficiency ~7#/90% 2 row and ~12oz/10% crystal would hit an OG of 1.051

I’m almost certain the 90% beer would be taste different than the 70% beer, likely watered down

I have had my mill dialed in for about a year and a half now. I’m using a barley crusher at .30. I run a direct fire, recirculating mash tun. I mash b/t 1.50 and 1.75. I have been consistently getting between 93% and 95% mash efficiency. Also of note, I really started paying closer attention to my water during this time and giving some focus to proper ph adjustment. Personally, if anything, I have noticed that my beers have improved. I think the biggest thing for me was when I swithced from coolers to my current method, is the learning curve for the new equipment. Along with this, I have spent some time making sure I have everything entered accurately into Beersmith as well as small differences can have an impact. What I found interesting reading the posts on this was the higher quality hydrometers and their impact (makes sense to me). I have put mine in distilled water and it read correctly, but I would be curious to see what higher quality hydrometers tell me. Also, I don’t necessarily care what my efficiency is…I just want consistency so I can feel confident in my recipes when I brew them.

[quote=“Beersk”]I hear about people bragging all the time about how they got 85 or 90 percent efficiency. Wow! Good for you! Now are you getting that consistently? Can you expect to get that next time? Give it a rest…

I am consistently in the 75-80% range, depending on whether I do a decoction or step infusion. I crush at .032" with a Barley Crusher and use a braided hose in a 5 gallon round cooler. I try to get even water amounts for mash and sparge and mash at around 1.5qt/lb ratio, typically. I also use Bru’n water for water adjustments.[/quote]

I’m not sure why you think it’s bragging. A question was asked and people are answering. Since moving to a 10gal pot, larger grain sack, and milling my own grain, I’ve really been able to dial in my system and accurately predict my efficiency which hovers around 80% give or take 10% depending on batch size. Not bragging about that at all. Just stating a fact.

I will brag that 2 weeks ago I mashed my biggest batch to date (18.5lbs) and nailed my expected efficiency within 1% (hit 71%, expected 70%) all because I have my system dialed in and can accurately predict efficiencies now. It’s a good thing!

:cheers:

I get 72-78%. If I crush any finer, my runoff slows to a trickle. 5 gallon round cooler with a braid.

I get a very reliable 87% for 1.048-1.052 beers batch sparged and 75% no-sparged, which is what you would expect with a little over 95% conversion. Otherwise identical beers made by the two methods definitely taste different, but I think the difference is lower tannin levels on the unsparged beers, even though the sparged beer is not particularly tannic. Even that slightly higher tannin level does seem to reduce the perception of maltiness in the beer. Both are very good beers, though, and I’ve had 87% efficiency beers score well in competitions.

I don’t consider those numbers to be bragging, they are just the numbers that you would expect to hit with my system following near-complete conversion, if you do the math. I think that the high efficiency beers that suffer are the ones that get that efficiency by stringent sparging. 70% efficiency from a sparged beer is a good sign of incomplete conversion, but that beer could still be over-sparged. There is nothing magical about 70% efficiency.

I get 72-78%, depending on a number of variables (predominantly the volume/weight of the grist, where the bigger beers I brew have lower efficiencies). I rarely get 70% or lower, and I also rarely get 80% or higher. I’ve used Kai’s spreadsheet at least a dozen times, and I can identify that my conversion is almost always in the high 90%s, and it’s the batch sparging (acknowledged to be lower efficiency) that kills me. I also lose a bit in the kettle & hoses, and in the hob debris, when transferring to the carboy.

I use a 10gal round rubbermaid cooler (orange!), and I speculate that geometry plays a part in the batch sparge efficiency. I’m thinking that, for a batch sparge, the rectangular coolers with larger surface area would perform better than the tall cylindrical coolers. I don’t have one to test, though.

Nope, it doesn’t. For batch sparging, the only possible geometry contribution is if you tun has dead space that prevents total draining. That is one of the advantages of batch sparging: you don’t need to worry about optimizing the geometry. Fly sparging CAN give higher yields, but only if the geometry and flow characteristics are tuned in properly.

[quote=“Silentknyght”]I get 72-78%, depending on a number of variables (predominantly the volume/weight of the grist, where the bigger beers I brew have lower efficiencies). I rarely get 70% or lower, and I also rarely get 80% or higher. I’ve used Kai’s spreadsheet at least a dozen times, and I can identify that my conversion is almost always in the high 90%s, and it’s the batch sparging (acknowledged to be lower efficiency) that kills me. I also lose a bit in the kettle & hoses, and in the hob debris, when transferring to the carboy.

I use a 10gal round rubbermaid cooler (orange!), and I speculate that geometry plays a part in the batch sparge efficiency. I’m thinking that, for a batch sparge, the rectangular coolers with larger surface area would perform better than the tall cylindrical coolers. I don’t have one to test, though.[/quote]
I agree with RC, geometry alone has no effect on mash efficiency when batch sparging, since flow dynamics don’t play a role. I have a Rubbermaid 5 gallon cooler and have brewed side-by-side with a buddy with a coffin-style cooler. Using the same mill, we each got 87% efficiency, batch sparging. You have to be careful about dead space, though. You can easily lose 10% efficiency due to tun dead space, but my tun is designed to have almost no dead space.

The process of batch sparging isn’t really acknowledged to have low efficiency. Ignoring conversion and dead space, the process itself is actually pretty efficient for moderate gravity (~12-13 Plato) beers at around 90%.

It looks like you are calculating brewhouse efficiency, not mash efficiency, and including losses due to transfer to the fermenter. That is going to vary wildly between brewers depending on how obsessed they are about keeping trub out of the fermenter, how much hops they use, how they transfer, etc.

[quote=“Slothrob”]

It looks like you are calculating brewhouse efficiency, not mash efficiency, and including losses due to transfer to the fermenter. That is going to vary wildly between brewers depending on how obsessed they are about keeping trub out of the fermenter, how much hops they use, how they transfer, etc.[/quote]

Well, yeah one problem I commonly see here is that people talk about different measurement metrics… from this spreadsheet ( http://braukaiser.com/documents/efficie … ulator.xls ) to which “box” are we referring?

[quote=“Silentknyght”][quote=“Slothrob”]

It looks like you are calculating brewhouse efficiency, not mash efficiency, and including losses due to transfer to the fermenter. That is going to vary wildly between brewers depending on how obsessed they are about keeping trub out of the fermenter, how much hops they use, how they transfer, etc.[/quote]

Well, yeah one problem I commonly see here is that people talk about different measurement metrics… from this spreadsheet ( http://braukaiser.com/documents/efficie … ulator.xls ) to which “box” are we referring?[/quote]
Efficiency into the kettle. Kettle efficiency and mash efficiency are the same thing, a combination of conversion efficiency and lauter efficiency, which is the same as the percent of extract potential that ends up in the kettle. This allows us to independently assess what is happening in the mash tun and separate our ability to extract sugar from our ability to transfer wort. Some brewing software confuses this a bit.

[quote=“Slothrob”]
Efficiency into the kettle. Kettle efficiency and mash efficiency are the same thing, a combination of conversion efficiency and lauter efficiency, which is the same as the percent of extract potential that ends up in the kettle. This allows us to independently assess what is happening in the mash tun and separate our ability to extract sugar from our ability to transfer wort. Some brewing software confuses this a bit.[/quote]

Shoot… Are you serious? Well, then my “into kettle” efficiency is almost always in the 80s. Occasionally in the high 80s. FWIW, I do crush at 0.026" (always use rice hulls) and always have a balanced pH.

I think you’re right: I’m focused on “brewhouse efficiency,” because to me, that’s what matters in the end. And, for me, I can’t seem to get that to 80% without a TON of extra effort.

brewhouse efficiency and mash efficiency are never stated when people state their efficiencies and are always different… :frowning:

I’ve never used Kai’s spreadsheet. Just for the heck of it, I plugged in numbers from my last batch and “efficiency into the kettle” came out 4.1 points higher than calculated Beersmith 2. I guess I too would always be in the 80’s using that spreadsheet. I prefer the convenience of one app for all of my brewing needs, so I’ll live with my “lower” mash (+lauter) efficiency.

There was a time when I was obsessed with efficiency. I’m at the point where I really don’t care that much about brewhouse or mash efficiency as long as I’m near where I predict.

[quote=“kcbeersnob”]I’ve never used Kai’s spreadsheet. Just for the heck of it, I plugged in numbers from my last batch and “efficiency into the kettle” came out 4.1 points higher than calculated Beersmith 2. I guess I too would always be in the 80’s using that spreadsheet. I prefer the convenience of one app for all of my brewing needs, so I’ll live with my “lower” mash (+lauter) efficiency.

There was a time when I was obsessed with efficiency. I’m at the point where I really don’t care that much about brewhouse or mash efficiency as long as I’m near where I predict.[/quote]

I like Kai’s spreadsheet a lot. I have Beersmith 2, also, but Kai’s approach is more robust.

[quote=“Silentknyght”]
I think you’re right: I’m focused on “brewhouse efficiency,” because to me, that’s what matters in the end. And, for me, I can’t seem to get that to 80% without a TON of extra effort.[/quote]
I don’t calculate brewhouse efficiency. If I end up a quart high or low on my target volume into the fermenter or keg, due to trub or a bad siphoning job, it doesn’t affect my beer as long as the OG was correct. But, since mash efficiency determines my OG, I am concerned about getting a consistent mash efficiency. I found that the easiest way to get a predictable, consistent efficiency, for me, was to learn how to get near complete conversion on my system, which just happens to maximize efficiency.

[quote=“Slothrob”]
I don’t calculate brewhouse efficiency. If I end up a quart high or low on my target volume into the fermenter or keg, due to trub or a bad siphoning job, it doesn’t affect my beer as long as the OG was correct. But, since mash efficiency determines my OG, I am concerned about getting a consistent mash efficiency. .[/quote]
I agree. If I were brewing for profit, I would care about brewhouse efficiency. I’m not, so I don’t.

The only reason I care about brewhouse efficiency is because that is what beersmith uses in its design program. I wish there was a way to switch to mash efficiency in the program.

Really? That seems like a pretty large oversight. How do you predict your OG for a mash? You should try contacting him to get that fixed.

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