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Saturday's Batch; Seeking Advice

Hi All, I brewed a batch on Saturday that went along pretty seamless. In the process, I thankfully increased my learning curve but it also left me with a lot of questions. Getting some input will definitely help me wrap my head around my own brewing process. I’m hoping you’s groovy guys might give a pal a hand. I did my best to condense this information.

Mellow Rye IPA (All Grain)
10#/76% 2 Row
1#/7.6% Crystal 60
1#/7.6% Munich
1#/7.6% Rye
2 oz Chocolate Malt

In Ounces (all pellet)
.75 Cascade / .5 Columbus @ FWH
.3 Cascade @ 30 min
.5 Cascade / .3 Columbus @ 20 min
.3 Cascade / .3 Columbus / 1-Whirfloc @ 15 min
.3 Cascade / .3 Columbus @ 10 min
.3 Cascade / .3 Columbus @ 05 min
.3 Cascade / .3 Columbus @ 01 min
.5 Cascade / .5 Columbus @ 00 min
WY 1272 American Ale II (2l starter)

Mash and Boil Information
4.5 gallon mash at 153 degrees for 50 min.
First runnings yield 3.25 gallons (1.25 gallon loss)
2.5 gallon sparge at 165 degrees with 10 minute rest
Second runnings yield 5.5 gallons for boil (.25 gallon loss)
Boiling time 60 minutes
Post boil volume 4.5 gallons
Added a little over 1 gallon of water to compensate for hop/slurry loss to achieve 5 gallons in primary ~ and away we go. Major activity in the fermenter 4 hours post boil.

Mash Equipment (first use ever)
10 gallon orange cylinder with false bottom (yes, I wrote orange and false bottom, sorry)

Notes and Assumptions based on MY Virgin Mash Tun
In Beersmith, I originally estimated my efficiency at 65%, which calculated a 1.061 OG based on my grain bill and equipment.
I ended up with an OG of 1.072.
Based on final OG, I corrected Beersmith’s calculation which gave me an overall efficiency of 77%.
By changing my efficiency to 77%, Beersmith kicked out these stats:
a. 1.072 SG
b. 80 IBU’s
c. 14.4 SRM
d. 6.9% ABV

  1. How can I calculate my water to grain loss based on my equipment, mash water volume and pounds of grain used? (For example Denny’s loss is .1 per lb)
  2. Will this water to grain loss (%) become my standard no matter the pounds of grain used but with keeping the same equipment?
  3. Now that I have a baseline of 77% brew house efficiency, is this always going to be my percentage on future batches? Is it subject to change based on ingredients or other?
  4. In Beersmith, I originally set the style as IPA, which took my recipe to pretty much the max of that style. After reading some Zainasheff and Mosher, it appears I’m now on the bottom end of an IIPA due to increased efficiency?
  5. If it is more of an IIPA at this point, Zainasheff suggests adding sugar to cut the potential maltiness and even out the flavor. Is this a good idea?

**Questions 6-60 haven’t been formulated in my brain yet

Thank you kindly for any advice.

BTW: I deleted my original out of General and reposted here. Thanks, Mike

1/2. You have a set volume of dead space in something like a mashtun, that won’t change with amount of grain. Grain itself soaks up and holds about 0.125gal/lb (a pint or 0.5qt/lb) and that amount depends on the amount of grain. Mash with 2qt/lb, lose 0.5qt/lb and drain out 1.5qt/lb minus that little bit in your deadspace. No matter what your mash ratio is, you’ll always lose 0.5qt/lb.

  1. Yes 75% is a good average to use in predicting for future batches, although if you got this for an IPA you might get 80% for a 1.050 beer and 70% for a 1.100 beer. Its mostly about the ratio of that mash water and the 0.5qt/lb loss.

4/5. Who cares? If you are going to enter a comp just enter as an IPA. BEing on the bigger end of a style is rarely a negative. You could always add some sugar to boost gravity into the next style but I’d worry more about there being enough hops to call it an IIPA. Plus I don’t like drinking really big beers, I like to be able to have a couple of pints of an evening and 8%+ ABV makes it more likely I’ll need a nap before bedtime. Which happens regularly enough as it is.

Thanks for the input and good advice. I agree about big beer, I’d rather have a couple myself than one and done. Since this was my first attempt with my set up, I planned a heavy bill for a worse case efficiency. I got surprised :slight_smile: Now I can plan accordingly.

+1 to “efficiencies will change with the batch.” I brewed an EPA and had ~65% efficiency, because I had a thick mash (1:1). My next batch, a California Common, I reached close to 80%, because I had a thinner mash (1.75:1).

Another important factor affecting efficiency is grain crush. An inconsistent crush will yield an inconsistent efficiency, but my knowledge ends there. Given my personal inexperience with crushing my own grain, I’ll let others elucidate on how gap, conditioning, etc. affect their efficiencies.

Given an infinite number of changing conditions, ingredients, phase of the moon, temperature, if it’s Tuesday… your efficiency will hover in a near-constant range, but predicting 77% is too precise. I typically predict a 65% efficiency, so if I overshoot and I have a bigger beer, I can always add some water to bring the OG down. I’d rather not undercut my predicted OG with a higher efficiency and wind up with a real OG under my batch style’s low-end OG.

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