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Sudden efficiency jump and recipe adjustment

I recently upgraded my mash tun and mill and suddenly got a 20-25% increase in efficiency. While this is certainly great news, I have a lot of recipes that I’ve perfected over the last eight or so years. Of course simple grain bills and lighter colored beers should not be a problems to scale down and keep the percentages the same but I soon found myself scratching my head a bit when it came to dark beers.

If I have a porter or a stout and I suddenly need to reduce the ingredients by 20%, that’s going to reduce my color/roastiness. I haven’t come across a color calculation that includes efficiency. If I only decrease my base and crystal malts, that’ll up the percentage of my roasted malts. But on the flip side, if I keep all the percentages the same, the amount of roast character and color in my beer would drop, right?

Anyone have experience having to adjust their recipes like this? Am I over thinking it?

It’s a great question, and I’ve never really thought that much about it. My efficiency also shot up a lot since I got my own BarleyCrusher. Personally when making these efficiency adjustments, I’ve usually reduced every ingredient by the same percentage, not just the base malt. IF you have your recipes entered into brewing software, you might just want to take note of the color (SRM) etc. before you make any adjustments, so that when you adjust the recipe you can ensure the same color after. I haven’t noticed a reduction in roasty flavors because of this; however, I don’t brew a ton of stouts and porters either, so if you think you might be sensitive to this, it’s possible you might notice a difference in flavor before and after, I’m not sure. But if you use software, you should at least be able to get the same color before and after, if not the flavor. But think about this as well: Since your efficiency is higher now, you’ll actually need to use a lot less water in the mash (i.e., less grains soak up less water), thus your darker malts are more concentrated in that regard to where the total amount of specialty malts is actually NOT important. That might be why I subconsciously decided to adjust all the malts, not just the base malt.

Somebody will have a different opinion, but those are my initial thoughts.

Thanks Dave, that makes sense about having less water. I guess everything would pretty much scale.

I did some quick calcs on my spreadsheets and it’s about a 3 SRM difference in my particular recipe. That’s not huge for a dark beer where the difference between 29 and 32 is basically imperceptible. It’s still got me thinking about recipe modifications though. If the final volume of beer is the same, then in theory dark malts will be at the same concentration if you don’t scale them. Of course making beer is all about how the malts interact with each other. I haven’t seen the subject discussed before so it’s possible no one else cares or considers it a problem. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to make MORE beer to try and figure it out through experimentation. Darn.

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