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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Brew Science > Effects of low efficiency with wheat
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Old 03-22-2012, 02:33 AM   #1
JLem
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I posted this question elsewhere, but got zero response so I though it might be better here.

I recently brewed a wheat wine, but had rather low efficiency. I am normally in the 72-74% range, but only hit 55% with this beer. The only other time I had such low efficiency was with an American Wheat, which also had close to 50% wheat malt. These are my only wheat beers. I've come to the conclusion that the issue is not getting a good crush on the wheat grains because of their smaller size relative to barley.

This leads me to deduce that my barley grains are being crushed fine, so I should be getting my normal efficiency out o them. This means that with a 50/50 ratio of barley to wheat in my wheat wine, I only got about 38-40% efficiency out of my wheat malt. Does this mean that my 50/50 ratio isn't really 50/50 anymore? Instead, I've got something closer to a 1:2 ratio of wheat to barley if you consider the source of fermetable sugars. Does this make my wheat wine less of a wheat wine? Whatever that may mean.

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Old 03-22-2012, 03:00 AM   #2
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Wheat berries, which do not have a hull like barley, barely need to be crushed. Not crushing enough could be a problem by not exposing enough endosperm (which might be caused by running wheat through a mill with the same setting as barley), crushing too finely can also pose problems by becoming a glutuneous mess, resulting in innefficient (or worse, stuck) sparges. You can always use rice hulls and a higher ratio of water to thin out the mash. also, efficiency will always diminish as your grain bed gets deeper.

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Old 03-22-2012, 04:15 PM   #3
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I'd also suggest using torrified wheat which has been slightly kilned to help with extraction efficiency.

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Old 03-22-2012, 10:01 PM   #4
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I have long noted a reduction in mashing efficiency with high wheat percentage grists. I find the efficiency drops from about 82% to 78% for me. I don't why this occurs. I just adjust my efficiency setting in ProMash to compensate.

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Old 03-22-2012, 11:04 PM   #5
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Thanks all for the replies. I'm pretty sure my issue is the mill setting at my LHBS - the barley gets crushed fine, but the wheat, being smaller, does not.

My question however really has to do with whether this results in a "less wheaty"' beer since I assume I am still getting my normal efficiency out of the barley component, and really poor efficiency out of the wheat (40ish%)

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Old 03-23-2012, 04:52 PM   #6
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I usually get around 75% efficiency with my system, but just brewed a hefe weizen last weekend that came in at around 67% efficiency. This was with both a 122F rest and a sach rest at 150F.

One footnote - my wheat was 10 years old, which may have also contributed to a loss of efficiency, though I can't find any data points to support this theory.

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Old 03-23-2012, 09:36 PM   #7
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JLem i get what you are saying. That is a difficult question to answer though. The only way to really tell would be to get a better crush on your wheat and see the difference in taste.

But, with wheat in particular if you dont get as much sugar out of them due to poor crush you may lose some of the wheat characteristics that are contributed based on the amount of sugar.

So YES you are not 50/50 anymore in some ways, but in others just having 50/50 wheat/barley in there it will be fine. Think steeping grains here, you are not using them to add sugars and what not, but to gain their attributes. But, in a good mash situation you will get some sugars out of certain steeping grains and those same attributes you get from steeping them regardless of method.

So my answer is now YES and NO, the solution (if it really is a problem for you) is to maybe crush your wheat malt twice at your LHBS and your barley once. Check for efficiency after that. Of course, if you like the beers the way they are, you can just bump up equal ratios of wheat and barley to get to the gravity you want if that is a concern. But, definitively check your crushes against each other next time.

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Old 03-24-2012, 02:23 AM   #8
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Wow, stumbled upon this thread after brewing my first 50% wheat beer and thought I just really messed something up (missed my OG by almost 15 points). I ran a few handfuls of the wheat through my mill and they looked to be cracked/crushed quite well so did the whole batch. Guess maybe I should have crushed it a lot finer?

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Old 03-24-2012, 01:52 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lpdjshaw
Wow, stumbled upon this thread after brewing my first 50% wheat beer and thought I just really messed something up (missed my OG by almost 15 points). I ran a few handfuls of the wheat through my mill and they looked to be cracked/crushed quite well so did the whole batch. Guess maybe I should have crushed it a lot finer?
Unless we are overestimating the extract potential of wheat, I think the only explanation is in the crush. Next time I use a high percentage of wheat, I'm going to ask my LHBS if they will either mill it twice, separate from the barley, or change the mill setting. If you have your own mill, I'd definitely change the setting to get a finer crush on the wheat. I'd mill the wheat separate from the barley too.
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Old 03-24-2012, 01:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VanHorneDog
JLem i get what you are saying. That is a difficult question to answer though. The only way to really tell would be to get a better crush on your wheat and see the difference in taste.

But, with wheat in particular if you dont get as much sugar out of them due to poor crush you may lose some of the wheat characteristics that are contributed based on the amount of sugar.

So YES you are not 50/50 anymore in some ways, but in others just having 50/50 wheat/barley in there it will be fine. Think steeping grains here, you are not using them to add sugars and what not, but to gain their attributes. But, in a good mash situation you will get some sugars out of certain steeping grains and those same attributes you get from steeping them regardless of method.

So my answer is now YES and NO, the solution (if it really is a problem for you) is to maybe crush your wheat malt twice at your LHBS and your barley once. Check for efficiency after that. Of course, if you like the beers the way they are, you can just bump up equal ratios of wheat and barley to get to the gravity you want if that is a concern. But, definitively check your crushes against each other next time.
Yeah, these were some of my thoughts too. Not sure when my next wheat beer will be, but I'll try to get a finer crush and see if I can get a better efficiency.

Really, my questions here could apply any time you get a lower efficiency for some reason. Obviously we measure efficiency solely by sugar content, but I imagine a lower efficiency would also affect all the other soluble compounds that come from the grains - the various proteins, tannins, etc. But I wonder if everything is affected equally.
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