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Old 01-09-2012, 05:41 PM   #531
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I'm not an efficiency chaser by any means but my last brew was a 1.066 6 gallon BIAB that I wound up with 1.069 on. I didn't do anything special other than a double crush which I don't usually do. It was more of a screw up with the mill on the first pass that required a second crush.

I'd tell you that if you had a 1,000 gallon kettle and a strong enough bag, mixer and crane you could probably do a massively large BIAB and get good efficiency. I don't see the logic in defining 1.060 as a cutoff point for BIAB.
there's no cutoff point for BIAB.. but as the grain bill increases, efficiency tends to suffer without sparging of some sort.. even a dunk sparge helps on big grain bills.
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Old 01-09-2012, 05:58 PM   #532
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This ^^^

I hate it when I see folks repeating mis-conceptions as "facts". (eg: this mythical 1.060 limit for BIAB)

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Old 01-09-2012, 06:54 PM   #533
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Just looking at the information you included, 7.75 gal of water (regardless of PH) is nowhere near what is needed to get the efficiency you were shooting for. Give the enzymes some more water to work with, something like 1.75-2.5 qt/ lb for a typical thin german inspired mash- if you have the space! Since you would need to start with over 11 gallons of water for the grain bill you described. Don't forget that the grain volume needs to be included as well, which is why I tell BIAB newbies to start with a 15 gal kettle even if they only want to do 5 gal batches and still have the room needed for "big beers". As long as you still "giving a damn" about the other factors you listed (which you will because you brew), you should see your efficiency "improve" (if it doesn't get to what you expect based on an ideal grain to water ratio- which should only get you mid 70's for a %with the ratios above, then one of the other 8 factors is coming into play as well). When I get the insanely high efficiency that others report as well, it's (partially) because I am starting with a mash thickness that is close to a gallon of water/ lb of grain for a session beer like a cream ale (8-9 lb of grain with 8 gal of strike water) so the enzyms have plenty of room and resources to run amuck while you drink a beer in honor of their efforts.

Good luck on your quest for the Efficiency Holy Grail of BIAB on a big grain bill!
Dobo,

I happen to have a PhD in biochemistry so I'm doing ok on that end I also understand that there are lots of compenents to efficiency. I'm not really interested in reinventing this wheel (plenty to do without this one ) so I am trying to be pretty meticulous about following the well established BIAB procedures. I have read a fair amount on technique and efficiency. Having pretty much achieved what I think is the right procedure, I have not gotten where I want to be. That's the basis for my query. I'm happy to go further but I'm not sure where the optimal places to look are.

Re: 11 gallons. That is the top of the range, I am at the bottom. I can increase that since I am using a keggle. I added about a gallon after the mash out since I was low and I did a 75 min boil. I could certainly add more since I'm using a keggle and on big stouts and black imperial IPAs like this one 90 min boils are often recommended. I will look to doing that on the next one. I will have to go back and look at my notes to see how I have done when I had bigger water/grain ratios.
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Old 01-09-2012, 07:19 PM   #534
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Default let's take this a bit closer to reality...

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Still looking for explanations for my low mash efficiency with BIAB. I did a near full volume mash starting with 7.75 gallons water and an 18 lb grain bill (15.75 lb 2 row and the rest various specialty grains) for a Black IPA. Expected a preboil SG of 1.076 at 75% but got only 1.058 (61%). All my temps were great and held fairly steady. Had my LHBS grind the grain as fine as they could and the crush looked great with a lot of powder (more crushed than in the past). I squeezed the grain bag hard to extract the remaining liquid. I ended up adding a pound of DME during the boil (that's what I had on hand) but still missed my OG by about 0.01. I have had no better than 65% in about 8 BIAB brews. Pretty mystified how folks get 80% or greater and what I am doing wrong. That said, I have been getting very good attenuation so for most I haven't suffered too much ;-) There is nothing wrong with the final product.


So now that I took you on a stroll down "theoretical lane" you should be able to see that there are things that you can do to improve your efficiency, but I would argue that it's less about what efficiency you achieved, and more about "what efficiency you expect to achieve". This is the true factor that you actually want to be consistent as you are formulating recipes and want to have it where you get the numbers you "expect" and not what you dream about (also lets you avoid having to add extract in order to correct your gravity just because your expectations are off in the first place).

Simple fact is that your expected efficiency changes as well based on the size of your grain bill and sparge technique (Grist Weight vs Sparge technique in some circles).

Remember that article I linked to on efficiency located here:

Understanding Efficiency - German brewing and more


At the bottom of the page in the section "related materials" he links to a presentation (he offers to us as a PDF) he gave at NHC 2010 which can be downloaded directly here:

http://braukaiser.com/download/Troes...Efficiency.pdf

scroll to page 19 and you will see the chart on "Batch sparging and grist weight" which gives you "expected efficiencies" for batches of different grain bill sizes and number of sparges for a theoretical batch with a 6.5 gal preboil volume.

Since true BIAB is technically a "no sparge" technique when done as intended, look at the blue line for "no sparge" and you will see that for your grain bill of 18 lbs, lo and behold there is an expected efficiency of somewhere right around 65% (my best guess since the chart isn't detailed enough to plot 18lbs exactly). Since this chart is for 6.5 gal preboil volume the reason your efficiency is still a little low (you stated 62%) compared to this chart goes back to the "you didn't have enough water to start with" observation I started with, since the 1.5 gal absorption of your 18 lbs of grain would required you to start with 8 gal of water to use this model and you only started with 7.25.

The really cool thing about this chart is that it does a better job of clarifying what people mean when they say that BIAB is a little less efficient than traditional AG and so you might have to throw in a few more lbs of base malt to get the numbers you want compared to traditional AG (yet you hear about these insane feats of 98% efficiency). See the gap that is pretty consistant between the blue and red lines, that is what they are talking about, not conversion efficiency per se, but the gap of roughly 8% in lauter efficiency between a no sparge and even a single sparge approach. This is the reason that I minimally rinse my grains no mater what, since it closes that gap quite a bit as a way to compensate, or you either need to increase your water volume in the mash to spike your conversion efficiency or compensate with a few more lbs of grain in order to close that gap to hit desired numbers (this is most often likely done with extract by people who thought their efficiency was way low instead of compensating in the numbers up front).

So let's just assume that you have been doing similar sized grain bills for the 8 BIAB brews that you have done so far in which you stated that you haven't had an efficiency better than 65%, I would argue that your efficiency is pretty damn good compared to what should be expected for the batch given the grain bill, and what you really need to do instead of grinding your grain finer or even adjusting the PH of your water is to go into what ever brewing software you are using and adjust the expected efficiency to be in line with what you should expect based on the chart provided so you can tweak all your other numbers to get in line with the style you are shooting for.

If you were expecting 75% because that's what the kit instructions said you should get, you will have to throw the notion of those numbers as correct out the window since most AG kits or LHBS employees assume a traditional 3 vesel approach to AG brewing with typically 2 sparges unless stated in the instructions (if you go back to that same chart, you will see that for 18 lbs of grist, a two sparge method will come in at about 75% which would be consistent with what you were expecting if that's what they told you to expect).

At least now I hope you understand a little better why you're getting 65% which is in no way shape or form "bad", just not what you were told or thought to expect.



If you need an efficiency ego boost, try a simple session beer like a cream ale. Grind the hell out of 7 lb of 2 row pale, 3/4 lb of Honey malt, 1/4 lb of Biscuit (use sparingly since it has a distinct flavor that gets overbearing so if you tweak don't change this unless you really like the tast of cornflakes). With 8-8.5 gal of water, mash in at 135 let it raise to 155 and sit for an hour, mash out at 175 for at least 10 minutes (rinse the grains a bit if you need more volume to start your boil). Boil for an hour with 1 oz Cluster and ferment with American Ale 1056 and you only need about a week in secondary to mellow the honey and corn flavors together.

This would be the brew I make for my brew groupies as it is fast and easy (also very cheap to make), and you should easily score some efficiencies in the high 90s which will you feel like a BIAB efficiency pro as you start to understand the in some cases 65% is really damn good!

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Old 01-09-2012, 07:43 PM   #535
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Dobo,

I happen to have a PhD in biochemistry so I'm doing ok on that end I also understand that there are lots of compenents to efficiency. I'm not really interested in reinventing this wheel (plenty to do without this one ) so I am trying to be pretty meticulous about following the well established BIAB procedures. I have read a fair amount on technique and efficiency. Having pretty much achieved what I think is the right procedure, I have not gotten where I want to be. That's the basis for my query. I'm happy to go further but I'm not sure where the optimal places to look are.

Re: 11 gallons. That is the top of the range, I am at the bottom. I can increase that since I am using a keggle. I added about a gallon after the mash out since I was low and I did a 75 min boil. I could certainly add more since I'm using a keggle and on big stouts and black imperial IPAs like this one 90 min boils are often recommended. I will look to doing that on the next one. I will have to go back and look at my notes to see how I have done when I had bigger water/grain ratios.

Perfect, I applaud the fact that your PhD field really compliments this hobby and unlike others who ask for an explanation of what's going wrong with their brew and expect you to dumb it down and treat the science of it as some black magic voodoo that doesn't matter, you at least "get it".

You at least have the potential to increase your volume with the Keggle, and the 90 minute boil fits nicely into the senario. Can't wait to hear back on your results, and hopefully you see the improvement that should happen.
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Old 01-09-2012, 09:12 PM   #536
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Perfect, I applaud the fact that your PhD field really compliments this hobby and unlike others who ask for an explanation of what's going wrong with their brew and expect you to dumb it down and treat the science of it as some black magic voodoo that doesn't matter, you at least "get it".
Yeah, and its even worse....My research is on Saccharomyces cerevisiae (brewing yeast)!

As I said in response to Mysticmead, "OK, I'll stop complaining"
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Old 01-10-2012, 12:39 AM   #537
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Yeah, and its even worse....My research is on Saccharomyces cerevisiae (brewing yeast)!

As I said in response to Mysticmead, "OK, I'll stop complaining"
Oh, you are a gluten for punishment... At least now we know who on the thread to direct our yeast questions at, since I AM convinced that most of those complex things that yeast do besides make alcohol in the process are some sort of black magic voodoo... But that's a different thread.
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Old 01-10-2012, 03:00 AM   #538
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Oh, you are a gluten for punishment... At least now we know who on the thread to direct our yeast questions at, since I AM convinced that most of those complex things that yeast do besides make alcohol in the process are some sort of black magic voodoo... But that's a different thread.
Oh, don't get excited. There are plenty of folks who know more than me about yeast metabolism and fermentation on this forum. Your unlikely to get much out of me on metabolic byproducts and their chemistry. Not my areas of expertise. But I'm learning a thing or two.
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:20 AM   #539
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OK, I spent some time tonight reading through the braukaiser.com website regarding brewhouse efficiency and conversion efficiency. I also went back through all of my numbers and I came up with a conversion efficiency of just over 80% and a brewhouse efficiency of about 65%, a little better than I had previously reported. That is just about where the graph puts me for my weight of grain and no sparge. However, that graph is for 6.5 gallons preboil and I was at about 7.3 gallons so I think I should have done a bit better. Nevertheless, I am feeling encouraged.

In addition, I went through the information on the determinants of an efficient mash and I am now going to check a couple of things and change a couple of things.

1. When I had my voile bag made I gave the wrong dimensions and it doesn't fill the keggle. I am getting a bigger bag so my kettle is completely filled. This should give more water access to my grain during the mash.

2. I am going to do 90 min boils on bigger beers to allow more mash volume.

3. I am going to try a 160-165 degree rest on my way to my mashout temperature.

4. I am going to recalibrate my brewmometer (which seems like it may read a few degrees high giving me lower mash temperatures (but not below that required for efficient conversion).

5. I am going to determine the pH of my input filtered water and my mash (something I haven't done but I know I have quite alkaline tap water).

This should be a good start on getting to higher efficiencies. However, if that does not happen, at least I will know what to expect and use the appropriate amount of grain to get where I want to go.

Thanks for your input. I'll keep you posted. Probably be a few weeks to the next batch.

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Old 01-14-2012, 04:51 AM   #540
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Well, I'm getting a start on this.
1. The new voile bags are in production.
4 Will do the thermometer calibration tomorrow.
5. The pH of my filtered water is 7.5 and I have compared a full analysis of the water from the water company to the John Palmer recommendations and find that I have a very neutral water in terms of ales and dark beers (probably a bit hard for pilsners) and my calculated Mash pH is a bit above the high end of the recommended range based upon the grain bills I have been using. Probably need to check and adjust down a bit. Maybe a combination of CaCl2, CaSO4, and either acidulated malt or lactic acid. What else do people use?

The rest awaits my next brewing. Probably do a Pale or an IPA to gauge my progress.

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