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Old 08-08-2008, 12:26 AM   #1
Birome Brewer
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Default Brewhouse efficiency for Dummies

Me being the dummy in this situation, I need some help understanding this concept. I understand what it measures, but I do not fully understand each element that goes into the calculation. I recently bought BeerSmith to use with my last batch (third AG batch, first ten gallon). The batch was Austin's Texas Red AG kit. When I enter the ingredients into BeerSmith, it calculates the OG at 1.060 when the Brewhouse efficiency number is 75%. Austin's recipe says the OG should be 1.055. If I drop the Brewhouse efficiency number to 69% then BeerSmith calculates the OG at 1.055 as it says on the recipe. Since the Brewhouse efficiency number is controlled by the user and not calculated by the software, how do you decide what that number should be. I hit all of my temperature targets pretty close, and my measured OG was 1.053. When I put that in the software, it calculates the actual efficiency at 65.9%. I think from what I read, you should shoot for at least 75%, so I would assume that I need to do a little better next time, but it seems if the recipe calls for 1.055 and I hit 1.053 thats not too bad.

Can anyone critique me or help me understand how well (or not so well) I did?

Thanks.

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Old 08-08-2008, 12:36 AM   #2
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.002 off is pretty darned good.

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Old 08-08-2008, 01:15 AM   #3
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https://www.suebob.com/brew/allgrain.htm

The software is using data that may be a little off from real life. The potential gravity of each malt type will vary a little from season to season and that's where the numbers can vary between software. If you know the actual tested potential, you can modify the tables to make the calculations more accurate, but it really doesn't matter that much.
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Old 08-08-2008, 01:42 AM   #4
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Thanks for the replies, guys. I'm just trying to figure out if I'm doing everything the right way. I see so many people on here fret so much over efficiency. I really didn't even measure the efficiency on my first two AG batches, but they tasted very good to me, so I was happy. I will continue to strive for better efficiency, but I guess as long as they taste good, I'll be content.

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Old 08-08-2008, 03:07 AM   #5
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Austin produce kits that are going to be used by many different people using different equipment, methods, grain crush, water chemistry etc. All of these factors can affect the brewhouse efficiency, but none of them (except possibly the grain crush) is under Austin's control. So how can Austin predict the OG of their kits?
They have two realistic options. They can either not specify the OG at all (which is worse than useless), or they can assume a brewhouse efficiency that most people can achieve. They (and most other kit distributors) chose 70%
What you need to do is to make a brew and calculate your brewhouse efficiency (which you have already done), and then set that as your default efficiency in Beersmith. It is quite possible that you will get different efficiencies for 5g batches than you do for 10g. It is also probable that you will get lower efficiency with higher gravity beers. After you have a reference point, you can adjust the efficiency in Beersmith for the batch size and estimated gravity.
You will probably also find that your efficiency increases as you become more familiar with the process. As this happens, you should plug the new values into Beersmith.
Consistency is much more important than efficiency. If you brew two similar beers of similar size and your measured efficiency is very different, then you need to determine why, and correct the error. If your efficiency is constant or gradually improving, then you can either keep doing what you are doing, or look for ways to improve if you still think it is necessary.

Hope this helps.

-a.

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Old 08-08-2008, 04:37 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ajf View Post

Hope this helps.

-a.
Very much so. Thank you.
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Old 08-08-2008, 05:31 AM   #7
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It is not necessary to freak out over efficiency unless it is horrible. The only way to get lousy results is not to follow a good procedure as you should. The biggest thing is to make good beer. Be sanitary. Measure carefully. Mash and Ferment at the right temperature. Age long enough and your beer will be great. Ask questions after trying to get answers from your books and online how-to articles and searching on this forum as well as other ones. There are many good brewers on this forum and they are glad to help if you do not understand a given subject. Now go brew some awesome beer.

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Old 08-08-2008, 10:15 PM   #8
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An AG 'kit' isn't like an extract 'kit'. Extract has a fixed efficiency. The extract maker formulates their extract so they KNOW without a doubt that it will contribute X gravity points per gallon of water.

But when you are extracting the sugars from grain, efficiency is suddenly a variable. So AG kits pretty much assume about a 70% efficiency, probably because that's what the average homebrewer considers acceptable. Anything much less than that...and either your equipment or your processes need tweaking (finer crush, calibrate thermometer, adjust brewing water chemistry, etc).

Once you get a few AG batches under your belt, and have tweaked things, you'll find that you pretty much hit the same efficiency. For you it might be 78%...others manage to push well in to the 80's. Some can't get above 65%...

.002 sounds like a good job. It could be improved upon but I wouldn't be upset over your efficiency on this batch. Being off .010 would suck though.

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