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Old 12-21-2011, 03:28 AM   #1
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Default Do people report mash efficiency or brewhouse efficiency?

Just what the question says... I made my second AG batch this weekend. I got a Barley Crusher and based on many of the posts on here, I expected (perhaps due to a misunderstanding of what people were posting about) to see my brewhouse efficiency hit the 80's.

My mash efficiency was about 82%, but my overall brewhouse efficiency was only 68% (both according to Beersmith). FWIW, this batch was a single infusion, batch sparge.

I know that there are things that I can change to increase my efficiency, but I'm really wondering if there was even a problem? When people are reporting mid- to high-80's for efficiency, should I just assume they're talking about mash efficiency only? Or should I be refining my process to aim for the 80's as my overall brewhouse efficiency?

Thanks! I'm new to brewing in the last 6 months or so, and you guys (and ladies) here on HBT have really helped shorten my learning curve... I feel like I'm on the road from "drinkable" beer to "good" beer - to my taste buds, at least - in a very short time. Cheers!

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Old 12-21-2011, 03:42 AM   #2
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In my opinion, people get too hung up on efficiency. As long as your in the 60s or 70s your doing just fine. I would shoot more for consistency and just adjust your recipe to your consistent brew house efficiency. If you're getting up in the mid to high 80s you probably need to start worrying about tannin extraction. I'd rather be consistently at 68% and have to buy an extra handful of base malt each time. You're still going to make good beer.

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Old 12-21-2011, 03:56 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maxam
I'd rather be consistently at 68% and have to buy an extra handful of base malt each time. You're still going to make good beer.
This is a good summary of how I feel. I'm not going pro and doing this for money anytime soon, so I'm not going to sweat it if my efficiency isn't super high. I'll just take some more base malt out of the giant 50-lb sack I just bought to make up for it.

This was just the first time I was able to take enough measurements to calculate efficiency, so I was curious what could have caused the discrepancy between what I expected and what I achieved. The more I read, I actually think there isn't any discrepancy... my mash eff was >80 and I think those #'s seem to be the most reported.
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Old 12-21-2011, 05:13 AM   #4
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People report mash efficiency. Brew house efficiency is something I have read about but never really understood. I would agree whole heartedly about consistency. In this scale adding more grain is a perfectly viable option for a very long time. Eventually you will get an adjustable grain mill and start fiddling with it and condition your grain and fiddle some more with it and get into the high 80's or even high 90's.

They also report actual yield which is very different from theoretical yield. That has to do with taking out the parts of the grain which won't convert to anything if I remember from a book I read a long time ago.

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Old 12-21-2011, 12:59 PM   #5
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People report both.

Unless they say "Into Fermenter" or "Into Boil" or words to that effect you can't really be sure

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Old 12-21-2011, 01:12 PM   #6
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This thread indicates that people are very confused about efficiency.

People report brewhouse efficiency, not mash efficiency (also know as conversion efficiency).

From Kaiser's website:

brewhouse efficiency = conversion efficiency * lauter efficiency

Conversion/Mash efficiency is the how effective you are at converting starches to sugars in the mash step.

Lauter efficiency is the how effective you are at removing/rinsing those sugars from the mash so the end up in your brew-pot.

If you are taking a gravity reading on a sample that has left the mash-tun (i.e. runnings), you are looking at brewhouse efficiency. This is because you can't separate the conversion efficiency from the lauter efficiency; whatever you get for gravity is a product of both of these factors.

Hope this helps...this is required reading if you want to understand this fully:

Troubleshooting Brewhouse Efficiency - German brewing and more

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Old 12-21-2011, 01:15 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stux View Post
People report both.

Unless they say "Into Fermenter" or "Into Boil" or words to that effect you can't really be sure
The only reason those two numbers are different is because the volume has been reduced by a boil step. Efficiency has nothing to do with why these numbers are different. Your efficiency has already been determined by your process upstream of the boil step.
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Old 12-21-2011, 01:18 PM   #8
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So in essence what you are saying broadbill is that after I finished my sparge and have collected all of my liquid from my tun. If I pull out a sample and take a pre-boil gravity reading of that sample (of course letting it cool down enough to get an accurate hydrometer reading) then I am taking a reading of my brewhouse efficiency?

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Old 12-21-2011, 01:23 PM   #9
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The actual brewhouse efficiency is measured for an entire system. Unlike the dry grain yield or potential measured in a lab, real brewers achieve only a percentage of the ideal number due to real considerations such as efficiency of the mashing process, and losses due to boiling, deadspace or trub. This percentage of the potential, as measured across the whole system into the fermenter, is the brewhouse efficiency.

A related term is mash efficiency. Unlike brewhouse efficiency, mash efficiency measures only the efficiency of the mash and sparging steps. Mash efficiency can be through of as the percent of potential fermentables extracted during the mashing process that actually make it into the boiler.


excerpt from link below

Brewhouse Efficiency for All Grain Beer Brewing | Home Brewing Beer Blog by BeerSmith
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Old 12-21-2011, 01:39 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by matalec1984 View Post
So in essence what you are saying broadbill is that after I finished my sparge and have collected all of my liquid from my tun. If I pull out a sample and take a pre-boil gravity reading of that sample (of course letting it cool down enough to get an accurate hydrometer reading) then I am taking a reading of my brewhouse efficiency?
yep. Whatever your gravity is at that point (going into the kettle) is a result of the starches you were able to convert to sugars in the mash step (conversion efficiency) and what sugars you were able to rinse away from the grains/mash bed (lauter efficiency).

That number you calculate after mash/sparge is your brewhouse efficiency. As for a guideline, anything between 60-80% is good, and I agree with the others that consistency is the most important.

If you are interested in getting better efficiency, again I recommend that you read Kaiser's link I posted above. I will tell you that based on what I've seen on this forum--if you are batch sparging I would guess your problem is your crush (you aren't crushing fine enough). If you are fly sparging--it could very well be an issue with either crush or fly sparge technique.

Good luck!
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