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Old 04-28-2013, 03:55 PM   #1
nickharbour
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Default Efficiency in US 2-row vs. Euro Pils?

I've been troubleshooting wildly inconsistent efficiencies in my brews over the last couple of years. I've been brewing exclusively belgian and french beers this year and as a result have been using nothing but pilsner malt of various varieties as my base. I've also been very happy to have settled into a nice consistent range for my efficiencies. I broke with my schedule and brewed an American IPA based on Briess 2-row yesterday and my old efficiency (lower) came back. It got my thinking, so I looked at my brew log for the past two years and of all the factors in the beers, it looked like the base malt was the deciding factor. There have been a variety of mash schedules with each, but generally the pilsner brews have more often recieved a protein rest than the us 2-row brews. I generally decoct to mash out with all brews as well, with a variable amount of time in the decoction boil depending on if I'm trying to get a decocted flavor or just raised the mash temp.

Over the past 2 years every beer I've brewed with a base of german pils or belgian pils has been in the efficiency range of 88%-92% (92% was a table beer at 2.5% abv, also not listed here is one batch that was mostly munich malt that got 86%)

Over the past 2 years every beer I've brewed with Briess or other US 2-row has been in the efficiency range of 70-76%

I know a lot of people will likely chime in and say not to worry about efficiency but if you look at the numbers you'll see why its an issue. I'm also into making delicately balanced beers instead of malt or hop bombs.

Has anyone else noticed something like this?

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Old 04-28-2013, 06:23 PM   #2
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I haven't noticed anything like that, though I don't think I have nearly as much data as you. Since you've already averaged all the efficiencies, can you maybe calculate a standard deviation for each data set? (Excel can do this quickly with the STDEV function). I'm curious how as to what the +/- is on those numbers.

I'm assuming you're milling everything yourself, and you regularly set the gap. Maybe the euro malts have larger or harder kernels, and are being crushed more finely?

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Old 04-28-2013, 07:07 PM   #3
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I've noticed in doing decoction I get a higher efficiency. However not 90%. Low alcohol beers are going to be higher in efficiency because you have more sparge volume/time so the 2.5% beer doesn't surprise me. Also when I have more than about 12 lbs of grains my efficiency dumps off a cliff. My thought is this is a combination of mass transport through all the grains in the grain bed (although I do stir occasionally) and now using proportionally as much sparge water. Perhaps this is what you're seeing on your ipa. Do a mild with pale 2-row. I bet your efficiency goes back up.

Note: for my decoction I do Hochkurz schedule

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Old 04-28-2013, 08:30 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zachattack View Post
I haven't noticed anything like that, though I don't think I have nearly as much data as you. Since you've already averaged all the efficiencies, can you maybe calculate a standard deviation for each data set? (Excel can do this quickly with the STDEV function). I'm curious how as to what the +/- is on those numbers.

I'm assuming you're milling everything yourself, and you regularly set the gap. Maybe the euro malts have larger or harder kernels, and are being crushed more finely?
I didn't average them actually. Literally every pils-based beer was between 88% and 92% efficiency and every US 2-row was between 70 and 76. Within those bands it correlates directly to the gravity of the beer. Making a 1.045 beer with 2-row was still less efficient than making a 1.090 beer with pils though. I mill myself with a schmidling malt mill that is not adjustable. The crushes always look good and the pils grains are pretty much identical to the us 2-row.

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I've noticed in doing decoction I get a higher efficiency. However not 90%. Low alcohol beers are going to be higher in efficiency because you have more sparge volume/time so the 2.5% beer doesn't surprise me. Also when I have more than about 12 lbs of grains my efficiency dumps off a cliff. My thought is this is a combination of mass transport through all the grains in the grain bed (although I do stir occasionally) and now using proportionally as much sparge water. Perhaps this is what you're seeing on your ipa. Do a mild with pale 2-row. I bet your efficiency goes back up.

Note: for my decoction I do Hochkurz schedule
I've done Hochkurz a few times but now I tend to just boil long on the mash out for german styles since its really the amount of time you boil the decoction that is important, so I use a mix of infusions and single decoction for simplicity. I do this with a lot of my 2-row recipes as well. My system is exactly as you describe, where the efficiency is tied to the ratio of sparge water to grain and the total length of sparge/lauter. That being said my total lauter time is usually 60 to 90 minutes and I decoct to mash out leaving a final grain to water ratio of 1.25 quarts/lb usually, which leaves a whole lot of sparge water. As I mentioned above, I still get better efficiency making a Bock at 1.090 with pils (88%) than I do an american amber at 1.045 with us 2-row pale (76%).
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Old 04-28-2013, 08:34 PM   #5
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I have achieved higher efficiencies with Weyerman pilsner, than with Briess 2 row. Both doing single step infusion mashes.

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Old 04-28-2013, 10:32 PM   #6
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Interesting. Well to answer your question I have not noticed a significant change in efficiency with pale versus pils malt.

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Old 04-28-2013, 11:54 PM   #7
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Is there a significant difference in gain size between the two? I know 2row and 6row are quite different. I'm wondering if the two should require different grind settings?

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Old 04-29-2013, 12:05 AM   #8
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Is there a significant difference in gain size between the two? I know 2row and 6row are quite different. I'm wondering if the two should require different grind settings?
No they are they same, and both 2-row barley. I don't have an adjustable mill but I always inspect the crush and it is perfectly suited for these grains. If I didn't have my bins labeled it would be easy to completely lose track of which grain is which.
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Old 04-29-2013, 08:50 PM   #9
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Are you boiling all of your pilsner-based batches for 90 mins? Depending on your boil-off rate, you could have another .5-.75 gallons of sparge water vs. a 60 min boil, which should increase your efficiency. I don't know if that's enough to account for a 12% efficiency a difference, but it's something.

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Old 04-30-2013, 04:18 PM   #10
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All efficiency calls should take into account boil off volume. It's asked on total amount of "points" recovered... That being said, if you aren't measuring your final volume then that may be an issue.

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