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Old 10-31-2007, 08:23 PM   #1
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Default highest efficiency

So I just finished getting my first lager into the fermenter. I tested the gravity and was literally shocked by what I read. After breaking my hydrometer last week, I bought two so I wouldn't ever have to fly blind. So I grabbed the backup hydrometer to check the gravity again.... same reading. Holy Cow! I thought to myself, then I thought about efficiency. I wrote the recipe assuming an 80% efficiency, but blew the OG out of the water. And I had a larger volume than I planned on as well.... Geeze just how good was that efficiency? So on to the beer recipator, and here's the result:

87%


So what's your highest efficiency ever?

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Old 10-31-2007, 08:27 PM   #2
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The first beer I brewed with my new Barley Crusher.

Ed Wort's Haus ale.

O.G. 1.057

91% eff

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Old 10-31-2007, 10:03 PM   #3
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yeah, i write my recipes with 85% eff, but i've been hitting 91% pretty consistently. i dont want to change the efficiency in beersmith to 90% yet though, i know something will go wrong if i get too cocky!

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Old 10-31-2007, 10:53 PM   #4
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Wouldn't the best time for calculating efficiency be before you boil? That shows the true amount of sugars/volume you have collected. After you boil for 4 hours (exaggeration obviously) you're going to have a much higher gravity.

I always thought the gravity before the boil was what to base efficiency on, then the gravity after the boil was just used to calculate ABV and ABW. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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Old 11-01-2007, 01:27 AM   #5
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Man I usually plan for 60% efficiency and am happy if I get 70%. I feel like I must be doing something terribly wrong...

I have a cylindrical five gallon rubbermaid cooler mash tun with a false bottom. I do single infusion mashes and fly sparge. My LHBS or online supplier grinds the grains for me.

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Old 11-01-2007, 01:32 AM   #6
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Same for me... usually have about 60%.

Next time I will buy a barley crusher and do a mash out before sparging. The grain I get from LHBS seems so uncrushed...

Hope to get at least 70% next time.

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Old 11-01-2007, 01:34 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ksbrain
Man I usually plan for 60% efficiency and am happy if I get 70%. I feel like I must be doing something terribly wrong...

I have a cylindrical five gallon rubbermaid cooler mash tun with a false bottom. I do single infusion mashes and fly sparge. My LHBS or online supplier grinds the grains for me.
Dude, there is NOTHING wrong with 70% efficiency (or even 60% for that matter), especially if you don't crush your own grains. It's not like these things are grades on your brewing ability, like 60% is a C or 75% is a B and 90%+ is an A. All that matters is that you can replicate your numbers consistently.

Remember that most recipes are designed to be in the 65 - 75% range of brewhouse efficiency. That's pretty typical. In some ways, getting really high efficiency, like 90%, is a PITA because you will have to convert every recipe you come across to make it work with your system!

Seriously, we probably pay much more attention to the size of those efficiency numbers than we need to, when we really need to be paying attention to how consistent those numbers are from batch to batch.
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Old 11-01-2007, 01:35 AM   #8
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I was just looking at another thread on the issue, and they showed a picture of their home-crushed grain. My crushed grain does not look like that! I just assumed that the LHBS and online shop were crushing in a normal way that would give good efficiency. But it seems I may be wrong there.

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Old 11-01-2007, 01:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by INeedANewHobby
Wouldn't the best time for calculating efficiency be before you boil? That shows the true amount of sugars/volume you have collected. After you boil for 4 hours (exaggeration obviously) you're going to have a much higher gravity.

I always thought the gravity before the boil was what to base efficiency on, then the gravity after the boil was just used to calculate ABV and ABW. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

No, you could sparge with 3 gallons of water or you could sparge with 8 gallons of water and your efficiency could be the same, you'd just have a much larger water to grain ratio. Once your boil is done and you have 5 gallons of water, that's what you are calculating for. If I have x amount of grains and y amount of water and I get allllll the sugar out of those grains, what will my z gravity be in y amount of water? y could change and z could change, but the ratio to x would be the same efficiency no matter what. It's best to use your final amount of water to grain ratio, post boil.
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Old 11-01-2007, 04:12 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ó Flannagáin
No, you could sparge with 3 gallons of water or you could sparge with 8 gallons of water and your efficiency could be the same, you'd just have a much larger water to grain ratio. Once your boil is done and you have 5 gallons of water, that's what you are calculating for. If I have x amount of grains and y amount of water and I get allllll the sugar out of those grains, what will my z gravity be in y amount of water? y could change and z could change, but the ratio to x would be the same efficiency no matter what. It's best to use your final amount of water to grain ratio, post boil.
Exactly, that's why I had to go back and redo the calculations, because I over sparged and ended up with about 7 gallons post boil. Efficiency doesn't matter much as long as you achieve about what you expected. If you're WAY off, then the utilization of your hops will go down, which could throw a beer way off balance. In my case the IBU's went from 29 to 27. No biggy, just means that I will use 85% when I write the next recipe.

I have an idea for anyone trying to increase efficiency:

stop after filling your boil pot half way, and stir the heck out of the mash (try not to splash). You will have to recirculate again to reset the grain bed, but I've found that raises my efficiency by more than ten percent. Also, try to get the total water volume right, so the mash drains dry right when the boil pot fills. If there's still some left, but not enough room in the pot, put the last bit in a different pot. Then start the boil but don't put any hops in at first. Let some water boil out, and add the extra into the pot. Watch out for boil over when you add.

Oh, and get a mill, even if it's a corona. I crush pretty darn tight with mine and haven't had a stuck sparge problem yet.
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