Originally Posted by s89bunton
I do not have a dip tube nor am I using hop bags. I figured I could just calculate for the loss of wort. Sounds like I'm gonna need to start using both if I want to increase my overall efficiency and hit recipe gravities.
You can either adjust every recipe's grain and hop bill up to a 6 or 6.5 gallon batch size (to get 5 or 5.5 gallons into the fermenter), and live with the consistent inefficiency (in something like Beersmith you can set the kettle and trub losses appropriately and see the effect on the OG, IBUs, etc.) but that will increase your costs per batch of grain and hops by 20%. Maybe not an issue on a mild, but could cost $8-$10 a batch on a Pliny clone.
A dip tube would be the best way to reduce the amount of wort left in the kettle. The idea of using hop bags or a spider is to reduce the amount of hops picked up by the dip tube. Using a false bottom or hopblocker in the kettle will also strain out a lot of the break material if you can cool your wort fast and get a good cold break. I switched to using a hop spider (paint bag, PVC pipe adapter, 3 bolts and a worm clamp) because my kettle domed false bottom which also acts a dipt tube was clogging with whole leaf hops and break material on hoppier beers. You can also whirlpool if you have a pump and have the dip tube near the side to get much the same effect. Lots of options over in the Equipment and DIY sections, and neither should cost very much - cheap enough that you make back the cost in 3-4 batches.