Originally Posted by latium
Keep in mind with a big beer like that (21 lbs for 5 gallons) that your efficiency is going to drop unless you use more sparge water. The problem with using more sparge water is that you have to boil longer to get the volume you need, and there comes a point where you're wasting dollars of fuel to save dozens of cents of grain. For example, Kal's Electric Brewery system gets 95% efficiency in general, but on a big barleywine, it dropped to 86% efficiency
The reason is that you have less sparge water available (assuming you want a reasonable pre-target volume that you don't have to boil forever) due to requiring more strike water to maintain a reasonable liquor-to-grist ratio, so it's less effective in rinsing out the grain.
I'd suggest brewing a beer with a 1.040-1.060 OG rather than judging by a such a big beer.
You are right. I suppose with bigger beers I can just plan on getting efficiency in the 50s and add more grain rather than having to boil for an atrocious amount of time.
I still have concerns that something I am doing (or not doing) is having a large effect on my efficiency. I stirred the %#$%# out of it at dough-in and then recirculated for the last five minutes of the mash, then after draining and then adding the sparge water I stirred it and then recirculated for another 5 minutes.
The first batch that I tried was supposed to be 1.072 (75%) and ended up being 1.057 (60%). This one should have been 1.114 (75%) and was 1.075 (49%). You see that's what I am worried about, is going to try a smaller normal beer and hoping for 1.050 and then getting 1.033.