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Old 07-05-2012, 11:25 AM   #1
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Default Beersmith - getting efficiency right

I've been using BrewTarget for quite a while now, and recently decided to grab a demo of BrewSmith and see if that might be worth a closer look.

So far, I really like a lot of features I'm seeing - it definitely is a lot more fully featured than BrewTarget. However, I just did my first brew planned entirely from BrewSmith yesterday, and what I don't like is that it apparently handles efficiency in a completely different manner, and I'm kind of stumped as to figuring out how to account for it.

When using BrewTarget and the Brewhouse Efficiency Calculator found here, I've been able to figure out I get about 73% brewhouse efficiency, very consistently. If I scale any recipe I find, or build one in BrewTarget using a 73% efficiency figure, then it just works - at worst I miss my OG my a point or two, which is just fine by me come brew day.

So, I plugged that same 73% into BrewSmith and built an IPA recipe which I brewed yesterday. At the end of the day, I was dismayed to find I had missed my target OG by 8 points! I couldn't figure out what had gone wrong, so I checked that efficiency calculator above and, sure enough, it told me I hit my typical 73% efficiency for the day. I then plugged the exact same grain bill into BrewTarget (granted, I should have done this first - hindsight and all that). BrewTarget predicted 2 points over the OG I actually wound up with.

Now, I know I've got my boil off rates set to the same and I'm the same equipment in both applications, and I've got efficiencies set to the same value, so what gives? Why does BrewSmith's efficiency calculator apparently disagree by 8 points with these other two, and can I fix it? I really like the features I'm seeing, and I'd like to get the app tweaked so that its output is reliable for me and my process.

The grain bill, by the way, is:
12lbs 2-row
12oz crystal 40l
12oz victory
12 oz flaked barley

Brewsmith predicts, @73% efficiency: 1.062
BrewTarget predicts, @73% efficiency: 1.056
brewersfriend calculator tells me that my 1.054 OG gives me 72.83% brewhouse efficiency

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Old 07-05-2012, 11:28 AM   #2
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Are both the batch sizes set the same?

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Old 07-05-2012, 12:56 PM   #3
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I'll have to go back and double-check that. My intention was to set them for 7 gallons, and then leave behind a gallon in the kettle to try and leave behind a significant chunk of the hops. But, come to think of it, I might have plugged that in as kettle loss, rather than figuring it as batch size, in BrewSmith. Trying to wrap my head around whether that should lead to a higher or lower OG number though... I'll have to double-check all the numbers when I get home, make sure everything matches, and look again.

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Old 07-05-2012, 01:03 PM   #4
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Are you looking at mash efficiency, or batch efficiency? Beersmith has both, and one is not the same as the other (and yes, I made that mistake, leading to a very weak beer)

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Old 07-05-2012, 01:05 PM   #5
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It all depends on what you think you'll get from the specialty malts. two row is typically 36ppg, so:

[(36ppg) * (12 pounds) / (5 gallons)] * (.73 efficiency) = 63, or 1.063

so I'd expect at least 1.063, plus a few points from the other 3. so, there is something wrong with what you've got setup....

5 gallons, right? or 5.5? 6?

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Old 07-05-2012, 01:27 PM   #6
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Like I said above, the recipe was for 7 gallons, planning to leave behind a gallon or so in the kettle. When I plug that, at 7 gallons, into BrewTarget, I get 1.056. Plugged into BrewSmith, I get 1.064, though I don't remember for certain if I entered it into BrewSmith as a 7 gallon recipe or as a 6 gallon recipe with 1+ gallon kettle loss (which seems to me should work out the same, but I'll double check that all the numbers - batch size, kettle and lauter loss, etc - are equal between the two tonight).

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Old 07-05-2012, 01:30 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stratslinger View Post
Like I said above, the recipe was for 7 gallons, planning to leave behind a gallon or so in the kettle. When I plug that, at 7 gallons, into BrewTarget, I get 1.056. Plugged into BrewSmith, I get 1.064, though I don't remember for certain if I entered it into BrewSmith as a 7 gallon recipe or as a 6 gallon recipe with 1+ gallon kettle loss (which seems to me should work out the same, but I'll double check that all the numbers - batch size, kettle and lauter loss, etc - are equal between the two tonight).
Without taking the time to look into this, I imagine the way the 2 programs are dealing with the entry of 7 gallons is different. One attributing some to loss and the other not doing it the same way.
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Old 07-05-2012, 07:35 PM   #8
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Interesting little puzzle that would be good to get to the bottom of. The ppg values can differ between the tools, but that should not amount to a huge difference.

It sounds like the volumes are not being added up right in BeerSmith or something is getting double counted. Make sure to compare the pre-boil volume to the pre-boil gravity measurement, or the batch size (how much was left when the boil was over) to the original gravity measurement.

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Old 07-05-2012, 10:45 PM   #9
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When I put your recipe into BeerSmith at 73% with a 7 gallon BATCH size, I get 1.052 so pretty close to BrewTarget.

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Old 07-06-2012, 12:56 AM   #10
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OK, so I adjusted things so that the kettle losses matched between BeerSmith and BrewTarget, then I changed the batch size to 7 gallons in BeerSmith, and the projected OG went to 1.053 - which I actually BEAT by 1 point, so it would seem I did OK, just totally borked myself tweaking the software wrong up front. Live and learn!

Now I wind up with a new question - but it may be best for a new thread, not sure: I tried to use the "Adjust Gravity" feature, and found that it's adjusting my hops too! If I wanted to adjust bitterness, I'd use the Adjust Bitterness button - is there a way to adjust gravity, and ONLY gravity, short of manually tweaking individual grains? Seems like a really neat tool to have access to.

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