Efficiency - Home Brew Forums
Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Efficiency

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old 01-03-2011, 05:12 PM   #1
jamen46
Recipes 
 
Oct 2008
Posts: 20



It has been a while since i have posted on this site, but I find there is a good bit of knowledge hanging around here, and I have been getting pretty frustrated with my brewing.

I have been brewing for about 2 years now and have been brewing all grain for about 1.5 years. I like to think I have a pretty good understanding of what is going on throughout the processes involved, i.e. mashing, sparging, and the actual brewing. I use beersmith to build my recipes and my beers usually taste pretty good. I use a standard 48 quart ice chest for a mash/lauter tun and a 30 quart stainless steel turkey fryer for a brew kettle. I buy my grain from my local homebrew supply shop and he crushes the grain for me. I always brew within a day or two of crushing. I think my longest has been maybe 4 days from crush to brew.

My problem is I can't get decent efficiency...Wait, correction, I can't get consistent efficiency. It is really mind boggling to me. I use the same process, I don't adjust the software, yet, my effeciencies run from 50-80%. Its really not that big of a deal when I do larger beers, because I tend to stay in the style, but session beers are tough. And, how am I supposed to get any consistent recipes when my beers come out different every time?

I realize I am not using a top of the line system, but I would think I could get some consistency with my system.

Please, any advice would help.

Thanks,
J



 
Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2011, 05:20 PM   #2
azscoob
Brewpub coming soon!
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
 
azscoob's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Jun 2009
Lake in the Hills, IL
Posts: 7,447
Liked 271 Times on 208 Posts


Do you ever change your process or tweak it from one brew to the next? I repeat the exact same steps for every brew regardless of the style or size. I also found a great sway on efficiency when I was getting my grain milled at the LHBS, after getting a mill I am rock solid in consistency with my brews.


__________________
Shirts n Steins: Grain Reaper Brewing


I seem to have misplaced my trousers... ~Grainreaper

 
Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2011, 05:24 PM   #3
jamen46
Recipes 
 
Oct 2008
Posts: 20


Thanks. Yeah, I'm working on convincing the wife that I need my own mill. Its tough with the new baby and all, but that is definitely something I've been looking into and its good to know that is something i can look at for some hope.

 
Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2011, 06:06 PM   #4
RM-MN
HBT_SUPPORTER.png
Recipes 
 
Nov 2010
Solway, MN
Posts: 9,355
Liked 1608 Times on 1279 Posts


Have you compared your thermometer with a lab grade one? It's possible that you are mashing one at 145 and the next at 158 while your thermometer is reading 152. That alone would get you lots of variation in efficiency.

 
Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2011, 06:13 PM   #5
AZ_IPA
PKU
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
 
AZ_IPA's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Jun 2008
The Cold Part of AZ
Posts: 52,038
Liked 8485 Times on 6861 Posts


My thesis on efficiency problems is as follows:

1) are you completely sure your ingredients are properly weighed?
2) are you completely sure your volumes are incredibly accurate (aka, don't use the ale pail factory markings)
3) are you completely sure your temperatures are accurate (aka, calibrated thermometers)
4) are you completely sure your gravity readings are accurate (aka, calibrated & temp corrected numbers from your hydrometer and/or refractometer)

If any of the above are off - all of the water profiles, crushes, process', water volume adjustments for temp, etc. won't matter...

I'm convinced that mis-meaurement (temp, volume, weight, gravity) is the cause of "help, my efficiency sucks" 90% of the time...

 
Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2011, 06:38 PM   #6
Mischief_Brewing
Recipes 
 
Jan 2010
Montpelier, VT
Posts: 1,261
Liked 16 Times on 14 Posts


In my experience, no part of the process (outside calculating errors [i.e. mis-weighing grains]) effects efficiency calculations more than your crush. I had the worst efficiency numbers until I broke down and built a pasta roller grain mill (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/usin...l-grain-75784/). I've hit 80-82% on all 5 brews since I started using it. My total investment (not counting the drill I use to grind) was less than $50.

 
Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2011, 06:40 PM   #7
MikeRoBrew1
Recipes 
 
Sep 2010
Minneapolis
Posts: 394
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts


How do you guys accurately measure the volumes of liquid you are putting in the kettle for mash and sparge?
__________________
My brew blog:
http://www.mikerobrew.blogspot.com
Follow me on Twitter @WakeMikey

 
Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2011, 06:43 PM   #8
AZ_IPA
PKU
HBT_LIFETIMESUPPORTER.png
 
AZ_IPA's Avatar
Recipes 
 
Jun 2008
The Cold Part of AZ
Posts: 52,038
Liked 8485 Times on 6861 Posts


Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeRoBrew1 View Post
How do you guys accurately measure the volumes of liquid you are putting in the kettle for mash and sparge?
calibrated sight glass on the kettle, calibrated ale pails (I use a known gallon amount of water, then mark with a sharpie on the pail)

 
Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2011, 07:10 PM   #9
Malticulous
Recipes 
 
Aug 2008
St. George Utah
Posts: 4,143
Liked 72 Times on 57 Posts


There really aren't many factors contributing to efficiency. Here is my list for batch sparging.
  1. Crush - access to starches has the biggest impact.
  2. Draining the tun completely - dead space will take points away.
  3. Stir the sparge completely - all runnings should be of consistent gravity.
  4. pH during conversion - ph during lauter is not going to have much effect on BHE but proper pH will make higher quality wort.

__________________
Everything is better with a beer.

 
Reply With Quote
Old 01-03-2011, 07:23 PM   #10
jamen46
Recipes 
 
Oct 2008
Posts: 20


Wow, thanks everyone.

1. Thermometers - I usually use either a clip on dial thermometer and/or my digital meat thermometer in my kettle, then I use a mercury type floating thermometer in my mash tun. They seem to all read around the same, so I have to assume they are accurate.

2. Weights and volumes - I'm pretty sure all ingredients are weighed properly. I usually pull and weigh my own grains at the shop. Of course, thats assuming his scale is accurate. Its a nice digital scale. I feel comfortable with it. As far as volumes of water, I heat up the volume of water in my kettle and then just pour it in the mash tun on the grain. I usually go a little over to make up for any evaporation. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't see how the volume of water is that important (in the mash). I mean, the important thing is to 1) hold the grain at a certain temperature to activate the enzymes, and 2) hold it for a certain amount of time so that most sugars are converted. It seems to me that if you were short on water in the mash/lauter tun, you would just get a more concentrated wort, which you can correct with top up. Of course, that is assuming you get decent wash with your sparge. (which I actually think might be my biggest problem)

3. Gravity - I use a standard hydrometer and use the converter in beersmith to adjust for temperature.

Man, I certainly appreciate the insight. Keep it coming, please.



 
Reply With Quote
Reply
Thread Tools


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Efficiency 30.87%!!!!!!!!!!!!! firefly765 All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 41 06-11-2010 12:58 PM
help with efficiency bbbrew All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 13 06-05-2010 04:15 PM
Help with efficiency mattmcl All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 21 11-29-2009 05:27 PM
94% Efficiency? yeqmaster All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 21 10-09-2009 03:05 AM
55% efficiency! Willsellout All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing 11 05-02-2007 12:57 AM


Forum Jump