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Old 10-17-2012, 02:09 AM   #1
Dec 2005
Boston, MA
Posts: 177
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Hi All,

I've tried reading the BS guides on efficiency, but I can't say I can get it. The guide shows two different Total Efficiency numbers that do not appear to be the same number so I'm confused. Thus to try to get a better understanding let me try to describe my measurements and figure out where to plug in these numbers.

I did a mash of 10lbs of malts and collected 6.25 gallons of wort at 1.044. The wort was 160 degrees when measured at 6.25 gallons, but the sample was at 75 degrees when the 1.044 was measured with a hydrometer.

After I boil the 6.25 gallons down to 5 gallons I would end up with an original gravity of 1.056 ready to be fermented. I did not correct for the temp difference.

To adjust my original recipe with 10lbs of grain to get an OG of 1.056 I have to adjust my Total Efficiency input to 77% from 72%. Does this mean my mash efficiency is 77%?

I am interested in modifying my equipment profile to reflect what is really going on but I'm not sure where to begin. Any thoughts or tips?

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Old 10-17-2012, 03:10 AM   #2
Jun 2010
Illinois, Lake County
Posts: 990
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This is one area that I wish BS did a better job at (or perhaps I have more to learn about BS). Specifically what I'm referring to is that I don't think BS calculates your actual efficiency numbers (someone correct me if i'm wrong). One thing that helps aid the whole understanding on efficiency (at least it did mine) is to keep in mind that efficiency is all about the amount of sugars you have at any point in the process. Each different efficiency number just takes into account different possible sources of loss of sugars (conversion, sparge, trub loss). For instance total efficiency would take into account all possible sources of loss (including leaving some wort/trub behind in the BK). I typically am not interested in that value, because I am mainly interested in the OG going into the fermenter, not so much how much volume gets there and how much trub I leave behind. If you transfer it all, it would not matter. I think in fact if you set your equipment trub loss to 0 in BS, your will get your mash efficiency and total efficiency to be the same.

In your case it seems like all your numbers would help you calculate mash efficiency, not total efficiency (unless you transfer it all). Another thing I wish BS would let you do is edit both mash and total efficiency. It seems like only one is editable. When you say that you aren't adjusting for temp, are you talking about the effects on wort volume or on your SG measurement? In general you are taking the right approach, but make sure you are looking at/tweaking the right efficiency numbers.

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Old 10-17-2012, 02:20 PM   #3
Jul 2012
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Posts: 121
Liked 16 Times on 13 Posts

There are 2 types of efficiency - mash efficiency, and brewhouse efficiency. They are calcualted the same way, just at different parts of the brewing process. BS only allows you to define and track 1 of these - brewhouse efficiency.

With any grain bill, there is a maximum amount of gravity you can get out of it. Let's say you have 10lb of grain, and produced 6.25G wort.
Let's also say that, hypothetically, if you were to get 100% efficiency that particular grain bill would give you a SG of 1.085 - or 85 ppg (gravity points per gallon)

If you measure your SG of 1.075 (or 75 ppg) then your efficiency is ~88%

The only difference between mash efficiency and brewhouse efficiency is when you take this measurement. Your mash efficiency is taken BEFORE the boil, and the brewhouse efficiency is taken AFTER the boil.

If you want to be thorough, you need to take a (temperature corrected) SG reading before the boil, note the volume of wort collected to get your mash efficiency. Then take another (temperature corrected) SG reading after the boil, and note the amount of wort going into your fermentor to get brewhouse efficiency. Only the brewhouse efficiency is noted and configured in your equipment profile in Beersmith, however.

I'm not home so I don't remember nor can check whether BS has an efficiency calculator, but here's one:

You need to know your grain bill, the volumes of wort collected (either before or after the boil), as well as accurate SG readings in order to determine what your efficiency is.

The way to use this in Beersmith is to make sure your equipment profile accurately reflects an average efficiency you usually get. You can then use this information to formulate or adjust recipes to your efficiency. In other words, if you grab a recipe on HBT that lists 70% efficiency @ 1.050 OG, but you typically get 65% efficiency, you may need a larger grain bill to hit that OG. Vice versa, if you typically hit 75% efficiency, you will need a smaller grain bill to do the same.

Hope this helps! This was confusing to me at first as well

The_Traveling_Brewer Likes This 
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Old 10-18-2012, 12:23 AM   #4
zakleeright's Avatar
Sep 2009
Tampa, FL, FL
Posts: 82
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good post above. One adjustment I'd make is that brewhouse efficiency takes into account all losses....from beer left behind in hoses, beer left behind in your brew kettle, beer spilled on the floor, beer evaporated during boil, etc. Why is this important? If you want a full 5 gallons in your keg, and you know your brewhouse efficiency is 75%, you know you'll need to formulate a 6.67-gallon batch. (that's why you should figure this out, and enter your brewhouse efficiency int BeerSmith..then it'll figure out how much your pre-boil volume should be to get the desired amount to the fermenter)

Mash efficiency is how many GU's you actually get from your mash, versus what the potential GU's from the mash were.
GU's are simply an easier way of stating SG for calculations (an SG of 1.042 = 42 GU's)
To determine extract potential, you can use typical extract potential constants from reference charts on the internet, or from books, etc. (Or use what Beersmith uses in each grain in the recipe)

Pale malt has an extract potential of around 36
Carapils is around 33

say your recipe has 16 pounds of Pale malt, multiplied by 36 = 576 gravity units
you have 2 pounds of caraplis, multiplied by 33 gives you 66 GU's
576 + 66 = 642 GU's
So, if you had 100% efficiency, and could pull every last bit of goodness from your mash,
you might get 12 gallons of beer at 1.0535 SG on your hydrometer (12 x 53.5 = 642 GU)

However, you only get 10 gallons of beer to the boil kettle, at an SG of 1.055, so that's 550 GU's.
So, you're mash efficiency is 550/642 = 86%.
Why is THIS important? Now that you know what your system's efficiency is, you can use that in all your recipe formulations, and NAIL your target OG every time.
Just take good, accurate measurements of volume and gravity pre-boil, and you know what your GU's are. compare it against the potential you calculated from above, and you'll know your mash efficiency for every brew session.
- zakleeright

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Old 11-17-2012, 12:45 AM   #5
Oct 2009
Posts: 86
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I think in fact if you set your equipment trub loss to 0 in BS, your will get your mash efficiency and total efficiency to be the same.
I've been doing this, so I can focus on my average mash efficiency... however, you need to bump up your batch size (to, say, 6 gallons from 5.5) to make up for the "loss" that was zeroed out (0.5 gal, I think, is the default). By doing this, I can focus on fewer variables (mash efficiency & water volumes)... maybe once I get all my "normal" rates (other losses) for my equipment I'll go back.

It seems that brewhouse efficiency is best for a brewery that already knows its equipment, losses, rates, mash efficiency, etc. But, when you're first starting to use brewing software, you likely don't have a very good idea on most of these things, so the default "brewhouse efficiency" is just an educated guess until you have everything dialed in.

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Old 02-10-2013, 11:18 PM   #6
Registered User
Jun 2010
Posts: 845
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Originally Posted by EvilDeadAsh View Post
The only difference between mash efficiency and brewhouse efficiency is when you take this measurement. Your mash efficiency is taken BEFORE the boil, and the brewhouse efficiency is taken AFTER the boil.
That statement is a little vague, although it was clarified later in the post. More specific (without being too dry) definitions are:
Mash efficiency- the % of sugars extracted as they sit in the mash tun.
Lauter efficiency- the % of extracted sugars that make it 'to the kettle'.
Brewhouse efficiency- a term that BeerSmith co-opted and bastardized to mean a worthless 'to the fermentor' efficiency metric. Prior to BeerSmith, virtually all references to Brewhouse efficiency referred to 'in the kettle' efficiency (mash * lauter eff), for good reason.

Homebrewers have bastardized 'Mash eff' to mean 'Lauter eff', but it isn't as big a deal as using Brewhouse eff to mean 'to the fermenter'.

The least troublesome way to configure BeerSmith is to set 'trub/chiller losses' to 0, and now Brewhouse eff is Lauter/Mash eff. Tuning recipes and your system will be much easier, and take fewer iterations. A good place to stash/log your trub losses is in the 'fermenter losses' field. Nobody, BeerSmith included, uses this field for anything anyway. If you are still new to BeerSmith, there are several guides that explain in detail how to use BeerSmith with this approach. It is less complicated than the official BeerSmith'way.

As for having to hand calc any effs in BeerSmith, it really isn't necessary. Set your volume to the observed volume, then jimmy with your Brewhouse eff until the SG matches the observed value. (WARNING: make a copy of the recipe first, and use that.) This can be done with either definition of Brewhouse Eff, to then get observed 'Mash eff'. With the 0 trub loss method, they are just both the same value in BeerSmith.

I believe there is also an online calc tool on BeerSmith's site that will do your calc's if you enter the info. It appeared after I mocked them for their choice of 'efficiency', and how you had to do the eff calc yourself to use the program whose marketing tag line is "Why do the calcs yourself!".

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