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Old 01-06-2013, 10:39 PM   #1
Dec 2012
Lakewood, Colorado
Posts: 46
Liked 5 Times on 5 Posts

The problem is efficiency.
Ill start out by saying I have been AG brewing for about 4 years. In the last year or so I have noticed a steady decline in quality of beer and been unable to reliably predict OG (It has been consistantly low and my efficiency has been 50-60% ). The worst part is there is no excuse for the low efficiency, I have my own Barley crusher so I set my own tollerances, I have solid equipment for 10 gallon batches, false bottom keggle setup and i batch sparge. Last year I moved in to a new place which has some rediculously hard well water and I assumed that was the problem, but lately I have been thinking otherwise. So I decided that I am going to take major steps to resolve the issues. Here are the steps I took, cumulative results at the end. And dont be shocked, all the things I did are pretty standard practice by most brewers, I guess the old standards just got worse and I got lazy.

1. New digital thermometer. I kept having inconsistant readings, temps are super important in brewing. I calibrated 2 mechanical thermometers to verify my new digital was accurate.

2. Adjusted Mash tun dead space. It took some fooling around but i took the gap in the bottom of my mash tun from 1/2" to > 1/8th inch.

3. Adjusted my Barleycrusher to .028

4. Conditioned the malt, I wasnt going to run an .028 setting and not condition...

5. Filled my 10gallon cooler lid with spray foam. I think this was a major contributor to maintaining temps.

6. Adjusted my mash to 1.5 from 1.25. This also completely filled the deadspace in my mash tun.

7. Hit my temps dead on perfect. I had to pay a lot more attention, but it was completely worth it in the end

8. Tracked my volumes very carefully. I tried to get as close as possible, usually I am OK with a half gallon off one way or another (Did I mention lazy as a problem?)

9. Carefully throttled my run-offs. I ran off slowly enough to avoid a stuck sparge, but fast enough not to go crazy. I also made sure to get every drop out of each batch before dropping in more sparge water.

10. I paid attention to what was going into my boil kettle. The product was lighter than anticipated (I have made a lot of Irish Red, and this was more of a golden color.) I was also about a half gallon over on my runnings, this worked out perfectly. I pulled 3 quarts out of my BK and started boiling it off in a spare kettle. I boiled it down for about 30 minutes until it was a syrupy, dark mahogony color. This fixed the color issue as well as the volume issue.

11. Checked pre-boil gravity. This isnt something I normally do, but with all of my attempted improvements I thought it would be a good idea. It turned out that I was going to be way high on gravity, perfect time to adjust hops.

12. Started boil before adding hops. It seems like every time I get the boil going I lose a bunch to boil over, the hops float so they run out first, which messes with my hop content (I dont use hop bags, spiders ETC.) I also paid more attention to the boil did my best to prevent much boil over.

13. I waited for a warm day. It has been below freezing the last few times that I brewed. Trying to defrost equipment and keep hoses and pumps unfrozen sucks.

Here is the recipe for today:

Irish Red Ale
Type: All Grain Date: 1/3/2013
Batch Size (fermenter): 11.00 gal Brewer:
Boil Size: 13.98 gal Asst Brewer:
Boil Time: 60 min Equipment: Stainless Kegs (10 Gal/37.8 L) - All Grain
End of Boil Volume 12.48 gal Brewhouse Efficiency: 73.00 %
Final Bottling Volume: 10.25 gal Est Mash Efficiency 79.6 %
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage Taste Rating(out of 50): 30.0
Taste Notes:

Amt Name Type # %/IBU
16 lbs Pale Malt (2 Row) US (2.0 SRM) Grain 1 81.9 %
2 lbs Pale Malt, Maris Otter (3.0 SRM) Grain 2 10.2 %
1 lbs 8.0 oz Caramel/Crystal Malt -150L (150.0 SRM) Grain 3 7.7 %
0.5 oz Roasted Barley (600.0 SRM) Grain 4 0.2 %
2.00 oz Willamette [4.00 %] - Boil 80.0 min Hop 5 14.5 IBUs
0.50 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] - Boil 50.0 min Hop 6 3.7 IBUs
0.75 oz Fuggles [4.50 %] - Boil 30.0 min Hop 7 4.5 IBUs

Beer Profile

Est Original Gravity: 1.047 SG Measured Original Gravity: 1.046 SG
Est Final Gravity: 1.011 SG Measured Final Gravity: 1.010 SG
Estimated Alcohol by Vol: 4.7 % Actual Alcohol by Vol: 4.7 %
Bitterness: 22.7 IBUs Calories: 151.6 kcal/12oz
Est Color: 13.0 SRM
Mash Profile

Mash Name: Single Infusion, Medium Body, Batch Sparge Total Grain Weight: 19 lbs 8.5 oz
Sparge Water: 9.00 gal Grain Temperature: 72.0 F
Sparge Temperature: 168.0 F Tun Temperature: 72.0 F
Adjust Temp for Equipment: FALSE Mash PH: 5.20

Mash Steps
Name Description Step Temperature Step Time
Mash In Add 33.30 qt of water at 160.5 F 152.0 F 60 min

Sparge Step: Batch sparge with 3 steps (Drain mash tun, , 4.50gal, 4.50gal) of 168.0 F water
Mash Notes: Simple single infusion mash for use with most modern well modified grains (about 95% of the time).
Carbonation and Storage

Carbonation Type: Bottle Volumes of CO2: 2.3
Pressure/Weight: 8.05 oz Carbonation Used: Bottle with 8.05 oz Corn Sugar
Keg/Bottling Temperature: 70.0 F Age for: 30.00 days
Fermentation: Ale, Two Stage Storage Temperature: 65.0 F

I have been struggling to make a truly good Irish Red ale for a long time, it never seems to go quite right. But today, I hit 1.060 (Beersmith seems to think 91% brewhouse efficiency at about 97.5% mash efficiency). I think the recipe is solid and I am pleased as punch to finally have killed my efficiency issues. Hopefully I didnt overextract or anything crazy like that, I didnt expect to see such a drastic change. I actually cant wait to taste this beer.

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Old 01-06-2013, 10:43 PM   #2
Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth Class
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Apr 2009
☼ Clearwater, FL ☼
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omg tl;dr
- Andrew

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Old 01-06-2013, 10:55 PM   #3
Dec 2011
Ithaca, NY
Posts: 62
Liked 1 Times on 1 Posts

I thought most Irish reds use a couple ounces of roasted barley. You seem to be getting color from a dark crystal (150L) while only using 0.5oz roasted. How did you come to that decision?

I didn't read the rest, but this is interesting to me...

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Old 01-06-2013, 10:57 PM   #4
Nov 2010
ohmihachiman, Japan
Posts: 819
Liked 91 Times on 68 Posts

Great summary of what to look for and adjust. Me, I think the very first place to look when considering this is the gravity of the wort coming out of the mash and the gravity of the pre-boil. Without doing this, you really have no idea what your "efficiency" is/was. And, of course, there are different efficiencies.
"Beer, well respected and rightly consumed, can be a gift of God. It is one of his mysteries, which it was his delight to conceal and the glory of kings to search out."

The Search for God and Guinness by Stephen Mansfield

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Old 01-06-2013, 11:16 PM   #5
Dec 2012
Lakewood, Colorado
Posts: 46
Liked 5 Times on 5 Posts

Originally Posted by Jdslep View Post
I thought most Irish reds use a couple ounces of roasted barley. You seem to be getting color from a dark crystal (150L) while only using 0.5oz roasted. How did you come to that decision?

I didn't read the rest, but this is interesting to me...
Because like I said, I have been hunting for a better Irish Red, to me the color is now perfect, and I am hoping that pulling the heavily roasted grains and using the dark crystal gives it something special. I cant be sure if it will be "to style" until I actually try it, but I have no doubts it will be tasty.
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