50% total efficiency on Barley Wine

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ziggy13

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My total efficiency is usually around the high 60's, almost 70% and I'm super happy with that.

Last week I did a crazy barley wine, and my total efficiency came out to only 50% or so. I'm trying to figure out why.

My recipe is here: http://zacharyziegler.com/article/homebrew-batch-30-noble-nuggets-american-barley-wine/

I did get a stuck run off because I used so much flaked barley and oats. I didn't do a protein rest like I should have, nor did I use any rice hulls which I probably should have.

Does anyone have any ideas why my efficiency would have went down so much? Could a stuck run off really effect efficiency that much? I used the same water as I always do, and put in some mash PH balancer powder like usual.
 

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The short answer is that many "big" beers have lowered efficiency, because of the amount of water used for the sparge.

What I mean is this- say you had a 10 pound grainbill for a 5 gallon batch. You could be most efficient by using up to 3 quarts of water per pound of grain with the mash and sparge, and start with 6.25 gallons for your boil. That is about right- you can easily go up to 3 quarts of water per pound of grain for the mash and sparge and get your peak efficiency.

But, you have a grainbill of 23 pounds. I doubt that you used nearly as much water per pound of grain, otherwise you'd have 15 gallons to boil down to 5 gallons!!!!! No one does that, of course- they stop when they reach their boil volume. That means that the efficiency will be less due to undersparging.

Secondly, in that recipe, there is less than 50% basemalt. Conversion could be a problem with all of those adjuncts. I didn't calculate the diastatic power but with 12 pounds of adjuncts and 11 pounds of base malt, it could be an issue.
 
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ziggy13

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Thanks Yooper. That makes sense. Someone suggest I added some enzymes to my mash, but I didn't have time to buy any before brew day. I did do a starch conversion test and it didn't turn black at all, the iodine stayed the exact same color. Then just to make sure I warmed some crushed grain up in water and did the iodine test again and it turned black right away...this way I knew what I was looking for. I would say I had a complete conversion but I'm still new to this.

Is it safe to say, in most cases, the bigger the beer the less efficiency can be expected? I believe I was at about 1.5 quarts per pound...I think that's what BeerSmith is set at usually. It definitely pushed the limits of my system. I couldn't have added even another 1/2 lb of grain and got the cooler lid shut...here's a photo, hopefully Facebook allows remote linking:

 

JeepDiver

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Just from that photo, your mash looks way too thick. I'm a BIAB brewer so use to seeing really thin mash, but that still looks off, though it can be hard to tell in a still photo. In my experience the flaked barely and oats are going to soak up more water than normal grain so you should increase your water/lb when using large amounts.
 
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ziggy13

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There's 6 oz's of hops in that mash...3 oz of leaf and 3 oz of pellet. My BeerSmith is set up by default to add 1.25 qts per pound of grain. There is 23 lbs of grain in there and just under 7.5 gallons of water. Perhaps I should have used more water to account for the water absorbed by the hops and the flaked oats and barley. At least I know my limit is 23 lbs in my mash tun MAX.
 
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ziggy13

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Also, while we're talking about my barley wine, it seems to have nearly stopped fermenting around 1.030, down from an OG of 1.096. It's been there for 5 days. I used a yeast cake of WLP001 and was hoping it would fully ferment it. Should I go ahead and rehydrate some wine yeast and add it?
 

jagg

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There's 6 oz's of hops in that mash...3 oz of leaf and 3 oz of pellet. My BeerSmith is set up by default to add 1.25 qts per pound of grain. There is 23 lbs of grain in there and just under 7.5 gallons of water. Perhaps I should have used more water to account for the water absorbed by the hops and the flaked oats and barley. At least I know my limit is 23 lbs in my mash tun MAX.
Why did you put hops in the mash? I think you should have boiled the hops with the wort.
 

GuldTuborg

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Should I go ahead and rehydrate some wine yeast and add it?
No. Do the usual, less drastic stuff first. Warm it up, rouse the yeast, maybe consider transferring to a second fermentor if you're far enough along. Also, consider the procedure. How did you mash, aerate, control temps, etc.? did you do a forced ferment test? Did you test for full conversion? Less than half your grainbill has diastatic power, so conversion may have been an issue.
 
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ziggy13

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Why did you put hops in the mash? I think you should have boiled the hops with the wort.
Hops were added to the mash as well as first wort to provide a type of mellow hop flavor that can't be achieved otherwise. My first time trying so I can't speak on whether it works or not. Search the forums there is lots of debate on it here. I used over a pound and a half of hops, so trust me there was plenty in the boil :)
 
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ziggy13

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No. Do the usual, less drastic stuff first. Warm it up, rouse the yeast, maybe consider transferring to a second fermentor if you're far enough along. Also, consider the procedure. How did you mash, aerate, control temps, etc.? did you do a forced ferment test? Did you test for full conversion? Less than half your grainbill has diastatic power, so conversion may have been an issue.
I did do a conversion test and the iodine stayed the same color. Mashed at 156 for full body. I aerated with a stir attachment on my power drill. Temp has been 68-70 the whole time. Not sure what a forced ferment test is. I took your advice and roused the yeast. Will check in a few days and hopefully transfer to a secondary if its down anymore. I'm at 68% apparent attenuation right now.
 
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ziggy13

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After rousing the yeast there is definitely some activity in the airlock. It bubbles about once every 30-40 seconds or so now.
 

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ziggy13, for your sake I hope that is the case, but it could just be latent co2 that was still in solution that is now being emitted. But in a day or so your hydro reading will let you know for sure!

That said, you're about %10 under-attenuated, but those numbers are averages. So you might be 5-7 points under attenuated. But, considering your iodine test was positive for sugar, and you mashed relatively high, your fermentation just might very well be done based upon your mash parameters.

Good luck and keep this thread updated with your results!

:mug:
 

ISUBrew79

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With 3 lbs of CaraPils and a pound of maltodextrin, I'm not surprised that you're having trouble getting your barleywine to attenuate further. The maltodextrin probably bumped up your OG by about 7 or 8 points, and since it the yeast cannot ferment it, that will likely bump up your FG by 7 or 8 points as well. You do have a considerable amount of simple sugars in the recipe that should help dry out the beer, though.

I would let taste be your guide as you decide what course of action to take with the beer. Pull a sample and taste it. If it is excessively sweet, you might take steps to get the beer to attenuate more. On the other hand, it may be okay as is.
 

ISUBrew79

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Oh, and a word of caution- you might want to reconsider the quantity of oak you plan to add to the beer. Perhaps others more experienced in oaking beer will chime in on this, but 8 oz of oak chips sounds like a lot to me.
 

GuldTuborg

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Perhaps, but if it does turn out too sweet, the tannins from the oak could help balance the taste a bit. It all depends upon the time in contact, too; 8oz is not much if the contact time is short.

I wish you the best of luck with your beer, OP. I'm not trying to be a jerk in saying this, but after reading the blog post about this recipe, it strikes me that you confused a list of possible techniques and ingredients with a recipe (which uses every one of them). If you're trying a lot of new ingredients and techniques, don't be surprised if things don't turn out exactly right the first time around. I tend to champion the cause of simplicity in brewing (and many other things), in part because it tends to make success a more easily attainable goal, both in the short and long term.

Still, what's done is done, and the goal now should be trying to ferment out and condition the best beer, as that's what you can control now. With a little luck, you may get some more attenuation, but you may not. You did say you wanted a big body in this beer, yes? I'd continue to rouse once or twice a day, keep the temp at least a few degrees above fermentation temps, and check the gravity again in a few days. At that point, you can decide what course of action to take next.
 

SwampassJ

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Next time you need to dump some of the carapils/malto and mash lower. You have 4lbs of body building malts mixed with 2.5lbs of sugar to try and dry it out and try mashing lower like 152 to get the beer to finish lower.

Also with your big keggle setup you might be able to just over sparge and then boil down for 2 hours for your target amount, should make up for the crap gravity. Or sparge it again afterwards and make a 2nd lower alcohol beer partigyle style.
 

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Also, while we're talking about my barley wine, it seems to have nearly stopped fermenting around 1.030, down from an OG of 1.096. It's been there for 5 days. I used a yeast cake of WLP001 and was hoping it would fully ferment it. Should I go ahead and rehydrate some wine yeast and add it?
Something to note, wine yeast won't eat the more complex sugars that brewers yeast will. Adding Wine/Champagne yeast won't do anything to help your beer get down any lower. If you've got any fermentables left in that beer you can try rousing the yeast and warming it up, re-oxygenating & even pitching a starter at full krauesen to get it down lower. If you've got little to no fermentables left you can always add Amylase Enzyme directly to the fermenter to create some more fermentables.

OR you could just leave it be, .30 isn't a bad place to be seeing that you started at .96. It might take a little more age to make it really good, but a big beer like this is usually better with a bit of age.
 

motobrewer

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wow, 22% on flaked barley and carapils alone. another 30% on oats.

then mashed at 156. then added malto....

30's as low as its going to go
 

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I tried a trick a month back to get efficiency up on a big beer, and it worked quite well though it's extremely time consuming for the small improvement you get.

Split the batch in half.
Mash and sparge, keep your runnings from each batch sparg in different buckets, or split into 3 equal parts if flying.
Use the highest grav. for your second mash's strike water
use the next highest for your first sparg
use your weakest for your last sparg
If you need more; use water

I don't recommend doing this as it take as long as making two beers.
Another thing to try is to keep sparging after you've got what you want. This will give you some weak wart that can be used for starters.
 
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ziggy13

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Thanks for all the comments guys. We wanted to do something a little crazy to celebrate our 30th brew, and this is what we came up with.

As far as the ingredients, everything was chosen for a reason. They could have been the wrong reason as I'm still pretty new to recipe formulation, but I got into homebrewing to learn through experimentation so that's what I'm doing.

I wanted a big, thick beer. One thing I don't like is when a high alcohol beer burns a lot from the alcohol, so I mashed this beer high to create a thicker beer. I also added maltodextrin to thicken it even more. The golden naked oats were used because I like a beer with a thick, shaving cream like head. Flaked Oats and Flaked Barley were used for the texture they create. I chose all lighter colored grains, even though most barley wines aren't this light in color, because I wanted a golden colored brew that really kicks your ass. You look at it and expect something light in taste and body, but that's not what you'll get with this one. I also am a hop head, but I didn't want overwhelming crazy bitterness, so most of my hops were added for flavor. I like intense hop flavor and aroma. And even though most barley wines are aged for a while, negating the effect of dry hopping, this one will be dry hopped and drank fairly green. The 8 oz of oak would probably be too much for most beers, but this one is so big and thick I chose 8 oz because I really wanted to taste it. I've added 4 oz to an IPA before and the oak was a little too subtle for me.

The more I think about it, maybe this beer really is done fermenting. I was expecting it to ferment a little bit more and my only reasoning there was BeerSmith. Does BeerSmith not take into account the fermentability of the grain? With the yeast I used it's telling me it should be 11% alcohol. Right now I'm only just above 8.5%. Now I know a software program can't account for all the variables, but I thought it would be a little bit closer to 11% than it is.

I appreciate everyone's comments on here! I'm more of a "learn by doing, screwing up and trying again" kind of person rather than a book learner.
 

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Beersmith takes some things in to consideration in the newer versions but IIRC v1.4 just assumes 75% attenuation. I don't believe that mash temps and the types of grain in the grain bill are taken in to account.
 

motobrewer

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Thanks for all the comments guys. We wanted to do something a little crazy to celebrate our 30th brew, and this is what we came up with.

As far as the ingredients, everything was chosen for a reason. They could have been the wrong reason as I'm still pretty new to recipe formulation, but I got into homebrewing to learn through experimentation so that's what I'm doing.

I wanted a big, thick beer. One thing I don't like is when a high alcohol beer burns a lot from the alcohol, so I mashed this beer high to create a thicker beer. I also added maltodextrin to thicken it even more. The golden naked oats were used because I like a beer with a thick, shaving cream like head. Flaked Oats and Flaked Barley were used for the texture they create. I chose all lighter colored grains, even though most barley wines aren't this light in color, because I wanted a golden colored brew that really kicks your ass. You look at it and expect something light in taste and body, but that's not what you'll get with this one. I also am a hop head, but I didn't want overwhelming crazy bitterness, so most of my hops were added for flavor. I like intense hop flavor and aroma. And even though most barley wines are aged for a while, negating the effect of dry hopping, this one will be dry hopped and drank fairly green. The 8 oz of oak would probably be too much for most beers, but this one is so big and thick I chose 8 oz because I really wanted to taste it. I've added 4 oz to an IPA before and the oak was a little too subtle for me.

The more I think about it, maybe this beer really is done fermenting. I was expecting it to ferment a little bit more and my only reasoning there was BeerSmith. Does BeerSmith not take into account the fermentability of the grain? With the yeast I used it's telling me it should be 11% alcohol. Right now I'm only just above 8.5%. Now I know a software program can't account for all the variables, but I thought it would be a little bit closer to 11% than it is.

I appreciate everyone's comments on here! I'm more of a "learn by doing, screwing up and trying again" kind of person rather than a book learner.
live and learn. i once mashed a maibock at 158F. i think it finished at 25 from 70.

i think hot burning alcohol comes from inattentive fermentation. the way to get smooth, warming alcohol is pitching rate and keeping temps on the low side.

don't underestimate the flavor of base malt. especially at barleywine quantity. You wouldn't make a pale with 50% adjuncts, so why a bw?

fermentability comes from a combo of grainbill composition and mash temp. If you're including more crystal, reduce temp to account. less crystal, mash higher. high crystal percentage and high mash temp makes a low fermentable wort.
 

turkeyjerky214

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I've only done one really big beer (11% barleywine), but I got 75% efficiency down from my usual 82/83%. Here's what I did:

-Mash a little thicker than usual. I think I was down a little under 1.25. Pull my first runnings as usual and put aside.
-Use about 75% of my sparge water (I always split my sparge in two anyway, but it's usually around 50/50). Stir the absolute hell out of it, pull a gallon of second runnings and set aside.
-Pull remainder of second runnings (we'll call this third runnings).
-Add last of the sparge water, and pour back on the third runnings until I feel like the mash is diluted enough. Stir the living hell out of it.
-Drain mash tun.
-Boil 90 minutes.

I know it sounds like a lot of extra effort, but it actually was no more effort than usual. I always split my sparge in two, so the only difference was pouring back some of the weaker wort in with the second sparge to get an even better rinse.

I blasted it with pure oxygen through a 2 micron stone (I just started this and can't recommend it enough) and pitched a big-ass starter. Dropped from 1.110 to 1.027 in less than a week.
 
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ziggy13

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I could be completely wrong here, but I didn't think my grain bill came out to 50% adjuncts. Are Golden Naked Oats considered an adjunct?
 

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Nothing really to add other than that this is a very strange recipe. 5lbs of oats and 3lbs of carapils on a 13% abv beer? You could pour this over pancakes.
 

aomagman78

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In his defense, this is stolen from NB forum on the golden naked oats. Seems that they are malted so they are not necessarily and adjunct.

"http://www.simpsonsmalt.co.uk/jps.asp has this to say about them:
Huskless oat crystal malt. Exotic ingredient for subtle nutty difference.

MidWest Supplies has this to say about them:
This malt lends a sweet berry-nut flavor. Use at a rate of 4-15% of the total grist to deliver a deep golden hue with light caramel flavors as well as a creamy, satin finish. Exotic ingredient for subtle nutty difference. Try this as a "secret" ingredient in your Pale Ales, IPAs, Bitters, Brown Ales, or Stouts"
 

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I'm more of a "learn by doing, screwing up and trying again" kind of person rather than a book learner.
Me too. I read the book, but I don't really know how to do something until I screw up in every way possible, as I rarely make the same mistake twice.
 

GuldTuborg

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Some have claimed that oat malt will self convert (in a 100% oat malt mash), but I've never made the attempt myself. Golden Naked Oats are a crystal malt made from oats, and hence a specialty malt, by any measure. The two are, needless to say, very different critters.
 
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ziggy13

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Nothing really to add other than that this is a very strange recipe. 5lbs of oats and 3lbs of carapils on a 13% abv beer? You could pour this over pancakes.
It's actually 7 lbs of oats, 5 lbs of the Golden Naked variety and 2 lbs Flaked. And since my efficiency was fairly low it's not going to make it to 13%. Hoping to break 10%. The thickness and body help to hide the alcohol and make it easier to drink in my opinion.

I've made 29 "normal" recipes in a row, the only thing out of the norm was a Honey Rye brew I came up with and an experiment with watermelon that didn't turn out so great. I got into brewing because I don't really care for the mass produced beer the big breweries put out, so why not do something a little 'strange'. We'd all be drinking the same crap if it weren't for people who experiment like this. Not trying to say I've contributed anything to the brewing world, but others like me have.
 
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