Beersmith 2 Efficiency Issue

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ChrisfromAbby

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I've been using beermith for a few years now and like it for recipe formation but I've had issues with it I've never really resolved.
One is that the calculations for mash water and sparging never match and frankly it kind of annoyed me that I was unable to simply run a test to set up the heat capacity and what have you to get it dialed in properly. That's what I used to set up my own spread sheet and it astounds me that Brad wouldn't include such a simple formula in his software.
Anyhow, I've given up on that particular issue my own spreadsheet works so well.
What I've noticed of late though is that my achieved efficiency is WAY better than what beersmith expects.
For example, today I had to add 2.9L of water to my brew kettle prior to boiling to get the pre-boil gravity to where it was supposed to be. This is a 23L batch. BS says my mash efficiency was 165%
If I do the math myself;
11lbs of grain x 1.037 pts = 407 pts
407pts in 28L (7.4 gallons) = 1.055
I ended up with 1.056 in 28L
BS says I should have 1.050 in 26.6 (7.03 gal)
Should I just set my mash efficiency at 100%?
But why does it say 165%?

Chris
 

Gnomebrewer

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I don't know about the Beersmith calculation (although I have found several BS3 calcs to be incorrect) but you must be measuring incorrectly somewhere - you can't get 100% (or nearly 102% in the case above) efficiency. Even commercial breweries operate somewhere around (I think) 95%. A fine crush and thorough bag squeezed BIAB with a sparge would probably be somewhere similar, but still not 100%. My guess is that you are either using more grain than you think (weighing issue) or have stratification when you measure your pre-boil gravity, so you aren't measuring thoroughly mixed wort. It could also be a dodgy hydrometer - have you calibrated it?
 

Oginme

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Without seeing the beersmith recipe (exported as a .bsmx) it is difficult to look at the numbers and see where things might have gone wrong or be in error. Have you send a message to Brad about the simple calculation and suggested that he include it as a tool for the users? It may be that there have been so few requests for it that he has not given it much thought.
 
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ChrisfromAbby

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Have you send a message to Brad about the simple calculation and suggested that he include it as a tool for the users? It may be that there have been so few requests for it that he has not given it much thought.
I did mention it to him a while back. He wasn't very interested at the time. Perhaps it was incorporated in the new version, but I refused to pony up for a subscription so that I could cloud my recipes and have stayed with version II.
I'll see if I can submit the recipe, but it's a little messed up as I put my water additions into it to make it match what O did.
Chris
 
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ChrisfromAbby

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It could also be a dodgy hydrometer - have you calibrated it?
I've been using a refractometer for some time. I checked its calibration a long time ago but not recently other than with distilled water. I thought I'd see how it compares to my dusty old hydrometer. I pulled a sample from the primary and checked with both instruments to compare results.
So good news, the results were identical. Bad need - both read at 1.048!
So now I have to figure how is this possible? How did I get such a change?
The sample I took at the end of the cooling cycle was a few drops from the end of the filter hose. The pre-boil sample was from the mash paddle after stirring the kettle.
Even if heat caused an error, the sample at primary filling and now should be the same temp and read the same. And if anything, heat usually makes the refractometer read too low. I'm very confident in my brix readings on the refractometer and I've double checked the concession to sg from an independent source.
I guess I'm going to have to pull paired samples for the next batch to try and figure this out....
 

kevin58

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It sounds like you have not accurately set up your equipment and mash profiles. You describe a common complaint made by those who have inaccurate volumes and measurements listed. Take the time to set those profiles up correctly and BS will be your best friend. Don't and you will have nothing but frustrations.
 
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ChrisfromAbby

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It sounds like you have not accurately set up your equipment and mash profiles. You describe a common complaint made by those who have inaccurate volumes and measurements listed. Take the time to set those profiles up correctly and BS will be your best friend. Don't and you will have nothing but frustrations.
 
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ChrisfromAbby

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So true.
It boggles my mind how much time I've spent trying to get it to match my own numbers that I've already discovered imperically. My spreadsheet is bang on. I've measured volumes lost to every component and each stage. Boiling, great shrinkage, frementers, dead space, trub, you name it. I plug in my values including grain temperature and Grist ratio and Boom, my mash in temp is perfect and my fermentor volume is exactly as predicted. I try to put the numbers into BS and, nope! Different numbers - water volumes, temperature misses.
I can only try to monkey with it for so long before it gets annoying and I give up and just use what already works. Believe me, I *want* to like it. But the panic of having mash temps way off course or volume shortages or gravity losses does not seem worth it. I.E. I won't trust numbers that don't match mine again.
 
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ChrisfromAbby

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I have been shamed 'into submission.
I have played around with the equipment profile and my mash profile to what seems to match my numbers. I had to adjust my MT specific heat capacity and some of my equipment losses, but it now seems to be close to what I achieve.
Thanks for the nudging!
Now I still have to figure out the refractometer and hydrometer issue....
 

kevin58

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Here is the equipment profile steps that I use... And I also have set up custom mash profiles. I've switched systems and had to build equipment profiles three times over the years. The most recent just this spring. It wasn't the most exciting afternoon I've ever spent... weighing water on a scale but it paid off on the first brew day.


 
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CascadesBrewer

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What type of brewing setup do you have? (All-in-one, BIAB, 3-vessel, cooler mash tun, etc.)

I have used a mix of software over the years and lately I have been using BeerSmith 3 Mobile. The tools do not predict efficiency, they are all based off efficiency numbers (and losses) that you tell them. If you input the wrong numbers it will repeat back numbers based off your input.

BeerSmith is more powerful than some tools, and along with that comes more complexity (though there is also some examples of poor user interface in BS, especially in the Mobile app). It took me a few batches and trial and error, but these days I can get very accurate results out of BeerSmith (aside from the pH predictions).
 

kevin58

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BeerSmith is more powerful than some tools, and along with that comes more complexity (though there is also some examples of poor user interface in BS, especially in the Mobile app).
I may be wrong but I have always viewed the BS desktop to be you primary recipe creation platform and the mobile as a support platform used on brew day. That's how I use them anyway. I would never dream of trying to create a recipe on my iPad because of the awful user interfaces you mention. Imho, BS mobile is a terrible choice if that is the only version you are going to use.
 
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