brewhouse efficiency. Is % in the 90s too high?

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odie

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I recently started taking notes on my brewhouse efficiencies using the Berwersfriend.com calculator and I'm getting numbers that I'm having difficulty actually believing.

As I continue to refine my various brewing processes...I find that my gravity readings keep going up, causing me to reduce my grain bills on recipes that I like and repeat often.

For example, I just did an Oktoberfest. I got a recipe on line that looked interesting but based upon my recent other beers and gravity results I reduced the grain bill significantly, yet hit the recipe OG.

Recipe:
3.5# Pilsner
3.5# Munich
4# Vienna
1# aromatic Munich 20L
0.33# CaraVienne
12.33# total grain
yield: 5 gallons
OG: 1.055

What I did:
2# Pilsner (Great Western)
2# Munich (Briess Bolander)
3# Vienna (Briess Goldpils Vienna)
0.75# Briess Aromatic Munich 20L
0.25# Dingemans CaraVienne/Cara 20
8# total grain
yield: 4.85 gal in the fermenter which is also the serving keg (kettle wort strained to remove kettle trub, about 1 quart volume of solids)
OG: 1.055

The calculator came up with 91.53% brewhouse efficiency. My last few beers calculated out between 89%-96% brewhouse efficiency. How is this possible? I'm using 1/3 less grain but getting basically the same results.

Some things about my process...I BIAB using a bag inside a solid wall basket. I mashed for about 10 hours at 150' (I'm at work and let it run all day and recirc). I mash with less than full volume so I then pull the basket and sparge the mash with about 1.5 gal of water to capture extra sugars. The bag is then squeezed to extract as much wort as possible. Then boil down wort to my "boil start volume" target. All the wort at the end of the boil goes into the kettle after straining with a 200 micron filter to remove he solids (about 1quart volume of solids are discarded). I basically have zero wort waste thru the entire process. All the wort makes it to the serving tap since I ferment and serve in the same keg and all trub is screened out first.
 
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odie

odie

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I think you have your own answer.
That's part of the answer. But I don't see eliminating waste giving me a 50% production boost.

If I followed the recipe I would yield 50% more beer at the target ABV with the same inputs.

Or use 33% less input to achieve target output.

I find it difficult to think a recipe assumes a 33% waste factor.

Well, I didn't adjust the hops so guess it's gonna be a hoppy oktoberfest :oops:
 

DBhomebrew

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How tight are your volumetric tolerances?

You're sparging and squeezing.

You're running off more volume than you need and boiling down to pre-boil.

You're mashing for 10hrs.

I'd brew the same recipe, or at least grist size, 2 or 3 times. If all your numbers are consistent... Don't worry about whether it's possible, go with it.
 
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odie

odie

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site tube on kettle, graduated every gallon so a bit "subjective" but not relevant to the calculation.

final measurement bucket is 1/4 gal increments so a bit tighter. Any variation less than a quart is "subjective".

Brewhouse calculator is based upon final fermenter volume, which is what I'm measuring.

I'm happy with my beer results...just kinda shocked...
 

DBhomebrew

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Well, I wouldn't put much stock in 1/4G increments (5%, 1/20th, of your batch size). But that's besides the point. With your process as described I wouldn't be shocked by your efficiency at all.

With gravity drained BIAB, 1hr mash, and a dunk sparge of half my pre-boil, I hit 92%  mash efficiency in the low 1040s. My volumes are measured to better than the nearest 2oz.
 

jambop

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Definitely possible but you must understand that every measurement has to be very accurate to get a true figure, depending on what volume you are making 500ml can knock your figure out. I do not know how you measure you ingredients but I use a jug and kitchen scales. I do not have time to fanny about it says 1L on the side and I measure very near that for however many litres I need... it is not exact but I would be surprised if it was more than 1 or 2% out. Then once the liquid is in the kettle I go by the volume measurements on the side... are they accurate... no idea 😄 . Then there is the transferred volume how do measure that? I go by the volume marked on the side of the vessel... is it accurate ... again no idea 😄
What I can say is that because I use the same gear every brew I can roughly compare the figures and decide whether I did as well as last time or better. However overwhelmingly for me it is not about the numbers ...its about the flavours 😄
 
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odie

odie

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digital scale for ingredients. liquid volume scale is not to the ounce but close enough. U have any idea what 128 individual ounce marks in a 2 inch space looks like?

It not a laboratory setting but the methods of measurement are close enough to be within a couple % or so.

The actual difference in the results posted above are well beyond minor variations in measurement methods.

But I think DBhomebrew's observations are valid.
 

DBhomebrew

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U have any idea what 128 individual ounce marks in a 2 inch space looks like?

I measure the wort height to the nearest mm with a stainless ruler and plug that into the formula for a cylinder, then adjust for temp. In my ~12" kettle, that's ~1.7oz every mm. I've checked it by weighing input water by the gram to be sure my diameter is correct.

For curiosity, go ahead and play with your software. Adjust the various volumes by .125G. Err on the side of greatest difference. 1/8G more pre-boil volume, 1/8G less in the fermenter. Then again, the other way around.

Purely from curiosity's sake. This isn't a told-you-so.
 
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jambop

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digital scale for ingredients. liquid volume scale is not to the ounce but close enough. U have any idea what 128 individual ounce marks in a 2 inch space looks like?

It not a laboratory setting but the methods of measurement are close enough to be within a couple % or so.

The actual difference in the results posted above are well beyond minor variations in measurement methods.

But I think DBhomebrew's observations are valid.

The figure I would be more interested in is your conversion eff. That is definitely more indicative of what you are getting out of your ingredients . Using your grain figures and assuming a finished mash volume of 5 gallons then 100 % conversion for your ingredients would yield 5 gallons of wort at gravity of 1.056 on the other hand 5 gallons of wort at 1.050 is 87% and 4.85 gallons at 1.050 is actually 84.4 % based on conversion of your ingredients and those figures are all PRE-BOIL . I think in brewing you cannot exceed your conversion efficiency figure. Losses after hop additions and boiling are unavoidable but as you show can be minimised .
I did a brew the other day which gave a conversion rate of 89% and I was very pleased with that but my brewhouse was only 78.5% because of hop and trub volume losses ... I could have improved that figure by sparging the hops in the boil kettle and boiling that volume to the OG ... sorry but life is too short 😄

see my last post 👍
 
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jambop

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I doubt he would mash out after a 10 hour mash 😄
Brewing is not a competition in my book but I crunched his numbers using brewers friend and his conversion rate is 84.4% pre boil how can you turn that into 91.5 % post boil??? that right you cannot . I could be wrong but my take on brewhouse is a way of seeing how much you lost during boiling and transfer not how much you gain.
 
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bracconiere

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doubt he would mash out after a 10 hour mash 😄
Brewing is not a competition in my book but I crunched his numbers using brewers friend and his conversion rate is 84.4% how can you turn that into 91.5 % post boil??? that right you cannot . I could be wrong but my take on brewhouse is a way of seeing how much you lost during boiling and transfer not how much you gain.


you're right and the enzymes would all be goners too....i just believe in 'consistency' when i'm punching in my effec numbers, all i really want to know is if i'm doing better or worse...
 

jambop

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I doubt he would mash out after a 10 hour mash 😄
Brewing is not a competition in my book but I crunched his numbers using brewers friend and his conversion rate is 84.4% pre boil how can you turn that into 91.5 % post boil??? that right you cannot . I could be wrong but my take on brewhouse is a way of seeing how much you lost during boiling and transfer not how much you gain
I actually go back on all that... the guy's figures are actually correct I had calculated his OG at 1.05 instead of 1.055 ! Amazing conversion figure for only 1.5 gallon sparge Chapeau ! If you had sparged the trub and hops that figure would have been nearer 98 % !
edit
Your conversion rate was circa 97% as you threw away 0.25 gallons and the amount of dry matter in that would certainly have been less than 10% so a truly amazing figure . Your grain bill would return a max of 5.23gallons @ sg 1.055
 
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hottpeper13

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My system gets 86% BHE so I have to adjust base grains also. I've never adjusted the hops because the SG is the same.
 

balrog

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If it's not been said before, remember that your eff #s are based on points per pound for your grains, and do we really know within one or two percent CERTAINTY what those #s are for each lot of each manufacturer of each type of each grain?
 
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odie

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Your conversion rate was circa 97% as you threw away 0.25 gallons and the amount of dry matter in that would certainly have been less than 10% so a truly amazing figure . Your grain bill would return a max of 5.23gallons @ sg 1.055
I did not throw away 0.25 gallons of wort. What I do is 100% of the kettle contents passes thru a 200 micron bucket strainer. The first 4 gallons goes thru pretty quick since the kettle has settled for an hour. The last gallon plus contains all the trub and what have you.

When that last remains of the kettle all pass thru the strainer and all the wort has percolated thru and dripped into the fermenter bucket...what is left is approximately a quart, or 0.25 gallons of almost solid material. Remember childhood? Making mud cakes? That's what is left and discarded. A trubby mud cake.
 
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odie

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here is an example of the "solid crap" that I discard after filtering out all the clean wort. This is NOT a picture from this recent batch, only an example to illustrate what it is that I am discarding. Now it can take a few hours or overnight for the last gallon to drain thru. But what is left is almost devoid of any wort.

A question for the BH calculators...when you enter in amount of wort that is actually in the fermenter and the OG...should I include the volume of the "wort free" solids that I'm discarding that might normally be part of the fermenter volume?

Either way...the "recipe" uses approximately 50% MORE grain to achieve the same beer volume and gravity. Or I used 33% less. Depends on how you look at it.
IMG_9639.JPG
IMG_9638.JPG
 

dmtaylor

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My average brewhouse efficiency was about 90% for a few years. I since have dialed this back to mid-80s via my grain mill because I'd theorized that using the smaller amount of grain required from high efficiency might lead to less malt flavor in the finished beer, and I'm a malt lover and don't want to cause harm. I never did run a successful experiment testing malt flavor differences in two beers with same recipe but different efficiencies, but it would be an interesting one to try a few dozen times eventually maybe.

The common theme between @odie and my brewing is the zero droplets going to waste. I've been brewing in a bag since before the term or acronym existed. I've always sparged my bag, though not squeezing it heavily, but even without squeezing achieved 90+% average efficiency if/when I wanted. So yeah, it's totally possible. A great quality crush of the grains is likewise mandatory. I figure, anyone who wanted to should be able to achieve similar results, using BIAB with a sparge (so perhaps not on their normal system).
 

jambop

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here is an example of the "solid crap" that I discard after filtering out all the clean wort. This is NOT a picture from this recent batch, only an example to illustrate what it is that I am discarding. Now it can take a few hours or overnight for the last gallon to drain thru. But what is left is almost devoid of any wort.

A question for the BH calculators...when you enter in amount of wort that is actually in the fermenter and the OG...should I include the volume of the "wort free" solids that I'm discarding that might normally be part of the fermenter volume?

Either way...the "recipe" uses approximately 50% MORE grain to achieve the same beer volume and gravity. Or I used 33% less. Depends on how you look at it.
View attachment 777501 View attachment 777502

You did in terms of your post boil volume though and although you seem to think otherwise a substantial portion of the trub and hop debris is in fact liquid . Next time you do a brew weigh the solid material you discard then subtract the quantity of hops you added to the boiler ... there is you liquid phase give or take a few ozs . I do not know what you do but when I brew my post boil wort is virtually clear all that is in the bottom of the boiler is hops and trub but I still lose 2L of my post boil volume most of that is liquid . Re the recipe either there is a typo or the person who tabled it does not do a good job of brewing his/her brewhouse rate is about 60 % 😄 :no: !
 

DBhomebrew

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Next time you do a brew weigh the solid material you discard then subtract the quantity of hops you added to the boil

That wouldn't work. The material left in the filter is hops  plus trub, grain particles, etc. When you're talking an ounce or two of wort, the weight of 5G worth of trub will be significant.
 
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DBhomebrew

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I do not know what you do but when I brew my post boil wort is virtually clear all that is in the bottom of the boiler is hops and trub but I still lose 2L of my post boil volume most of that is liquid

@odie and I capture all of that ~2L or so, except a few ounces, if that, by filtering the entire hop/trub mass.
 

DBhomebrew

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With what? Fresh water?! Post-boil?

We've done as much as needed here by practically reducing transfer to fermenter losses to zero.
 

jambop

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With what? Fresh water?! Post-boil?

We've done as much as needed here by practically reducing transfer to fermenter losses to zero.
Why not ? Sparge with a a quart next time you make a brew and check the gravity. If there is a decent return boil to the desired OG and add it to the fermenter ... there is a lot more sugar in there than you think 😄
 

DBhomebrew

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Why not ? Sparge with a a quart next time you make a brew and check the gravity. If there is a decent return boil to the desired OG and add it to the fermenter ... there is a lot more sugar in there than you think 😄

With my typical 1.044 brew, figuring a generous 2oz absorbed in the hop/trub mass, that's .69 gravity points. 1.0069 split over my 4G batch. Countered by whatever fresh water I use. Yeah, no thanks. At that point in the brew day I've hit my gravity. Gravity, IBUs, other hop compounds are set. It's just a matter of getting the largest portion of that wort into the fermenter. Adding water will take a slide backward.
 

DBhomebrew

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If there is a decent return boil to the desired OG and add it to the fermenter .

I just realized you're suggesting we boil the sparged washed out gains back down to the post-boil gravity. At the end of a brew day. To gather another couple ounces, maybe. 🤣
 
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odie

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Do you sparge that mass ... if not why not you are missing out on a few percent !
That "mass" is the sludge at the bottom of the kettle after mashing, sparging and boiling.

That mass sits in a fine mesh bucket strainer and the liquid wort drips out and is collected. That mass will never be dry. It will always retain some wort. But after several hours it's not going to give much more up. It will likely evaporate rather than continue to drip. At that point it's diminishing returns.

Before, I would let the kettle settle out and drain the spigot. Everything below was a nasty slurry and not used...as was written/discussed in assorted brewing sources and recipes I've seen over the last 25+ years. A lot of sources would say things like pour off the clear wort into the fermenter or leave behind the trub at the bottom.

One day I decided to see what would happen if I strained it. I was shocked by how much wort was remaining. By screening it I could recover all that wort without the trub getting into the fermenter. And a side bonus was that the yeast cake left after fermentation was practically pure clean yeast.
 

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I like the waste not want not attitude. what i do is pour the kettle trub into a sanitized pitcher,cover with foil and let it settle out overnite in my 33* lagerator. I end up with 1.5-2 qts I decant and freeze for starters( haven't used DME since going all grain). Because it's already boiled I just bring it to boil then let chill on down draft fan.
 

DBhomebrew

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Do you sparge that mass ... if not why not you are missing out on a few percent !

Why not ? Sparge with a a quart next time you make a brew and check the gravity. If there is a decent return boil to the desired OG and add it to the fermenter ... there is a lot more sugar in there than you think 😄

my brewhouse was only 78.5% because of hop and trub volume losses ... I could have improved that figure by sparging the hops in the boil kettle and boiling that volume to the OG ... sorry but life is too short 😄

I see.
 

Miraculix

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I like the waste not want not attitude. what i do is pour the kettle trub into a sanitized pitcher,cover with foil and let it settle out overnite in my 33* lagerator. I end up with 1.5-2 qts I decant and freeze for starters( haven't used DME since going all grain). Because it's already boiled I just bring it to boil then let chill on down draft fan.
That is a pretty neat idea.
 

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My spleen clenched at the thought of blowing air, chock full of with microbial dust particulates, on cooling wort.

I'll get over it.
 

jambop

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I recently started taking notes on my brewhouse efficiencies using the Berwersfriend.com calculator and I'm getting numbers that I'm having difficulty actually believing.

As I continue to refine my various brewing processes...I find that my gravity readings keep going up, causing me to reduce my grain bills on recipes that I like and repeat often.

For example, I just did an Oktoberfest. I got a recipe on line that looked interesting but based upon my recent other beers and gravity results I reduced the grain bill significantly, yet hit the recipe OG.

Recipe:
3.5# Pilsner
3.5# Munich
4# Vienna
1# aromatic Munich 20L
0.33# CaraVienne
12.33# total grain
yield: 5 gallons
OG: 1.055

What I did:
2# Pilsner (Great Western)
2# Munich (Briess Bolander)
3# Vienna (Briess Goldpils Vienna)
0.75# Briess Aromatic Munich 20L
0.25# Dingemans CaraVienne/Cara 20
8# total grain
yield: 4.85 gal in the fermenter which is also the serving keg (kettle wort strained to remove kettle trub, about 1 quart volume of solids)
OG: 1.055

The calculator came up with 91.53% brewhouse efficiency. My last few beers calculated out between 89%-96% brewhouse efficiency. How is this possible? I'm using 1/3 less grain but getting basically the same results.

Some things about my process...I BIAB using a bag inside a solid wall basket. I mashed for about 10 hours at 150' (I'm at work and let it run all day and recirc). I mash with less than full volume so I then pull the basket and sparge the mash with about 1.5 gal of water to capture extra sugars. The bag is then squeezed to extract as much wort as possible. Then boil down wort to my "boil start volume" target. All the wort at the end of the boil goes into the kettle after straining with a 200 micron filter to remove he solids (about 1quart volume of solids are discarded). I basically have zero wort waste thru the entire process. All the wort makes it to the serving tap since I ferment and serve in the same keg and all trub is screened out first.

Just returning to the above post to put something straight when you key the quantities for the original brew recipe into brewers friend using a modest but easily attainable Brewhouse efficiency of 75% you will find that the OG figure is not the 1.055 you have quoted it is in fact 1.071 and final gravity 1.018 for a 5 US gallon brew. A more realistic and believable result . In fact assuming 91.5 % would give a OG if 1.083 !!!
Using the recipe you used to make your brew gives a OG of 1.056 at BH efficiency 91.5 % still an amazing but less believable result.
 
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