Wow, that was a great explanation, I too have been wondering what efficiency meant. I am a new brewer doing extracts, but want to eventually go to all grain and am learning all that I can. Thank you for that post.In the simplest sense.
Efficiency is basically a calulation of the % of fermentable sugars you have extracted from the grain through your mashing process.
For example, say you mash 10lbs of pale 2-row. The max amount of fermentable sugar that can be extracted from this would yield a gravity of about 1.073 (This would be 100% efficiency - this is given based on the ingredients added)
If prior to pitching the yeast you take a gravity reading and you have 1.055 then you have 75% efficiency. Meaning that you have extracted 75% of the potential fermentable sugars from the grain. >>>>>>> 55/73 = 75%
Read the beersmith guide. They go into how to determine those figures, most of he software programs have the efficiency built into their software, many grains will also list their potential on packaging, and there is a chart here http://www.beersmith.com/grain-list/Sorry to bump this thread after such a long time. It seems to sum up efficiency succinctly.
One question though; you explain the efficiency calculation by starting out with the premise that a pale 2-row would yield a gravity of 1.073 if you hit 100% efficiency. How did you reach this figure?
Is there a chart somewhere that shows you the efficiency you can expect from different malts?
That's great, thanks!!