I'm prepping to brew for the very first time using my new ElectricBrewery setup. I was getting good, consistent efficiency on my old system - total brewhouse efficiency was 73-75%. For the new system, I'm conservatively planning to get 85%. Even though I've seen many report results upwards of 90%, I'm just not going to believe it till I see it and anyway it may take me a few runs to get things dialed in, so I'm planning on 85%. But I really don't want to end up with a 7.5%ABV beer when I'm looking for a 6.5% on the first brew.
1st Question: Is this a reasonable approach? Any suggestions here from those who have come before?
Here's what got me going about this and I am shocked by what I'm seeing...
I have a recipe for an APA that calls for an OG of 1.060:
16# Maris Otter
1.5# Caramel/Crystal 60L
and quotes brewhouse efficiency at 75%.
When I put this into Beersmith, it's telling me I need to scale these numbers down to this to hit the OG of 1.060 with an efficiency of 85% :
12.8# Maris Otter
1.2# Caramel/Crystal 60L
Could that be right!!!??? That just seems like such a huge reduction in grain... _________________ --
Brewing: American Pale Ale
Joined: 21 Feb 2012 Posts: 710 Location: Longmont, CO
Drinking: Pinot barrel aged quad
Working on: Flanders oude bruin in barrel, Flanders red fermenting to refill the barrel
Link Posted: Mon Oct 06, 2014 7:33 pm Post subject:
For a first brew I would probably still be conservative, going with 75% in planning, or if you think the beer would be fine slightly light, 80%. If it turns out you're getting 85+%, you can always stop collecting wort and just add water. One time in the past when I had extra, I boiled it separately on the stove and then bottled it for a yeast starter or two. If your fermentation vessel will allow it, another option is to have a little extra hops on hand and if you have to, just make more.
That scaling seems a little extreme to me too, but I don't have a calculator in front of me to judge which is more "correct." Also, most calculations make general assumptions about the grain. Does Maris Otter give 36 or 38 points per pound? I recall Designing Great Beers had a range for all the grains it listed. The real answer depends on the crop, and the maltster will usually do a lab analysis based on that (both coarse and fine grained) ... _________________ Brewery equipment photos (et al) here: https://picasaweb.google.com/114861423235799103704
Joined: 03 Aug 2012 Posts: 1049 Location: Fort Collins, CO
Drinking: Imperial Brown Ale
Working on: Oatmeal Stout, IPA
Link Posted: Mon Oct 06, 2014 10:23 pm Post subject:
Make sure you don't confuse brewhouse efficiency with mash efficiency either. People sometimes use one or the other when talking, and unless they're specific about it, it'll just cause confusion.
I don't even know what my brewhouse efficiency is (because I don't really care). I only measure my mash efficiency (how well starches are converted to sugars).
+1 on Kal's statement. Even though Brewer's Friend spits out the other efficiency numbers the only one I'm concerned with is the mash efficiency. I generally plan my recipes at 85% mash efficiency but typically get around 90%. I don't mind the beer coming out a little stronger...
Here's a link to what I think is an informative graphic on efficiency from Brewer's Friend's web site:
Joined: 29 Jan 2014 Posts: 124 Location: Edmonton, AB
Drinking: West Coast Dry Hopped IPA
Working on: Session Ale
Link Posted: Tue Oct 07, 2014 2:03 am Post subject:
I have converted this past year to the all electric system from a picnic cooler setup which was all gravity feed. In that system I consistently was able to have a mash efficiency of +/- 85%. I haven't yet been able to duplicate that with the new system although I am coming closer! I am pretty sure the problem is with my sparging, specifically the speed. Having pumps and bigger hoses is way faster than gravity and smaller sized outlets. I also make 5 gal batches as I already had the equipment for that size (conical fermenters, carboys, kettles etc.). Anyway, the advice is to slow the sparge down enough to get the efficiency you are looking for. It is easy to move to quickly.
I am still learning the ins and outs of the new system and continually fine tuning the techniques. I have tweaked the probes to be more accurate and have mostly figured out how to make the chugger pumps work well (air is the enemy with those). It is getting smoother with every batch, but I still have a way to go. It might have been easier, in some ways, to not have brewed the other way before as some of what worked well in that system didn't transfer to the new one. That being said, I still like the new setup, and am looking forward to continued fine tuning.
Link Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2014 10:11 pm Post subject:
If you haven't brewed with pumps for long, maybe do a dry run of priming them/making sure they pull liquid... can be trickier than just connecting QD's, opening the valve, and flipping the switch! Good luck, you'll love it!
PS. By "dry run" I mean with just water. Extremely poor choice of words there. _________________ Drew
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