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Getting a horrible efficiency with my Electric Brewery setup
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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 10738
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen, Belgian Quad, Wit, English Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle


PostLink    Posted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 10:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


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mcl wrote:
Kal you used his numbers after the boil rather than the preboil numbers. I am curious as to why.

Doesn't matter which you use. You can do pre-boil and the gravity then or post boil and the higher gravity. Same result.

Quote:
They really should have the same amount of sugars but there is some sort of measurement error as he has more sugars after the boil than before.

Ok, good point. Wink To reduce the possibility of operator errors, using pre-boil would make the most sense since we're most concerned with mash efficiency here.

EDIT: Actually, I do have good reason - many people measure their pre-boil gravity incorrectly as they don't stir correctly. I think that post boil is more accurate for this reason (overall). I've seen lots of people who don't stir properly before measuring pre-boil.

Kal

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mcl



Joined: 11 Oct 2011
Posts: 156



PostLink    Posted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good point. It is also key to take volume measurements at the same temp or account for the difference.
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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
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Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen, Belgian Quad, Wit, English Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle


PostLink    Posted: Fri Aug 19, 2016 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yup! You raise a good point however: The simpler things are, the less chance that something is done or measured incorrectly. Often the issue is that people don't realize they're measuring or doing something incorrectly as that's human nature.

Kal

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Love2brew



Joined: 01 Aug 2016
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Location: California


PostLink    Posted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 10:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies guys. I still get 82% when doing it manually, I use the same formula MCL showed, as well as a spreadsheet someone else built and got the same thing. Formula and grain extract below. I don't think I'm missing something, but maybe I am.

Max Grain Yield:
Weyerman Pilsner: 19.4 x 38 = 727
Crystal 40: .8 x 34 = 27.2
Total Gravity Points = 764.4
Pre Boil Volume: 15.38 gallons
Max total PPG 49.7
Gravity Points to Boil Kettle: 626.8
Est Pre boil gravity: 1.041
Est. Mash Efficiency: 82%

As for the measuring of the gravity, I always do it the same way. Pull a pre-boil sample from the boil kettle at 205 degrees (after several stirs), put my measuring cup in the freezer and cool to 70 degrees, measure the sample with a hydrometer and refractometer, record both readings. My OG gets pulled between carboy fills between 70-80 degrees.

Like another post said, as long as I can hit my numbers everytime, that's what's most important, just not sure about this 92% to 82% difference and why I need to add more grain than you do with my recipes. I need 20+ pounds to achieve what you're doing with 18lbs.

My mash PH is usually between 5.4 - 5.6, without needing to do any water adjustments.
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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
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Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen, Belgian Quad, Wit, English Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle


PostLink    Posted: Tue Aug 23, 2016 11:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Curious. I still think there has to be something fundamentally different with the math somewhere. Not sure where however.

Previously I mentioned I get 93.4% when I plug your numbers into Beer Tools Pro and you get 82% using different software, so the important thing here is that you can't compare your numbers to mine as obviously the math is different somewhere.

I've been using Beer Tools Pro for about 8 years now and whenever I plug in a recipe from a magazine or a book or anywhere else it always seems to fall within a point or so from what the publisher says their mash efficiency is, so it works for me and is repeatable for me. You need to find something that works for you and gives you the repeatable results you expect.

Love2brew wrote:
... and why I need to add more grain than you do with my recipes...

But according to my math using Beer Tools pro, you don't. You are getting close to the same mash efficiency as me. So there is little to no difference in grain amounts required. (You're getting 93.4%, I'm getting 95%).

As well, none of what you are experiencing has anything to do with the fact that it's an electric brewery design. It's the math or the process.

Kal

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Love2brew



Joined: 01 Aug 2016
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PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry Kal, I didn't mean any disrespect to the electric brewery design. I love it and am happy I made this my first setup, wouldn't change a thing, just wasn't sure if I was still doing something wrong.

I did find that the grain crush made a big difference, so now that I'm tweaking and trying to create my own recipes, at least I can be consistent with the software I use. I'll keep playing with it and post if I run into any other weird issues, like the odd fermentation I'm currently experiencing.

Good news is, I just bought a temp controlled conical so I think that is going to make the process that much easier. First batch goes in that this Saturday!

Thanks for making this all possible and igniting my passion for brewing and not just drinking, lol.
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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
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Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen, Belgian Quad, Wit, English Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle


PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 4:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No worries!

Some practice is definitely required in order to optimize and get things working right. Good luck with your brews!

Kal

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mcl



Joined: 11 Oct 2011
Posts: 156



PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 1:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you mash efficiency is okay. I get around 85% using BeerSmith. Here is the big difference I get 80% to 82% brewhouse efficiency as I have very little loss from lauter all the way to fermentation. This is what ultimately drives how much grain you need. We were focused on mash/lauter efficiency to make sure you were okay(and I think you are). With the information you posted a page back you might what to look at your equipment losses. Or not, it won't affect the beer you will just be putting more down the drain. It has been mentioned many times before, consistency is the most important thing.

I do want to explore how the calculators are so different as this can be confusing for new brewers who don't understand how to do it manually. Can you guys post what the potential yield your calculator uses for the grains in question. I posted what BS uses in a previous post. (I used German Pils I believe but there was only one point different from the other options)

The potential yield should be the only variable that is up in the air.

OP I see you used 38 for the Pils (which may be right) but your math is wrong on that line (more likely a typing error)
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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 10738
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen, Belgian Quad, Wit, English Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle


PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@mcl:

Beer Tools Pro (which I use) does it a bit differently - they include:

DBFG: Dry Basis Fine Grind; this is a value which represents the maximum amount of yield which can be extracted, under laboratory conditions, from the grain; measured as a percentage of the weight of the grain; below 78% DBFG extract is considered substandard

DBCG: Dry Basis Coarse Grind; More closely approximates the typical crush achieved in breweries, and therefore gives a better indication than DBFG of the extract potential of the grain

AICG: As-Is Coarse Grind or Extract As Is; this is the extract yield including moisture content

FG-CG: Fine Grind Coarse Grind Difference (DBFG - DBCG) DBFG

And a few other things. I'm not sure of the best way to combine/convert these numbers to a single "potential yield" number.

More info here: http://www.beertoolspro.com/wiki/Grains

In my case the Weyermann Pils malt I've used to calculate is:

DBFG: 79.0%
DBCG: 77.1%
AICG: 73.25%
FG-CG: 1.9%

I chose a few other pils entries from other maltsters and that's where I was getting the 91.04% and 93.68% mash efficiency depending on what I used.

Agreed that consistency is key.

Kal

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mcl



Joined: 11 Oct 2011
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PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kal that is great info. Thank you. The AICG sounds like it might be a better way to figure efficiency but I need to read more. I am reading the page now what does it list as potential extract? I would think that would be the same field as the potential yield field in BS.

Edited to add that if it is the 34.9 in the screen grab but we are using 37-38 based on the manufactures number that would add to the difference.
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mcl



Joined: 11 Oct 2011
Posts: 156



PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I looked at the calcs and I think that is the cause. If you run the 34.9 with the post boil numbers (as Kal did) I think it comes out to the 90+%
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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 10738
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen, Belgian Quad, Wit, English Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle


PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mcl wrote:
Kal that is great info. Thank you. The AICG sounds like it might be a better way to figure efficiency but I need to read more. I am reading the page now what does it list as potential extract? I would think that would be the same field as the potential yield field in BS.

Funny, there's no "Potential Extract" field even though the text says there is. If you look at the screenshot on the Beer Tools Pro link I mentioned above there's an "Original Grav (lb/gal)" however, which may be the same thing. For the Weyermann Pils it's 33.8 'Oe.

It's confusing. I purposely don't know how it works because it's something I don't really worry about understanding. The software I use (a) lists a whole pile of different grain types and includes the numbers required for calculating mash efficiency, and (b) it does it all for me so that I don't have to try and understand how it all works. Wink Most importantly it gives me consistent results which is really all I care about. When I formulate a recipe I know pretty much exactly how it'll turn out in terms of gravity. I find the only unknown I have these days is when I use a new yeast strain I've never used before: You just don't know what the Final Gravity will be (there's really no reliable way to calculate that) until you've used a yeast a few times on a specific recipe. The interwebs can give you guestimates (as can the manufacturer) but until you've used it yourself in your specific recipe, you just don't know (there are too many variables).

So I take the same approach to mash efficiency as I do with the the PIDs I use to hold temperature: There's some complicated calculus on how they do that, but I don't want to understand how it works, because I don't have to. It's a black box to me which is fine, because PIDs are easy to find black boxes that all work the same way. The outcome's well understood. If I was using some other embedded controller solution instead then I'd have to dive in and figure it out and manually program them to simulate what a PID does (as some brewers do) but I prefer the simplified approach. Whatever floats your boat really. I'm getting off topic... Wink

Kal

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Ozarks Mountain Brew



Joined: 22 May 2013
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PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2016 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

efficiency can be misinterpreted based on the wrong default loses and water/grain ratio or kettle size, its a common mistake
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thereverendmaynard



Joined: 05 Aug 2015
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PostLink    Posted: Sat Oct 22, 2016 7:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kal wrote:
I wouldn't let your mash run dry and not try and get the exact amount.

Shouldn't be hard to empty, unless you don't have a sink/drain. But then everything about brewing would be very difficult. Wink I sparge into the boil kettle until I hit the pre-boil volume, then I move the hose to the sink and the rest goes down the drain <snip>

Kal


Instead of dumping the extra runnings - I have been collecting the run off, measure the gravity, and assuming its still in the 1.01+ range I will put it into a separate 5 gallon pot I have.... I then either add a little DME or depending on volume and gravity just boil it until I hit 1.03.

I then take that hot wort and use my boiling water canner to can quart jars of the wort to use for starters. 15 minutes at 15 psi. Let them cool over night and then onto the shelf in the cupboard.

When I am ready to make a starter - I just use the appropriate number of quart jars, soak them in sanitizer, sanitize my flask, and dump it in.

Easy and saves me a few $$$ and time for starters.
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kal
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Joined: 12 Dec 2010
Posts: 10738
Location: Ottawa, Canada

Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen, Belgian Quad, Wit, English Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle


PostLink    Posted: Sun Oct 23, 2016 3:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sure! That's one option for left over run-off.

I made a 1.100 RIS a few weeks ago and I swear the run-off at the time I stopped sparging still tasted like 1.040 (I didn't measure). I could have captured another ~5 gallons and made a light stout out of it!

Kal

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Love2brew



Joined: 01 Aug 2016
Posts: 25
Location: California


PostLink    Posted: Tue Jan 03, 2017 11:24 pm    Post subject: Wort Extraction Reply with quote

Hi Guys, me again... lol

Everything was going so well until yesterday! After adjusting my crush and getting my software efficiency dialed into my actual efficiency, I have brewed my last 4 batches (all different beers) and nailed my OG within .001 for each batch. I re-brewed Janets Brown yesterday and ended up way off! I was shooting for 1.068 and ended up at 1.060. The only thing I changed in this batch was a 1.25qt/lb water to mash ratio as compared to a 1.50qt/lb. Same mill, same crush size, same sparge method, same 152 mash temp, but extraction was way off. Pre-boil was 1.050 and I boiled for 90 minutes.

Any idea what could have happened? Does the white wheat need to not be crushed? I can't imagine subtracting .25qt/lb of water per lb of grain could possibly lower the efficiency by that much. Anyone else had this issue? Such a great batch to miss by that much.
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Ozarks Mountain Brew



Joined: 22 May 2013
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PostLink    Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 2:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

you mean flaked wheat for white wheat grain? grain yes, flaked no
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kal
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Drinking: German Lager, Electric Creamsicle, London Pride, Kolsch, Belgian IPA, Red IPA, Russian Imperial Stout, Black Butte Porter

Working on: Weizen, Belgian Quad, Wit, English Pub Ale, Electric Creamsicle


PostLink    Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 2:55 am    Post subject: Re: Wort Extraction Reply with quote

Love2brew wrote:
I re-brewed Janets Brown yesterday and ended up way off! I was shooting for 1.068 and ended up at 1.060. The only thing I changed in this batch was a 1.25qt/lb water to mash ratio as compared to a 1.50qt/lb.

A mash thickness change like most likely wouldn't account for such a large change in gravity. Thinner mashes (more water) can result in a more fermentable wort (barely) but won't affect the OG.

So now this is the hard part: Figuring out what did in fact change that you're not realizing changed. I know you said that nothing else changed, but logic dictates that someone else had to change otherwise you wouldn't see the change you did. If you truly brewed everything exactly the same except for the minor change in mash thickness, you wouldn't be seeing the changes you're seeing. So something else is changing, but unfortunately you're not seeing it.

It could be a number of different things. It could be something as simple as miscounting when weighing out grain. It could be that the mill roller lock came loose and the crush was very loose by accident without you realizing. (Just a few examples)

Is there possibly another brewer that could watch/help during a brew day? They may notice what you're overlooking. Maybe do a few split batches with someone else?

It's really hard to know what we don't know - we often don't notice things we do because we don't even realize that they have an impact.

Kal

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Love2brew



Joined: 01 Aug 2016
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PostLink    Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 4:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I definitely agree, something had to change, I must be missing it! I'm going back through my notes, the sparge was 60 minutes as opposed to 90, and thinking about it again, there was about 30 minutes where I wasn't watching the water level and it was a few inches above the grain. I don't think that would change the gravity much though. I just re-measured the mill and it's between 1.45-1.050 and the grain filled a 6 gallon bucket to the top, which is more than I get when I do my 6% batches.

Also worth noting, towards the end of the sparge, i emptied the HLT completely and let it sit on top of the mash. I usually have about 2-3 gallons left in the HLT. I ended up with about 5-6 gallons of water (shown on the site glass) in the mash tun. Not sure if that matters but maybe too much water got through and not enough wort??? I'm not sure theirs a smoking gun though, I'm just going to have to re-run the batch and have my buddy help me from the start. Such a large miss, I felt like it would be obvious.

Grasping at straws, does darker grain, like chocolate, need to be milled separately from the other grains, like the 2-row? I milled them all together on the last batch and it all turned out ok.

Either way, thanks for helping. I'm sure you've all been there, quite frustrating when you think you've got it all down and can build to suit your recipe, knowing you'll hit the profile. Confused
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dp Brewing Company



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PostLink    Posted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Did you sparge for 60 minutes or mash for 60 minutes?
If you truly sparged for 33% less time then usual that might be the problem of not hitting your numbers.

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