Big Beer Efficiency

Also see Brewing Water and Grains
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Big Beer Efficiency

Post by AFewTooMany » 3 years ago

Hi, wondering if anyone has some insight on increasing the efficiency when using a large grain bill?

I'm pretty new to AG brewing but have been getting 75% efficiency or above so far. Wanting to try an imperial stout at around 9% abv and BIABacus is showing 62% efficiency which is a big drop.

Is it best to increase water volume to get a thinner mash and boil for longer to get down to the volume you want?

Or is batch sparging / rinsing the bag the way to go?

Or just compensate with a bit more grain?

Any thoughts would be appreciated Cheers

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Post by BobBrews » 3 years ago

AFewTooMany,

If brewing a large beer worries you because of lower efficiency (or BIAB weight) try doing what I do. (no! Not stumble and fall!) Split the batch and do a 90 minute mash each time. No chill the first batch and add it back to the kettle after the second mash is done. Boil both together down to your expected amount.

Yes I know! You will have to figure out how much water to use and it seems like a botched brew. It does work to lessen the wort density to promote better conversion and efficiency. I am a "seat of the pants" type flyer err..... I mean "seat of the pants" type brewer. I don't like conventional thinking.

You can compensate with more grain and one boil. It's up to you. "Is it time, work or money you want to save?"
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Post by PistolPatch » 3 years ago

Welcome aboard AFTM,

All other things being equal, the only difference between a big brew and a small brew is that the grain is being washed with less water in a big brew so you can't get it as clean (i.e. it is less efficient). Sparging won't make any difference as you'll still be using the same amount of water at the end of the day.

The only way to get the grain cleaner (the brew more efficient) is to use more water which is as you have surmised, means boiling for longer. Some breweries will boil for up to three hours. You could of course, add extracts to achieve the higher gravity as well.

If your kettle cannot handle the size of the extra water required,you could do as Bob said or go for a smaller batch. One more thing though you can do is a partigyle...

In other words, mash your big beer, and if you did have a second pot you could mash in, then dump your grain bag in that and do a second mash which will give you a weaker beer.

Anyway, if you are using the BIABacus, it will automatically estimate your kettle efficiency and automatically adjust the grain weight for you. Unlike other software, there is no need for you to do any adjustments of any kind.

:peace:
PP
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Post by 2trout » 3 years ago

I made a "no bag" barley wind about 14 months ago. Ill have to look back at my biabacus file but I think that I hit 12%? No time now, but Ill check my file to see what I did. Something like mashed with no bag, overnight, dumped into fermentor through the bag and fermented.

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Post by AFewTooMany » 3 years ago

Cheers guys. Regarding the increased volume and boil length method would you get any caramelisation from the long boil? Just want to know if there is any impact upon flavour if I give this method a go?


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Post by PistolPatch » 3 years ago

Caramelisation is the result of more than just time. Your heat source and thickness of kettle are probably even more important than boil time but, regardless of that, caramelisation is not necessarily a bad thing. Remember when you are brewing a big beer there are only the two options I mentioned above. (Well, you could also add more grain but the efficiency's we are looking at here are already extremely high and so adding more grain is a very poor alternative.)

Caramelisation is not a problem on a big beer if you are using a good recipe. Hops will be used to balance any extra sweetness.

Big beers cost efficiency/money. Whether that be in extra grain or energy/time spent on the boil. We also don't really have any clear, quality data from any source on just how inefficient big beers are. The best guide available atm is the BIABacus auto-efficiency defaults which takes into account many factors. Use it and you should get close to your target.

Also make sure you are using a high integrity recipe on such an expensive beer. I was looking at a site this morning that has over 200,000 published recipes. Almost all had never actually been brewed and the site itself had no clear definitions. My mind boggles at those sites. Totally useless. Like trying to look for quality advice from a billion one sentence 'posts' on Facebook :lol:.
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Post by AFewTooMany » 3 years ago

Cheers pistolpatch. That's an extremely comprehensive answer. Think from all the extra electricity, time and effort a bit of extra grain should do the trick. I'm doing an imperial stout so caramelisation could be quite good I suppose. Cheers for all the help


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Post by PistolPatch » 3 years ago

AFewTooMany wrote:Instead of all the extra electricity, time and effort a bit of extra grain should do the trick.
I'm not too sure how to write this one AFTM, so bear with me...

If you use other software, besides the BIABacus, a bit of extra grain will easily solve your problem because all other software works on the myth that for every x weight of grain added you will get y weight of sugar extracted. It's simply not the case. That is like me saying to you that no matter how dirty your jeans are, I will be able to get them really clean whether I wash them in one gallon of water or two.

It's just completely wrong. And that is the logic that all other software is based on.

...

I hope the above makes sense so let's move on. If just adding more grain would solve this problem then commercial breweries would definitely go for that option. Grain is very cheap compared to power etc. But, adding more grain leads to a very fast declining rate or return. For example, would you notice the difference between five teaspoons of sugar in your coffee and ten?

If you want to add more grain, then the BIABacus can handle that. You will just have to play around with "Water Added Before the Boil" in Section W until the right hand side of Section C reflects how much grain you want to, "spend".

...

So, there is a real limit to how much good adding extra grain can give you AFTM. We also don't have enough info on this atm but rest-assured, at this point in time, the BIABacus is the only 'software' that handles this problem and the estimates it gives seem to be working out really well.

:peace:
PP
Last edited by PistolPatch on 07 Jun 2014, 22:24, edited 1 time in total.
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