Does adding water after mash hurt efficiency?

Also see Brewing Water and Grains
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Primavera
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Does adding water after mash hurt efficiency?

Post by Primavera » 2 years ago

Title pretty much says it all.

I hold back 4L of water to be able to get a 5 gallon / 19L batch out of a 10 gallon / 38L kettle.

I am varying the amount of water added before and during the boil so that I hit my OG number exactly.

VIF on my last batch was low (added less water due to low gravity - a little over 4 gallons / 16L - meaning I didn't get great efficiency.

Could the thicker mash be hurting my efficiency?

Thanks

Chris


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Post by joshua » 2 years ago

If you Used Biabacus, the 4L held back, should have added More grain, which should give you Higher GIB.

Therefore, the 4L added before the Boil will give the recipes GIB.

If you Boil, and actually have the projected Evaporation, and get the VAW, then your OG will be as expected.

Lastly, what you need to worry about is, Did you get the Sweet liquor you need, Did you get the VIF you need and the OG you want.

Efficiency is the Number from the Above data...Just a Number

We make Beer, Not Numbers.
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Post by mally » 2 years ago

Primavera wrote:Could the thicker mash be hurting my efficiency?
The quick answer is yes. Higher gravity beers are less efficient than lower gravity.
If the grain sees the same amount of water though, there should be no difference. i.e. sparging.

If you look at the BIABacus, this will tell you how much extra grain you will use by not sparging/full volume brewing.
Last edited by mally on 03 Aug 2015, 15:51, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Rick » 2 years ago

We're going to need a lot more information here. The variables from brew to brew can be significant. If you use more hops, you will lose more beer as well ... this is one of many things that can lead you to lower VIF.

As the others already mentioned, the BIABacus does well with this ... takes the technical guesswork out of it. Becoming a skilled brewer and honing your methods will also lead you to greatest potential VIF per recipe. The BIABacus, or any software cannot make up for brewing mistakes/miscalculations.


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Post by Primavera » 2 years ago

joshua wrote:If you Used Biabacus, the 4L held back, should have added More grain, which should give you Higher GIB.

Therefore, the 4L added before the Boil will give the recipes GIB.

If you Boil, and actually have the projected Evaporation, and get the VAW, then your OG will be as expected.

Lastly, what you need to worry about is, Did you get the Sweet liquor you need, Did you get the VIF you need and the OG you want.

Efficiency is the Number from the Above data...Just a Number

We make Beer, Not Numbers.
I did not get the sweet liquor VIF because I reduced the water addition to maintain my target OG. I have had consistently low VIF (typically -2 L although this batch was closer to -4 L) using my kettle. I purchased what was advertized as a 40 Qt / 10 gallon kettle, but actual capacity is a bit less ~ 36.6 L / 9.6 Gallons.

So, instead of stuggling to hit my numbers I ordered a 60 Qt. / 56 L kettle and will start over.
Last edited by Primavera on 08 Aug 2015, 00:44, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by mally » 2 years ago

Primavera - are you saying that you had originally planned to add 4L after mash, but took a gravity reading and decided not to because the gravity was lower than expected?

If so, I am distrustful of measurements taken at this stage for various reasons (including stratification).

Also, have you had a look at THIS?
Last edited by mally on 08 Aug 2015, 17:35, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by Primavera » 2 years ago

mally wrote:Primavera - are you saying that you had originally planned to add 4L after mash, but took a gravity reading and decided not to because the gravity was lower than expected?
I take gravity readings using a refractometer that has the calibration checked several times during the day. BIABacus gives me data points where I should be at each step. I check my gravity at mash out and adjust the amount of water added back to achieve the expected BIABacus gravity number, in this case, 1.046. I check and adjust at end of boil as well.= if required. This substitutes variation in volume for variation in efficiency.
mally wrote: Also, have you had a look at THIS?
Of everything on the list, only 7. pH of mash has not been adjusted is concerning me. I have not been checking or controlling pH but it is om my list for the next batch. My local home brew store has narrow-range test strips - do they work?

Chris
Last edited by Primavera on 08 Aug 2015, 19:29, edited 1 time in total.


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Post by PistolPatch » 2 years ago

Couple of things Prima...

Don't correct the data points at each step, simply record them. Firstly no single measurement is ever accurate, especially in home brewing as our volumes are really small and this in turn leads to low reliability gravity readings, especially with refractometers which are really intended for walking through a field of grapes and squeezing the juice from many grapes onto the lens to try and get an idea of how the grapes are progressing. No vintner would go to one grape and squeeze the juice from it and rely on that one reading to harvest the whole field.

When brewing, you make a plan, see it through until the end and then make adjustments. Altering things before the boil is crazy (even though some of the 'greats' like to pretend that all measurements are accurate and do mention pre-boil corrections) as your evaporation rate, for a start can only be guessed at before any particular brew and, your single measurements cannot be trusted/corroborated.

When you go making corrections to your brew before the boil is complete, everything becomes confusing and you actually miss out on being able to identify where any (or if any) major problems are.

I don't know of a single professional/commercial brewer that makes any pre-boil gravity corrections so I have no idea why we home craft brewers dealing with tiny batch sizes even think they can attempt this. Oh! Hold on! Yes I do know... It's because in today's world, low quality, lazy, short-to-read info can spread like wildfire. It's taken me most of the first part of the last decade to even see that and most of the latter part to try and start working out ways of fixing it.

...

That's great you are using The BIABacus but heed the warnings in Section W. It does not allow you to make unplanned corrections (dilutions) for the reasons explained above. Any dilutions must be pre-planned.

I better stop rambling ;),
PP
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Post by Primavera » 2 years ago

PP

Thanks for the observations. I completely understand your points and they are necessary to gain the ability to diagnose and control the brewing process over time. However, I am an impatient bastard that wants to make this batch better as opposed to an experiment that will eventually make me a better brewer.

I would think that professionals do not make gravity corrections because they have their process under control. The amateur / hobby brewer is dealing with inherently more variability in a small batch. One way to address that variability may be to make adjustments based on deviations from expected data points when they are observed. The key would be to have valid, repeatable and reliable data to begin with. I calibrate my refractometer before each use, and regularly cross-check my readings against a hydrometer. I stir the wort and take multiple readings, so I am pretty sure I have actionable data. I am checking several grapes.

Next, I need to consider if my expected data is reliable. Based on a half-dozen batches brewed using BIABacus, I believe the data points to be useful indicators of where my process should be at each step.

Using BIABacus, I can make small changes to the pre-boil addition. This may not be SOP, but until I resolve the variability I am experiencing in efficiency, I will use whatever tools I have available to make the style of beer I am intending.

Altering a planned addition does not prevent me from recognizing an efficiency problem or taking steps to resolve it. I have recently purchased a 60Qt/57L kettle to eliminate the thicker mash / pre-boil addition altogether. I now need to start benchmarking my process all over again. I will let you know how it goes.
Last edited by Primavera on 10 Aug 2015, 22:02, edited 1 time in total.


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Post by joshua » 2 years ago

Primavera, it is good that you can take SG measurements throughout the Mash process, and Maybe during the Boil.

That is how Micro/Macro brewers operate.

Keeping those measurements during the Brewing, will help you hit you projected Numbers and make it easier to Compensate for the different weather, and atmospheric conditions, that occur.
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Post by PistolPatch » 2 years ago

Primavera, apologies I can't reply properly atm. Working very long days and haven't even had a chance to log on here to read let alone write since my post above. I enjoyed reading your reply though and will try and explain more on number respect and disrespect.... just had a quick scan of the prior posts and am unsure why none of us, including me, have not provided links to posts on this subject or on what methods breweries use to attempt to maintain a constant beer (most micro and craft breweries cannot even do it 100% from batch top batch and the majors constantly, but most certainly, change over time).

Gotta go for now though ;).
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Post by Primavera » 2 years ago

New equipment - full volume with no pre-boil addition.

Brewed using numbers from BIABacus

Resultant efficiency 71.5% vs 78.5 estimated.

Gravity into boil was .005 under the expected value as was the GIF (1.060 vs 1.065) so it seems that there is some consistency to the readings.

For the next batch, BIABacus will tell me to add 2# of grain to compensate for reduced efficiency.

Should I take action (add grain or double crush) based on this data? Or try to reproduce the results?
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Post by joshua » 2 years ago

Primavera, Just a quick question on your Mashing Plan.

Your Grain at 80C/176F, needs Strike Water of 148.5F.

Would it not be better to have the grain at 23C/74F and Strike water at 151F????

Most of your Efficiency comes out of the mash.

JMHO YMMV.
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Post by Primavera » 2 years ago

I apologize for my Metric dyslexia :idiot: - grain was at 80°F / 27°C strike was at 154°F / 68°C Mash was at 149°F / 65°C

Checked mash temperature at 30 and 60 minutes, stirred and adjusted +1°F at 30 and +2°F at 60.


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Post by joshua » 2 years ago

Primavera, I do not Know if you have a lot of time(SWMBO, Kids, Life), and have a Refractormeter.

I have found the Initial Mash temperature is VERY Important, But, if you can take a few drop of Sweet Liquor, every 15/20 minutes, you will be able to watch the gravity increase, and Top-out.

If your mash gravity is low, increasing the Temperature to around 154F, will help The Alpha Amylase get to work better.

Sometimes with High Gravity(>1.055) if found it may take 90+ minutes to hit the projected GIB.

Just my Experience.
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Post by Primavera » 2 years ago

I have a refractometer and I monitor the gravity every 30 minutes during the mash and at the beginning, middle and end of the boil.

I usually undershoot my mash-in by 1-2°F and add heat to bring it up while stirring. I start the timer when I turn off the heat and wrap the kettle.

The next time I brew this recipe I will try a little longer (2 hour?) mash. That and a bit less strike water and a bit more grain should get me where I need to be.


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Post by joshua » 2 years ago

You have found that Numbers are Numbers!! I hope you hit them!!
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Post by Primavera » 2 years ago

Then I get to start all over with a new recipe.

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