Help adjusting BiaBacus to assist low EAW - Efficiency of Ambient Wort

Post #1 made 9 months ago
Hi to all

after a debacle with my LHBS not milling my grain well I got my own mill recently and I mill quite fine. My first two batches using this mill has led to both batches (targets 1046 and 1048) being 6-7 gravity points short each.

My Biabacus for both is reporting the EAW - Efficiency of Ambient Wort of each to be 66%

I'm not wanting to change more than one variable at a time so my inclination is to leave the mill gap setting as is and adjust the Biabacus for my next brew to make up for the low EAW.

Can anyone provide help & advice how to do this. My Biabacus for both undershot batches is attached.

thanks
Nick
033 BIABacus PR1.3T - Pale Ale - Brewdog Hop Fiction.xls
034 BIABacus PR1.3T - APA - Nierra Sevada.xls
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Re: Help adjusting BiaBacus to assist low EAW - Efficiency of Ambient Wort

Post #2 made 9 months ago
Nick,

You have already looked at the crush of the grains, so double check the weight of grains, too.
I think you should extend your mash time from 60 minutes (as shown in your attached files) to 90 minutes. Then a 90 minute boil will drive off more water to give you a higher OG.

See https://www.biabrewer.info/viewtopic.ph ... 251#p58251 and https://www.biabrewer.info/viewtopic.ph ... 864#p56864 or use the search icon in the upper right to search mash time.

Bob

Re: Help adjusting BiaBacus to assist low EAW - Efficiency of Ambient Wort

Post #3 made 9 months ago
Hi Bob

thanks for the tips I will try the following to get a few extra points

* do some stirring (which I never do nowadays)
* mash out to improve the lauter (no I don't sparge but my bag did seem to be holding too much water with my new crush)
* Mash 90 (although I don't really believe in the necessity of that, I'm currently studying brewing and enzymes work a lot faster than that)

But all that being said I'd still like to know how to tweak Biabacus to give me some kind of contingency against the low efficiency inherent in my system?

Anyone who can give me some tips would be appreciated or I might just have to start meddling in section X ;-)

cheers
Nick
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Re: Help adjusting BiaBacus to assist low EAW - Efficiency of Ambient Wort

Post #4 made 9 months ago
Nick,

Stirring once midway during a 90 minute mash is good. I also check the temperature at that time and apply heat if down more than 1 ºC from target mash temp.

thughes mentions mash-out time here https://www.biabrewer.info/viewtopic.ph ... ime#p53581 I agree with his assessment.

PP tells it best in posts from 3 years ago:
https://www.biabrewer.info/viewtopic.ph ... ime#p37655
and here https://www.biabrewer.info/viewtopic.ph ... n+X#p38041
and here https://www.biabrewer.info/viewtopic.ph ... 9207#p9207

A long time ago, I saw that Section X should have 0.4 entered in the field for “Adjust Auto Kettle Efficiency by" It applied to version 1.3T at that time and I have not seen an update. Changing things in Section X will change your grain bill. Try some numbers and see.

Are you collecting runnings from the pulled bag in any way? I usually let it hang suspended above the kettle while heating the sweet liquor in the kettle toward the 90 ºC range. Alternatively, I put the bag in a large colander over a different collection vat and slowly add those runnings during the boil.

Taste the sweetness of the spent grains before disposal. A successful mash leaves almost no sweet taste behind, a less efficient mash leaves it sweeter. Sparging (holding water back from the mash for rinsing grains) via use of Section W in the BIABacus can increase your efficiency, but it comes with other costs.

Take note that everything is different if you are making a Märzen compared to making a big, dark beer.

Want an outsider’s opinion? Check https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/thre ... sh.219880/

Bob
Last edited by ShorePoints on 05 Mar 2018, 01:38, edited 1 time in total.

Re: Help adjusting BiaBacus to assist low EAW - Efficiency of Ambient Wort

Post #5 made 9 months ago
[mention]ShorePoints[/mention] : Thanks for digging up the links ;). I've just added a thirteenth point to Some Common Reasons for a Low Efficiency Reading. This refers to a crush being too fine or too coarse.

[mention]Inconceivable[/mention] : Hey there Nick! (Thanks for your email btw ;) ) This is a great question and, I hope you don't mind, but I'm going to answer it in some detail. Here you go...

Do you have a problem?

One great thing about The BIABacus is it is the only software that will tell you when something is not right. The BIABacus is telling you that you have a major problem. So, the subject of this thread should not be, "Help adjusting BIABacus to assist low EAW - Efficiency of Ambient Wort." Instead it should be something like, "Why are my kettle efficiencies (EIB and EAW) so low?"

You can use Section X of the BIABacus to change defaults as much as you want but that just covers up your problem, it does not fix it.

What to do when you do have a 'kettle efficiency' problem

Before your next brew...

Study Some Common Reasons for a Low Efficiency Reading. Print that list out and cross off anything that you have already double-checked. Check the others.

On your next brew/s...

It's really important when you have a kettle efficiency problem like this to measure, measure, measure. You need to take "volume and gravity sets." On the BIABaci you have posted, we don't have enough sets. Taking measurements sounds easy but it's not (e.g. measuring Volume into Boil or cooling hot gravity samples.) You need to plan the taking of them.

Enzymes

You mentioned above, "Mash for 90 mins (although I don't really believe in the necessity of that, I'm currently studying brewing and enzymes work a lot faster than that)."

This is a good example of how theory can lead us away from reality. Even in "Malting and Brewing Science," ($350 for both volumes), you'll find that the numbers are generally just based on very few experiments. If you look at this thread, you'll see many "real-life" numbers that show that an increase in mash time has a significant effect on extraction.

... so, to sum up, lots of things for you to check before your next brew and plan to take three "volume and gravity sets," on your next brew.

:peace:
PP
Last edited by PistolPatch on 06 Mar 2018, 22:20, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help adjusting BiaBacus to assist low EAW - Efficiency of Ambient Wort

Post #6 made 9 months ago
Hi to all,

Thanks for the help and advice.

Today I brewed a Porter targeting 1054 and 10 Litres VIF, taking advice from this thread to make my grind a shade more coarse AND to mash for longer and stir.

Preboil I was 1038 and I ended up with 1047 and 11.7L VIF plus 1L of nasty trub to discard. I run a very vigorous boil so there's no way I can boil any harder.

So perhaps I should post a new thread titled "Help adjusting Biabacus to adjust the boil off rate?" :luck:

Anyway I've not really had time to digest all the advice in this thread and will think some more before posting further questions

Any other tips'd be appreciated though

cheers
Nick
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Re: Help adjusting BiaBacus to assist low EAW - Efficiency of Ambient Wort

Post #7 made 7 months ago
Hey Nick, I've been wondering how you've been getting along with this?

I should have mentioned earlier, always post your file up with your actuals as then it makes things much easier to analyse. For example in your post above, we know you had 1 litre of nasty trub (Kettle to Fermenter Loss) but we don't know what the BIABacus predicted. You also mention your Gravity into Boil but not the Volume into Boil. Remember the volume and gravity 'sets' I mentioned? Both the volume and gravity measurements are needed at the same point in time for us to find process errors.

The most important sets to take are...

Volume and Gravity into Boil: Easiest way to do measure the volume is after you pull the bag. It's much easier to measure the volume at mash temp than when it is boiling. Whatever volume you measure at mash temp, increase it by 2%. This is the "swelling" that occurs between mash and boiling temp. If you've collected running from the bag after you've pulled it, pour them into a calibrated jug and add that volume. With your gravity into boil, grab a sample in a thin stainless bowl after you've pulled the bag. Cover in wrap and put it in a water bath until it reaches 15 to 20°C. Don't measure it hot!

Entering the VIB and GIB will make your Efficiency into Boil show up in Section P.

Volume and Gravity of Ambient Wort: Easiest way to measure the volume is to measure the Voume into Fermenter (VIF) and, after transfer, pour all the kettle trub into a calibrated jug to determine your Kettle to Fermenter Loss (KFL). VIF plus KFL = VAW. I tend to take two gravity readings. One I grab at the end of the boil using the same method as for Gravity into Boil. I then grab another as I transfer into the fermenter. These "Gravity of Ambient Wort" measurements should both match and give me confidence in what, if any, pre-pitching corrections I shuld do to acheive my desired Original Gravity (gravity at pitching).

Entering KFL, VIF and GAW will make your Efficiency of Ambient Wort and Efficiency into Fermenter show up in Section P.

Taking the Above Sets Reveals a Lot

Doing the above can narrow down problems very quickly so they are essential to do when you are trying t work out the source of a problem.

A Few Other Things

I noticed in the BIABacus files you posted in your first post that your Mash Volume is lower than predicted. It should be usually closer than that. It looks like you are measuring the volume before you add the grain. It should be measured after the grain is added.

Besides taking the volume and gravity sets mentioned above, the other critical thing in your situation is to find two different methods of measuring in your water and grain. It is not uncommon for scales or volume markers on vessels to be out so...

Total Water Needed: From a jug you know is calibrated correctly (put it on scales and make sure adding 3 litres of water to it increases the weight by 3000 grams) us that jug to fill your kettle. After that, measure the depth or headspace in the kettle and see it matches the BIABacus. If not, why?

Volume into Fermenter: Same thing again. Add water from the above jug and make sure it matches the markings on the fermenter.

Grain Bill: If you've bought it pre-packaged, weigh it on your bathroom scales. If you're weighing it yourself, firstly, double-check your scales match another set. Ask a neighbour to compare scales or something? If your scales are correct, weigh your grains individually and pour them into a bucket (after weighing the bucket). Once all grains are added, weigh the bucket and make sure everything adds up.

The above might seem like obvious advice but I have a calibrated jug here, bought from the supermarket, but was astounded to find that when filled to the 4 L mark, it actually only holds 3 L. What the...??? I've had other brewers swear that they had weighed their grain correctly only to later find that the 1kg bags of grain they bought from the shop were actually only 500 grams. It's amazing the funny ways we can get caught out!

Finally, you must ensure that you don't rely on one thermometer for mashing or on one hydrometer for measuring gravities.

Looking forward to hearing your next update :peace:
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Re: Help adjusting BiaBacus to assist low EAW - Efficiency of Ambient Wort

Post #8 made 7 months ago
Hello

so I brewed two batches one after the other last weekend. The files with their actuals is attached. I never take volume measurements during the brew day though I'm afraid so it's only the start and end volumes that I have provided. I at least have the GIB, GAW, and OG data available.

Changes I made before brewing this batch were majorly increasing the gap size in my mill to stop it pulverising everything to flour, my milled grains were all cracked but had a bit more integrity than when I was running a gap size around .34mm

I also arbitrarily tinkered with the amount of water. For batch #37 I knew based on experience I wanted about a litre less water in my VAW so I adjusted the evaporation rate in Biabacus to get my TWN down by 1L
In batch #36 I wanted at least 1.5L less water in my VAW but couldn't get the 'evaporation rate' field to play ball so just left the file showing TWN 37.5L but left 1.5L out so my TWN was 36L

As you'll see from the actuals I ended up with:
1) my 21L batch #36 coming in at 19L VIF plus 820ml of bad trub and 1 gravity point down - no further adjustments
2) my 10L batch #37 coming in at 8.2L VIF plus 200ml of bad trub and 7 gravity points down - boiled up some of this wort with DME and got the missing 7 xpoints

So long story short I've still got problems :scratch:

I'm confident with my scales, temp probes, and hydro samples are always read at 20c or within +/- 0.5c
I'll have to check my measuring jug still

@Pat- I don't quite understand your point "I noticed in the BIABacus files you posted in your first post that your Mash Volume is lower than predicted. It should be usually closer than that. It looks like you are measuring the volume before you add the grain. It should be measured after the grain is added." ~Maybe there's something here; I always fill my kettle to TWN number, dose with Camden, then heat that volume to strike and dough-in. I never, ever measure my volume after grain is involved (lazy, kids pestering me) so my only volume measurements come at TWN and VIF + KFL

thanks
cheers
Nick
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Last edited by Inconceivable on 06 May 2018, 21:09, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help adjusting BiaBacus to assist low EAW - Efficiency of Ambient Wort

Post #9 made 7 months ago
Thanks for the update Nick,

Okay, there is something definitely going wrong here and it's going to be something obvious in hindsight. I'll come back to that.

A Few Notes First

- Still seeing 60 mins in your mash time. Increase that to 90.
- Too much whirfloc and too early. Use 5 minutes before boil ends and 1 tablet is enough for 50 litres at the end of the boil so you need to be cutting the tablets.
- As mentioned in last post, need gravity and volume figures.

Mash Volume: Yep, it looks like you are typing in Total Water Needed there instead of the volume after you add the grain.

Adjusting Evaporation: Looks like you learned how to do that in Batch 37 so all good.

Check, Check, Check. Doubt, Doubt, Doubt.

Although we are missing some numbers, there are enough to date for me to know there is something going seriously wrong here.

In the thread so far, we've already covered either in the thread or through links, to what needs to be checked. You wrote above that you are confident with your scales and temp probes. My first question is why are you confident? :) (The "temp probes" especially worries me.) In a situation like this, you really need to be looking for a culprit instrument.

Two Other Things...

Campden Tablets: One tablet treats 75 L. I'm guessing that too much of this or not leaving it long enough could have serious consequences. ([mention]ShorePoints[/mention] - Any idea on this?)

Pale Ale Malt: What brand is it? How old? How's it been stored?

Looking forward to discovering the culprit here ;)
PP
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Re: Help adjusting BiaBacus to assist low EAW - Efficiency of Ambient Wort

Post #10 made 7 months ago
I cannot think of a reason for excess reducing agent in the form of Campden tablets to impact volumes as described by Nick.
From Wikipedia.org on Campden tablet:
Typical use is one crushed Campden tablet per US gallon (3.8 L) of must or wort ….. However, when used only for the purpose of dechlorinating tap water before brewing, one tablet will effectively treat 20 US gallons (75 L) of water.[2]

Why use more than needed for either Campden or Whirlfloc tablets? Use the Campden tablet (or fraction thereof) on your water before heating to strike Temp, not in the mash. Use half of a Whirlfloc tablet at 5 min as Pat suggested.

They are probably not the cause of most of your volumes being off, but might contribute to the amount of trub you have encountered.

Nick, have you considered using bottled water instead of tap water until this is sorted out?

I drafted a bit of speculation as to volumes being off - I'll PM you, Nick.

Re: Help adjusting BiaBacus to assist low EAW - Efficiency of Ambient Wort

Post #11 made 7 months ago
Hello

thanks for the time and thought. Here's what I can tell you

Firstly my brew logs for each of my last two batches is attached

Regarding Mash time
I've read the post where people covered their SG after 30/60/90 and mash out, so in each of these last two batches (#36 & #37) I did 90+ minute mashes and mash outs for each.

Regarding Campden Tablets
Thanks for pointing that out!! I've overdosed 27 x batches in this fashion! The beer still tasted good and I didn't have gravity issues for the vast majority of those batches. I will now cut down to one or less.

Regarding Volume figures
I'll endeavour to take the hot-side ones next brew but no promises as my stainless ruler is not marked up for too many quantities (i.e. I measured the exact amount for 20/30/40L on my kettles then when I do my TWN I fill to these levels then use a calibrated 1.5L pot to add remove to hit the exact TWN)

Regarding Whirlfloc
I've never read anywhere the recommendation of 5 x mins before! I don't suppose you recall the source of that info do you please? the Professional Brewer I was with the other day threw in a fistful of tablets at 10 x mins remaining; I've read 10 x mins a lot too. I.e. on the packet. Actually... just having read the packet I have Mangrove Jacks brand Deltafloc and they recommend 1 x tablet per 19L of Wort at 15 x mins.

Regarding Temp
I use a Thermapen as my one and only temperature probe. I have a good deal of confidence in it but I concede it may not be perfect. It always shows the wort rising to 100C and then inevitably reads 100C when I get my hot break and boil. Further I just tested it in boiling water on the stove comparing it to a couple of cheap and nasty dial thermometers I head and whilst they were out by 3-4C the Thermapen read what I expected it to i.e. pre-boil showed high 90's C and just boiling water (big bubbles in saucepan) showed 100C

Regarding Scales
I use a kitchen scale to measure my malt 1 kg at a time. I've compared it's accuracy vs my digital hop scale (which can only measure up to 500g). At least under 500g both scales weighed everything exactly the same, so I have confidence there

Regarding Malt
I bought the Pale Malt 3 x months ago in a 25kg bag from my LHBS. I'm inclined to rule it out as a cause since the MArris Otter I bought 25kg of 2 x months ago for batch #35 (a porter) was also 8 point shy of target OG
I brew approx 10 Metres above sea level so I don't think I have issues related to that.

Further Thoughts
Since my woes have essentially began after getting my new mill for christmas I'm leaning toward crush being my issue. I've emailed my LHBS who uses the identical 3 x roller mill I bought and they say they have the gap on near it's widest setting whereas I've mostly been pulverising the heck out of the grain. Whilst my last crush for batch #36 and #37 was a lot less brutal I still suspect I should loosen it up a little more so that is what I'll do on the next batch as well as continuing to adjust the Biabacus evaporation rate.

Any other thoughts are appreciated; I'll let you know how the next batch goes.

thank you
Nick
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Last edited by Inconceivable on 09 May 2018, 14:33, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Help adjusting BiaBacus to assist low EAW - Efficiency of Ambient Wort

Post #12 made 7 months ago
I've done a lot of analysis of my previous 25 x batches; reviewing Biabacus and brewing logs and have a few more pieces of info:

A)
Before AND after my issue that caused me to post this thread in the first place I have found that my VAW usually comes in about 90% of what Biabacus expects. Perhaps this is because I boil more vigorously than Biabacus expects me too. I always prepare the kettle with the required TWN and I don't mind a fair bit of trub in my FV, so my KFL would be less than Biabacus expects too. :think:

B)
The % under my target OG on the last five batches (since getting the new mill) are:
1. 15% under - same narrow mill gap
2. 4% under - same narrow mill gap as #2
3. 13% under - adjusted to new medium-width mill gap
4. 2% under - adjusted to new quite-wide mill gap
5. 10% under - same narrow mill gap as #4

I'm therefore thinking I still have some challenges A) getting the right amount of water since I'm always low on VAW and KFL and (B) the mill gap width may still be a shade narrow; it does not give me a crack as described in Pat's post

Lastly regarding mash temp, I'm satisfied I've not had anything over strike/ mash temp targets; I tend to dough-in and end up a shade under target mash temp; I also have only "fair quality" insulation so my mash temp drops throughout the mash
Last edited by Inconceivable on 09 May 2018, 20:12, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Help adjusting BiaBacus to assist low EAW - Efficiency of Ambient Wort

Post #13 made 7 months ago
Okay, things are becoming a bit clearer now. Here is what I assumed...

- You had only done a few brews
- The low "efficiency" was on every brew

However, from your last post, I see now that...

- You have done over 25 brews
- There is no "theme" of being inefficient

So, this is a very confusing thread. Let's rewind...

I really don't know what to say??? I've just re-read the thread, yet again, but I'm really struggling here.

One thing I can gather, is that I obviously haven't written well Nick, because, the understanding of the importance of taking pairs of volume and gravity measurements seems to have slipped through. Unless you understand what they mean, there is no point trying to invent a culprit for low gravity, volume or whatever.

While it is good reading the details in your last posts (I downloaded the zip files btw but I'm not sure why this site even allows that as who knows what would be in them?) you're still ignoring some advice. For example, thermometer calibration.

Dig on this site for posts written by me that refer to "Lylo Thermometer Test." One of those will lead back to testing of 11 thermometers at varying temps I did quite some years ago. As for the whirfloc addition time, same advice... search for posts written by me on whirfloc and you'll come across a link to the actual science.

When you find the links, post them here. They are due for a bump ;)
PP
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Re: Help adjusting BiaBacus to assist low EAW - Efficiency of Ambient Wort

Post #14 made 6 months ago
Hello

for those wondering the Thermometer test post is here:
https://www.biabrewer.info/viewtopic.ph ... eter#p9397

and the only thing I can find on Whirlfloc is here; but I fear the source cited here is to a dead link, so that's probably not the post PP had in mind:
https://www.biabrewer.info/viewtopic.ph ... loc#p22810
Last edited by Inconceivable on 07 Jun 2018, 20:31, edited 1 time in total.
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