Efficiency issues with first two brews on B3 3-tier system

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Efficiency issues with first two brews on B3 3-tier system

Postby Steve973 » Tue Sep 10, 2013 11:53 am

Hi, all. I have brewed twice on my MoreBeer sculpture. It's a 1550DD that I ordererd with 20g kettles, because I bought this sculpture before the release of the 2050. Unfortunately, my efficiency was pretty low on both occasions. This weekend, i was shooting for 1.074, but I got 1.060. I am trying to pinpoint where I went wrong. My grain bill consisted of:

28.0 lb (96.6%) Standard 2-Row; Rahr - added during mash
1.0 lb (3.4%) Victory® Malt; Briess - added during mash

I doughed-in with approximately 9 gallons of water at 167 degrees and mashed for an hour while circulating the entire time. The wort cleared up quite nicely by somewhere around the halfway point. I increased the HLT temperature to about 175 degrees to get the mash temp (slowly) up to 168 degrees. I sparged slowly, too. When I was calculating the water volume, I took the amount of water I needed, minus 2.75 gallons for the volume under the false bottom, multiplied by 0.83 to get the number of inches that I needed over the false bottom. For the mash kettle, I only took the water above the false bottom into consideration. My mash pH was 5.2, adjusted with lactic acid.

To me, this all sounds fairly good, but does anyone have any ideas where I might have gone wrong? I know this system is capable of awesome and predictable results, but I am getting less predictability with this system than I got with my 3-tier, gravity fed, cooler system that I previously used. I appreciate any help that anyone can give.
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Re: Efficiency issues with first two brews on B3 3-tier syst

Postby pclemon » Tue Sep 10, 2013 12:11 pm

Steve973 wrote:Hi, all. I have brewed twice on my MoreBeer sculpture. It's a 1550DD that I ordererd with 20g kettles, because I bought this sculpture before the release of the 2050. Unfortunately, my efficiency was pretty low on both occasions. This weekend, i was shooting for 1.074, but I got 1.060. I am trying to pinpoint where I went wrong. My grain bill consisted of:

28.0 lb (96.6%) Standard 2-Row; Rahr - added during mash
1.0 lb (3.4%) Victory® Malt; Briess - added during mash

I doughed-in with approximately 9 gallons of water at 167 degrees and mashed for an hour while circulating the entire time. The wort cleared up quite nicely by somewhere around the halfway point. I increased the HLT temperature to about 175 degrees to get the mash temp (slowly) up to 168 degrees. I sparged slowly, too. When I was calculating the water volume, I took the amount of water I needed, minus 2.75 gallons for the volume under the false bottom, multiplied by 0.83 to get the number of inches that I needed over the false bottom. For the mash kettle, I only took the water above the false bottom into consideration. My mash pH was 5.2, adjusted with lactic acid.

To me, this all sounds fairly good, but does anyone have any ideas where I might have gone wrong? I know this system is capable of awesome and predictable results, but I am getting less predictability with this system than I got with my 3-tier, gravity fed, cooler system that I previously used. I appreciate any help that anyone can give.


Preface this with saying that I do not have a B3 system.

The thermal differences from one system to the next can be dramatic but a mash-in temp of 167 to me seems high unless you're target mash temp is 158+. On my own system my mash water is 6-7 degrees hotter than my desired mash temp. You don't stipulate in your information above what temp you're actually mashing at.

You say "I sparged slowly" but what does that specifically mean. I'm a fly sparger and typically shoot for an hour sparge. I've noticed, with my system, that if it gets much below 40 minutes I start to loose efficiency points at a pretty dramatic rate.

29 pounds of grain, at 70% efficiency, and I'm assuming because you don't say - a 10 gallon batch, should have yielded an OG of ~1.065. Shooting for 1.074 you would have needed an approx. eff. closer to 80% which may or may not be optimistic on that system. When you got 1.06 was it on 10 gallons or something larger?
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Re: Efficiency issues with first two brews on B3 3-tier syst

Postby pclemon » Tue Sep 10, 2013 12:20 pm

Another thing I just thought of was if you're using the height to measure volume (.83") make sure this is correct... don't assume that if what you bought lists the kettle as 20 gallons and it's 20" tall that it's 1"/gallon. I have a "30 gallon" pot that once I took measurements on it, it is actually a 32.7 gallon pot.
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Re: Efficiency issues with first two brews on B3 3-tier syst

Postby Steve973 » Tue Sep 10, 2013 12:35 pm

167 to me seems high unless you're target mash temp is 158+

Just to be sure, i verified this with the Brewer's Friend mash and rest calculator. For 29 pounds of grain at 70F, you have to heat 37.7 quarts of water to 169.9F to end up at a target of 154F. At any rate, this worked out well for me, since I stabilized at 154 after dough-in.

You say "I sparged slowly" but what does that specifically mean

It took us 45 minutes to sparge. I can't be 100% sure that the sparge temperature was exactly correct and i will have to pay closer attention to this in the future. It also couldn't hurt to increase it for another 15 minutes.

29 pounds of grain, at 70% efficiency, and I'm assuming because you don't say - a 10 gallon batch, should have yielded an OG of ~1.065. Shooting for 1.074 you would have needed an approx. eff. closer to 80% which may or may not be optimistic on that system. When you got 1.06 was it on 10 gallons or something larger?

A friend of mine has a similar system, and he suggested an expected efficiency of 80%. I agree that is probably fairly optimistic, if for no other reason than that I'm very new to this system. To answer your question about volume, we were targeting for a post-boil volume of 13 gallons because we added a lot of hops, and we will be adding a lot of hops to the fermenter. We wanted to ensure that we ended up with 10 gallons after dumping off the yeast, taking samples, and to compensate for the wort absorbed by the hops.
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Re: Efficiency issues with first two brews on B3 3-tier syst

Postby Steve973 » Tue Sep 10, 2013 12:37 pm

pclemon wrote:Another thing I just thought of was if you're using the height to measure volume (.83") make sure this is correct... don't assume that if what you bought lists the kettle as 20 gallons and it's 20" tall that it's 1"/gallon. I have a "30 gallon" pot that once I took measurements on it, it is actually a 32.7 gallon pot.

I agree that it would be a good idea to verify this measurement. The manual for the system cites 0.83" per gallon, but that could definitely be a big part of my problem if it's wrong!
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Re: Efficiency issues with first two brews on B3 3-tier syst

Postby pclemon » Tue Sep 10, 2013 1:20 pm

Steve973 wrote:To answer your question about volume, we were targeting for a post-boil volume of 13 gallons because we added a lot of hops, and we will be adding a lot of hops to the fermenter. We wanted to ensure that we ended up with 10 gallons after dumping off the yeast, taking samples, and to compensate for the wort absorbed by the hops.


If your post boil volume was 13 gallons, your efficiency was close to 84%.
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Re: Efficiency issues with first two brews on B3 3-tier syst

Postby Steve973 » Tue Sep 10, 2013 1:31 pm

Ah, I was looking at an old recipe before I scaled it up to account for the absorption by the hops. When I get home, I'll post the actual grain amount, etc, that we used.
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Re: Efficiency issues with first two brews on B3 3-tier syst

Postby Steve973 » Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:49 pm

So, after scaling the recipe to end up with 13 gallons at 68F, I used:

32.5 pounds of 2-row
1.1 pounds of victory malt

The original gravity was 1.060, so that is an efficiency of 64% which is pretty bad.
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Re: Efficiency issues with first two brews on B3 3-tier syst

Postby pclemon » Tue Sep 10, 2013 6:11 pm

Steve973 wrote:So, after scaling the recipe to end up with 13 gallons at 68F, I used:

32.5 pounds of 2-row
1.1 pounds of victory malt

The original gravity was 1.060, so that is an efficiency of 64% which is pretty bad.


I calculate 72.5% - which, while not great, is far from atypical.
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Re: Efficiency issues with first two brews on B3 3-tier syst

Postby Steve973 » Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:33 am

I calculate 72.5% - which, while not great, is far from atypical.

Out of curiosity, how are you performing your calculation? As a sanity check, I used the calculator at http://www.brewersfriend.com/brewhouse-efficiency/ and I got the same result that BTP gave me:

Gravity at 100% Efficiency: 1.093 - max
Gravity at 75% Efficiency: 1.070
Efficiency: 64.60%
Points / Pound / Gallon (ppg): 23.2
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Re: Efficiency issues with first two brews on B3 3-tier syst

Postby pclemon » Wed Sep 11, 2013 5:56 am

Steve973 wrote:
I calculate 72.5% - which, while not great, is far from atypical.

Out of curiosity, how are you performing your calculation? As a sanity check, I used the calculator at http://www.brewersfriend.com/brewhouse-efficiency/ and I got the same result that BTP gave me:

Gravity at 100% Efficiency: 1.093 - max
Gravity at 75% Efficiency: 1.070
Efficiency: 64.60%
Points / Pound / Gallon (ppg): 23.2



Using a good old-fashioned calculator and the PPG method with the estimated grain PPG being 32.

(((PPG)*(weight of grain)*(efficiency))/(finished wort volume))/1000 +1 = gravity (though I usually ignore the /1000 +1 and the answer just reads out as 64 instead of 1.064

Re-arranging the formula and substituting your values for the unknown efficiency -

60(finished gravity)*13(finished volume)= 780
780/32(ppg)/33.6(weight of grain) = .7254 or 72.5%

The calculation you give above suggests that the PPG of the grain is closer to 36 which is closer to the max value:

http://www.howtobrew.com/section2/chapter12-4-1.html
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Re: Efficiency issues with first two brews on B3 3-tier syst

Postby pclemon » Wed Sep 11, 2013 6:27 am

In the end the calculations I might be using versus a different program are irrelevant if you're just not happy with the efficiency and/or lack of predictability you're currently getting.

I would suggest 2 things to start:

Measure your kettles to make sure your volumes are what you think they are.

Try to make sure your sparge lasts a little longer next time and see if that bumps you up a few points.



The other thing I didn't even think of until now is your grain crush - do you crush it yourself?
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Re: Efficiency issues with first two brews on B3 3-tier syst

Postby Steve973 » Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:15 am

The I crushed my grain at the store. I plan on getting my own mill, but I haven't done that yet. That is the next thing I will buy.
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Re: Efficiency issues with first two brews on B3 3-tier syst

Postby pclemon » Wed Sep 11, 2013 7:41 am

Steve973 wrote:The I crushed my grain at the store. I plan on getting my own mill, but I haven't done that yet. That is the next thing I will buy.



The crush of your grain plays a HUGE part in the efficiency you can get from you system. Inconsistency in the crush would cause big swings.
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Re: Efficiency issues with first two brews on B3 3-tier syst

Postby turbo_ale » Wed Sep 11, 2013 9:32 am

I opened up my rollers .010, .039 to .049 and efficiency dropped 10%, from 80% to 70%. I like the crush where it is at now, I have better sparging control with less astringency.
ON TAP:
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2. 4B
3.
4.
5.
6.
Bottled: Gewurztraminer, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, 16B, 18B, 18E, 19B, 20, 21A, 23, 27
Fermenting:
Next: 5C

BEER, a mixture of malted grains, water, hops and yeast, that is transformed through the course of fermentation that transcends the simplicity of those basic ingredients, fundamentally into the drink of life.
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