Author Topic: Beer Smith Water Volume Calculator  (Read 2507 times)

Offline alanhawse

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Beer Smith Water Volume Calculator
« on: December 19, 2020, 08:23:19 AM »
Hello everyone.  I am a new brewer.  I have been trying to reconcile the Beer Smith Water calculations against the Grainfather Software.  This turned out to be quite a bit of an adventure.  I am an engineer... so I typically "go all the way" towards figuring things out. 

I just finished an article about 1) how the Beer Smith 3.0.x Water Volume calculations work and 2) my spreadsheet version which I built to figure out the calculation.  I don't think that my answers are perfect, but they are close.  Certainly close enough to help you understand the logic.

I posted the article on my IoT Blog https://iotexpert.com/beer-smith-water-volume-calculator/  but only because it was easier to edit there.  I would be happy to have the stuff here.  The spreadsheet with the calculations is available on GitHub at https://github.com/iotexpert/Beer

The article is focused on the HOW of the calculations and not very much of the WHY.  I can guess as to the why, but I have only brewed 26 batches... so Im brand new.

That being said, I hope that it helps in your understanding. 

If you find errors please post them here and Ill fix them.

To the forum powers that be... if there is a way to transfer the article here that would be better I am totally fine with that.

Alan

Offline Oginme

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Re: Beer Smith Water Volume Calculator
« Reply #1 on: December 19, 2020, 11:02:43 AM »
Nice write up.

My first bit of advice is to pick the software you want to work with and forget the others.  You will drive yourself crazy trying to rectify the answers of both, especially if you cannot see or adjust the assumptions equally.

In looking at some of your questions:

Final Thoughts

I have not answered (at least) the following questions

    Where did the Grainfather numbers come from?
    Given (1) why is there a difference between Beer Smith and Grainfather
    What other calculators are out there?
    What is ?Batch Sparge Using Batches that fill %? used for?


I will ignore the grainfather questions, as I neither have the grainfather nor access to the software to puzzle it out. Also reference my first comment above.  There are a lot of other water volume calculators out there.  The good ones will have the pretty much the same inputs as BeerSmith to allow the user to match the software assumptions with observed data.   

The 'batch sparge using batches that fill %' is used by some users to keep their mash tun volumes in a safe zone.  I know others will add some water to a thick sparge (usually higher temperature to start a mash out) to promote better drainage of the first runnings.  It just allows users to control a bit of the software to help with process modeling.

So, the way the software figures out the volumes is pretty much outlined in your calculations.  It does start at the ending volume to the fermenter and back calculates from that point.  Then when it comes to the mash volume, it uses the initial infusion and any other water additions made in the mash process to calculate the sparge volumes by subtracting this number from the total water needed at this point.  Users have struggled in the past to understand why they sometimes end up with negative sparge volumes due to water inputs during the mash or water added post mash (boil kettle top off or fermenter top off) which impacts the amount of water the software calculates is needed from the mash process.

It does treat the starter volume as an addition to the fermenter and not part of it.  This is fine if, like me, you decant much of the starter wort before adding it to the fermenter.  If you do not, then you need to think about this additional volume when you plan your batch size to compensate for this volume in your fermenter.

Likewise, fermenter trub only affects bottling volume and does not contribute to the process volume calculations.

The other thing that people miss is that once you get to the end of boil volume on the vols tab, everything above that is measured at full thermal expansion as set by the user (or default if not changed).  This generally introduces a 1.8% to 2.2% volume error if you measure your mash volumes hot at strike temperature and have the default 4% thermal expansion which reflects boiling temperatures. 

BTW, the program also carries this error into the calculation of gravity of the wort.  It calculates the amount of sugar needed from the mash at room temperature (cool) volumes and then uses this same gravity point value (plus process losses added in post boil) to figure out the target specific gravity from the mash.  This issue has been discussed many times on the forum, so it is not unknown. Granted for the majority of users, this error falls within their capability to measure accurately. but it is still a baked in source of inaccuracy.

I didn't go through your calculations step by step, but you have the basics down there.  I use a spreadsheet to track the volumes and gravity of each brew to check on the gravity point balance (accuracy of measurements) and track the actual user defined process variables against what I have in my equipment profile.  Additionally, it tracks the grain absorption, which I feel should be in the equipment profile and have voiced as such since it is dependent upon process.  It gets really interesting to see the known process (and a couple of unknown) changes which have occurred over around 260 brews.

Again, nice work on devolving the calculations of the software.  It really does help in the end with being able to manipulate it to best reflect your outcomes.





Recycle your grains, feed them to a goat!

Offline EddyB

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Re: Beer Smith Water Volume Calculator
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2020, 11:28:19 AM »
Hello Alan!

I just recently opened a discussion about the same issue (all-in-one-systems represented in BeerSmith) in this forum.
 
This is a way to look at it:

-   All-in-one systems do not allow a conventional water management to begin with. In case of the 5gal Braumeister you do need approx. 6,6 gallons of strike water for the system to work properly- this corresponds to a water to grist ration of approx. 2.4qt/lb which results in a rather thin mash. So, at a certain moment in my brew process, I do need to make some calculations anyway. I do use these calculations to best match the target gravity. In addition- if the deviation from the predicted volume is too much, I even adjust hop doses at this point.

The water calculation you try to understand is the one for a traditional homebrew mash in e.g. a cooler. Water/grist ration (as you mention in your EXCEL file) is about 1.25qt/lb- it is double in my system and I am quite sure in yours as well. Once your mash is finished you lift the grain basket and drain the remaining wort into the kettle. At this point you can measure your gravity and volume and then you must decide how much water to add to maintain your target gravity.

Just a few hints for your questions:
 
-   Evaporation rate (EXCEL file row 28): After your mash and some added water addition you should measure your preboil volume. After the boil you do measure the volume again, considering the boil time you can calculate the hourly evaporation rate. Make sure you always use the same exhaust- it influenced the evaporation rate a lot.

-   Yeast starter size: Before boiling you could take about 0.5qt of wort, dilute with the same quantity of fresh water, boil for 10 minutes, cool down to prepare a yeast starter. When you pitch the starter into the fermenter at the end of the brew process this quantity is fed back to the fermenter volume.

-       Regarding your question about sparging: BIAB brewers do not sparge and many all-in-one brewers do not do it either. I do. I lift the basket out of the kettle and before draining I do a fly sparge. But this is a very personnel decision.

In addition, I would recommend that you add target gravity to your consideration- see a copy of my approach attached. If you are interested, we can go into more details.

Check this video- this gentleman explains the issue very well:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8mEJ_WTJ2o
« Last Edit: December 19, 2020, 11:30:19 AM by EddyB »

Offline alanhawse

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Re: Beer Smith Water Volume Calculator
« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2020, 12:11:14 PM »

My first bit of advice is to pick the software you want to work with and forget the others.  You will drive yourself crazy trying to rectify the answers of both, especially if you cannot see or adjust the assumptions equally.

I really wish that was possible...  :)



The other thing that people miss is that once you get to the end of boil volume on the vols tab, everything above that is measured at full thermal expansion as set by the user (or default if not changed).  This generally introduces a 1.8% to 2.2% volume error if you measure your mash volumes hot at strike temperature and have the default 4% thermal expansion which reflects boiling temperatures. 

I was surprised when I saw this number... I didnt realize that the volume was so temperature dependent.



Again, nice work on devolving the calculations of the software.  It really does help in the end with being able to manipulate it to best reflect your outcomes.

Thanks... hopefully it help someone else sort it out.


I think that what I am going to do next is write an article outlining a set of experiments to dial in the numbers for my setup.

I am wanting to move to 2.5 gallon batches... and it will also be interesting to see how well that works.

Alan

Offline alanhawse

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Re: Beer Smith Water Volume Calculator
« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2020, 12:18:00 PM »

Thank you for your comments... it gives me some things to think about.... I doubt that Im the first to suggest it... but it might be nice if BS4 had an API and a framework for customizing some of these things that goes beyond the parameterization that is built in.

-       Regarding your question about sparging: BIAB brewers do not sparge and many all-in-one brewers do not do it either. I do. I lift the basket out of the kettle and before draining I do a fly sparge. But this is a very personnel decision.

This cracks me up.... I probably just need to relax a bit

In addition, I would recommend that you add target gravity to your consideration- see a copy of my approach attached. If you are interested, we can go into more details.

I need some time to think and contemplate the next steps... I am aware that I have several big levers left to pull on in my own brewing practice.


Alan


Offline EddyB

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Re: Beer Smith Water Volume Calculator
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2020, 12:19:28 AM »
After a good sleep I realized that I might have given you the wrong answer. I read your article and some others on your homepage again. I am an engineer too so I can understand your introduction about figuring things out.

Let me tell you my way into homebrewing:

I decided to do homebrewing when I was still working back in 2013 about a year before my retirement. Being an expat somewhere in the North African dessert I had no other choice then starting by reading into the matter- also due to a lack of homebrew depots in this area! After some junk published by dubious gurus, I found Professor Charles Bamforth book Beer. Perfect introduction, well understandable even if you are not a scientist! John J. Palmer book How to Brew is another precious source of knowledge and inspiration.

What I want to say: Maybe in case of brewing the WHY is more important than the HOW. The BeerSmith software is a perfect but nevertheless generally applicable recommendation for various brewing systems. Understanding the software as such does not mean that one understands the brewing process. Therefore, Brad offers lots of podcasts, videos, newsletters etc. to steepen the understanding of his software.

I am sure that the design part of a recipe itself works with pretty much every equipment out there but especially the water and equipment section need some interpretation and knowledge to be adapted to individual systems.

Should you ever have the chance to visit Mount Hood in Oregon take a tour to some local breweries (they do have plenty up there) and you will find all sorts of e.g. mashing equipment from traditional mash tuns to mash filters. But do not get confused: all these systems do have one purpose- extracting sugar from malt!

And this leads me to the way I see the water volume part of calculations to control the brewing process: Follow the sugar! There is clear water, there is wort, there is evaporation... the sugar content (extract) remains.

In my opinion one should basically understand how to compose a recipe regarding the needed percentage of base malts and aroma malts (Diastatic Power as a key word) and how to follow up the volume management throughout the brew- the rest can be trustfully left for the BeerSmith to be calculated.

And by the way- if you already brewed 26 beers and you are still brewing you must like the result, and this is what matters the most!

Eddy
« Last Edit: December 20, 2020, 08:36:04 AM by EddyB »

Offline Oginme

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Re: Beer Smith Water Volume Calculator
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2020, 06:51:15 AM »
[

I am wanting to move to 2.5 gallon batches... and it will also be interesting to see how well that works.

Alan

My standard batch size is 10 liters (~2.6 gal) and I had considered the grainfather when I was shopping around for AIO units.  I talked for a while with several distributors who carried the GF at HBC year and a half back and did not come back all warm and fuzzy about the ability of the GF to handle small batches with consistency.  I ended up getting an Anvil 6.5 gal unit not only for the backing quality of Blichmann Engineering, but also because it fit my batch size perfectly. 

Best of luck to you and I will be interested in hearing how the GF performs with the smaller batches!
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Offline Oginme

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Re: Beer Smith Water Volume Calculator
« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2020, 07:03:02 AM »

And this leads me to the way I see the water volume part of calculations to control the brewing process: Follow the sugar! There is clear water, there is wort, there is evaporation? the sugar content (extract) remains.

In my opinion one should basically understand how to compose a recipe regarding the needed percentage of base malts and aroma malts (Diastatic Power as a key word) and how to follow up the volume management throughout the brew- the rest can be trustfully left for the BeerSmith to be calculated.


Eddy

I cannot agree with you more Eddy!  From a process standpoint, there are two material balances going on:  Sugar and water.  They produce two open but ultimately dependent equations which need to be solved to get the process modeled properly.  In BeerSmith they are tied together in the end by the brew house efficiency and the batch size in order for the model to work.  Since these materials are dependent throughout the process, it allows for us to check the data quality by calculating the sugar balance which is dependent upon both the gravity and the volume.

While this will achieve a control of process, recipe development - the hows and whys, is another challenge all together.  The good part about having your process well defined is that when you make a change in recipe, you can have confidence that the results will reflect this change.  This allows the user to understand better the impact of the change in the product produced.
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Offline alanhawse

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Re: Beer Smith Water Volume Calculator
« Reply #8 on: December 21, 2020, 08:54:44 AM »
Maybe in case of brewing the WHY is more important than the HOW.

There is no greater truth than what you say... I totally agree with that.  I was in no way suggesting that people memorize HOW and not learn WHY.

However, sometimes when you seek to understand ... sometimes examining HOW something works can help lead you to WHY.

I have read the books that you reference... as well as a dozen or so others... and my frustration with all of them is that they mix up 1st order 2nd order 3rd order into a jumbled mess that is difficult to sort out with out some experience.  It would be nice if these texts were more disciplined.... In my world, if you look at a transistor model there are 100's of parameters ... but when you are trying to sort out IV curves it is good to start with understanding the 5 or 6 big knobs first. 


Alan

Offline brewfun

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Re: Beer Smith Water Volume Calculator
« Reply #9 on: December 22, 2020, 12:03:05 PM »
In my world, if you look at a transistor model there are 100's of parameters ... but when you are trying to sort out IV curves it is good to start with understanding the 5 or 6 big knobs first. 

Brewing has a lot of correlations. The "big knobs" that show up over and over are time, temperature, sanitation, gravity, and yeast health. The other moderate to minor parameters all help and matter when trying to sharpen skills or improve quality. Parameters of pH, extraction, oxygen, water, crush and dozens of others rarely matter while learning the other major skills.

Mastery of craft and hobby come when all the parameters become tools you know how to choose from the box of skills.
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