Author Topic: Upgrading my home brewing game  (Read 1510 times)

Offline hpgarcia70

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Upgrading my home brewing game
« on: March 12, 2022, 10:50:46 PM »
My name is Herb. I have been a homebrewer for the last 4 years. I recently bought a 5-gallon 220 VAC Brewzilla electric kettle. I was using propane and brewing a combo of all grain and extract. One day I want over to a friend's house, and he has a Brewzilla and using Beersmith. I sampled a few of his brews and they were awesome. After that I join the local home brewers club, purchased a Brewzilla and bought Beersmith. I love to brew and share my creations with my friends and family.

Offline Kevin58

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Re: Upgrading my home brewing game
« Reply #1 on: March 13, 2022, 07:49:14 AM »
Welcome to the forum Herb. It is knowledge and honing your brewing process that makes great beer however, not equipment and software. Many, many homebrewers make award winning beer on propane systems using picnic cooler mash tuns and I know of at least one homebrewer who has brought home gold medals making extract beers.

The first thing you want to do with Beersmith is sit down and create a custom equipment profile. Yes, there may already be a Brewzilla profile in the Beersmith equipment list and yes, your friend may have given you the settings he uses for his Brewzilla. But those profiles included in Beersmith were submitted by other users, and like your friends profile settings, they work great for them. You are not going to use the same equipment in exactly the same way. Something as simple as using hoses of a different length will change the amount of liquid volume in that portion of the system, how vigorous you boil will affect evaporation losses, etc. For that reason it is imperative that you create a custom profile made specifically for Herb.

Here is a video tutorial that will walk you through the steps. That, plus the combined knowledge of people in this group will help get you set up and brewing your own awesome beers in no time. Welcome! https://youtu.be/HwEbjOt8OR8
« Last Edit: March 13, 2022, 07:50:55 AM by Kevin58 »
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Offline hpgarcia70

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Re: Upgrading my home brewing game
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2022, 09:59:44 PM »
Thank you, for the link. I can't wait to start brewing.

Cheers

-Herb

Offline Sandyfeet

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Re: Upgrading my home brewing game
« Reply #3 on: March 31, 2022, 10:50:31 AM »
Until you get used to the software and your style, make sure you are a little flexible with a few things, especially ABV.
BeerSmith is an absolutely wonderful tool to design recipes, but you need to compare results with some of the other online programs as well until you are fairly comfortable with it.
Different people milling your grains can also have a drastic effect on OG, so keep track of who mills your grain, and set your efficiency accordingly.
I used to get mad until I spoke with a professional brewer that made me realize that homebrewing was a hobby, and it should be fun. Getting mad is for the pros that spend craploads of money on big systems.
Having said that, and being one that bottle carbonates, it still hurts just a little when I miss something and have to wait a month to find out what it was.

Offline Belsnickle

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Re: Upgrading my home brewing game
« Reply #4 on: March 31, 2022, 04:16:47 PM »
I agree with Sandy completely. Beersmith is great, but knowing your equipment hones in what you are doing. What your system will tolerate with things like milled grains, the effects of re-circulation, etc. have huge effects. For example my efficiency is 83%+ where recipes assume something like 70%, that is gigantic.

Best of luck!

Offline Sandyfeet

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Re: Upgrading my home brewing game
« Reply #5 on: April 01, 2022, 05:17:41 AM »
I forgot one other thing:
Get your efficiencies close BEFORE using adjuncts because that will throw you another monkey wrench. I did a crapload of flaked oats recently and missed gravity and ABV badly. BeerSmith calculates flaked oats in a weird way. I was very lucky that the style was very good lower in ABV, and it actually turned out to be awesome. 

Offline BOB357

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Re: Upgrading my home brewing game
« Reply #6 on: April 01, 2022, 07:49:50 AM »
I forgot one other thing:
Get your efficiencies close BEFORE using adjuncts because that will throw you another monkey wrench. I did a crapload of flaked oats recently and missed gravity and ABV badly. BeerSmith calculates flaked oats in a weird way. I was very lucky that the style was very good lower in ABV, and it actually turned out to be awesome.

 BeerSmith calculates the gravity contribution from flaked oats using the potential listed in the data base entry, the same as any other grain, malted or not. The potential for flaked oats is 1.037, the same as flaked rice and flaked corn. Unless your data base listing is incorrect, I'd look elsewhere for the cause of the poor conversion/low gravity in the beer you referenced. With heavy use of adjuncts, low total diastatic power is always suspect.
Bob

Offline Sandyfeet

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Re: Upgrading my home brewing game
« Reply #7 on: April 01, 2022, 11:07:44 AM »
I always appreciate good advice as I am still learning a few things myself.
I did see some older posts on other forums about the conversion of flaked oats which led me to my conclusion. I have also had a conversation with someone at one of the brew stores concerning the conversion rate of flaked oats in BeerSmith. He basically told me to almost treat them as a non-fermentable when looking at ABV calculations. If I would have listened, I would have been reasonably close.
I use BIIB, so my conversion rates are not great anyway, and that is probably also part of the problem.
Like I mentioned to the OP, it takes time to get used to certain things, and I need to get used to adjuncts in my system. 
Thanks again for the insight.

Offline BOB357

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Re: Upgrading my home brewing game
« Reply #8 on: April 01, 2022, 12:31:12 PM »
It's your choice whether to trust someone who sells homebrew supplies or trust specifications from the processor of the grain in question.

Unmalted grains have no enzymes (diastatic power) and, for the most part, depend on diastatic power from base malts to convert. When formulating recipes, this needs to be considered. Unless the grist has enough total diastatic power, conversion will suffer. If you're not able to control your mash temperature, this just exacerbates the problem. You really need to take a close look at the total diastatic power of the grist and be realistic with what you expect for efficiency if you want any kind of predictability and consistency in your brewing. I'd also suggest some serious reading on the brewing process, rather than listening to everything you hear.
Bob

Offline Sandyfeet

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Re: Upgrading my home brewing game
« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2022, 11:03:36 AM »
I have read A LOT on the brewing process as well as listened to a whole bunch of people to formulate a style that I like. I am well aware of my limitations, and until I start milling my own grains, I know I will have efficiency issues. I usually deal with that by adding more grain. I was only trying to make a point that there is a BIG trial and error with BeerSmith, and somebody just starting out needs to keep that in mind and be flexible with their outcomes until they get used to it.

Offline BOB357

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Re: Upgrading my home brewing game
« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2022, 03:23:14 PM »
As with almost any complex program, you can eliminate most of the trial & error by taking time to become familiar with the software. BeerSmith has a comprehensive library of subject specific support that can be accessed by going to http://beersmith.com/support. First, if you haven't already set up an equipment profile that matches your system, go to: http://beersmith.com/getting-started/. One of the first articles tells you about the importance of setting up an equipment profile prior to formulating your first recipe and links to a guide to do just that. This step, by itself will minimize guessing.

Trial and error are alternatives to research and learning. Stumble around and blame the software or take advantage of the most comprehensive support system you'll find for any brewing software. Your choice. Happy brewing.
Bob

Offline Kevin58

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Re: Upgrading my home brewing game
« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2022, 06:03:14 PM »
Well said Bob. I composed a very similar response but got called to dinner and never sent it. Many post on this forum have offered help and pointed to resources that will help create custom profiles and if users take the time to follow them there should be minimal trial and error required. I've set up 4 equipment profiles over the years and by now I get very close to all the estimates on the first brew with a new rig. Minor tweaking and adjustments will always be needed but nothing major.
If you?re stressing over homebrewing, you?re doing something wrong.
- Denny Conn

Offline Sandyfeet

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Re: Upgrading my home brewing game
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2022, 10:54:16 AM »
From the BrewSmith help pages:
"On the last page (step 3) you set your Brewhouse Efficiency. A good starting point is 68-72% if you don?t know what your efficiency for the overall system is."
Thus - Trial and error in more simple terms as per the instructions :)
Trial and error, boil off rates in a humid climate, different OGs from different people milling, and malt extract not fermenting down below 1.020 are all things I wish somebody told me about when I first started which is why I am posting.
Again, I think the software is generally awesome, and I am not making fun of it. I was a newbie not all that long ago, and some very small pieces of advice from some very nice brewers in the microbreweries and from the homebrew stores has gone a LONG way in improving the small batches that I make.
I just can't wait until this thing called "work" doesn't get in the way, so I can try something else on a Saturday (hopefully next month). 

Offline BOB357

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Re: Upgrading my home brewing game
« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2022, 01:30:01 PM »
Most of the things that contribute to brewhouse efficiency can be measured. The aspects you mention can vary greatly, depending on many factors. Whether you realize it or not, software in general relies on inputs in order to reasonably calculate outputs. Most variables will depend on things that no software can predict. This is especially true if you have no basis for a particular value. If you're looking for a silver bullet, good luck. BeerSmith is as good as it gets, unless you can find a crystal ball.
Bob

Offline Sandyfeet

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Re: Upgrading my home brewing game
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2022, 05:16:03 AM »
With that, I agree with you.
While I was trying to dial some things in, it did help to compare the results of BeerSmith with some of the other online generic calculators with generic efficiency and attenuation to see if I had anything screwy in my set-up. I still do it with recipes that I haven't tried before. If there are significant differences, I try to find out why.