Brewing Topics > All Grain/Advanced

BeerSmith2 'Equipment Profile' set-up for new all-grainers.

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Pat:
What figures should new users start with in their equipment profile?
Note: chiller-AUS also has information on equipment profile set-up here .

By far the hardest aspect of BeerSmith2 for new all-grainers is working out what figures to use in their equipment profile and understanding the logic behind these figures. No software can instantly give you an understanding of the all-grain brewing process let alone the mathematics so a new user must be prepared to spend some time educating themselves.

This thread aims to get you started on this journey.

This thread will get your 'Equipment Profile' to a good starting point. A new user though will need to take many measurements over 5 or more brews before they start adjusting the  figures they end up with below. A single brew can teach you nothing about figures. The average of 5 brews can.

I will only be looking at some of the fields in 'Equipment Profile,' the ones I think are the hardest fields for the new user to understand and estimate. Details on the other fields can be found in the BeerSmith2 help file and video.

Let's Get Started

Firstly go to 'Profiles' and then click on 'Add Equip'. Now type in a name for the equipment profile - I am going to call this profile 'Sample Beginner Equipment Profile.'

Here are the fields that we will look at.

Bottling Volume
Fermenter Loss
Batch Volume
Loss to Trub and Chiller
Boil Off
Boil Time
Brewhouse Efficiency (and how it can be derived from 'Mash Efficiency')

Now let's start exploring and put in some figures.

Bottling Volume

This is how much beer you would like to end up with in your bottles and/or kegs. 5 gal or 18.93 L is a handy size for a lot of brewers so we will use this for our example and work our way up from there. You cannot type into this field as it is automatically calculated from the next two numbers. Once we type the next two numbers in you should see 5 gal or 18.93 L appear in this field.

Fermenter Loss

As beer ferments, quite a lot of sediment etc collects at the bottom of the fermenter. Most people underestimate this loss. In our profile we will allow some breathing space, however the upside is it will allow you to establish your real equipment losses faster and easier. It will also mean that you should be able to just transfer clear wort and beer rather than cloudy muck into your bottles/kegs. So, I am going to allow 0.5 gallons or 1.89 litres for this. Type this into the 'Fermenter Loss' field.

Batch Volume (Also known as 'Batch Size' in BeerSmith2.)

It is important to realise that this term means different things to different brewers and in different software. There is no standard international definition. In BeerSmith2 it is clearly defined as the volume you want to get into your fermenter. If you look at the Batch Volume field you will see it  reads 5 gal or 18.93 L as this is the default of BeerSmith2. As we want to end up with 5 gal or 18.93 L in our bottles we need to add in our 'Fermenter Loss' to work out our 'Batch Size.' So type in 5.5 gal or 20.82 L into the 'Batch Volume' field.

Loss to Trub and Chiller

At the end of an all-grain boil there will be what is known as 'kettle trub'. This consists of hop break and other types of solids and debris. It is regarded as best practice to avoid putting these solids into your fermenter as much as possible so we need to make an allowance for this. Some brewers use advanced trub management techniques to make this loss very low. Whirlpooling, hop socks and filters are ways of achieving this. Most new all-grainers make the mistake of under-estimating their losses to trub. These can be extremely high when no trub management techniques are used. I am going to allow for quite a large 'Loss to Trub and Chiller,' however in some cases including very hoppy brews, this loss to trub and chiller may not be high enough. Type in 1.25 gal or 4.73 L.

Boil Off

Boil off is the amount of liquid evaporated off between the start and the end of the boil. This can vary quite dramatically from brew to brew. For example brewing on a hot, dry, windy day will significantly increase boil-off so new brewers need to do several brews to become familiar with this.

Given the same atmospheric conditions etc, the main factor affecting boil off is the surface area of our pot/kettle. A while ago, I gathered some figures from a collection of brewers and wrote a formula that new brewers could use to at least take an educated guess at what their boil off would be, based on their kettle diameter.

I will show this calculation in the post that follows however it is done automatically for you in the attached spreadsheet called, 'BeerSmith2 Equipment Profile Set-Up Helper 1.3'. This spreadsheet allows for metric, US and English users. SigurĂ°ur GuĂ°brandsson has also written an online tool for us here. (Thanks Sig!) Typing in the diameter of your kettle and your boil time will give you your boil-off estimate.

For our example, I will assume we have a pot with a diameter of 40 cms (15.8 inches) and that we will do a 90 minute boil. Using either the attached spreadsheet or online tool, I can see that I need to type in 8.1 L or 2.14 gal into the 'Boil Off' Field.

Boil Time

As just mentioned, we are going to use a 90 minute boil in our profile. This is quite a good time for inexperienced brewers to use as it can solve some haze and other problems that can occur in rare circumstances in a 60 minute boil. If you prefer to do a shorter boil, for example 60 minutes, remember to change the 'Boil Off' field above to 5.38 L or 1.42 gal. For our example though let's type 90 into the 'Boil time' field.

Brewhouse Efficiency (and how it can be derived from 'Mash Efficiency')

Like 'batch size,' the word efficiency is very poorly used in the brewing world. There are actually many types of efficiencies. Some common ones are 'mash efficiency,' 'efficiency into boiler,' 'efficiency into kettle,' 'post-boil efficiency' 'efficiency into fermenter' and 'efficiency into packaging.'

While the above are well-defined, there is no internationally accepted definition of the terms, 'Brewhouse Efficiency' or 'Efficiency'. Once again, these terms often mean different things to different programs and different brewers. This can be very hard for the new all-grainer to get their head around.

When BeerSmith2 says 'Tot Efficiency' or, 'Brewhouse Efficiency,' it means 'efficiency into fermenter.' For example, our 'Brewhouse Efficiency', in the profile we are creating here, is going to be very low as we are 'wasting' a lot of wort with the high 'Loss to Trub and Chiller' figure we set above.

So, what should a new all-grainer do?

What we should do is first take an educated guess at our 'mash efficiency' which is the same as 'efficiency into boiler' which, in practicality, is also usually very close to 'post-boil efficiency'. Because 'mash efficiency' does not account for 'Loss to Trub and Chiller,' there is far less variation from one brewer to another who use the same all-grain method.

Like boil-off, until we get several brews under our belt, there is no way we can predict what our mash efficiency will be. We have to make an educated guess and go from there. I suggest that the new all-grainer starts with one of the following 'mash efficiencies'...

High Efficiency Equipment = 85% 'Mash Efficiency' (e.g. fly sparging)
Medium Efficiency Equipment = 80% 'Mash Efficiency' (e.g. BIAB)
Low Efficiency Equipment = 75% 'Mash Efficiency' (e.g. batch sparging)

Please note that a high mash efficiency is nothing to be proud of and does not mean you will make better beer. All methods will produce excellent beer and mash efficiency has no correlation with this. Working off these figures though, gives you a starting point.

BeerSmith2 however requires us to input 'Brewhouse Efficiency.' So, how do we convert 'mash efficiency' to 'Brewhouse Efficiency'?

The calculation is actually quite simple and once again, I will write it in the post that follows. It is the same calculation as used for 'mash efficiency' however 'Loss to Trub and Chiller' are deducted from the volume. The calculation is done automatically for you in the attached spreadsheet or online tool.

For our example, I will assume we are going to BIAB so I will type 80 into the 'Mash Efficiency' field and 4.73 L or 1.25 gal into the 'Loss to Trub and Chiller' field of the spreadsheet or online tool.

This tells me that my 'Brewhouse Efficiency' should be 65.2%. So type 65.2 into the 'Brewhouse Efficiency' field of your BeerSmith2 Equipment Profile.

Finalising the Profile

Watch Brad's video here and read the BeerSmith help file on 'Equipment Profile' set-up . Make any final changes to figures in the profile and click 'OK'.

If you have used the same figures as in this example then your profile will look identical to the one I have attached here called, 'Sample Beginner Equipment Profile'.

What to Do Now

Do not change the figures in this profile until you have done four or five brews or are positive you have made a basic error (see 'A Warning' below). As mentioned above, a single brew will tell you nothing. For example, if you scored a very high or low 'mash efficiency' how do you know it was not due to one of the 7 reasons listed here? If your boil off was very high, was this due to hot, windy, dry conditions on your brew day or maybe even incorrect volume measurements?

A new brewer must take as many measurements as possible over at least 5 brews to learn their equipment. Here are four that you can do on each brew. Each reading helps confirm the others.

1. Mash Efficiency: Measure volume and gravity at the start of boil. (Ensure wort is well-mixed. Cover your hot wort sample in wrap to avoid evaporation while it cools).

2. Post-Boil Efficiency: As above but taken at the end of the boil. This should on average be very close to your Mash Efficiency. The post-boil volume figure you collect here will also enable you to calculate and confirm your boil-off.

3. Brewhouse Efficiency: Measure volume and gravity of wort in the fermenter.

4. Loss to Trub and Chiller: Measure the volume that remains in your kettle (and chiller if counter-flow) after transfer to fermenter. Typing this and your Brewhouse Efficiency into the attached spreadsheet, online tool or the actual fields of BeerSmith2 will help confirm your Mash Efficiency.

Doing all these measurements gives you practice at taking readings and will make you realise faster that variances between readings and single brews are not uncommon. At the end of these five brews you will also have excellent base figures from which to create your own equipment profile.

A Warning  

Changing things in your Equipment Profile without having a reliable collection of average figures will only cause you trouble. For example, if you decide to decrease your 'Loss to Trub and Chiller' figure, do you realise after studying the above that you must also increase your 'Brewhouse Efficiency' figure because your system now will have a higher 'efficiency into fermenter'?

Playing around with volume or 'Brewhouse Efficiency' figures within a recipe is also very dangerous for an inexperienced user so be very careful! Always make a copy of a recipe before you start playing.

The good news is that if you have read and really studied the above rather than skimmed through it, you will be well on the road to driving BeerSmith2 safely and letting it take you places that 'skimmers' will never reach or only reach by a possibly painful accident :argh:.

I'm happy to answer questions in this thread as long as I am sure you haven't skimmed ;).

Cheers,
Pat

Pat:
Estimating Boil-Off from the Kettle DiameterIn metric, the estimate is...

Litres per hour boiled off = pi*(diameter of kettle in cms/2)*(diameter of kettle in cms/2)*0.00428.

So, for the 40 cm pot we used in our sample profile above, the calculation was...

Litres per hour boiled off = 3.14159*40/2*40/2*0.00428 = 5.38 L/Hr

Deriving 'Brewhouse Efficiency' from 'Mash Efficiency'The formula is...

BeerSmith2 'Brewhouse Efficiency' = 'Mash Efficiency'-('Loss to Trub and Chiller'/('Loss to Trub and Chiller'+'Batch Volume')*'Mash Efficiency')

So, for the sample profile used in the post above, the calculations was...

'Brewhouse Efficiency' = 80-(4.73/(4.73+20.82)*80=65.2%

chiller_AUS:
The following .pdf file should help people who are new to Beersmith 2 set up their equipment correctly.

Please take time to read through both Pat's and my articles on equipment setup they should get you on the road to answering most basic questions.

Steve

BobBrews:
Awesome post Pat. A very grey area made simple! I still will have to print it out and peruse it in the "reading room"? Thanks for all the hard work!

Wombat:
Pat,
Great post.  It answers some nagging questions I have had.  Thanks!!

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