BeerSmith™ Home Brewing Forum

Brewing Topics => Equipment => Topic started by: Ribbs on September 20, 2019, 09:17:22 AM

Title: BrewEasy and estimated OG values
Post by: Ribbs on September 20, 2019, 09:17:22 AM
I'm new to brewing and at this point have just two all-grain brews under my belt, using a 5-gallon BrewEasy system - both brews were the same American brown ale recipe.  My thinking was I could nail down my equipment profile and also get some consistency while familiarizing myself with the BrewEasy.  One thing I learned after the first batch was that I was short approximately 1/2 gallon (into the fermenter), when following the basic BrewSmith profile.  In checking the actual preboil volume, I could see my grains were retaining more than BeerSmith was estimating.  The default BIAB Grain Absorb factor (under <options - advanced>) of .586 fl oz/oz was really .915 in my case.  Are others seeing grain retention at this higher value?

My biggest issue that I'm having trouble getting my head around is that my actual OG (post-boil) value is much lower than the BeerSmith estimated OG.  I use the Tilt Hydrometer to monitor gravity, have been very happy with it, and assume accuracy within 1 gravity point.  For both brews, the estimated OG was 1.054, yet I got 1.048 the first time and only 1.044 the second time.  If I dial down the Brew House efficiency to match these OG values, I end up with 60% efficiency (for the second batch), which seems way low, even for the BrewEasy system.  Are others seeing efficiencies this low?  I know grain crush and chemistry affect gravity and I know there are tricks to squeezing out higher efficiencies from the BrewEasy, but I think I've followed all the suggestions.
Title: Re: BrewEasy and estimated OG values
Post by: Oginme on September 20, 2019, 11:50:01 AM
Whenever I change my process, it takes several brews to fully nail down the needed updates to the equipment profile.  There are several things which stand out from your description which I would like to note.

First, though the BrewEasy system does a full volume mash, it is NOT BIAB.  What differentiates the two processes is the drainage of the wort from the grain bed, which is much less complicated with the BrewEasy system.  With BIAB, the wort can escape in almost any direction thus draining from the sides as well as the bottom of the grain sack.  The mesh bag with the grains is also compressed as it is raised from the kettle which further causes wort to be pushed out.

In contrast, the BrewEasy operates more like a traditional mash tun with drainage at the bottom only.  There is also no compression of the grain bed following drainage to force more wort out of the spent grist.  In theory, it should act more like a mash tun than a BIAB bag, which I think your numbers demonstrate quite readily.  This also accounts for much of your volume loss into the kettle.

The fact that you ended up with a different OG than BeerSmith's prediction is evidence of having the wrong estimate of Brew House Efficiency in your starting equipment profile.  This is perfectly normal for the first times brewing where you are not familiar with the new equipment performance.  Having a 60% BHE is not a bad thing, though much depends upon where you are losing your extracted sugars:  from the mash or from process losses.  The key is to try to make it repeatable and consistent.  From there you can make moves to improve your extraction or cut your process losses and note a change with confidence.  Given that in Brad's review of the BrewEasy he ended up at 65% to 67% BHE, you are not that far from typical values.

Title: Re: BrewEasy and estimated OG values
Post by: Ribbs on September 20, 2019, 02:48:53 PM
Thank you for the great insight Oginme.  I didn't think about the fact that the BIAB process would result in more mash extracted from the grains - hence the lower default value in the <Options - Advanced> setting.  I chose the BIAB profile for the mash because I'd read other BrewEasy owners were using BIAB for their mash profile.  I'll have to review that decision.  And the fact that I've ended up with OG's of 1.048 and 1.044 proves there are variables at play - probably a little more experience with the system will help identify them.  I'll look for Brad's BrewEasy review and read that too.  The good news is the two batches have been delish!
Title: Re: BrewEasy and estimated OG values
Post by: Oginme on September 20, 2019, 05:18:41 PM
To get a full volume mash, you need to make the mash profile a BIAB profile by clicking on that check box in the profile.  This points the program to use the grain absorption for a BIAB mash when doing the calculations.  You can then change that default value in the 'options' > 'advanced' to reflect the number you actually achieved.  This should help with getting the volumes somewhat straightened out and allow you to focus on other variables which may not be well defined as yet.

Yeah, the nice part about this hobby is even when things don't turn out exactly as planned, you still get beer in the end.

Title: Re: BrewEasy and estimated OG values
Post by: Kevin58 on September 21, 2019, 08:38:05 AM
"I could see my grains were retaining more than BeerSmith was estimating." < this is the hazard of simply checking the default equipment profile provided with Beersmith. Those profiles are convenient starting points for you to build your own profile. They were created by other brewers on their systems using their methods. You will be forever frustrated with numbers not matching until you do all the weights and measures on your system and then accurately record your results to further tweak your profile.