From the HBD Archive
From: Darryl Richman <>
Subject: re: What is your extract efficiency?
Date: 1989-02-10 16:07:48 GMT

In the Feb 09 digest, writes:
Subject: re: What is your exctract efficiency?
"In the Feb 07 digest, Darryl Richman <> replies
">Part of the problem here is the 100% extract numbers. I've got Noonan, and
">he suggests one set of numbers; I've just bought Dave Miller's new book,
">and he's got another (higher) set. I'd like to see some brewing industry
">book that actually discusses this and gives a baseline.
"I've got Noonan, Miller's first book, and Line's Big Book. Is there any
"reason for me to buy Miller's new book? I'd have to mail order it; I
"can't leaf through it in the store to see if I like it. )-:

I have just gotten his new book, "The Complete Handbook of Home
Brewing". I find that the emphasis is right (of 31 chapters, 3 are on
extracts), but the focus is fuzzy. It is a useful book, but even taken
with Noonan, I still don't feel like I've got a complete picture. I'll
write more about it below.

"> I don't usually worry about percentage efficiency for this reason. I do look
"> at my extract per pound of grist per gallon of water. As my technique has
"> become more refined, the numbers keep creeping up. For recipe formation,
"> I used to just lump everything but any black grains together and figure
"> 1.030 per pound per gallon.... Lately I've been getting 1.032 out of beers
"> with no dark grain.
"I get 1.030. After reading the initial posting I got out Noonan's book
"and figured that this was .65 pounds per pound of malt: 65%. I hadn't

You are correct, and perhaps I'm the one who didn't understand what was
going on. I was looking at table 20, pp 179-180, which give the
extract efficiency numbers and a specific gravity figure. Under the
table, Noonan says that "the quoted extract potentials ... are maximum
yields possible". So I assumed that these were 100% numbers. But
these must be from his experience or from other homebrewing sources
because I'm getting 1.032+ from a mixed mash of 2 row and crystal
malts, which certainly implies >1.032 per lb. per gal. (Noonan's
number for infusion) for 2 row alone.

In any event, I now see even less use for the extract efficiency number
since I get the same kind of information from sg lb/gal, and it is of
use to me when designing a recipe.

"extract per gallon. But mostly (pet peeve) his formulas are written
"like IRS forms. What brain dead editor thinks that persons who buy
"a book this technical can't deal with simple formulas expressed in
"algebraic terms? He gives a formula for computing the volume of a
"cylinder that's 8 or so lines long! ("Multiply line 3 by 3.14" etc.)

Yes, well, Noonan is not a complete handbook, but I do like the sharp
focus he has. If you don't like decoction, at least you know what you
have to filter out. In Dave Miller's tCHoHB (sure looks a lot like
tCJoHB!), he has a number of bugaboos and writes them as if they were
law. He still doesn't like iodine, for example, prefering to rely on
having carried on the mash long enough. He also still likes the grain
bag sparging method, and I don't recall him even mentioning the picnic
cooler/copper manifold setup. His water examples are pretty parochial,
and the only real life example is his own St. Louis water, which is
very strange stuff (pH 9.5!). On the other hand, his recipes look very
good, and a lot of the discussion is very detailed and interesting.
The book is more frustrating than Noonan because you aren't as certain
about his biases.

">Don't you find it interesting that most books (Dave Line, Greg Noonan, and now
">Dave Miller) mention to check for conversion after an hour? I, too, get quick

{I should mention that Dave Miller's new book doesn't recommend a starch
check, he just supplies a schedule and you can hope that you'll be done
on time.}

">conversions. Sometimes I have gotten a negative response within 10 minutes
">of achieving saccharification temperatures.
"Me too. Though of course I leave it longer to get that maltose I need.
"Miller's first book said don't use this test since husks can react and give
"a false positive reading. I do the test (it's trivial to do) but I
"consider it worthless. :-)

Then you and Dave will get along here well. I find that the iodine check is
very interesting to watch as conversion nears completion. The time it takes
for the iodine to produce a reaction indicates the starch level left and
as it asymptotically approaches 0, I get an idea of how much further to go.

"Did I compute this wrong? I computed 1.030 as .65 lb extract / 1 lb malt, which
"is far lower than the .80 Noonan says I should get. My reading of his
"book is that you're getting in the high 60s, nowhere near 80.

You are looking at Noonan's decoction number, for infusion he quotes
70%. (Are you doing decoction?)

"Noonan's book reads like it came from industry sources. Their extracts have
"got to be better than ours: better equipment and procedures, and more
"incentive, too. I don't really care if I throw a little sugar out with
"the spent grain.

As far as Noonan's plaint that the lauter tun should be deep, my
microbiologist friends say that they use very long columns to filter
protiens and DNA. But they are also interested in getting the most out
of the minute quantities produced. A deep filter bed will eventually
pack under its own weight, so a compromise is needed. I would like to
get more extract if I could, but based on what recipes I see go by in
zymurgy, I'm getting a better return than 7/8s of the brewers out
there. That's what prompted me to look at when I was ending my
sparge. I was concerned that perhaps a lot of the sg efficiency I
was getting was in fact pulling tanins from the husks. But I don't
think so, and my beer doesn't taste so.

Anyway, to get back to the original issue, getting 1.030 sg/lb./gal.
seems to be above average in homebrewing circles and is nothing to
be worried about.

--Darryl Richman

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