Go Figure

I have a degree in engineering.  Electrical engineering.  As an old colleague once said, “you can’t spell geek without an EE”.  I take that comment as a point of pride, actually.

Which brings us to the topic of coming up with brewing recipes, and more specifically deciding how  much grain and water and hops we need. I started brewing in 1997, when books, recipes, and resources were a lot more limited than they are today. This was the early days of the world wide web, and although homebrew geeks were early adopters, information was still limited. I had a homebrewing book by Dave Miller that was full of technical data, but still just a fraction of the information that can be found today with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Of course it wasn’t too long after that homebrewing software for the computer became available.  And it wasn’t long before I ran across ProMash, and boy was I hooked (see the first paragraph for clues as to why).  It was eminently customizable, and had enough bells and whistles to confuse all but the most dedicated home brewer.  You could create recipes, choose your IBU calculation method, edit water profiles, calculate water needs, deisgn multi step mashes, calculate efficiencies, carbonate your beer, and more. It was, and still can be, a useful brewing tool.

But one thing ProMash doesn’t do is help you calculate what your brewhouse efficiency will be.  Sure, you can enter a number for efficiency, but that never seemed to go too well.  I would enter 75% and actually get 68%.  Next time I would use 68% and get 74%.  Maybe I would try 72% and that was a workable average, but this whole thing seemed like too much guessing.

Then about a year or so ago I heard a discussion of brewhouse efficiency by Kai Troester of BrauKaiser on Basic Brewing Radio.  Lights went on in my head.  Brewhouse efficiency didn’t have to be a guessing game.  But it was time to do some cipherin’…

I will follow with a series of posts that I hope will clearly explain how I calculate my expected efficiency.  I hope you find them useful.

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