Hopeeyedidntfuckitup Ale Investigation Into How I Effed it Up
The title explains it all; I was expecting the brew to come out around 7.9% ABV, at which point I would be getting close to the ball park of being able to bottle age this batch. However, with a measured output of 5.1% I came up quite short. I figured the best way to go about this was to assume complete fermentation, and look at my specialty grain conversion. I never knew what my conversion efficiency was, so I figured I would investigate this. As it turns out, I was about as efficient as a class A amplifier.
Using Palmer’s book I was able to reference what an ideal, and 85% efficiency conversion would have outputted for the grains I steeped. I used these numbers to compare my measured output to, learning how good my conversion was. Keep in mind, I used liquid malt extract as part of the recipe, and this should be considered 100% efficient. I then worked backwards, using my measured original gravity, I subtracted the portion which the LME contributed, and then got how much my steeped specialty grains contributed. From here I was able to divide this by the theoretical maximum and get a pretty good estimation of my efficiency. I threw this into Excel to make it easier for the future batches.
Conclusions: My conversion was about as good as Miller Lite is when compared to Burton Baton. I will leave it to your imagination to guess what that means. The next step is to figure out what I did poorly. The first look brings me to this: pH. As a general rule of thumb, one wants a ratio greater than 1.0 of lbs of grain per gallons of extraction water. I was under this, which could cause bad conversion. Additionally, to avoid excess tannins I only steeped the grains for 30 minutes. So on the next go round I will add 40% more grain, and I will steep it for about 60 minutes. This should bring the efficiency up to better than tube amp status, and provide more grains to make my goal of around 9-11%.