Updated: Apr 3
How to measure Brewhouse Efficiency, Efficiently
Brewhouse efficiency is arguably the #1 metric of brewhouse performance.
It's a true reflection of process control from malt intake to casting out. There is also a direct cost saving and carbon emission saving impact of having a strong brewhouse efficiency.
In the essence of efficiency lets get straight into it.
Brewhouse Efficiency (%) = (Total Extract from Brewhouse/Extract Received in malt) * 100
Results can range from 60-100+% depending on entrenched reasons like:
Mash & Separation Technology
Style of beer
'Quality' of malt
But there are many many more actionable reasons such as
As with all brewing there are many ways in which to generate a result. In this article I will be discussing just one way of measuring your brewhouse efficiency.
The purpose of this article is to give you a usable Brewhouse Efficiency Calculator and enough understanding to use it.
If you already measure it, this article could help you better understand how it is calculated and offer good tips to get more consistent, reliable and accurate results.
"What Are The Course Materials Sir"?
5) A Spreadsheet to record results (a strongly advised optional extra)
Malt Certificate of Analysis (COA)
Every batch of malt should come with a Certificate of Analysis (COA) (Preferably electronically). Either way you will receive one looking like this one supplied by Paul’s Malt for their Pale Malt called Pale Whale.
There are some really good materials available on how to understand the full COA. This post will not be one of them. But they will be supplied at the end for further understanding.
There are three popular sets of standards used to ensure malt analysis is consistent. They are:
IOB - Institute of Brewing - United Kingdom
EBC - European Brewing Chemists - Europe
ASBC - American Society of Brewing Chemists - United States
Pauls Malt are a UK malting company and therefore use the IOB set of standards.
The IOB analysis craft brewers are looking for in relation to extract is the ‘IOB Extract 0.7mm’ which refers to the 'grind size' used to break up the malt for the test. Unless using a hammer mill your milled malt will be closer to that of the 0.7mm than that of the 0.2mm you can also see on the COA.
"Wow. Interesting. So I am not using all UK malt and have a % next to my extract value?"
In the calculator provided it can receive either IOB, EBC and ASBC extract values. (although no difference in calculation is made between EBC and ASBC)
So when you come to use the calculator provided later on you select % and input the data there. Easy.
Dry vs as-is basis
You will see one or both on your COA.
Dry basis means the malt sample used has been dried prior to testing.
But for the purpose of Brew House Efficiency we are only concerned with ‘as-is’ basis because this is what best represents the malt we have in the brewery.
"Oh crumbs, my COA only has ‘dry basis'"
Fear not. Its quick and easy to get the as-is extract we need.
as-is = ‘dry basis value’ * (1-‘moisture content %’)
Now of course you will need the exact quantity of each of the malts you have used in this batch.
A Few points to keep in mind
Plato vs Specific Gravity. An actual personal favourite topic of mine. I am in team plato. HMU if you wanna know why.
If you are adding water at any stage this will not affect your brewhouse efficiency as dilution of gravity is directly proportional to the additional volume
(AS LONG as you are not using a gravity reading pre-dilution and a reading of volume post dilution. But no one is that sinister, right?)
Yeast should not be included in the gravity/volume therefore gravity sample should be taken prior to yeast and volume recorded prior too.
Pick a sample location and stick to it. Sample locations should reflect the intention of the result. In this case, we want the location that represents the final stage of wort during or prior to filling the fermenter so we can get an honest reflection of brewhouse performance. (The wort line is a great sample location)
If this is not possible then try to analyse your process and find the most representative of the final stage of wort where it is the most homogenous
Consistency is key if you want to learn off your results.
So this is pretty simple. How much wort (in hectolitres) has been collected into the fermenter. But the question is how to measure it.
If you blessed with a flow meter to count the quantity of wort for you.
Excellent. Just remember consistency of when and how you record the wort quantity is equally important as the accuracy of the flow meter.
Consistency is key if you want to learn off your results.
If you do not have a flow meter. Whilst inconvenient, there are many, many ways you can count your wort quantity. Please contact us directly if you need help with this, completely free advice will be offered!
"Can I FINALLY use the calculator now?!"
Yes yes its now time for action.
With your COA’s, malt quantities, wort gravity and wort quantity in hand. Plug the numbers in here and see what you get
Once you have a result, come back to find out what to do with it
Happy with your result?
Congratulations! Would you like to compare it a moving industry standard and also with breweries of a similar size?
Not happy with your result?
Ok so this is where Brew Resourceful can help. If you think your result is low please get in contact with us and lets see how we can save your brewery money, reduce its carbon emissions and motivate the team by increasing your brew house efficiency.
Ok now what do I do with the result?
Happy or not, its now super important you record the result in a digital format (not on paper).
Open up a spreadsheet, set some appropriate table headers and go.
One result (good or bad) does not reflect your brewhouse performance other than that of the one batch.
Don't be take a good result and think 'ok well this is not a problem' and move on.
You must generate more results by tracking more batches for brewhouse efficiency.
Once a data pool has started to build you must analyse the results. Analysing data is the purpose of generating data. There are many statistical analysis you can do to identify areas in which you could increase brewhouse efficiency. Final Brew Resourceful plug incoming. . .
We have extensive experience in collecting, recording, analysing and creating actions in breweries of every size. And every brewery should be doing their upmost to improve brewhouse efficiency.
Why not see if we can help?