The more and more I brew the better and better I try to get at my efficiency. The first couple of batches I was plugging away into brewing calculators and getting amazing potential gravities from my recipes. The only problem was every calculator I was using was thinking I was getting 80% efficiency. As I failed to hit the ABV I wanted I read more and more on honing in on your brew setups efficiency.
One thing to check out is the °Lintner or Diastatic Power of your grain bill. Lintner and Diastatic power both translate to the ability of your malts to convert starch into sweet-sweet sugar (maltose!). They need a minimum of 35 °Lintner to properly convert your starches.
This is where you need to make sure you check the Diastatic Power of your TOTAL grain bill. If you’re using some type of malt that has less than 35 °Lintner then it’s affecting the overall total of your Diastatic Power. If you’re getting poor efficiency on some brews vs others this could be a big reason why. This is why there are so many typical base malts. They contain the Diastatic Power you need to convert your starches to sugar.
It’s also another reason why barley is so heavily used in beers. It’s just got what it takes to get things going. I recently mashed some Malted Millet from CMC all by it’s lonesome. While I did get some conversion out of it the amount of sugar I got for 5 pounds of grain was only 1.017. HARDLY FERMENTABLE! I guess that’s why there is Sorghum syrup.