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Jun 08, 2022 View:

Different efficiency standards for industry distillers

I've been wrestling with figuring out how efficient we are being on our mash/ferment/strips. According to your average home brew calculator we are doing really well, but compared to industry standards we are doing really poorly.

Right now we are getting about 65 pg on the strip from 1280lbs of grain (flaked corn, 6 row malt, and rye), which breaks down to about 2.8 proof gallons/bushel. We get about 1.085-90 OSG and it goes down to around 1.017-18 over 5-7 days. I know that major producers are getting almost twice as much (5 pg/bushel).

I've played with longer cook times and different rests along the way and different amounts of alpha-amylase at different stages, played with different pitch temperatures for the yeast (using DADY). The owners are hesitant to spend money on beta amylase or any other enzymes (they were home brewers for a long time and don't see any problem with the yields we are getting. But I think we can do a lot better). I would play with yeasts but at this point I would be concerned about altering the flavor too much.

1)Does anyone have any insights on what a high efficiency would be in terms of proof gallons/bushel for a small distillery?

2) Has anyone played with using an alpha-amylase for the liquification step then cooling and adding a beta-amylase for further saccrification? Does this make a major difference?

3) Any ideas on why there seems to be such a large discrepancy between what home brewers would consider an efficient mash and what industrial spirit manufactures are getting? (besides the lack of demand for 12.5% beer and the lesser consideration for final taste of the beer in a distillery. Im wondering about specific process differences that explain the difference in yields).

Forgive me if this is already posted somewhere or if its not entirely clear.



Seems to me your OG is way high. Probably take 30 days to go dry assuming you can keep pH in check. I might suggest shooting for an OG of 1060ish and shoot for a FG of 0. As it is you're leaving around 2% potential ABV in the mash. We always use two enzymes in the way you mention (and beta gluc if rye).


Exactly when are you adding your enzymes and at what temp?


How many gallon beer for you OG?

Regardless, add some beta on the way down


Ditto. Try doing a mash at 1.070. I use Sebstar HTL (high temp alpha amylase) during mashing to address gelatinization and about 80 grams of cheap bsg alpha amylase per 1000L pre inoculation.

Goferm to rehydrate distilamax gw, and a half-dose of fermaid K after lag phase just to be sure that there's enough nitrogen.

You didn't mention your mash volume, but a very smart person told me that you should expect 1/9th of your mash volume as finished 125 proof whiskey and that has rang true empirically for me at 1.068-1.070.

I'm thinking that there's three possible reasons that you're not finaling out lower than you are:

1) your yeast can't handle the high gravity and go dormant early because they are polluting their substrate

2) your mashes are getting infected and ph drops below 3.5 at the gravity you mentioned (possibly because the high sugar is such an inviting environment for other microbes?)

3) Your materials contain non-fermentable sugars, or components that completely dissolve which obscures your original gravity readings.

Looking forward to hearing that you solved the issue!


I think you'll find a better product if you shoot for an 8% ABV. Should reduce heads as well. Double-check your pH is appropriate for your enzymes. I love Sebstar HTL but its pH range is stupid narrow.


Thanks for all the feed back. I will definitely try shooting for a lower OG and seeing if I can get a dry ferment. Should I still expect a 5-7 day ferment?

Exactly when are you adding your enzymes and at what temp?


Making some assumptions, estimates and doing it in my head closely match yours...56 lbs of rye at ~1.5 pounds per gallon mash equals ~37 gallons of mash, at 8% equals 2.9 pg potential/no cuts.

2,200 lbs at 1.5 per gallon is 1,466 gallons on mash, again assuming 8% equals 117pg...117 pg to liters equals 442ltrs...

I think your tonne/lter/gallon conversion is off...

So assuming the 350ltrs from a metric tonne...350 proof liters is 92 pg so their mash is only yielding ~6.2%

For an industrial operation the 6.2% sounds closer to reality.


So assuming the 350ltrs from a metric tonne...350 proof liters is 92 pg so their mash is only yielding ~6.2%

For an industrial operation the 6.2% sounds closer to reality.


Well I said from my head and was off

From TTB Pub 86-4

1. Number of Liters of Absolute Alcohol at 20 °C X 0.52589 = Number of U.S. Proof Gallons

350 x .52589= 184 pg

1466 x .126 =184.7 pg

So their mash is at least 12.6% and assuming they don't get every drop out of it maybe more like 14%. I don't see industrial distiller waiting that long for a ferment. The last few percent would double the time.


Heyoo Zwithers,

I was reading this and realized that we needed to get you a good answer. I might recommend looking at this topic and seeing some of the stuff written.

To address your particular questions though here we go.

Considering your current mash bill, you should be able to get away with a medium temperature mashing style. Bring temps into the 145-165 range with a medium temperature alpha-amylase and that should burn through the starch converting it into dextrins fairly quickly.

In this mash your flaked corn has been gelatinized/ modified to an extent, so the starch should be easily accessible. Malted barley is also pre-modified and should gelatinize easily. The raw rye might not fully breakdown without the warmer temperatures of 160-170 F and a beta-glucanase enzyme though.

That being said, I do not see much of a Saccharification enzyme in there except for the 6 row malt providing a beta-amylase. You should look into supplementing with additional beta-amylase (or fungal alpha-amylase) or a glucoamylase to assist in the degradation of dextrins into fermentable sugars. *More detail in that linked post

Glucoamylase is what most industrial manufacturers use. That or a combination including glucoamylase. It is a wonderful enzyme that will break down every sugar it comes across into glucose. It also has side alpha-1,6 activity which will break previously unfermentable sugars down as well (has to do with the structure of amylopectin chains). Beta-amylase or fungal alpha-amylase (functionally similar) will work to supplement the beta-amylase that is being provided by the 6-row malt. It is a good enzyme that can be found at enzyme providers but is a bit more expensive.

Enzyme Providers: Specialty Enzymes, Gusmer Enterprises (Novozymes), BSG (Kerry Enzymes), White Labs (DSM), and more…

As for your OG, I think you can ferment that well enough with your yeast and a good nutrient program. But, as others have mentioned, you might have to deal with longer fermentations. Are you adding additional nutrients throughout the fermentation? What are you using currently to feed the yeast? Flaked corn is seriously deficient in nutrients…

“Mcsology” Had some good recommendations.

Best of luck!