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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > General Techniques > Seeking a lower FG. How?
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Old 09-26-2012, 05:58 PM   #11
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But the real genesis of this question has come from long days at the office, hanging out on Hopville. It seems like, no matter what combination of ingredients or yeast that I use, I never see expected final gravities of less than about 1.018. So really, this is all theory for me right now; I'm just deathly curious! Maybe I'm just looking at bad algorithms? Most recently, I've been trying to make a ridiculously huge (OG 1.100 or better) Russian Imperial Stout on there for fun. Deschutes claims that The Abyss drops from target OG of 1.100 to target FG of 1.019 or so. The closest I can get to that, even with ridiculous grain bills, is about 1.025.
Calculators really don't take any account of fermentability for the most part. For example, I use Brewtarget, and it lists S-05's attenuation at 75% (IE a 1.060 beer will go down to 1.015). Every singe time I've used it, it always has a higher degree of attenuation and usually finishes around 1.010. I just account for that when coming up with recipes.
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Old 09-26-2012, 06:41 PM   #12
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Recipe factors: Old extract or generally poor quality extract will likely not ferment as much as it should - check the specs from the manufacturer for things like "% solids" and "expected yield" (often listed a dry/fine yield). Adding crystal malts (or in general any non-roasty steeping malts without a proper mash) will raise your FG, so avoid these. Dextrose, sucrose, honey and candi sugar can help lower your FG. Switch to more attenuative yeasts and use starters to boost the fermentation.

Technique factors: Switching to BIAB or another all-grain method will let you control your mash temps lower to produce a much more fermentable wort (the switch can be considerably less painful equipment-wise and process-wise if you reduce your batch size for your all-grain experiments - that way you can use your normal BK - if it comes out better than before, then you can justify some more investment). Cooling down your ferment a bit, and giving it more time can help things ferment more completely (especially if you're adding your simple sugars mid-ferment). Adding proper yeast nutrients and energizers can make a HUGE difference if your ferments are not completing in a reasonable amount of time. In general, give it more time in primary and more time in secondary/conditioning - even if your airlock isn't popping, your yeast is still working a bit (unless you kill it with heat, excessive alcohol, or chemical additives) and it will continue to push through what sugars remain until one of those conditions is met to kill it.

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Old 09-27-2012, 01:21 PM   #13
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Link away if I failed in my search duties, but I didn't find anything on point when I tried

Every batch that I've brewed up thus far has had a final gravity of around 1.018-1.020, fine for the recipes (it's what they called for) and all that, but when I play around in brew calculators, I am absolutely unable to concoct a recipe that says it'll come out any less than about 1.020. I've been itching to do a really dry something lately, and this is really bothering me. So far, I know how to raise FG! And I also know that adding überfermentables is one way to help lower it relative to OG, but I don't think that those are supposed to account for 30%+ of the total bill.

That said, I have read little comments and notions that extract brewing (to which I am currently limited) is simply not able to reach such low gravities, and that the key to them lies in mashing in a particular way, which extract brewers of course have no control over. Is that true? Or am I missing something else? If so, what? It seems that most guides and commentary on brewing just sort of gloss over how to come to a target FG, and just tell you how to measure it and then calculate ABV.

Anyway, cheers! Appreciate the help
Why are you limited to extracts? Have you read anything about BIAB? (brew in a bag) You can do all grain brews with pretty much the same equipment as your extract and have all the control of all grain. I brewed an Irish red that had a final gravity of 1.002 by controlling my mash temperature.
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Old 09-27-2012, 03:13 PM   #14
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Ok, to answer a few of the more common questions y'all have:

-I live in a reasonably small town and we really only have one local shop. I buy most of my ingredients there, largely for cost purposes after shipping. I honestly don't know how fresh their stuff is. The owners of the shop have a brewpub next door, so I'd like to think that their stuff is fresh. It certainly brews into tasty enough beer.
-Yeasts I've used so far have been Wyeast American Ale (1056) and Weihenstephan (3068), and Nottingham dry. Not a lot of variety so far, but that's what I've got. I've been using starters since starting with Wyeast yeast, and fermentation at least looks great and vigorous. Wort gets oxygenated with a sintered stone, as well.
-Shortest fermentation period I've used was two weeks, I believe? With the Nottingham. Longest was close to six weeks, as I dry hopped in primary.
-Generally, my FG comes out at the top end of whatever a calculator says that it should. Bear in mind, I'm not displeased of anything; I'm just trying to find the secret to a really good low FG brew!
-As for being limited to extract, I'm a law student. I lack both funds and space. Frankly, I could probably find enough of a budget to jump to all-grain using two 10 gallon coolers, but I'm seriously lacking in a place to keep them when not in use, and would have a difficult time setting them up for a proper sparge on brew day. Add to that the very real possibility of an interstate move over the summer and I'm just not ready to go there. Yet. (As for BIAB, I'd like to jump straight to the end game, but I might do that in the interim; I just haven't yet. Controlling temps is my only major concern there.)
-On fermentation temps: I can control them well enough to keep an ale yeast in ale territory, for the most part. My last brew, utilizing Wyeast 3068, spiked on day one at around 73ºF for an unknown period of time and quickly got itself a towel bath. Fermentation finished at around 68º for the following three weeks.

How'm I doing?

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Old 09-27-2012, 03:19 PM   #15
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Have you calibrated your hydrometer?

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Old 09-27-2012, 03:24 PM   #16
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Have you calibrated your hydrometer?
Yes, lots of good input here to consider but this is the one I was thinking. One I had was off by 3 points (for example 1.013 was actually 1.010).
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Old 09-27-2012, 04:46 PM   #17
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-As for being limited to extract, I'm a law student. I lack both funds and space.

(As for BIAB, I'd like to jump straight to the end game, but I might do that in the interim; I just haven't yet. Controlling temps is my only major concern there.)

How'm I doing?
you're doing good.

BIAB all grain will actually cost you less than extract brewing. What size brew pot are you using? A 5 gallon paint strainer bag will work on pots up to about 5 gallons and allow you to mash effectively. Temp contol is pretty easy when you're doing it in a pot on the stove. When it starts to cool just fire up the burner again. You may not need any additional equipment other than the bag to move to 3-4 gallon all grain batches.
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Old 09-27-2012, 11:17 PM   #18
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Have you calibrated your hydrometer?
I'm actually not sure how to do that. I did test it out on some distilled water when I first started; it read one point high at that time.

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you're doing good.

BIAB all grain will actually cost you less than extract brewing. What size brew pot are you using? A 5 gallon paint strainer bag will work on pots up to about 5 gallons and allow you to mash effectively. Temp contol is pretty easy when you're doing it in a pot on the stove. When it starts to cool just fire up the burner again. You may not need any additional equipment other than the bag to move to 3-4 gallon all grain batches.
From what I know about BIAB, I could move to it; I'm set up with an eight gallon kettle for full boils. I can't get that up to mashing temps on my stove, however; it's a rather pitiful electric range. But then again, I do have a propane burner... maybe I should just give it a shot. I know it's less expensive on a per-batch basis...
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Old 09-27-2012, 11:26 PM   #19
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I'm actually not sure how to do that. I did test it out on some distilled water when I first started; it read one point high at that time.
.
They can change over time...try it again.

http://www.byo.com/stories/projects-...ter-techniques

and

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/cali...people-350118/
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Old 09-27-2012, 11:48 PM   #20
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I'm actually not sure how to do that. I did test it out on some distilled water when I first started; it read one point high at that time.


From what I know about BIAB, I could move to it; I'm set up with an eight gallon kettle for full boils. I can't get that up to mashing temps on my stove, however; it's a rather pitiful electric range. But then again, I do have a propane burner... maybe I should just give it a shot. I know it's less expensive on a per-batch basis...
Start your all grain journey by doing a BIAB half size batch. You should be able to boil the 3 gallons that you would start with on your stove. Your start up costs would be a pair of paint strainer bags (they come 2 per package) for under $5. That's it. If you want to spend more and get perhaps better efficiency you could add a grain mill. I use a Corona style mill, set it to grind as fine as it will and normally get about 80% efficiency. If you want to avoid that cost initially, ask your LHBS to run the grains through their crusher twice and your efficiency will be near that.
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