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Old 05-31-2012, 02:17 PM   #1
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Default "Watering" down beer at bottling?

I really have no intent on doing this, it just popped into my mind while playing with BeerSmith this morning. Let's say one really needed to make more than five gallons for an event, occasion, etc. They only have room, equipment, etc. for a single five gallon setup. The recipe is made up to make a beer with say 1.086 OG. They choose a yeast based on great attenuation of high gravity beers. The beer ferments out to maybe 1.011 and they get ready to bottle. Now, since they need more than five gallons, but couldn't do a larger batch, they add water to the bottling bucket.....two gallons with the priming sugar and 2.5 gallons of the high gravity beer, and then do the same with the other half to come up with nine gallons from a five gallon brew day.

Would this result in terrible beer, ok beer, beer? Inquiring minds want to know.

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Old 05-31-2012, 02:35 PM   #2
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If I recall correctly alot of the big BMC type breweries do this to maximize product output without increasing the primary fermenting vessel.

On a homebrew scale Im not sure about the maximum amount of dilution you can use, your example is talking about almost doubling your batch size. I would say that if you added up to 25% you would be fine without the beer tasting ‘watered down’. But you have to look at other things than just gravity – IBUs, color, etc.

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Old 06-01-2012, 08:50 AM   #3
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If the intention is to double (or at least increase by some factor, say, 1.5x ??) the output of the fermenter, then perhaps you could mash/steep (not sure of proper terms here, as I'm currently an extract-only brewer) some rice, corn, oats, or wheat in another kettle with 5 gallon of water.

Let that cool, then mix 50/50 (or 75/25, whatever) in the bottling bucket.

I started a thread about how BMC brewed such consistent beers. Consistent process + Reliable Taste Testers + Rice Adjuncts + Lots of Water + Blending the Off Batches = BMC CONSISTENCY

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Old 06-01-2012, 03:41 PM   #4
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If the intention is to double (or at least increase by some factor, say, 1.5x ??) the output of the fermenter.
Yeah, I was basically saying you brew a 10 gallons recipe with just five gallons of water (say 5.5) in the fermenter, and then add the other five gallons of water at bottling. Why would that not be feasible?
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:10 PM   #5
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One potential issue is that a high gravity beer has a little different fermentation characteristics. Some yeast cant handle the high alcohol. It could take longer for the beer to mellow (but then again maybe if you dilute it after fermentation that could be perceived as mellowing).

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Old 06-01-2012, 04:16 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by befus View Post
I really have no intent on doing this, it just popped into my mind while playing with BeerSmith this morning. Let's say one really needed to make more than five gallons for an event, occasion, etc. They only have room, equipment, etc. for a single five gallon setup. The recipe is made up to make a beer with say 1.086 OG. They choose a yeast based on great attenuation of high gravity beers. The beer ferments out to maybe 1.011 and they get ready to bottle. Now, since they need more than five gallons, but couldn't do a larger batch, they add water to the bottling bucket.....two gallons with the priming sugar and 2.5 gallons of the high gravity beer, and then do the same with the other half to come up with nine gallons from a five gallon brew day.

Would this result in terrible beer, ok beer, beer? Inquiring minds want to know.
1.086 down to 1.011 sounds like cheap malt liquor with lots of corn or rice. And then you would be at 1.006 after dilution. Right?
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Old 06-01-2012, 04:29 PM   #7
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1.086 down to 1.011 sounds like cheap malt liquor with lots of corn or rice. And then you would be at 1.006 after dilution. Right?
right, but that's 1.006 from an equivalent 1.043.

5 gallons of 1.086 --> 1.012 = ~8% ABV

10 gallons of 1.046 --> 1.006 = 4% ABV.
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Old 06-02-2012, 12:24 AM   #8
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As KPR noted, this is something that the big boys do to increase output.

You need to ensure your initial beer is balanced when diluted to the larger volume (IBUs, sweet malts, FG, etc).

The other issue is that you really need to control the fermentation temperature and keep it as low as you can for the yeast to work. Big beers are more prone to produce higher alcohols, that are part of the profile, but would be very harsh in a 'thinner' beer. Also, higher gravity beers create a disproportionate amount of esters (yeast flavors) that would make a 'thinner' beer taste strange. From everything I have read, if you double the OG, you get 4X the esters, so when you dilute the beer you get more than you would with a standard beer. If making a fruity Belgian you might prefer it, but for Pale Ales, it is just going to be out of place.

I have thought of doing it for a Belgian, fermenting high, to try and get more yeast flavors in a smaller beer, but haven't tried it yet.

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Old 06-05-2012, 12:03 AM   #9
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i've also read you have to do something to the water you add or it'll oxidize the brew... boil and cool it maybe? i don't actually know though

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Old 06-05-2012, 01:26 PM   #10
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i've also read you have to do something to the water you add or it'll oxidize the brew... boil and cool it maybe? i don't actually know though
That seems like the number one reason to avoid this all together. It sounds like you would need to pump nitrogen into the water.
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