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Old 08-21-2010, 09:17 PM   #1
alanwelam
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Default Lacking body

Lacking body in my beer... here are a few particulars to my style that might contribute, but not sure.

1. I pull the specialty grains that i've steeped out of the brewpot; try to squeeze all the water I can out of them, but sometimes it's just difficult.
2. I start to heat the water as I dissolve my DME
3. I brew the wort, and dillute up to 5 gallons, I do not just use 5 gallons of water to start with and stick with that.

Maybe these are mistakes? not sure, I haven't had anyone to help brew, own the book "How to Brew" by John J. Palmer as my brew partner.

I've never had the OG start out at whatever has been recommended. I think next time I will add water until my OG reaches the starting OG per the recipe I use. each time i've brewed a dark beer, and they just seem watered down as far as body goes. flavor is usually right where I want it, but not body.

If this topic is somewhere else, I apologize. I wasn't sure where to look, but didn't initially see a thread with this topic.

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Old 08-22-2010, 12:27 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alanwelam View Post
I brew the wort, and dillute up to 5 gallons,

I've never had the OG start out at whatever has been recommended. I think next time I will add water until my OG reaches the starting OG per the recipe I use.
I think you pretty much identified the problem and found your solution. You shouldn't be topping off with water just for the sake of getting 5 gallons, even if that is what's expected. If your gravity is a little low before you start adding water you're only going to dilute it even more by topping up all the way to 5 gallons. So, ideally you'll add just enough water to get you to the recipe's target gravity, which may sometimes be less or more than 5 gallons exactly. You may not have as much beer, but it should taste as it was intended if the gravity is correct.

One more tip. You really shouldn't squeeze your specialty grains. I know there's some debate about this, but by doing so you increase the chance of getting excessive tannins. You shouldn't have to squeeze them and just letting them drain naturally for a few minutes is fine. Relatively speaking, very few gravity points are coming from the specialty grains in an extract recipe anyway, so getting every drop out of them isn't going to really help your OG issue.

Also, what are your final gravity readings like and what yeast are you using? If you're using high attenuating yeast they can often finish pretty dry as it is leaving fewer sugars behind to give the beer a little extra body. So you can also try using different yeast.
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Old 08-22-2010, 12:39 AM   #3
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IMO body is a tricky thing. What's your reference point? In other words, what beer has a great body that you're trying to mimic. It could be a high FG you're after, or maybe something else...

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Old 08-22-2010, 01:21 AM   #4
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I agree with KSBrain. you need to determine what characteristics you are looking for... define "body".

1. mouthfeel can be improved with dextrine.
2. perhaps you recipes are session beers (low OG). I did a 1.032 for my second batch and felt it was very "thin".

Keep experimenting... that is the fun of the hobby. Try another style. I didn't like my 60 schil scottish, but love my belgian ale.

My opinion: don't worry about the squeezing steeping grain thing.

Missed OG: extracts are notorious for inaccurate OG measurements when it is a partial boil. There are many posts with the theory that the wort and top off water aren't mixed enough to ensure the sample taken is an even mixture of malt and water. If the recipe calls for 5 gallons that is what I would do. The same thing has happened to me.

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Old 08-22-2010, 07:25 PM   #5
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My next brew planned is a Double Chocolate Stout, similar to Rouge or Yeti. Want the beer to have the "body" of that style. I've ended up with the dark color of the stouts, but the body of a Newcastle. All my buddies really enjoy my dark brews at that point, because it doesn't have the same thick body of a dark beer, but the taste is there. Doesn't help when I'm the one drinking too... want to get it right.

FG is always low.. starting low, ending low. I'm getting the appropriate difference between the OG and FG, but I'm trying to aim for a higher OG with my next batch to hopefully improve the FG. I like the yeast that i've been using lately because it still allows me to reach the higher alcohol content. I don't want to sacrifice the alcohol content in order to have the body i'm seeking. Hoping to have the best of both worlds, and i know the solution is out there somewhere.

JBmadtown... in reference to your final comment, are you saying i should just stick with 5 gallons to start with or add up to the 5 gallon mark in my bucket regardless of the amount of water? That would fit in line with what Marubozo mentioned as well. Want to make sure i'm on the same page with all the comments unless i've found myself amongst another one of the great brewing debates.

Hoping to have an extremely high OG for the next batch. dissappointed that I will have to add dextrine or something along those lines as it means there is something I'm not doing correctly to start with.

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Old 08-22-2010, 07:42 PM   #6
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High or lower OG doesn't really matter- I can have a very low OG on a beer that can be very "thick" because of the ingredients! Body is something that is usually a result of the ingredients and/or mashing temperature, not necessarily the amount of fermentables. In fact, a Belgian triple is usually a very high OG beer, but it's a very thin drinkable beer. Some ingredients, like simple sugars, will give a drier finish and typically a thin beer, while some ingredients like crystal malt will give a fuller finish.

Can you give a typical recipe in which you were disappointed with the body, along with OG and FG? There are several ingredients that can give a perception of body, and we can help you nail the perfect recipe for you. In a recipe that you've already done, we can see what it is you are tasting, and know the type of body you're dealing with.

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Old 08-23-2010, 02:17 AM   #7
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1+ on Yooper's response

If a recipe calls for 5 gallons usually that is the volume of wort at the time of pitching yeast. You will see some other people adjusting for dry hopping or other factors, but in general you add water to a total of 5 gallons at the end.

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Old 08-23-2010, 06:48 AM   #8
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Yooper,

Here was the last brew:
Cherry Stout
6lbs dark malt extract
1 bag with (not sure of amounts)
black patent malt
crystal malt - 60L
roasted barley malt
1 1/4 oz Brewers gold pellets
1/2 oz amarillo whole hops
3oz cherry extract
Yeast: windsor

starting gravity should have been around 1.061 +/-. my starting gravity was 1.048, 1.049 adjusted for temp. after 6 days at a temp of 68*, i had a gravity of 1.014 at 68*. expected FG of 1.013-1.020

brewed an Irish dry stout, with starting gravity should have been at 1.071, but it was actually 1.050. finished at 1.011, should have been between 1.014 and 1.022
irish dry stout recipe:
7lbs dark malt extract
1 piece of licorice
1 bag with specialty malts:
black patent malt
flaked barley
roasted barley
2 1/2 brewers gold pellets
Yeast: white labs WLP004 (windsor again?)

So i guess i've had a great selection of yeast... each of these brews ended up where the final gravity should have been per the recipe. Should I have expected final gravity to be lower if the starting gravity was lower? I tend to think that either I don't have the same amounts of fermentables as the recipe is aiming for after the steeping or dissolving, or my yeast isn't as active. I start lower and end up at the right spot.

each one was disappointing though, and they were both about the same in terms of body. I guess this is almost tackling two issues at once. lack of body and problems with OG. It may be naive of me to think that the issues are connected, and that higher OG will end up with fuller body.

as a final note, when steeping grains, i've had them around 160*, for right at 30 minutes.

AND a big thanks for all the guidance.

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Old 08-23-2010, 01:23 PM   #9
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Hmmmmm. How is the carbonation level? Sometimes a very low carb level can make the beer seem "thin" even if it's not. With darker malts, though, you should have plenty of specialty malts that give a perception of body.

Can you check your recipe source, to see if you are indeed supposed to be making 5 gallons? Your OG readings are pretty far off for the recipes- I think the recipes ones are wrong. For the first beer, you should have an OG of 1.045ish (and you got 1.048) and for the second, you should have had an OG of 1.050, which you had.

I think one of the issues here is simply poor recipe formulation. Well, not poor recipes, but in order to get a "bigger" beer, it does help to start with more malt. Where did your recipes come from? I'd start by getting better, more solid, recipes. Check out our recipe database for proven winners, if you need some help.

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Old 08-23-2010, 03:06 PM   #10
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My local homebrew supplier has prepackaged grain/extract "kits" if you will... Each of the kits call for a liquid volume of 5 gallons at finish. both of those extracts were dried variety. as I continue to do my research, I am starting to see where you've reached the conclusion that the malt is too low in quantity. I have been checking the recipes underneath that section. The further along I get, the more I think I won't be using their prepackaged recipes.

The Irish Dry Stout had little to no carbonation. I figured it was a factor of my bottling technique. The Cherry stout had much more carbonation, but still had the same body as the other. same amount of sugar each time...

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