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Old 05-19-2011, 02:38 PM   #1
andyjbrew
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Default Low Gravity, What can I do?

Hi All,
I'm fairly new to brewing and this is my first post on homebrewtalk. I have a partial mash pale ale and a dark ale under my belt, both with delicious results. Both came out with fairly low ABV (The dark ale was 3.38). I should also mention that I am not bottling, I go straight to the keg.

My most recent attempt is an IPA that I started on Sunday and I just moved it to the secondary. I am usiung the true brew IPA kit. The OG was 1.040 which seems low. I'm reading that IPAs generally have an OG of 1.050+. I just took another reading while moving the brew to the secondary and the gravity is at 1.012. I even added a bit of extra dextrose to make up for the alcohol that would be created during the bottling phase.

Does it seem too low? Should I try to fix my beer by adding more malt or sugar for the secondary fermentation?

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Old 05-19-2011, 03:17 PM   #2
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What was in your kit? We can't speculate until we know what went into these beers.

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Old 05-19-2011, 03:21 PM   #3
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i brewed strictly true brew kits for a year before i went on to my own recipes. i really never experienced the problem you're referring to. even my true brew kits brewed ipas with a 5-6 abv.

are you getting enough extract out of the cans? are you forgetting to add a bag of dry malt extract or something? i can't seem to think why you're not getting the gravity you should. is your hydrometer working ok?

another thing, though definitely not related to your OG, is why are you transferring your beer after 5 days? let your ipa sit for 2 weeks before racking it. let the yeast eat and create your alcohol. now that your gravity is so low, i guess i see why you racked, but i keep all my beers in the original fermentation vessel to bottling unless i need to do a special step (2ndary needed for wood chips which is in your true brew kit, lagers, and if you have something special you're adding to the beer once its primary ferment is done).

in the future if your gravity reading really is that low, add some more dry malt extract to create some more food for the yeast.

as for your beer now, you don't want to oxidize it by stirring it up when you mix sugar or malt extract in it. i think you should just accept this beer as a pale ale and know to add more malt next time.

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Old 05-19-2011, 03:27 PM   #4
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Did you do a full boil?
without that it can be really hard to get a correct reading of OG

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Old 05-19-2011, 03:39 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andyjbrew View Post
Hi All,
I'm fairly new to brewing and this is my first post on homebrewtalk. I have a partial mash pale ale and a dark ale under my belt, both with delicious results. Both came out with fairly low ABV (The dark ale was 3.38). I should also mention that I am not bottling, I go straight to the keg.

My most recent attempt is an IPA that I started on Sunday and I just moved it to the secondary. I am usiung the true brew IPA kit. The OG was 1.040 which seems low. I'm reading that IPAs generally have an OG of 1.050+. I just took another reading while moving the brew to the secondary and the gravity is at 1.012. I even added a bit of extra dextrose to make up for the alcohol that would be created during the bottling phase.

Does it seem too low? Should I try to fix my beer by adding more malt or sugar for the secondary fermentation?
First I would tell you not to move your beer from a primary to a secondary if you believe your gravity readings are to low...after that I would say there is no good reason to use a secondary on this type of beer and/or most beers.

Back to what could have went wrong...you could have not got your temp's high enough to extract the maximum amount of sugars, you could have under pitched your yeast. So for future batches I would recommend getting your wort up to a full boil for the full time required by your kit (45 minutes, 60, 90), then place a strainer on top, put your grain bag in the strainer and lighly pour a quart of 170 degree water over grains to get all of the sugars out...use www.mrmalty.com to figure out how much yeast you need, most kits give you the minimum amount needed and finally dont rack ales to a secondary, unless you are or have added fruit.
To fix your current beer, you could re-pitch or add vodka to your secondary to increase the alcohol content, but I would repitch!
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Old 05-19-2011, 03:41 PM   #6
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brau, The kit had the following
•Unhopped Amber Malt Extract (2 cans)
•Crystal Grain (1 lb)
•Grain Steeping Bag
•First Gold UK Hop Pellets (1 oz)
•Pilgrim UK Hop Pellets (1 oz)
•Heavy Toast Oak Chips (.5 oz)
I added all of those except the oak chips to the wort. I also added some extra dextrose as I mentioned.

hobo,
I'm pretty sure I added everything, although I did spill a tiny bit of the wort transferring to the fermenter, but it wasn't much at all. I'm also adding a bit more than 5 gallons of water, probably closer to 5.5-6 gallons. I switched to the secondary for a few reasons. I heard it can mature the beer better than leaving it in the primary. I also wanted to free up the bucket fermenter to start a stout, and try out my carboy for the secondary. Also I added the oak chips to the secondary.

Janivar,
By full boil, I assume you mean bringing the wort to a boil and leaving it boil. I left the wort boil with hops and extract for almost an hour, adding the first gold hops for the last few minutes.

Thanks all for your responses, I guess I'll just leave it be and cross my fingers. I'll let you know how it turns out!

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Old 05-19-2011, 03:46 PM   #7
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If it helps, I always dip the extract can & swish the hot water around the inside of the can to get as much of it into the actual brew as possible. Don't have to worry about contaminating it since the water gets boiled.

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Old 05-19-2011, 03:53 PM   #8
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SD-Slim,
I don't have extra yeast to pitch, but based on your comment I'll start getting some extra for my brews. How much vodka would you add, and is that relatively low risk to the fermentation process and flavor?

scrambledegg, good idea, I think I'll start doing that too, every last drop counts I guess.

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Old 05-19-2011, 03:55 PM   #9
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I've gotten low OG on a few of my beers, despite using extract, because I was putting too much top-off water in, because I didn't understand that a 6.5-gal carboy means it is 6.5 gallons to where it just starts to curve in -- it can actually hold a little more than 7 gallons. Measure 5 gallons in your fermenter and make sure you are topping off appropriately.

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Old 05-19-2011, 04:15 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andyjbrew View Post
brau, The kit had the following
•Unhopped Amber Malt Extract (2 cans)
•Crystal Grain (1 lb)
•Grain Steeping Bag
•First Gold UK Hop Pellets (1 oz)
•Pilgrim UK Hop Pellets (1 oz)
•Heavy Toast Oak Chips (.5 oz)
Don't worry Andyjbrew, there is no way you can get a low efficiency from this recipe. This is what they call a "steeping" recipe, which means that you don't do any sugar converting (or "mashing"). In other words, all your sugars are already there, from malt extract and from crystal malt. Crystal malt does not need converting in order to extract sugars, just steeping in worm water. It already has sugars in it.
The only way you can get a low OG with this recipe is when you top it with too much water and make it a 6 gal instead of 5. Or you spill some extract, or your hydrometer is off.
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