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Old 11-10-2010, 02:21 PM   #1
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Default How to get a lower final gravity with extract?

Hi all. I'm an extract brewer with no desire, room, time, etc. to go to all grain brewing. I always seem to be a little high in my final gravity readings no matter what style of beer I brew, what yeast I use, whether I use a starter or pitch multiple smack packs, whether i ferment at higher or lower temps. I saw in an older post that Denny said that since extracts have more unfermentables in them, substituting sugar for some of the extract will work to get the target FG. My questions are: What kind of sugar do you use? How do you know how much sugar to substitute? What can be done to use sugar and still keep the same body and flavor you're looking for? Thanks for any advice

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Old 11-10-2010, 02:47 PM   #2
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I use extract and have had a low OG recipe (1.048 or so) go down to 1.006 before using WLP001. In fact, many times using WLP001 I have got a lower FG than Beersmith has predicted. Do you use DME or LME? As far as sugars, you can use plain table sugar, corn sugar or even honey. As long as you aren't using too much, it should give you a lower FG but have little change in final flavor and mouthfeel. Go with 1 lb of table sugar for a 5 gallon batch and see how that treats you to start out with.

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Old 11-10-2010, 02:54 PM   #3
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I know you said you don't want to go all grain, but if you're willing to consider partial mash, that would help your problem.

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f39/easy...ng-pics-75231/

I switched from extract to the above partial mash method and all I had to get was a $7 bag to mash the grains in. (I didn't do the two pot system and did my sparge by putting the grain bag in a strainer above my brewpot and pouring the sparge water over the grains) It did add about a half hour to my brewday but it was worth it to me.

If that's not an option for you, then the best thing you can do is make sure you get the freshest extract possible and make sure you always pitch enough yeast.

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Old 11-10-2010, 08:02 PM   #4
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Extract has *nothing* to do with high gravity readings.

Ray

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Old 11-10-2010, 08:22 PM   #5
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Amylase or a couple beano tablets might help get lower FG's with extract.

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Old 11-10-2010, 10:54 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rayg View Post
Extract has *nothing* to do with high gravity readings.

Ray
That is untrue. The final gravity is determined by the combination of your yeast and mash temperatures. In all grain brewing you get to choose your mash temperature, and by doing so, have some control over your final gravity.

In extract brewing, you're stuck with whatever mash temperature that was used when making the extract. You can raise a FG with crystal malts which add more unfermentable sugars or changing your yeast. It's more difficult to lower it though.
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Old 11-11-2010, 02:43 AM   #7
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You can use paint straining bags; 2 5-gallon bags for $3 at Lowes ($4 at HD).

Replacing 1 lb DME (or 1.25 lbs of LME) with table sugar in a 5 gallon batch will reduce the final gravity by approximately 2 points. I would not recommend swapping out more than a 1 lb.

Use the lightest extract you can. The darker ones are less fermentable.

Try a higher attenuating yeast. PacMan for ales, or WLP550 for belgians. Both attenuate well.

Steeping crystal (and other steeping grains) I think mainly adds unfermentables. If you mash them, I think you get less unfermentable sugars. Try a partial mash.

Forget beano!

Add Brett in the secondary; It will not taste anything like your regular pale ale, but it will attenuate.

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Old 11-11-2010, 02:54 AM   #8
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You could switch to a more fermentable extract. I have had great success with Briess extra light dried malt extract... it attenuates well, and is very pale in color. I have made pale lagers with it that were indistinguishable from the all grain version of the same recipe!

Denny's advice of adding sugar will work well. You can use up to 20% of the fermentables as pure table sugar or corn sugar. Your LHBS may also sell brewer's grade corn syrup, which is the best option. Ignore the myth that the sugar will make your beer cidery. I use sugar a lot, and I have had great success with it, especially for bigger beers like IPAs and imperial stout.

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Old 11-12-2010, 07:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slowbie View Post
That is untrue. The final gravity is determined by the combination of your yeast and mash temperatures. In all grain brewing you get to choose your mash temperature, and by doing so, have some control over your final gravity.

In extract brewing, you're stuck with whatever mash temperature that was used when making the extract. You can raise a FG with crystal malts which add more unfermentable sugars or changing your yeast. It's more difficult to lower it though.
The fact that extract was used has nothing to do with the gravity. You
can get extracts high in fermentables or low. The op said that extracts
in general are high in unfermentables, which is not true. I've never had
too high final gravities using extract.

Ray
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Old 11-12-2010, 07:34 PM   #10
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Use plenty of O2 and nutrient. Most importantly pitch ALOT of yeast and use an attenuative strain. If you use WLP001 or Pacman and you pitch properly, you WILL finish dry....I have mashed big beers at 156 with pacman and finished dry.

Adding sugar is also an option, but IMO, I would go for an attenuative strain and optimum yeast management. When I first started brewing I had numerous 1.060 or higher IPA's using extract and no sugar finish below 1.015 using attenuative strains like WLP001, Pacman and Notty.

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