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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > Adding water to fermenting beer
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Old 11-22-2009, 06:20 PM   #1
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Default Adding water to fermenting beer

So I brewed up a Guinness clone yesterday, everything went great. The only hiccup was that I came away with a freakishly high 92% efficiency, bumping my O.G. up from 1.046 (expected) to 1.057, which is really too high for style. I attribute this to a 90+ min sparge (fly sparge) vs my usual ~60 min. Instead of doing something intelligent, like adding water before the pitch, I just shrugged my shoulders and moved on. Now the beer is happily fermenting away, and I thought, I wonder if I could add water now to get the gravity closer to what I want? Every voice inside me seems to think this is a bad idea, but the question remains, can it be done? If it really is a bad idea, why? I know I'll have good beer as is, and it will just be a higher alcohol stout, so I'm not really worried, but I'm curious.

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Old 11-22-2009, 07:55 PM   #2
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I had the same problem once (I accidentally added WAY too much DME) and added water to the primary.. At the time I only had a 5 gallon fermenter and there was no room for water additions. So I bought a 6.5 and added an extra half gallon or so of water.. It turned out fine for me... I couldnt tell and it got my OG down to where it should be.. I used bottled water instead of tap because I am a germ freak.

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Old 11-22-2009, 08:57 PM   #3
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I almost always brew a slightly stronger beer than I want and put 5 - 5.5 into my carboy. That levaes room for krausen.

After a week (or two), once the ferment is done, I add water (usually with gelatin) to top off the carboy. So, yes, not only can you do this, but for me is is SOP (standard operating procedure).

BTW, I always boil and cool my water before adding. Might not be technically necessary, but makes me feel better.

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Old 11-22-2009, 09:13 PM   #4
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I'd add water to get to the OG. That way, your IBU/SG ratio is still the same as you planned and you'll have the beer you planned on. Having a higher OG will give you a higher ABV, of course, and throw off the balance you had.

I'd add the water right away, but you can add it at any time.

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Old 11-22-2009, 11:12 PM   #5
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Thanks for the insight guys. You have inspired me to add water to the fermenter. Since I have a little over 5.5 G in a 6.5 G carboy, I think I'll let the Krausen die down a little (maybe tomorrow), then add the needed ~1 Gallon to bring it down to style. Nice, that's a fair amount of extra beer!

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Old 11-22-2009, 11:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YooperBrew View Post
I'd add water to get to the OG. That way, your IBU/SG ratio is still the same as you planned and you'll have the beer you planned on. Having a higher OG will give you a higher ABV, of course, and throw off the balance you had.

I'd add the water right away, but you can add it at any time.
He's almost 25% off. He's not gonna get to his intended gravity, but you bring up a good point.

You might consider boiling a bit of hops with your water. Your brew is going to contain more unfermentables than you intended, so you need to add a bit more hops. I do this all the time (recently, to an IPA that ended up higher than I wanted).

Boil the hops in a small pan and add to your larger water addition.
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Old 11-23-2009, 04:53 AM   #7
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Don't you need something more than just water to properly isomerize the hop acids? In other words, will boiling hops in a pot of water actually DO anything?

Just a question for the science nerds, I really don't know the answer!

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Old 11-23-2009, 05:07 AM   #8
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Don't you need something more than just water to properly isomerize the hop acids? In other words, will boiling hops in a pot of water actually DO anything?

Just a question for the science nerds, I really don't know the answer!
Just "heat energy". Chris Bible in BYO went over this just this month. I do this all the time. Ideally, you add the hops during the ferment since there is some (minor) interraction between the yeast and the hops. But I usually add them in the the third week after a taste.
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