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Old 08-30-2007, 01:06 AM   #1
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Default Lower OG than recipe

I made my 3rd All Grain last night and I ended up with a lower OG than is specified in the recipe. It is a Einbecker Ur-Bock Dunkel from the book Beer Captured. I followed the recipe exactly but I must have messed up somewhere along the way, or perhaps the recipe amounts in the book are for a higher % efficiency. Either way I have already pitched the yeast and have a OG of 1.053. The recipe calls for an OG of 1.069-1.071. Is there anything I can do, or is this a case of just relax and drink the beer you've made. Will a lower ABV be severely detrimental to this style of beer?

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Old 08-30-2007, 01:51 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by dj_van_gilder
I made my 3rd All Grain last night and I ended up with a lower OG than is specified in the recipe. It is a Einbecker Ur-Bock Dunkel from the book Beer Captured. I followed the recipe exactly but I must have messed up somewhere along the way, or perhaps the recipe amounts in the book are for a higher % efficiency. Either way I have already pitched the yeast and have a OG of 1.053. The recipe calls for an OG of 1.069-1.071. Is there anything I can do, or is this a case of just relax and drink the beer you've made. Will a lower ABV be severely detrimental to this style of beer?
Man, what a bummer! This has probably happened to every AG brewer at one time or another. There are just so many variables. Once i got away with carefully boiling LME mixed with 3 volumes of water for 40 min, chilled and added to the carboy. But, i had good head space and apparently, luck. This is a risky chance. I bet your beer will be good if you just let it be.

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Old 08-30-2007, 03:06 AM   #3
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I don't think there is anything you can do to increase the gravity of a beer that is already brewed, and I'm not going to pretend that I know what effect it will have on the beer that you have brewed as I have no experience of Bocks, and I don't like Dunkels.
However, there are a number of things you can do to determine the cause, and prevent it happening in the future.
What you need to do to prevent this is to take gravity readings during and after the sparge, and then to adjust the gravity to the required value with malt extract during the boil.
Assuming that you are batch sparging, you should take a gravity reading for the runnings after each addition of sparge water. The gravity of the runnings after each addition should be less than the previous batch, and the gravity of the final runnings should be between 1.010 and 1.020. If you are much above 1.020, then you have sparging problems that are negatively affecting your efficiency.
If the final runnings are not significantly above 1.020, then any efficiency problems are not sparge related. Look to mash temperature, grain crush, and water/grain ratio for solutions.
After the sparge is completed, you should stir your wort really well and then take the gravity of your wort. The pre-boil gravity multiplied by the pre-boil volume divided by the post boil volume will give you a pretty good approximation of the OG.
The main problem with gravity readings is that they are very temperature sensitive. I use a refractometer to take the readings. As the sample size for a refractometer is only one drop, temperature is no longer an issue. You can use http://byo.com/feature/1132.html to give you information on how to do this manually, or get brewing software such as Promash to make the conversions automatically.
I hope this makes sense, but I've spent a lot of time this evening comparing two high gravity brews. I really must learn not to swallow.

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Old 08-30-2007, 03:47 AM   #4
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you could boil and add some extract. i've done it a couple of times when i first started...forgot ingredients or decided the next day that i wanted a higher gravity. it's not that big a deal except for aeration, but the oxygen is mostly boiled out of it anyway and shouldn't be a big deal as long as you're fermentation hasn't gone into full swing.

other than that, nothing wrong with having a lower abv. might turn out great...you'll just have to enjoy a few more to reach the same point of drunkedness

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Old 08-30-2007, 01:51 PM   #5
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I use fly sparging when I sparg. Fermentation is slowy getting going. I check last night at the 24 hour mark as well as this morning and there where small signs of fermentation, not as vigorous as I ussualy see by now. I have an areation stone with an O2 tank. Do you think I should add some DME to it or just leave it as is?

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Old 08-30-2007, 02:00 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by dj_van_gilder
I followed the recipe exactly but I must have messed up somewhere along the way, or perhaps the recipe amounts in the book are for a higher % efficiency.
Have you figured out what your typical efficiency is on your system? When you know that, you can adjust recipes accordingly to hit the desired numbers. DeathBrewer's suggestion would seem to be a good tip if you want to bring it back in line.
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Old 08-30-2007, 09:11 PM   #7
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Personally I wouldn't monkey too much with the beer you have in the fermenter. It'll be light for style, but what the hell. Sometimes you can learn a lot more from a beer that isn't what you intended, than a beer that came out perfect.

I believe most recipes assume around a 72% efficiency. You could simply calculate your own brewhouse efficiency, then scale your grains up accordingly. Promash and others make this very easy. Grain is cheap...add another pound or two and you should be good. Alternatively you could look to ways to increase your efficiency and maximize the fermentable sugars that go into your wort. Someone has already mentioned the many variables involved here, and given some suggestions. I'd add that a good crush and complete dough-in are things to check first. Mashing at proper temperature (and constant temps) is another. Calibrate thermometers? Also, if you are fly-sparging, make sure your grain bed isn't channeling. Sparging too fast can yield lower efficiency, and if channels develop in the grainbed you won't expose all of the sugars to sparge water (meaning less sugar gets to the wort).

As an aside, I have a boil calculator based off a recent BYO article. The advantage of knowing what your preboil gravity *should* be, is that if you happen to not hit it after your mash you can make adjustments (like adding DME preboil). Calculator here.

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Old 08-31-2007, 03:00 AM   #8
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I went to my LHBS and picked up 3 lb of DME and added it to 1 gal of water boiled for 10 min, and came up with about .5 gal and added it to the fermentor. After all of this stress I tend to agree now it probably wasn't worth it. I am now freaked out about weather or not this beer is going to be ok now.

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Old 08-31-2007, 11:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dj_van_gilder
I went to my LHBS and picked up 3 lb of DME and added it to 1 gal of water boiled for 10 min, and came up with about .5 gal and added it to the fermentor. After all of this stress I tend to agree now it probably wasn't worth it. I am now freaked out about weather or not this beer is going to be ok now.

It will prob wind up being beer...I would ride out the rest of the fermentation and conditioning as normal.


Have you figured out what your typical efficiency is from your three batches?
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Old 08-31-2007, 02:44 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by brewt00l
It will prob wind up being beer...I would ride out the rest of the fermentation and conditioning as normal.


Have you figured out what your typical efficiency is from your three batches?
Not exatly, but on the last batch I did, an Octoberfest, I built the recipe for about %75-79 I think, and it came out fine. Before that I made a honey heffi, and that was right on as well. Perhaps the rice hulls I used helped with any sparge channeling issues I might have had.

On this batch the MLT was very full and I had trouble getting the lid on super tight. I think I may have lost some heat as a result. Either that or it was something with the sparge as was mentioned earlier. I'm using a 5 gal. rubbermaid cooler with a stainless steel braid at the bottom. I sparge using one of these http://pivo.northernbrewer.com/nbstore/action/search-do?searchTerm=sparge
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