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Old 12-18-2010, 01:52 AM   #1
rboatwright
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Default Question: Coffee Oatmeal Stout - Gravity WAAAAY out of range.

So, I used a partial mash kit.

I made a very strong coffee extract with 22 packs of VIA Instant Coffee from Starbucks, this was the only modification to the recipe. I followed the partial mash instructions as specified. When I completed the boil and cooled the wort to 70 degrees, the OG was 1.076 (should have been 1.048 - 1.056) so, again, waaay of the specs for the recipe kit. I am assuming this deviation was caused by the coffee extract that I added and I am wondering if the deviation is due to the fact that I took the reading after I added the coffee, but I use the coffee to help bring the wort back to 5 gallons from the 3.5 I had left after the boil (started with 5 gallons). The final gravity is 1.038 after 5 days, its no longer bubbling, I need to take another reading tomorrow to see if it has actually stopped fermenting. Anyhow, this shows the batch to be at ~5% ABV. It tastes wonderful and I plan on moving it to the secondary carboy tomorrow. My question is: Is this beer ok? I mean, it tastes great so far, and it has turned into beer due to the 5%ABV. Should I worry about the deviations in the OG and the FG or does it only matter if I was going to have my Oatmeal Stout judged and then it would fall out of range and be disqualified for some reason?

Thanks in advance for any feedback... :-)

Here are the specifics of my brew with modifications:

Fermentables:

3.3 lbs - Special Dark LME (Non-Diastatic - Unhopped)
3.0 lbs - Extra Dark DME (Spray dried)
1.0 lbs - Maltodextrin

Specialty Grains:

16.0 oz. - Oats
6.0 oz. - Dark Chocolate
2.0 oz. - Caramel 120L
12.0 oz. - 2-row Pale
4.0 oz. - Victory

Hops:

1.0 oz. Bittering - Brewers Gold (Alpha Acid 9.7) ( added at first rolling boil )
1.0 oz. Flavoring - Cascade (Alpha Acid 5.0) ( added 30 minutes into boil )

Partial Mash:

45 minutes at 165 degrees
1.0 gal / 2.0 lbs of grain
2.5 lbs grain = 1.5 gal water

Wort boiled for 45 minutes.

Flavoring:

22 packs of Starbucks Italian Roast VIA - blended added to 1 gallon of water added at the end of boil.

Notes:

Half gallon of water used to bring wort back to 5 gallons after coffee was added.
Partial Mash is done on stove, 165 degrees for 45 minutes.
(exceeded 170 for a few minutes)

Conditioned yeast. Let stand in 90 degree water for 15 minutes, stir gently after 15 minutes then added to cooled wort in primary fermenter.

OG = 1.076 + .0016 (at 70 degrees) = 1.077
FG = 1.038 + .0016

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Old 12-18-2010, 02:50 AM   #2
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Check your hydrometer. A beer that finishes at 1.038 shouldn't taste like, well, beer. It should taste like sweet wort.

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Old 12-18-2010, 03:03 AM   #3
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Yeah there is no way 6 lbs of extract would yield such a huge OG. To be honest I don't know what, if anything, coffee contributes to gravity but I doubt it doubles it. My random guesses would be 1) hydrometer is FUBAR like ArcaneXor said (although this is unusual) 2) You boiled off way more than you thought 3) The coffee did somehow raise the OG by like 30 points.

Was the coffee you added total sludge? That's the only way I can see it really mattering. If anything I'd expect coffee to be thin enough to lower gravity.

Edit: just saw your mash regimen. Did you actually mash or just steep? 165 is insanely high for mashing and would result in a barely fermentable wort. Mashing happens somewhere between 148-160 99% of the time. It wouldn't affect the extract at all, but the 2 row and specialty grains would have contributed no fermentables

Also if it tastes good, that is all that matters Yeah it might not win a BJCP competition because it's out of style, but if you are just brewing it to drink and enjoy, who cares!

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Old 12-18-2010, 12:26 PM   #4
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This was a brewers best Oatmeal stout kit. I used the "Steep to Convert" process in the recipe. This called for steeping the grains in a bag for 45 minutes at 165. I had a bag of oatmeal and the other bag had Dark Chocolate, 2-Row, Caramel and Victory.

The instructions called it a partial mash, but maybe it was just an extended steep. I did it in a separate pot and then poured it into my boil kettle.

I'm confused about the hydrometer readings still, but I guess I agree, it tastes good, so I will still rack it to the secondary for a week or two more and then keg it.

The coffee was not like syrup, but I used starbucks VIA coffee packs, they use this micro-ground coffee. Just really odd that the gravity is soo far off. This is my 4th batch I have brewed, my first were well within the ranges. I cannot use my refractometer for a more accurate reading correct? It can only be used for measuring the OG of wort from a sparge? (all grain kit just arrived, so my next batch will not be an extract)

Oh well, I am just curious as to why the OG and FG are so far off. Is there a way to test the hydrometer in plain water and get it to read 1.0000?

Thanks again for the responses. I'm almost ready to just keg this batch and prime it with CO^2, its quite tasty right now, but I must condition it a bit longer... just dosent feel right drinking it after only a week in the primary.

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Old 12-18-2010, 01:44 PM   #5
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How confident are you in your volumes? If you boiled off too much I could see the gravity skyrocketing.

But if that's not the problem, then I bet it's the VIA. For people who haven't seen these, they're this coffee dust that you add to water to make coffee. I almost wonder if it's similar to DME - it really is coffee that has been completely evaporated into powder. Anything that dissolves in liquid will affect the specific gravity, and the VIA packets sure do seem to dissolve.

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Old 12-18-2010, 01:53 PM   #6
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Your hydrometer should read 1.000 with plain water at the calibration temperature listed on the hydrometer or the instruction sheet.

Here's a way to use 2 points to check the calibration for more accurate readings:

http://www.honeycreek.us/hydrocal.php

It's complicated, but might be worthwhile as long as you don't have my propensity to break hydrometers regularly.

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Old 12-18-2010, 11:06 PM   #7
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sounds like you took a reading from the bottom of the bucket after topping with water cuz 1.076 is what a 1.052 (mid range of your target) would be at 3.5 gallons. gently swirl and warm up your fermenter cuz you are stalled

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Old 12-18-2010, 11:30 PM   #8
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You can't miss your OG by that much with an extract based recipe if your volumes are correct.
Coffee isn't sugar so it will have a negligible effect on your readings if any at all.
Most likely it was less than thoroughly mixed and you got a thick spot for your sample.
Or, your hydrometer is whack which it really sounds like since both of your readings were so far off.
Last but not least, operator error...
I am sure it'll be fine.

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Old 12-19-2010, 12:33 PM   #9
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Racked it to the secondary yesterday. Its quite tasty and it is definitely a coffee oatmeal stout. Its not sweet as it was when tasted the wort before pitching the yeast. It has a hint of chocolate sweetness as I was hoping for and the coffee flavor is there but doesnt overpower you. Basically, it didnt taste like I was drinking a 2 oz cup of cold thick coffee. So for now I am happy with it. I want to be able to duplicate this again, and I think nothernlad got it right. The one thing I didnt put in my notes but I remember not doing was stirring the wort in the primary after I topped it off and took my OG reading. Somewhere in my reading, I got it in my head that I should introduce as little air as possible to the wort after I boil. I've read many points recently that say to stir the wort vigorously when topping it off in the primary after the boil and before taking the OG.

@northernlad - if not mixing the topped off wort before taking the OG reading was the issue, would that mean that my FG would be 1.020 - 1.010 range? or does the fact that I did not thoroughly mix the wort cause both readings to be off? So, I checked my hydrometer in plain water and it reads 1.000, but based on the article I read from ChuckO, I think I may have a problem with my hydrometer.

Basically, the beer doesn't lie. It IS beer, no longer wort, it does have alcohol and it is ever so slightly carbonated even after only a week in the primary. There was a thick head of krausen in the primary, so the recipe worked. Thank you for all the feedback, I'm going to get another hydrometer and verify that my current one is out of wack.

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Old 12-19-2010, 02:21 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rboatwright View Post
. The one thing I didnt put in my notes but I remember not doing was stirring the wort in the primary after I topped it off and took my OG reading.
that's definitely why your OG reading was off

Quote:
Somewhere in my reading, I got it in my head that I should introduce as little air as possible to the wort after I boil.
probably why your FG is so high. if you didn;t aerate, your yeast didnt have enough oxygen to properly reproduce. id get some S-05 (or similar) and re-pitch
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