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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > All Grain & Partial Mash Brewing > SG and other questions.
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:23 PM   #1
panicbuttonguy
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Default SG and other questions.

So I brewed 6 batches of APA's this week and have some questions.

My SG is really low on some of them. They all used mostly the same amount of base and the same type and brands of malt. The first one I brewed I came up short on vol going into fermenter. Maybe like 4.25 total. That SG read 1.060. I increased the sparge volume to compensate for my boil off and came up with the right volume into the fermenter (5g) but the SG was like 1.040. I also had a stuck sparge on 2 of the ones that were lower.

Is there a correlation btwn sparging more and getting lower gravity?

What kind of effect is this going to have on the final product besides lower ABV?

What can I do to increase my efficiency?

Any help is appreciated. Thank you in advanced.

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Old 02-27-2012, 09:43 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by panicbuttonguy View Post
So I brewed 6 batches of APA's this week and have some questions.

My SG is really low on some of them. They all used mostly the same amount of base and the same type and brands of malt. The first one I brewed I came up short on vol going into fermenter. Maybe like 4.25 total. That SG read 1.060. I increased the sparge volume to compensate for my boil off and came up with the right volume into the fermenter (5g) but the SG was like 1.040. I also had a stuck sparge on 2 of the ones that were lower.

Is there a correlation btwn sparging more and getting lower gravity?

What kind of effect is this going to have on the final product besides lower ABV?

What can I do to increase my efficiency?

Any help is appreciated. Thank you in advanced.
It appears to me that you are lacking consistency in the way you brewed each beer. This makes it pretty difficult to determine what could be done if things aren't being done exactly the same way each time.

Of course adding water either sparging or just adding to the final amount would have a great effect on the SG. Effect on other things like aroma and flavor could be noticeable, but not necessarily bad.

To be sure, you need to establish a consistent mashing and sparging routine.
(I assume also that you are using all-grain method. So, here is what I would do. )

Make sure that you measure all ingredients carefully.

Mash in the correct amount and as you draw off the mash into the boil kettle, take a reading. Then measure that efficiency based on the amount of grains you use. Beer calculators can give you a pretty good idea of where you need to be. You should be quite high SG on the mash-in. Then, sparge and add that to the boil until you approach the desired SG.

I also advise that your calculate mash and sparge get to about 6.5 gallons if you are using a full 60 minute boil. That way, you should have enough to compensate for boil off. Also, you want to be above 5 gallons to compensate for solids in the wort.

There are also some water chemistry that can assist you in gaining some additional points. There is a very good article about Ph here: http://www.tcbrewmasters.org/articles/6.PDF

Using BeerSmith or other tools can help you approach your desired SG. If you fall short on your mash-in, then you can increase the efficiency by either adding time or adding DME at the end. Many times I have added a little DME to adjust for a lacking SG.

By keeping very good notes and consistency, you eventually can hit the desired SG with ease. You will be able to compensate for stuck sparges and unexpected readings.
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:34 PM   #3
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ok so here's more stats:

the first batch I used 10 lbs of grain and used a 1.25 qt/grain ratio. I mashed and then collected 2 gallons of wort

I added sparge water and collected twice to get my desired pre boil volume. This time I used 2 gallons each time to get 6 gallons for pre boil. I knew I was going to be short so I backed down the gas to get a less vigorous boil. I ended up low on volume going into the fermenter at about 4.25 gallons after boil off and hop absorption. My SG was 1.060.

The next batch I used the same amount of grain and increased the desired pre boil volume to 6.5. So I sparged twice after collecting right under 2 gallons of wort. I used 2.25 gallons for each batch sparge. I came up short at about 4.75 gallons. My SG was 1.054

The next 4 batches I used the same amount of grain and and increased the desired preboil volume to 7. I collected 2 gallons of wort from the 1st runnings on all of those batches and sparged with 2.5 each time. I ended up with 5 gallons in each fermenter but the SG was really low on them. I used the same water, same equipment, same method, only changing sparge water volumes.

How are you supposed to get your pre boil volume and your desired SG? Who's got 2 thumbs and is confused? This guy.

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Old 02-28-2012, 04:50 PM   #4
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anyone have any suggestions? Do you need more info? I'm going to do more batches soon and want to figure out what I'm doing wrong.

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Old 02-28-2012, 06:00 PM   #5
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Panicbutton is a good handle for you! LOL!

As I was reading these things, I realized that you may be over-correcting. It may seem that you are doing the same thing, but in reality you aren't.

(One thing I did want to mention is that you can oversparge. This leads to extracting too many tannins in the beer. I don't think sparging 2 gallons is too much. I usually sparge until the water is nearly clear.)

So, here is what I think may help. Stick with a 6.5 gallon pre-boil target and don't try to adjust. Even if you are not hitting your target gravity, I would not adjust even if the reading is not exactly what I want. I don't really care. Read on why I don't care.

Once the mash and sparge is done, take your gravity. If you are under a few points, then don't worry about it. For example, if the beer calculator says a target of 1.060 and you hit 1.054, you are actually very close to what you should be. Leave it because it really doesn't matter.

Remember that you are going to reduce the water and your gravity should be pretty close to target once the boil is over.

I don't really care about the final quantity anyway. The important thing for me is taste. Does it taste good?? Throw all the style guides out because I really think they are worthless unless you are competing. If I end up with 4.5 gallons and it is close to what I want in Spec. Gravity, then I leave it alone.

Being consistent in measuring and going with the flow will produce not only a great beer, but will lead you to MUCH less frustration. This is supposed to be a fun hobby and not some controlled experiment. If you aren't having some fun, I would consider looking at another hobby. Trying to adjust this and that and the other just isn't fun. Just brew it and see what happens. Usually, it turns out fine.

These are my personal views on brewing. Every time I brew, I really am lax about efficiency and gravities, etc etc. I just brew it and guess what.... I make some of the best beer people EVER tasted. I get told this 100's of times. I just relax, have fun and don't sweat the little things.

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Old 02-28-2012, 06:48 PM   #6
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I totally hear you. We are trying to get beers that we CAN send into competitions. I usually don't worry about these things. I've done lots of AG batches and never even took a gravity reading. Bubbles in the airlock were good enough for me. Now I'm trying to dial in my process and hit my stuff to make "acceptable" beers.

PanicButtonGuy is totally me. I'm hitting the panic button over here. I usually RDWHB or whatever but with these recipes its like DRSWHPB (Don't Relax Start Worrying & Hit the Panic Button)

The good thing is this is just the development process. These beers we just made are not intended for any competition. But the next round we want to hit our numbers on everything.

So for the troubleshooting portion of it the air here in MN is really dry right now and I'm boiling off 2 gallons or more in a boil. Should I aim for 4.5 in the fermenter with correct numbers or should I adjust something and get 5 gallons in the fermenter with correct numbers. It seems weird that I could not get the latter. Like is it just not possible?

What if I am at like 1.040 pre boil. Should I keep sparging and to get more and have a higher SG, then have a 90 min boil and add the hops at 60? what would that do?

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