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Old 02-03-2011, 07:26 PM   #1
matthewkbridges
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Default Yet Another "Is my beer ruined?" thread

Thanks in advance for putting up with yet another newb question.

I brewed a Belgian Dark Strong about two weeks ago. Here's the recipe:
http://beerdujour.com/Recipes/Jamil/...ngDarkAle.html
I used two vials of WLP570 in a 1.5L starter. I've never had problems with efficiency with my AG setup. I forgot to take a gravity reading on the brew day, so I used my refractometer, my hydrometer, and Beersmith's 'Refractometer tool' to see how my fermentation was doing. Here's what my readings were:

Refractometer: 10.5 Brix
Hydrometer: 1.028
Beersmith's calculated OG: 1.064
The recipe's expected OG: 1.103
Calculated attenuation: 55%
Expected attenuation based on yeast/recipe: 70-80%

Either A: I completely messed something up or B: my refractometer is wrong. Both my hydrometer and refractometer show 1.000 or 0 when used with plan water, and are roughly in agreement when a sucrose solution is used. Do I just assume that my refractometer is the problem, and keep going, do I try a different refractometer, or do I forget the Beersmith calculations and assume I'm OK? (1.028 wouldn't be too far off of an expected FG for this beer).

Thanks!

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Old 02-03-2011, 07:30 PM   #2
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If its only been 2 weeks then fermentation might not be completely finished. Warm it up a few degree and then in a week take another reading. If its still the same, then its done.


Btw, efficiency goes down on big beers. Something to keep in mind the next time you brew it

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Old 02-03-2011, 08:13 PM   #3
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I thought refractometers were only good for reading your wort before fermentation. I believe the alcohol throws the reading off. Someone correct me if I am wrong.

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Old 02-03-2011, 10:39 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowhere View Post
I thought refractometers were only good for reading your wort before fermentation. I believe the alcohol throws the reading off. Someone correct me if I am wrong.
There are conversion equations that make them reasonably accurate for FG, but unless you know your OG rather precisely, they're largely useless.

I'm not sure I understand what you're saying, though. I don't have beersmith. What does "Beersmith's calculated OG mean, and why is it so far off from the recipe's stated OG? Is that what you're concerned about?

If you throw the refractometer readings out of the picture, it looks like your numbers are more or less good.
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Old 02-03-2011, 10:59 PM   #5
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Quote:
Beersmith's calculated OG: 1.064
The recipe's expected OG: 1.103
I don't understand this or Jamil's recipe. How can you have a recipe with that wide a difference? The refractometer calculations will work, but you have to have a good starting point. You can't have a starting point somewhere between 1.064 - 1.103. I would take the grain bill, your usual efficiency, and calculate an actual OG for yourself. Try using that to figure attenuation. Or just leave it for four weeks.
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Old 02-03-2011, 11:14 PM   #6
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I didn't take an initial OG, so I only have my mid-fermentation hydrometer and refractometer readings. Beersmith has a tool where you can enter a hydrometer and refractometer reading (taken at the same time) and it will tell you what the attenuation is, the alcohol, and an estimate of the OG (if you neglected to take it yourself). It's not as accurate as taking an initial OG reading with a hydrometer, but it's something.

Based on what I'm reading here and elsewhere, I'm thinking my refractometer is probably the issue. It's just a cheapie one from eBay, not a precision expensive one. The alternative is that A) my efficiency was way, way down and B) my yeast was kaput, and neither of those things has happened to me before. The simpler explanation is that the refractometer is the issue.

I'll post back here once primary is over. If it tastes horrible (sugary or overly bitter), I'll know something is probably up. I may also borrow a refractometer and see if someone else can get a more solid read.

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