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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Extract Brewing > First brew - why low OG?
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Old 09-16-2005, 02:05 AM   #1
doghausdev
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Default First brew - why low OG?

I made my first batch today. It was an ESB, using the following recipe:

  • 6 lbs 9.6 oz Amber Extract
  • 12.0 ozCaramel/Crystal Malt - 60L (60.0 SRM)
  • 4.0 oz Biscuit Malt (23.0 SRM)
  • 0.5 oz Black (Patent) Malt
  • 1.00 oz Magnum [14.00%] (60 min)
  • 0.50 oz Magnum [14.00%] (5 min)
  • 0.50 ozMt. Hood [6.00%] (5 min)
Beersmith estimated the OG as 1.059, but my measured OG was 1.041.

Why does the OG seem low?

I steeped the grains in a bag in 170' water for 20 minutes - would I have achieved a higher OG by not using a bag?

I took pretty good notes, but I'm not sure what info may help to diagnose the issue.

Thanks in advance for any help.

Sean
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Old 09-16-2005, 02:52 AM   #2
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Did you stir the batch prior to taking the reading? If you just added water, then took a reading, you'll get stratification within your fermenter and will get what appears to be a low gravity, when in actuality, it's just not mixed very well. Did you add the correct amount of water? If you added too much, that could be another reason. The 12oz of steeping grains won't change your gravity much.

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Old 09-16-2005, 03:07 AM   #3
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What was the temperature of the wort when you took the reading? You'll have to correct that as well to get a truely accurate reading. the correction scale should be on the instructions for your hydrometer.

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Old 09-16-2005, 03:47 AM   #4
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and finally,
were there any bubbles floating around, and sticking to the hydro

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Old 09-16-2005, 04:01 AM   #5
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Thanks for the replies!

The temp was 71', and the actual reading was 1.040, so I added the 0.001 to adjust for temperature.

I didn't stir well before taking the reading. It's been in the primary for a few hours - is it a bad idea to pop the lid, stir it up, and take another sample?

Also, when I first added the sample to the hydro tube, I just filled it up about 60%, and the reading seemed to be 1.030. I then took more wort with the thief and filled near the top of the hydro tube, and pushed down on the hydro. It bounced back up to 1.040 - should the hydro tube always be filled before taking a reading?

I didn't see bubbles on the the hydro, but I didn't spin it either - I'll do that next time.

Thanks again for any tips.

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Old 09-16-2005, 04:23 AM   #6
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You won't really get any fermentables from steeped grains. All your sugar (gravity points) come from your extract. The only way to really extract sugar from grains is to do a mash (all grain). At this point I'd say leave it alone as opening it only increases chances for an infection and stirring it risks aeration which would be bad at this point. The hydrometer should always float.. you should add as much liquid as it takes to get the thing floating, spin it and then read it. Typically I take my reading after I aerate and add the yeast since the wort will be will mixed well at that point.

My guess is that you somehow took a sample that was not representative (most likely), didn't add enough extract, or somehow miscalculated the receipe. I wouldn't worry about it at this point. Even if the OG was 40 the beer will have upwards of 4% abv which will be fine. However, I checked qbrew (free brewing calculator) and found that 6.5 lbs of dry malt extract yields an og of 1.059 (projected 5.9% abv) and 6.5 lbs of malt extract (presumably liquid) yields and og of 1.047 (projected 4.7% abv).

In short, it'll be fine.. relax and have a brew.

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Old 09-16-2005, 02:40 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by doghausdev
Thanks for the replies!

The temp was 71', and the actual reading was 1.040, so I added the 0.001 to adjust for temperature.

I didn't stir well before taking the reading. It's been in the primary for a few hours - is it a bad idea to pop the lid, stir it up, and take another sample?

Also, when I first added the sample to the hydro tube, I just filled it up about 60%, and the reading seemed to be 1.030. I then took more wort with the thief and filled near the top of the hydro tube, and pushed down on the hydro. It bounced back up to 1.040 - should the hydro tube always be filled before taking a reading?

I didn't see bubbles on the the hydro, but I didn't spin it either - I'll do that next time.

Thanks again for any tips.
If you add water, you need to stir that sucker real good before taking your sample. Not only will this better mix the results of you boil and the water you added, but it will help oxygenate the wort. When I top off my primary, I set a timer for five minutes and then during that time I stir the ever-living cr@p out of it. My arm aches by the time I'm done. THEN I dip in my thief to get my sample for gravity testing.

Don't open you primary now. Once you've added the yeast any reading you take won't be a real good indicator of the OG.

My hydrometer didn't come with a sample tube. I just use the Thief. I take a sample with the Thief, drop in the hydrometer (giving it a spin as I do so), then take the reading when it stops spinning. This has never done me wrong. It's also one less thing to have to clean.
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Old 09-20-2005, 06:25 PM   #8
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I know this seems to be a stupid question, but could you have added too much water. I have a mark on my carboys and bucket at the 5 gallon level.

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Old 09-20-2005, 06:41 PM   #9
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Thanks for your suggestions. I think the water level was right (I finished up with 20 quarts, or 5 gallons). I suspect I just didn't stir well enough before taking the reading.

I'm planning on racking to secondary tomorrow (6 days in primary), and will take a reading then.

I've been reading Papazian Joy of Homebrew, and have lost count of the number of times he says "Relax... have a homebrew", so the message is starting to sink in ;-)

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Old 09-20-2005, 09:22 PM   #10
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Biscuit malt is a non-enzematic malt, it must be mashed with an equal amount of base malt to get extraction.

Steeping will get extraction from crystal malts though.

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