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Old 11-14-2010, 07:46 PM   #1
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Default Gravity discrepancy on a rye pale ale?

I just got done brewing an extract rye pale ale, clone of the Bear Republic Hop Rod Rye.

Recipe here and several other places:

http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f11/all-...-298/#post1769

All of the recipes I've read stick the OG at 1.070+ so that's what I was expecting.

Brewing went well, but when I took the OG reading, it was down at 1.054! Woah. Big difference - and this is supposed to be a high gravity beer. I was bummed but I started putting all of my ingredients into Beer Smith and the calculated OG was 1.044.

So, what the heck? I went back through and accounted for all of my ingredients and it all looks normal. I mulled over my brewing and it seemed to all be good. The only thing I wonder is my digital thermometer broke some time during the brewing process so the grains might have been steeped at less than 152 degrees... but that wouldn't explain why Beer Smith says 1.044 and the recipes say 1.070+.

edit: Maybe I should also add, I did a brief sanity check on my hydrometer to make sure it was roughly accurate, it's measuring at about 1.001 on my tap water at 70 degrees.

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Old 11-16-2010, 02:38 PM   #2
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My quick calculation has the OG around 1.07.

Since you're posting this in the "extract" section, I wonder if maybe you steeped the grains instead of mashing them? Steeping will rinse some sugars off the grains, but doesn't convert the starches and proteins in the kernel into fermentable sugars. It also doesn't pull as many compounds out of the grain as does mashing. So if you steeped the grains and didn't add any extract, then an OG of 1.04 sounds about right. Unfortunately, most of what you added to the beer will not be fermentable, so your FG will probably only be 1.03 or 1.02.

Alternatively, if you did mash your grains, then my only explanation is that your efficiency was quite low.

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Old 11-16-2010, 02:43 PM   #3
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It IS hard to miss your OG in an extract batch, and in reality you more than likely DIDN'T.....It's just that it is USUALLY difficult for the original gravity to actually REFLECT this fact.

It's a pretty common issue for ANYONE topping off with water in the fermenter (and that includes partial mashes, extract or all grain revcipes) to have an error in reading the OG...In fact, it is actually nearly impossible to mix the wort and the top off water in a way to get an accurate OG reading...

Brewers get a low reading if they get more of the top off water than the wort, conversely they get a higher number if they grabbed more of the extract than the top off water in their sample.

When I am doing an extract with grain recipe I make sure to stir for a minimum of 5 minutes (whipping up a froth to aerate as well) before I draw a grav sample and pitch my yeast....It really is an effort to integrate the wort with the top off water...This is a fairly common new brewer issue we get on here...unless you under or over topped off or the final volume for the kit was 5 gallons and you topped off to 5.5, then the issue, sorry to say, is "operator error"

If your target volume was correct, then it will be fine.

More than likely your true OG is really what it's supposed to be. And it will mix itself fine during fermentation.

This is one of the most common newb first time posting topics on here. It happens to everybody.

Your beer is fine, and you don't need to mess with it, or try to fix it.

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Old 11-16-2010, 03:38 PM   #4
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If it wasn;t a mixing issue like Revvy stated, it's most likely that there just wasn't enough diastatic power to convert all of the Rye. Munich can convert itself, but I don't think the limited amount of wheat and 2-row has enough extra to fully convert nearly 4lbs of rye. Also, if you were below 152F and only went for 45mins, its possible you didn't allow enough mash time to get full conversion from there too.

edit: nevermind, rye malt can convert itself

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Old 11-16-2010, 04:56 PM   #5
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Since the link is to an AG version, can you post what you actually used?

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Old 11-16-2010, 10:50 PM   #6
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Thanks for the comments, all.

pericles; I did steep the grains instead of mashing them, but added DME as well. The beer has plenty of fermentables in it. I think next time I may go the route of doing a proper mini mash rather than steeping in a bag.

Revvy; appreciate the advice but it's definitely not a mixing problem. To incorporate oxygen into my wort, I pick up and vigorously shake the carboy for a minimum of one minute, typically longer. It was mixed more than you could ever get it by stirring. I am now convinced that there were just too many grains and I should have done a mash rather than steeping them - I have made a half dozen beers now and they've all been either spot on for gravity, or I knew why they were off. However, my steeped grains have all been small quantities. I think the recipe was just relying too much on the sugars from those grains and mashing them would have extracted more.

dcp27; I'm going to re-make the recipe with a better thermometer and a real mash, see what comes out of it.

david_42; the extract version is in the notes. Just substitutes the 2-row for 1 lb. of 2-row and 4.25 lbs. DME.

I do appreciate the comments and advice. I am not really worried about this beer since it smelled good, it tasted good and it's got good color - as well as lots of yeast activity. If it's not the alcohol content I wanted, well, it can still be good beer. I'm not going to try and correct it, was just wondering what happened. I'll make the recipe again if this tastes at all good, and do a proper partial mash next time with a thermometer that works.

Also to note, if I change the Beer Smith brewing type from Extract to Partial Mash, I get the expected 1.070+ gravity, so again - I think the blame was just too many grains that were too integral to the recipe to be simply steeping them in a bag.

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Old 11-17-2010, 03:08 AM   #7
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I ran into the exact same issue when I brewed this recipe as a partial mash a couple of months ago. I even ended up with the same OG as you!

At first I thought it might have been because I have a small-ish nylon bag and the grains were too compacted to circulate in the mash which limited conversion. But after playing around with the recipe in BeerSmith, I noticed that it recommends limiting Rye Malt to %10-15 of the mash to avoid "stuck" mashes. With the partial mash recipe, it was more like %35.

I think I'll try this one again as a stove top all-grain batch, and try to follow the recommended mash temperature schedule more closely. I'm sure it will improve. I'm drinking the beer right now, and although it's not even close to the real thing, and is a little "thin" for the amount of hops, it's still drinkable! Hope yours turns out ok too!

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