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Old 09-21-2009, 04:28 PM   #1
thesanch
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Default Hitting expected OG with partial boils + top off?

I've only done four extract brews, and I've only measured the expected original gravity once. The other 3 were too low. The first two I know I didn't thoroughly mix the after topping off leading to a much lower gravity than I expected. However, I can't explain yesterday's brew.

Last night's batch:
American Ale extract kit from morebeer.com:
7lbs Pale LME
1lb Crystal 40L
1 oz Galena 60 minutes
1 oz Cascade 5 minutes
1 oz Cascade 1 minute
1 L WLP001 starter.

Instruction sheet is giving an estimate of 1.053, and Beersmith is giving an estimate of 1.051. I measured 1.042 at 60.5 *F.

Boil was 3 gallons, lost about 0.5 gallons to boil off/grain absorption. Topped off to 5 gallons. Shook vigorously for about 30 - 45 seconds. Used my auto siphon to take a sample.

What did I screw up? How do you guys hit your expected original gravities?

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Old 09-21-2009, 04:35 PM   #2
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You are either not mixing long/hard enough, reading hydrometer wrong, or it is not calibrated correctly. It is nearly impossible to miss your OG when extract brewing. I'm pretty sure it was higher.

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Old 09-21-2009, 04:47 PM   #3
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Well, he does have a pound of crystal in there, which could contribute as much as .007 points, but prob more like .005

How are you treating the crystal? I don't buy thos ekits, are the grains already crushed? It could be the size of the crush.

Also, how accurate is your thermometer?

One more thing (and I know this is a little extreme), but had you recently rinsed your siphon, test jar, and hydrometer? I use the thief that lets you take readings in the thief and I usually fill it once, drain it, and refill before taking a reading to make sure there's no dilution of wort.

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Old 09-21-2009, 05:14 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VTBrewer View Post
You are either not mixing long/hard enough, reading hydrometer wrong, or it is not calibrated correctly. It is nearly impossible to miss your OG when extract brewing. I'm pretty sure it was higher.


Here' a picture of my hydrometer reading. Hard to see how I read that wrong.
It is a relatively new hydrometer. I broke my first one cleaning it.

This same hydrometer was used to take the OG of the beer that I DID measure the expected OG. Doubt it's a problem with it or that it's not calibrated correctly.

This leads be to believe that I didn't shake it long or hard enough...
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Old 09-21-2009, 05:29 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Grizzlybrew View Post
Well, he does have a pound of crystal in there, which could contribute as much as .007 points, but prob more like .005

How are you treating the crystal? I don't buy those kits, are the grains already crushed? It could be the size of the crush.
I steeped the grains at 155 F for 45 minutes. The Crystal was already crushed.

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Originally Posted by Grizzlybrew View Post
Also, how accurate is your thermometer?
I think it's pretty accurate. I haven't calibrated it in ice/boiling water. Need to do that.

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One more thing (and I know this is a little extreme), but had you recently rinsed your siphon, test jar, and hydrometer? I use the thief that lets you take readings in the thief and I usually fill it once, drain it, and refill before taking a reading to make sure there's no dilution of wort.
I took my auto siphon out of my starsan solution immediately before taking the sample. I filled my hydrometer tube about 1/2 way then put the remainder in a cup. Why? I'm not really sure. I think I needed an extra pair of hands thinking that I was going to tip over the tube. I cleaned up the kitchen and then proceeded to take the reading. I filled the tube up with the remainder from the cup. Then plopped in the dry hydrometer and let it overflow into the sink to get a good look at the hydrometer scale at the very top of the tube.
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Old 09-21-2009, 05:39 PM   #6
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i have had the same problem doing extrat and partial boils for my last couple of brews. this last one i shook the better bottle around in circles on its edge for 5 minutes to get it to mix well and i was only off by .004. its tough to get it to mix well and get an accurate reading. id guess that is why.

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Old 09-21-2009, 06:43 PM   #7
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I had the opposite problem this weekend. I was brewing the Magic Hat #9 clone, and after I steeped the grains, I turned the heat up. It set for about 30 minutes but could not reach a rolling boil, then I realized the propane valve was only slightly cracked. I brought it up to boil, and continued. The OG was supposed to be 1.051, and my reading was 1.064. I realized a boiled out over a gallon of water, and I didn't make up the full boil. Therefore I had to add water to get to the 5 gallons, and I got the OG close to 1.054. I hope it still turns out O.K.

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Old 09-21-2009, 06:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
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This leads be to believe that I didn't shake it long or hard enough...
I'd vote for this. You really have to shake long and hard (heh heh) to mix up wort with top-off water. When I did partial boils, I'd usually put a tennis ball under the bucket and bounce steadily and heartily for 3 minutes or so (which is longer than it sounds - your arms should be pretty damn tired by the time you're done). Once I started doing that my OG readings starting coming into line.

The good news is that fermentation mixes everything up anyway, so other than not getting an exact OG reading, there's nothing else to worry about.
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Old 09-21-2009, 07:18 PM   #9
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Why not just stir in the top off?

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Old 09-21-2009, 08:01 PM   #10
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Two reasons.

1. It leads to what we're talking about, low OG readings. Wort and top off do not mix well together, and it varies how well depending on the the SG of the wort.

2. You need to aerate your wort anyway, so go nuts.

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