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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Extract Brewing > Low Original Gravity Problems
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Old 01-31-2009, 03:17 AM   #1
CouchFarmer
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Default Low Original Gravity Problems

I'm going over my notes for the beer I've done and there's a trend - most of my beer doesn't end at the estimated ABV. The reason seems to be that I never get to the estimated original gravity of the recipe.

A couple of examples:

Craig's Travelin' Man Ale
Estimated OG - 1.064
My OG - 1.054

Jamil's Hop Jack Pale
EOG - 1.054
MOG - 1.040

Christmas Ale
EOG - 1.055
MOG - 1.040

Belgian Trippel
EOG - 1.075
MOG - 1.060

All of these are at least 5 gallon boils that ended with 4.75 - 5 gal in the fermenter. All of the above are extract kits from my local home home brew store in Los Altos. Does anyone know why I would be coming out low?

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Old 01-31-2009, 05:54 AM   #2
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I'm having a similar problem. I'm guessing that it's an insufficient extraction of the sugars from the grains we're using. It is my understanding that there is an optimal water saturation when you're steeping your grains (like an oatmeal consistency) at 150 or 155 F. This extracts the proper sugars etc. The kits just use the grains as flavoring, steeping in lots of water with no sparging. I'm thinking this is why our gravity is low. I would love to hear commentary from others on this.

In principle, most of our fermentable sugars come from the malt extract. Are the sugars from the grains in partial mash just trivial?

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Old 01-31-2009, 03:35 PM   #3
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I just noticed the same thing with an LD Carlson kit I picked up from my local Home Brew Store. Does this affect the alchohol volume? I gather it does, in my case dropped by 1%.

I don't use a thermometer during the steeping process.
I also dont use sugar to carbonate, I keg my beer and force carbonate.
Do those with higher finished gravity test after adding priming sugar?

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Old 01-31-2009, 05:40 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kass_Brauhaus View Post
In principle, most of our fermentable sugars come from the malt extract. Are the sugars from the grains in partial mash just trivial?
Are you partial mashing or steeping grains?

The answer differs depending on what you do. For partial mashing, the amount of sugars is significant, for steeping grains it's a very small percentage of the total sugars.
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Old 01-31-2009, 05:44 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CouchFarmer View Post
I'm going over my notes for the beer I've done and there's a trend - most of my beer doesn't end at the estimated ABV. The reason seems to be that I never get to the estimated original gravity of the recipe.

A couple of examples:

Craig's Travelin' Man Ale
Estimated OG - 1.064
My OG - 1.054

Jamil's Hop Jack Pale
EOG - 1.054
MOG - 1.040

Christmas Ale
EOG - 1.055
MOG - 1.040

Belgian Trippel
EOG - 1.075
MOG - 1.060

All of these are at least 5 gallon boils that ended with 4.75 - 5 gal in the fermenter. All of the above are extract kits from my local home home brew store in Los Altos. Does anyone know why I would be coming out low?
There are a few possibilities:

1.) The wort was not well-mixed when you took the OG reading, or you didn't temperature-correct your reading
2.) You overdiluted the wort
3.) The kit shorted you on extract

Post a complete recipe, and we can check if #3 is the problem.
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Primary: Saison, Berliner Weisse, sLambic I, sLambic II, IPA, 70/-
Secondary: Orange Blossom Mead, Flanders Red I
Kegged: Fat Man Porter w/ 1469, Fat Man Porter w/ 005, Centennial Falcon w/ Conan, Centennial Falcon w/ Denny's, Barrel-aged Fat Man Porter, Belgian Dark Strong, Dark Mild
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Old 01-31-2009, 07:14 PM   #6
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I was reading the 10 tips thread and had a question that relates to this thread. Does the volume of water you steep the grains in make a difference?

I have been steeping at the same volume of water I add the extract too and then boil it. I gather by the 10 tips thread that I should be steeping in much less water. Will the volume of water affect the alcohol volume?

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Old 01-31-2009, 08:28 PM   #7
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Another thing could be the temp your sample is at. Also have you tested your hydrometer in distilled water? Looking at your readings they are all about 15 points off.

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Old 02-01-2009, 07:27 PM   #8
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This happened to me today. I made the Northern Brewer's barleywine recipe. I was supposed to hit 1.082 for my OG, but the reading was 1.070. I don't know what I did wrong. Everything really seemed to go well and the temperatures were perfect. The boil was good, cooling was good, and everything was added at the right time.

Man, a 6% barleywine will probably suck. I hope that FG drops real low.

Here's the recipe from their website:

Barley Wine Extract Kit -- Kit Inventory Sheet

I dunno.

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Old 02-01-2009, 09:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArcaneXor View Post
Are you partial mashing or steeping grains?

The answer differs depending on what you do. For partial mashing, the amount of sugars is significant, for steeping grains it's a very small percentage of the total sugars.
I have been steeping grains, so I guess the contribution is insignificant. If it's because of the temperature correction I'm going to turn in my man-card...
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Old 02-03-2009, 03:53 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArcaneXor View Post
There are a few possibilities:

1.) The wort was not well-mixed when you took the OG reading, or you didn't temperature-correct your reading
2.) You overdiluted the wort
3.) The kit shorted you on extract

Post a complete recipe, and we can check if #3 is the problem.
1.) I check my original gravity after it's been aerated by pouring it though a mesh strainer or siphon w/ holes punched in it. If that doesn't mix it properly then I need to change something. I don't think it's the temperature correction and I checked the calibration of my hydrometer.

2.) I don't add any water at the end of the boil. I start with 7 gallons and end up with around 5, all of which goes into the fermenter.

3.) Here's the outline for my latest, the Travelin Man Ale (details omitted because I'm not sure on the rules for posting someone else's recipe)-

Extract-
8 lbs Ultralight

Grains-
13 oz various grains

Hops
2.5 oz assorted hops.

I know I loose some liquid when I pull the steeping the grains from my brew-pot, but I didn't think that it was this much. How much liquid do you need to lose before it affects the gravity?
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