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Old 04-15-2012, 03:56 PM   #1
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Default 1st batch ever:Specific gravity was around 1.3 before I added yeast- am I in trouble?

Hi all. I finally bought a kit (off of Craigslist), and decided to take the plunge on the first attempt yesterday. The kit had a wheat ale in it, and I'm all for that... Simple kit with hops pellets, two bags of malt extract, etc... I went through the checklist, made sure I had everything, and went step by step. Here's my question:

I noticed when I poured my mix in to the bucket right before I added the yeast, I put the hydrometer (is that right?) to check the specific gravity. I still had some suds, so it was sticking up above the suds below 1.20, so I'm going to guess it was about 1.3'ish... Homebrew for Dummies, and the guide that came with the kit, all say it should have been about 1.48 or so... do I have issues? Or, am I just a newbie who is on his first batch and I shouldn't worry? Is there anything I can do, or need to do, to correct it as it's working, prior to putting it in the bottles?

just thought I'd ask. Thanks all.

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Old 04-15-2012, 04:03 PM   #2
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Hi all. I finally bought a kit (off of Craigslist), and decided to take the plunge on the first attempt yesterday. The kit had a wheat ale in it, and I'm all for that... Simple kit with hops pellets, two bags of malt extract, etc... I went through the checklist, made sure I had everything, and went step by step. Here's my question:

I noticed when I poured my mix in to the bucket right before I added the yeast, I put the hydrometer (is that right?) to check the specific gravity. I still had some suds, so it was sticking up above the suds below 1.20, so I'm going to guess it was about 1.3'ish... Homebrew for Dummies, and the guide that came with the kit, all say it should have been about 1.48 or so... do I have issues? Or, am I just a newbie who is on his first batch and I shouldn't worry? Is there anything I can do, or need to do, to correct it as it's working, prior to putting it in the bottles?

just thought I'd ask. Thanks all.
There is no way your OG was 1.3. No way.

It could have possibly been 1.030, if you didn't stir the wort super well.

Losing a decimal point in reading the SG really is not a huge deal, except that it's hard to know for sure that you did until I saw that your think the OG should be 1.48. Of course, your hydrometer doesn't even go up to 1.48, so I knew there was an issue. If the OG was supposed to be 1.048, that's a pretty typical OG for many beers.

One of the reasons it might be off is because when you mix extract and water, the heavier extract sometimes doesn't mix as well as you'd like without vigorous stirring and mixing. It's common to have incorrect hydrometer readings as a result.

If you give us the ingredients you used (in pounds or kilos) and the exact amount of water you used, we can tell you your OG. The sugars are there, they don't go anywhere. But if you added too much water it could be lower than planned.
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Old 04-15-2012, 04:24 PM   #3
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You are fine. This is a common problem for new brewers. Kits are super hard to mess up. Yooper has the right words( not that I read them) the they are right on.

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Old 04-16-2012, 02:39 PM   #4
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Guys, THANKS! Yes, you're right- it must have been about 1.030, not 1.30... but it's not clear on the hydrometer that that is how you read it... IMHO, but that's neither here nor there. Lesson learned.

So, it is possible I added too much water, as I couldn't find the line on the bucket/fermenter, so I filled it to the bottom outside ring of the bucket- figured that was probably closest to 5 gallons. I probably wasn't as exact with the water as I should have been, perhaps. I"ll keep a closer eye on it next time. When I poured my wort in to the bucket/fermenter, I used a bag of ice in the bucket to cool everything down. That, and two gallons of cold water- brought the temperature down around 80 or so, right away. But, it sounds as thought I should have stirred it more once I poured. I thought pouring it may have aerated it enough, but that would make sense.

I still have the box from the kit, and can post that later (i'm at work now), but I'm sure you guys have better things to do! I appreciate the clarifications on this.

Either way, I suppose if nothing else, I've made beer, right? It doesn't have to be strong, high alcohol content to be beer... although it's always nice!

Oh, and I took my sg in the fermenter- I didn't sample off some into the container that my hydrometer came in- didn't realize I was supposed to- and at that point, it wasn't sterilized like everything else. (I did a quick dunk in bleach for the hydrometer, rinsed with super hot water, let it cool, and then used it. I'd like to think I'm safe on that one...) So, that IS how you're supposed to do it though, right- scoop some wort in to the hydrometer case, and then put the hydrometer into THAT???

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Old 04-16-2012, 03:19 PM   #5
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Good luck on your beer. From my past experience I've screwed up probably 10 batches or so, and I can officially say they were related to sanitation issues, I.e not using some type of iodine solution. I may be wrong from others but using any type of Homebrew iodine no rinse solution is the easiest thing to do. Also I've learned to be crazy when it comes to sanitation and making sure you have all the tools you need sanitized before hand and have a spray bottle in hand, just in case. I've read that bleach is a huge pain in the a$$ so personally I've never used it.

-Rob-

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Old 04-16-2012, 06:38 PM   #6
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A dollar store spray bottle filled with star san is the best way to sanitize. Bleach/Chlorine can cause off flavors (rubber/medicinal/chlorine), i only use it for sanitizing the dishes. I use diversol (chlorinated pink stuff) as a CIP cleanser but that is well rinsed and dried before being star san'd.

post your ingredients it will only take one of us 30 secs to stick it into Beer Smith and get your OG.

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Old 04-16-2012, 07:39 PM   #7
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An easy way to take SG readings is to sanitize a new turkey baster, and use that to pull out your sample. You really don't want to use a cup or anything to scoop, as you want to avoid aeration and/or splashing once fermentation starts.

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Old 04-17-2012, 03:31 PM   #8
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Can I just say, this is a great group? Seriously! So many groups out there (for all sorts of topics) just trash the newbies... this has been pretty cool.

I apologize- I still haven't posted the ingredients! But, I do have bubbling in my bubbler... not strong, but every few seconds, it rises, and falls, rises, and falls... So, it's not strong yet (only been 48 hrs or so when I checked yesterday), and it's cold in the basement right now. The Pac-NW is still pretty cold, especially in the evenings.

Should I bring it in the house instead?

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Old 04-17-2012, 03:37 PM   #9
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Ok so this is the kit I have- with wheat ale malt extract. I can't recall the yeast I purchased (the kit was missing that; again, bought it from someone on Craigslist that didn't use the kit, but smashed a 1/2 rack of bottles... bottles are easy!)

Also, I used the cleaning solution (for all the components) that came with the kit- soaked everything for about 40 minutes, rinsed w/hot water for quite awhile... and went that route. I'll try the iodine, especially if it's no-rinse! That's just too easy...

And, the kit came with a carboy as well as the two fermenting buckets, two types of bubblers... so I figure, if I can get a batch right, I can actually try two batches simultaneously, but that is getting way ahead of myself! Right now, I need a completed brew...

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Old 04-17-2012, 03:44 PM   #10
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It's important to know what type of yeast you bought from Craig's List. Normal ale fermenting temperatures range from 68 - 72 f. If it's colder than that outside, your fermentation may be slowed, but it will work . . . just a little slower. Normal lager fermentation temperatures range from 45 - 55 f. So, if you use a lager yeast, try to stay in that range.

Try not to pay too much attention to the airlock. While it is a sign that fermentation is occurring, it can be misleading. The only way to determine when fermentation is complete is by checking your hydrometer reading, which is why people keeping asking for your ingredient list.

After 7 - 10 days take hydrometer reading and write it down. 2 days later, take another. If it has changed (dropped), check in another 2 days. When you have a stable reading 2 days apart, fermentation is "complete". At that point, you can rack to a secondary, or let it go in the primary for another 10 - 14 days.

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