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Old 12-27-2012, 03:30 AM   #1
SaltyDog03
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Default Coffee porter input - Hydrometer reading

Hi all. This is my 4th batch that I've brewed up. This is a personally tweaked recipe I received from someone else for 5 ga.

7 lbs DME
1 lb Carmel Malt
.5 lbs Chocolate Malt
6 oz Belgium Candi sugar
8 oz CaraPils
1 oz Northdown for bittering
3-4 oz dark coffee added to 15 min boil
.5 UK kent Goldings last 15 min boil
.5 UK kent dry hop

Anyway, I am having trouble getting a consistent reading on the hydrometer. My first reading was 1.02. My heart sank when I saw this. I swirled the batch up and took another reading. 1.025. Thinking this batch was a failure, I decided to pitch the yeast anyway. I used about 10 g if I recall correctly. After I pitched the yeast, I was still distraught over the readings. I said screw it, I will shake the carboy up vigorously and take another reading even though I added the yeast. When I did this, my reading was 1.058 and adjusting for temperature it is about 1.06. Much better.

I however am still very worried about the recipe. I believe the OG should be somewhere around 1.064 or so.

Taking a reading after pitching the yeast I'm sure sways an accurate reading. Could my readings really have varied this much if my beer wasn't mixed up well enough? Do I dare take another reading?

I guess I'm just looking for some advice at this point. I'm new to brewing so any steps / tips would be great. I know how to use a hydrometer, but something must have gone awry. I've used it before on my last batch and I hit the OG spot on.

Thanks for any input.

Edit: I should also add that I tried the wort which was very sweet. I know it's going to be sweet, but it was very sweet. This was the first time trying the wort. I also think the sweetness is making me worry.

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Old 12-27-2012, 03:30 PM   #2
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Yes, the readings will vary that much if the wort is not well mixed. If your well mixed sample was 1.060, I would call it close enough and not worry too much about it. A beer with a OG of 1.060 is going to taste very sweet, nothing to worry about.

As a side note, have you calibrated your hydrometer? It should read 1.000 in pure water at the appropriate temperature (60F for most). If it does not, then just record the difference and remember to correct all future readings.

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Old 12-27-2012, 07:56 PM   #3
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I have not calibrated my hydrometer. I will check it out to make sure it's accurate.

Also, thanks for the input.

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Old 12-27-2012, 10:42 PM   #4
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Try taking your OG sample at the end of your boil. The wort is boiling vigoursly so the sugars are constantly suspended in the liquid, unlike after cooling where they can give false readings due to sugars dropping out of suspension. I was having difficulites with readings when I first started and a friend had me take readings this way and I have had good results since. Just an option to try. Happy brewing!

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Old 12-27-2012, 10:56 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natdavis777 View Post
Try taking your OG sample at the end of your boil. The wort is boiling vigoursly so the sugars are constantly suspended in the liquid, unlike after cooling where they can give false readings due to sugars dropping out of suspension.

Sugar DISSOLVES in water. It is not a suspension. It does not "drop out" of suspension unless you have literally so much sugar in there that the water is saturated with it.

If you are doing a partial boil, taking a reading immediately after the boil will always read high, because you haven't got all the water in there yet. If you add water post-boil, then you need to mix it extremely well before taking any readings, and my advice would be to let it wait a couple of hours after mixing thoroughly just to be sure. The problem is that when you top off your batch with water, you are making a stratified solution...higher OG on the bottom, and lower OG on top. Stirring might mix it a little, and might move around the spots that are high OG vs low OG, but it still won't give you a homogeneous solution right away.

Additionally, you need to take the reading with cooled wort, or the hydrometer will not read correctly. Most hydrometers are calibrated for wort around 60F. For *minor* temperature variations, there is a correction factor you can apply, but this correction factor goes pretty wrong for anything over, say, 80F IMO.
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Old 12-28-2012, 12:14 AM   #6
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I left out that I take the wort and put it in the freezer until the temp in around 60F. I dont read it right out of the boil. Additionally, I have never had to add water post boil which would give me a stratified solution.

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Old 12-28-2012, 05:27 PM   #7
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I did a partial boil, added remaining water, mixed and took 2 readings. Both were extremely low so I mixed the life out of the carboy and took a 3rd reading.

On a side note, the fermentation literally began in (probably) less than 8 hours. I racked to carboy, went to sleep, woke up 8 hours later and a violent fermentation had already begun. It's slowed down drastically after 24 hours (roughly 1 bubble in airlock per 9 seconds). Is this okay? My other batches never fermented this violently. It is a new yeast: Safebrew t-58.

Does my recipe look adequate? I want to make sure I have enough yeast for the recipe.

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Old 12-28-2012, 05:33 PM   #8
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Also, rather than starting a new thread since my next question still pertains to my OP, do you think that the 4oz of coffee added to the last 15 mins of boil is enough? I tasted the wort and there was no hint of coffee at all. I'm sure the flavor must mature more, but I've also read people racking to secondary fermenter and adding coffee there. If I'm not satisfied with the coffee flavor in a week from now, would that be a good option to increase the flavor?

Thanks for any input.

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Old 12-28-2012, 05:43 PM   #9
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Your recipe looks fine. If this is a kit and you used all the ingredients AND you ended up with 5 gallons of wort, then you should be fine and I wouldn't worry too much about your hyrdometer readings. Generally speaking, it is very hard to miss your target OG if you are using extract and hit your volumes, so my guess is measurement error.


Regarding the coffee flavor, yeah just dump in more coffee later on if you like. I would wait until fermentation is pretty much over, like say a week later, before adding more coffee, as active fermentation will tend to "scrub" a lot of that aroma and flavor away. Then let it sit there for a few days after adding the coffee before doing anything else with it like bottling/kegging/whatever.

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Old 12-29-2012, 07:35 AM   #10
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Thank you for the input.

Well like I stated, I had a very violent 24 hour fermentation period. Now, 2 days later it looks dead. There's hardly any bubbles in the air lock anymore....1 bubble every 16 seconds. Is this lack of bubbling anything to worry about? It's literally been 2 days and the fermentation looks dead. I planned on fermenting for a minimum of 3 weeks.

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