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Old 08-17-2011, 12:08 PM   #1
Xaquery
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Default First Time Brew Last Night - A Few Questions

Last night I brewed for the first time, a Brewer's Best English Brown Ale kit.
My OG that I read was way lower then the anticipated. I got a 1.032 while the expected was 1.045-049.
I didn't mix the wort and the water, I just poured the wort in to 2 gallons of cool water and topped it off after that. Is it possible that the concoction was still stratified in the carboy and I received a low gravity due to the water I added to the top?
If so, what is the best procedure of mixing the wort and water at the start of fermentation?
Also, may be unrelated but I'm curious. We used a 2.5 gallon pot (the largest I have, until i get a bigger one) so we had to keep the boil very low to avoid any boil over. What should an expected liquid loss be during the boil phase and could a lower liquid loss also affect the OG?

Thanks.

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Old 08-17-2011, 12:25 PM   #2
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The wort and water weren't mixed well, it's not a problem, happens all the time

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Old 08-17-2011, 12:52 PM   #3
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Maybe it's just me but I would prefer to have everything mixed thoroughly. Get a paint stirrer that fits on the end of an electric drill, sanitize, then stick in the carboy and stir it up. Option 2 would be to remove the airlock, cover the opening with several layers of saran wrap and carefully shake/swirl, and I do mean carefully.

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Old 08-17-2011, 02:01 PM   #4
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Same thing happened to me. I boiled on Saturday, fermentation went ape**** on Sunday, and now it's just chillin', cleaning itself up. I popped the airlock off and took a whiff of the bucket, and it smells like beer in there, so I guess I'm on the right track. No more peeking until it's ready!

As long as I get decent-tasting beer out of the first batch, I really don't care what the ABV is, or anything really. Next time I'm going to take a bent coat-hanger, sanitize, stick it in to a drill, and stir/aerate for a good minute or so before pitching the yeast.

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Old 08-17-2011, 02:10 PM   #5
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A few tips:

1) You really should use top-off water to fill to your target OG, not to hit a target volume, like 5 gallons. The kits assume with the 5 gallon volume that everything is going to be used to it's full potential efficiency in your steep and boil, and this is not always the case. Leaving 2oz of extract in the container will lower your OG. Missing your steeping temp by 2 degrees will lower your OG.

2) Remember that oxygenation of the cooled wort is a good thing, so stir the crap out of the cooled wort while you are adding top-off water to make sure everything is mixed and provide an oxygenated environment for your yeast to thrive.

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Old 08-17-2011, 04:27 PM   #6
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Thanks, that's all great advice.

I guess for starters I definitely need a bigger brew kettle. Would it be recommended to add water to the wort in the brew kettle (assuming a 7-8 gal kettle, mixing throughout, to the desired OG) and then transfer the entire mix, not bothering adding any water to the carboy?

I'm by no means worried about this batch, I'm sure it will be quite good. I'm just trying to get a better handle on the procedure for the next time, and there WILL be a next time!

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Old 08-17-2011, 04:57 PM   #7
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Boiling all of the water together is generally accepted as being better. It sterilizes all of your water, gets better hop utilization, and makes extract beers lighter in color. The only downside is that it makes chilling your wort take longer.

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Old 08-18-2011, 01:24 AM   #8
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Not to highjack the thread but I've just been reading through the beginners threads in hopes of learning a thing or two myself.

A few quick questions that have sprung up while reading through this thread in particular.

1. What exactly is OG? I assume it has something to do with Hydrometer Gravity? Just curious where that all plays in here.

2. Just a quick clarification on aeration: It IS ok to aerate the wort combined with water (to top off your 5 gallons) but it's NOT ok to aerate the batch once the yeast has been pitched? I've been simply adding the cooled water on top of the wort and then pitching the yeast...no stirring or aerating at all. I've also been experiencing a slight "flat" flavor (which I've asked about in another post) in some of my beers. I wonder if this might be playing into it at all.

Thanks in advance for the clarifications here!

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Old 08-18-2011, 01:38 AM   #9
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OG is original gravity. The first reading you take after the wort has been mixed with water but BEFORE you pitch the yeast.

Yes, mix the wort and water well. Stir it, or close the top and shake the hell out of it. Once you pitch and stir in the yeast, you do not want to aerate it.

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Old 08-18-2011, 01:52 AM   #10
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Just to clarify, you can aerate immediately after pitching the yeast but you do not want to aerate during or after fermentation, that can cause your beer to stale sooner.

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