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Old 02-12-2012, 09:07 PM   #1
wishmaster84
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Default Increasing alcohol percentage.. Please help!

I am new to brewing and brewed my first batch of beer. It was a True brew IPA kit. I followed the instructions exactly. The beer came out well (Color,taste and carbonation) but I swear there was little to no alcohol content (I drank 12 and not even a buzz)

The kit contained the following:
Unhopped Amber Malt Extract-2 cans
Crystal Grain- 1lb
Pilgrim Hop Pellets- 1 oz
First Gold Hop Pellets-1 oz
Heavy Toast Oak Chips- 1/2 oz
Ale Yeast- 1 pack
Priming Sugar 5 oz

The instructions said to do the following:

Place cans of malt extract in boiling pot (To soften the syrup)
Place 1-1 1/2 gallons of water in the brewpot and bring to boil.
Turn heat off. Place grains in steeping bag and steep in hot water for 20-30 minutes. Remove grains and discard spent grains, Heat water again to near boiling. Turn heat off stir in 2 cans of malt extract and add Pilgrim Hop Pellets. Stir until dissolved and return heat to boil. Watch for boil over (Of course) until foaming stops. Then boil for 45 minutes, adding the First Gold Gold Hop Pellets for the final 1-2 minutes of the boil. Place 3 gallons of cold water in the fermenter and slowly pour in hot mixture. Fill with additional cold water up to 5 gallons. Steam sanatize Oak chips and add to fermenter.

I waited until the wort was under 90 degrees (As instructed) and pitched the yeast. I did not take any gravity readings as I had no idea how to use a Hydrometer (Until now) I mixed yeast well (as instructed) and did everything your supposed to from there. applied carboy bung, airlock etc. After 2 days it was bubbling away and continued doing so for another 2-3 days. I let beer sit in fermenter for 2 weeks then racked and bottled. I waited 21 days and the beer was fully carbonated, tasted good, etc.. JUST CLOSE TO 0 PERCENT ALCOHOL!! Any ideas as to why? Did I do something wrong? Can I increase my alcohol content going foreward? How do I increase alcohol percent going foreward? I read that more fermentable sugar= More alcohol percent. Could I add more Malt Extract? Maybe more steeping grains to the boil? Increasing fermentable sugar? Any ideas/suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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Old 02-12-2012, 09:13 PM   #2
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Your beer contains alcohol. It is impossible for it to be devoid of alcohol based on your observations of the process. In fact, your beer is mostly likely between 4% and 5% ABV. The perception that it didn't make you drunk does not change the FACT that it contains alcohol.

Yes, to increase alcohol content you can add more fermentable content. Sugar, extract, or properly mashed grain will all contribute to alcohol content.

Read here: www.howtobrew.com

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Old 02-12-2012, 09:17 PM   #3
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without gravity readings... everything is speculation.

also, your measurements are unclear - 2 cans of UME - were those 3.3lb or 1.4lb?

if it was 1.4 lb cans that makes it - 2.8 for 5 gallons of water. (i'm assuming, you didn't give total batch size) which would make it 2.1% abv - which might explain your issue.

now if the cans of UME were 3.3... that's 6.6 lb total... which would make it 4.8% ABV and much more "beer like" in alcohol content...

a "decent" general rule of thumb is 1.5lb of fermentables per gallon equals 5%ABV (that's not exact, just from what i've found in building recipes in brew software)


did the recipe call for Dextrose? that's one way to add ABV - corn sugar is often added to up the alcohol content without changing the color or malt content of a beer.

i hope you don't get frustrated with your first attempt, pour over this site and get your bearings... this place is a wealth of information, and you'll be making great tasting, great alcohol content beer in no time...


to clarify. get a hydrometer. they are cheap and a 100% guarantee of what your yeast produced in the way of ABV.

happy brewing!

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Old 02-12-2012, 09:20 PM   #4
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How did you determine alcohol content? If you added 2-3.3lb cans of extract in 5 gallons of wort, and it fermented out (not sickly sweet), you should have made beer with about 4.3% alcohol.

If you are reading the alcohol gradation on the hydrometer, that is for POTENTIAL alcohol, which should be low for a fermented beverage. To calculate the alcohol in a brew, you take starting gravity (you don't have this) and subtract finished gravity, then multiply by 130. Say you started at 1.047 and ended up at 1.015. (1.047-1.015)*130=4.2% alcohol.

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Old 02-12-2012, 09:49 PM   #5
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Thanks a lot for your answers and help! This forum already is awesome. I could tell there was some alcohol but not enough (For my taste) Any ideas on how much extra Malt extract I should use to increase Alcohol percentage? Corn sugar sounds like a great idea. Any suggestions on how much to use for a 5 gallon batch? How would I add this sugar? To the boil? Fermenter?

Also my favorite beer (For now) is "Peacetree Blonde fat ale" It is a very good Blonde ale with 8.5% alcohol. (I like strong beer)
If I did a Blonde ale any suggestions on how to get alcohol % that high?

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Old 02-12-2012, 10:44 PM   #6
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It looks like Peacetree Blonde Fatale is a lightly hopped Belgian style blonde. You can find a kit, like the one here at Northern Brewer http://www.northernbrewer.com/shop/b...tract-kit.html

Be forewarned that, in general, higher gravity beers like this one take longer to condition. The instructions on the kit I linked say 3 months from grain to glass, so try to be patient.

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