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Old 09-25-2007, 03:00 PM   #1
OblivionsGate
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Default Issues with Gravity

I have made several batches so far, two are at the point of secondary, and to date not one has been RIGHT on the money with gravity.

If there is a range of appropriate gravities for a beer, my beer is usually on the edge of that range.

What causes this and what can be the effects? Is there a way to fix it if its bad?


The main reason I ask is because I just transferred my pumpkin ale to secondary and the gravity had "finished" but was rather off and when I took a taste of it, it was very sweet and pumpkiny (which I like, but I don't want pumpkin juice w/ no ABV).

sorry, i'm still a noob and don't really get "what" gravity is and its meaning.



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Old 09-25-2007, 04:28 PM   #2
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think of gravity as a measurement of how 'thick' the liquid is with sugar. the more sugar, the more gravity. conversely, the more alcohol, the lower the gravity.

water should be 1.000 gravity. Wine has a lot more alcohol than beer, and can 0.999 or lower.

so, using your hydrometer you measure the gravity/sugar level in the starting beer (wort). then later you do it again to see if the beer is finished fermenting.

typically, you can take the starting gravity and divide by 4 to get an estimate on final gravity. So, a 1.040 starting gravity should be done around 1.010

From the sound of it, your beer isn't done yet. sweet means there's still a fair amount of sugar left.
so, we need to know more about your recipe including the yeast used, and specifically the starting gravity and the current gravity.

you may have a stuck fermentation or the yeast may not be able to ferment this completely, requiring a different, more robust strain.



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Old 09-25-2007, 06:41 PM   #3
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There are any number of variables that can cause your OG to be off slightly. You may have a bit over 5 gallons or a bit under after topping off, your wort may not be fully mixed, you may not have gotten every last bit of extract into your brew, ect...

As for FG there are some common explanations for poor ferments; some extracts have a high level of unfermentable wort (I typically see 65% attenuation with extracts), the temp may have been too low causing your ferment to stall, you may not have aerated enough, or you may have under-pitched.

In general if it tastes good I tend not to worry about ABV, but that's just me.

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Old 09-25-2007, 06:54 PM   #4
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I take gravity readings mostly just to know when a batch is ready to be bottled. Ok, so I partly take them because my friends are all mystified that I can somhow calculate the alcohol content of the beer that I brew.

I stopped worrying about the alcohol content of my brews except when I'm purposely shooting for something big.

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Old 09-25-2007, 07:07 PM   #5
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My ingrediant list isn't with me, I'll post again when I get ahold of it, as well as the gravity readings.

Its not necessarily that I'm concerned with the ABV being high or low, I would just like to know everything about my beer and have it be "perfect" to me, and no ABV is less like "beer" and I'd be dissapointed.

thanks for the help, i'll get back asap

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Old 09-25-2007, 07:31 PM   #6
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Well, if you're looking for "perfect," you've joined the wrong hobby, my friend.

"Gravity" is specific gravity (or "SG"), which is the ratio of the density of the fluid you are measuring against the density of water under the same conditions. Like Malkore said, it's a way of figuring how much sugar and alcohol are in your wort or beer. "OG" or "original gravity" is the SG of the wort right before you pitch, and "FG" or "final gravity" is the SG after fermentation is complete. Nailing either an OG or FG at a specific point to three decimal places is a Holy Grail. Don't be disappointed or even concerned that you haven't done it.

When you are dealing with homebrewing, "good enough" has to do until you are well beyond several batches or just plain lucky. Keep very detailed notes, read a lot of books, talk to experienced brewers, think about your beers and the information you take in, and experiment with your beers. With that, you may find the ability to fine tune your beers. When I say "experiment," I mean to change only one thing at a time in your recipes and protocols (except for correcting fundamentals, which you should do before anything else). That way, you can measure the effects of the changes and learn more.


TL



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