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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Low Alcohol Level at Bottling Time
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Old 05-28-2013, 06:07 PM   #1
ThomasO
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Default Low Alcohol Level at Bottling Time

I made up the Brewers' Best IPA adding a liquid yeast that the homebrew shop recommended as the only change. I've not gotten much bubbling activity the last few batches in the airlock, so didn't think much of it, and there is evidence of krausen activity when I opened the ale pale, but doing the math a few times after checking with the hygrometer, I come out with 1.44% alcohol after the initial was close to the recommended level (which I don't recall now). Taste is okay, with a somewhat grapefruity taste, which is okay to me since I like that flavor, but I suspect it isn't what it should be. I think I had some Sam Adams Double Agent IPA or something else similar that actually mentioned the grapefruit taste on the label so I'm not surprised by it, just wondered if I may have done something wrong. As far as I can see, I've followed the same cleaning and brewing procedures for 6 of these kits now, so I think I should be getting the hang of things. After a very good Scottish Ale and an Irish Stout, both of which came out very good in my opinion, but both of which showed very little bubbling activity, I just want to double check. Temps have been consistent with directions, no noticeable change to water conditions, same equipment and one-step cleanser, etc. 10 more days until I can open the first bottle and see how it ends up.

Tom Oxley

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Old 05-28-2013, 06:17 PM   #2
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Have you calculated correctly.

This is the equation I see most often: ABV = (OG - FG)*131

OG= Original gravity (before fermentation)
FG= Final gravity (after fermentation is totally done)

Also make sure you are reading the hydrometer properly.

With kits, if you use all the ingredients, get the proper volume, and you get proper fermentation your ABV will be very close to the kits prediction.

BTW, when using liquid yeast for a 5 gallon batch you should make starters so you are pitching with the optimum cell count. A pack/vial will ferment the beer but do not contain the optimum cell counts.

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Old 05-28-2013, 06:39 PM   #3
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I may well not have read the hydrometer correctly. I did follow the directions for the math several times. May get a new one or go over it with the homebrew supply store to make sure I'm reading it right. The level was just a little bit over the 5-gallon mark after I transferred to the bottling pale but that was after getting the reading, adding the cornstarch solution. I should have started pretty much at the 5-gallon line. I'll look at that yeast starting again and see about that on the next batch. Hoping to start the Cream Ale kit this weekend.

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Old 05-28-2013, 06:46 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by kh54s10 View Post
Have you calculated correctly.
And if so, what is the OG & FG? The OG should be almost exactly what the kit called for. Stratitication in the fermenter while pulling the sample can cause an incorrent OG reading. A high FG can happen, but probably not enough to result in 1.44% ABV, unless there's a big fermentation problem. If you got a really high FG, it would indicate a yeast problem of some kind - poor yeast health, wrong pitching or fermentation temperature, etc.
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:20 PM   #5
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Are you by chance reading the alcohol scale and not the gravity scale?

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Old 05-28-2013, 07:38 PM   #6
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Just a thought since I goofed this way on my first batch..... but are you taking the temperature of the sample and adjusting it to get the proper OG and FG? The hydrometer is calibrated to 0 at 60 degrees F. If your at a different temp you have to adjust the numbers accordingly to get an accurate reading.
I thought my first batch was way low as well. After finally being able to drink it it turned out just fine.

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Old 05-28-2013, 08:16 PM   #7
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It is quite possible that your OG was off due to incomplete mixing of the wort. This could result in an inaccurately low OG which, when compared with the FG, would give a false low ABV reading.

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Old 05-28-2013, 08:32 PM   #8
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Those are extract kits, so it is almost impossible to miss OG unless your volumes were waaaaay off. So you can use the OG listed in the recipe.

Take a good FG reading and use the formula that was list a few posts above. This should be accurate.

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Old 05-28-2013, 08:58 PM   #9
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Thanks, all. I can't do much about it now but it all goes into the experience folder for the next batch. I may have looked at the wrong column on the hydrometer, and if I thought I was looking at the right one, naturally did it again for the FG. I mixed water to wort pretty well and stirred, so don't think that would be the problem. The 2 inches of krausen residue on the sides of the pale say I did get fermentation but not enough to bubble up through the air lock. I did notice the kitchen smelled very good during the process, and am wondering if my pale isn't sealing well. I'm getting another pale and lid for Fathers Day, intending to be able to do 2 batches every 3 weeks instead of 1, but if the new pale gives me very different results, then I may need to toss the old one or use it for something else, perhaps a secondary to use after fermentation has already started well. I was looking at temps and I did adjust the one point for the difference. I will read over the instructions again to make sure I understand the amount of adjustment. It's all about learning right now, and as long as the result is drinkable, it will work out.

Tom Oxley

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Old 05-28-2013, 09:01 PM   #10
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Quote:
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I mixed water to wort pretty well and stirred, so don't think that would be the problem.
Tom Oxley
You new brewers always seem to think that, but if that were the case we wouldn't have thousands of threads like this, and wouldn't have needed this thread entitled-"Attention new brewers, yes your original gravity reading is wrong. Don't panic"!

If you followed instructions, and have the correct volume of beer, then it's impossible to have that happen.
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