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Old 03-11-2006, 07:11 AM   #1
vasie
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Default Low initial gravity

I just finished my second batch of brew and, for the second time, my inital gravity was less than the expected by about 0.06 or so. The previous batch was off just about the same amount.

I am wondering if my hydrometer is a bit off.

I am currently an extract brewer. I steeped the cracked barely in the brew pot as the water temperature came up to 170 degees. I then added then added and boiled all of the extracts. After the 60 min of boiling, I lost about .5 gal to steam. After cooling and straining the work, I toppd off the primary fermenter to 5 gal. I am just eyeballing the 5 gal mark, but, based on the graduations marked on the ale pale, I am certain that I am reasonably close to the proper water level.

Should I agitate the barley while it is steeping? Perhaps I am losing a bit during the straininig process?

Any thoughts?



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Old 03-11-2006, 08:00 AM   #2
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What was your OG?

And what grains/extracts did you use?

And how much of each?



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Old 03-11-2006, 06:27 PM   #3
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I'm assuming you dropped a "0" and the reading was off 0.006. I would suspect your hydrometer is off or you aren't mixing the primary enough. The steeping grains add very little to the OG, they are just there for flavor. Check the hydrometer in water at 60F, it should be exactly 1.000. Sometimes the paper scale slides.

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Old 03-12-2006, 03:50 AM   #4
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Well, I tested my hydrometer. It was a bit of a task trying to find a glass tall enough to work. I was not willing to fill up my bottling bucket for this test. Anyway, I found an empty vodka bottle that worked and the hydrometer checked out.

I was wondering, how much of an affect would testing highly oxygenated beer have on the reading. I tested my initial gravity right after topping off the water level to 5 gal. The wort was so oxygenated that it about 3 - 4 inches of foam on the surface. I did remember to spin the hydrometer to free any clinging bubbles from the surface of the glass. I would gues that the oxygen would decrease the density of the wort, but could it possibly account for an error of 0.006?

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Old 03-12-2006, 12:22 PM   #5
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I've been wondring the same thing about my hydrometer: I'm consistently about 4 points below the calculated gravity. Last night, I did a hefeweizen with no grains to steep--all extract. (Extracting sugars from steeping is always a bit of a crap shoot.)

5.5 gallons, 6.6 lbs wheat LME, .5 lbs wheat DME

Should be an OG of 1.048. MEasures OG (at 78 degrees, temp corrected) was 1.043.

This is how my batches always go. I measure very carefully and go to great lengths to make sure I'm getting every last drop of LME out of the can, etc.

My hydrometer checks out at 60 degrees in plain water. I'm thinking of doing a test with .25 pounds of table sugar dissolved in .25 gallons of boiling water and chilling to 60 degrees. Table sugar is a highly refined product and should always be pretty close to the target gravity of 1.046 (per pound/gallon), I would think.

I eyeball the volume markings on my primary fermenter, but the yields I get at bottling tell me that I'm not putting too much top-off water in.

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Old 03-12-2006, 02:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vasie
Well, I tested my hydrometer. It was a bit of a task trying to find a glass tall enough to work. I was not willing to fill up my bottling bucket for this test. Anyway, I found an empty vodka bottle that worked and the hydrometer checked out.
If you're concerned about the accuracy of your hydrometer readings, you should get a test jar...they're about three bucks. You can't read the hydrometer accurately while it's in your bucket, as the reading needs to be taken at eye level.

That said, extract brewers shouldn't really be overly concerned about hydrometer readings...if you followed the recipe/instructions then you can bet that the OG is pretty close to what the recipe says it will be. RDWHAHB.

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Old 03-12-2006, 07:59 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Pistolero
That said, extract brewers shouldn't really be overly concerned about hydrometer readings...if you followed the recipe/instructions then you can bet that the OG is pretty close to what the recipe says it will be. RDWHAHB.
That's kinda how I look at it--I don't think my hydrometer is all that accurate, but I don't really care enough to buy a new one. Perhaps if I ever get around to it, I'll borrow a friend's hydrometer on brew day some time and check mine against his.

If I go to all-grain, I guess I'd need to have a hydrometer that I trust.


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