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Old 11-17-2012, 12:06 AM   #1
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Default More questions about Festa Brew wc IPA

Ok, posted this at the end of a thread but deleted it from there and made a new thread. Slightly edited because I did a ton more research since I posted it.

I'm brewing the Festa Brew West Coast IPA (first home brew ever). I've just had it in the primary fermenter for about 4 days now and it's been fermenting really nicely. The instructions said to leave it in the primary for 3-5 days or until the surface foam collapses, then rack into a carboy. Well, the foam got really sludgy and heavy looking and shrunk a bit and looked like it fell into itself - so I took that as a sign that it was ready to rack into the carboy. But, I also took an SG reading and it was at 1.006 to 1.008, which doesn't sound right at all. Does that seem right to you guys? Maybe I'm reading it wrong (the level of the liquid was 3-4 tick marks below the 1.00 mark). What's it going to mean if the SG is at that level?

I now know that a lot of people will say I didn’t leave it in the primary for nearly long enough, and that a secondary isn’t even necessary. Maybe next time!

But, back to the main issue, I don’t think that would be the cause of the low gravity reading though, would it? It seems there was somehow an excess of yeast/fermentation (possibly some sort of contamination – although there are no other signs of it). I didn’t take an original gravity reading (just trusted the range given in the kit itself, and how could that be far off?). The only thing I can think of is that it might have been too warm when it was fermenting and the yeast went crazy and ate up all the sugar, although it took almost a day for any substantial bubbling to appear so that doesn’t seem likely.

1. Any ideas as to the cause of the low reading?
2. If the wort did in fact start at the higher OG range indicated for this kit, what does my low almost-final gravity reading mean? And, if anything is going to change at this stage, it will just get lower, correct?
3. Do you think it’s at all likely that the wort was somehow messed up when we bought the kit and that it would have had a lower OG reading to start with than expected? Is this a known issue with kits?
4. What effect does a low FG have on the resulting beer? Whether or not it started out at a high OG?

Man that’s a lot of questions… any ideas about this are much appreciated!

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Old 11-17-2012, 05:12 PM   #2
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1. Since this is your first brew, I suspect your hydrometer skills are not fully perfected, unless you are also a home wine maker. Try checking again and make sure you get all of the bubbles out of the wort by spinning the hydrometer. Also, make sure the hydrometer is floating clear of the sides. I have to wrestle with mine to get a clear reading sometimes.

2. If it has fermented out, and for this particular wort, the FG is supposed to be between 1.012 and 1.016, you'll just have a couple of extra points of alcohol. However, the hops in that brew will negate any alcohol flavor.

3. No way the kit is messed up. I am now thoroughly enjoying a batch of that brew I made when they first came out this fall. Magnotta/Festa know what they are doing.

4. Beers usually finish at a higher FG than wines. That being said, I don't think you'll really notice any difference. RDWHAHB.

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Old 11-18-2012, 12:12 PM   #3
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OK, thanks a lot for the reply, maybe in another week (or two) when we start thinking about testing the gravity again to see if we can bottle I'll get a different reading. It was hard to read, I used a really skinny tube to test it in and it was hard to keep it off the sides. I wonder about the quality of the hydrometer. The weight at the bottom that helps it float at the right level is uneven (i.e. there is more of it towards one side of the hydrometer than the other). Seems like a very minor thing since it's somewhat imprecise anyway, but I wonder if that could be throwing the measurements off a bit? It didn't seem tilted though when I was reading it. I've done a bit more reading now and found out that room temp is usually lower than fermentation temp, so heat might have been an issue as well.
How did you brew your kit? Did you follow the kit instructions or did you tweak the process a bit? Since we only left it for a few days in the primary fermenter, should we leave it extra long in the second?

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