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JeffoC6 01-30-2012 07:41 PM

Not hitting OG
 
Hey all-

Kind of an embarrassing question that I should know the answer to, but since I'm not currently taking hydrometer readings (due to only brewing 1 gallon batches and doing a primary fermentation for 3-4 weeks), what actually happens if you don't hit your OG?

I've read here and there where people "dump it out?" Seriously? Please correct me if this is not the case, but other than just "achieving success" in following the recipe exactly, is it that bad not hitting OG? Will your beer taste like garbage?

flushdrew42 01-30-2012 07:47 PM

OG just helps determine how much potential for alcohol your wort has.
basically the measurement gives you your starting point, and allows you to be extremely accurate in ABV%'s

i'm confused by all of the "dump it out" comments around here. so what... a lower OG beer has less ABV when you're done... so it's now a session beer. and you can drink 5 or 6 or 8 or 12 at a time... sheesh. if your ingredients are quality, and your process was spot on, who cares how MUCH alcohol is in it... didn't we stop binge drinking for "effect" when we were just out of college?

dcp27 01-30-2012 07:48 PM

I'd never heard of anyone doing that, but i'd hope no one had dumped a batch cuz the OG was off. if you're off on the OG it can just throw off the balance, but its all fixable (dilute if its high, add extract or boil longer if its low)

jaycount 01-30-2012 07:51 PM

If you come up short on your OG, your beer will have less body and less ABV. Is it a big deal? Well that depends how short you are of your OG.

With proper planning, you'll never be too far off. If you're brewing extract then it's pretty much impossible to be very far off (x amount of extract and y amount of water will always give you the same gravity, some people add top-off water for their partial boil and then panic when the hydrometer shows a lower OG, the problem is an incomplete mixture of wort). If you're brewing all grain, you should be taking a pre-boil OG and then compensating with boil times and/or water/extract additions.

And no, I never dump.

On a related note, I had an efficiency disaster this past weekend. Anticipated 75% extract eff and got 61%. Caught it during the pre-boil and was able to correct it (partially) with dry extract additions. I was still a little short, but the beer will be ok.

JeffoC6 01-30-2012 08:11 PM

Let me be a little more detailed, and I apologize for the length this is going to be, it's just been bothering me since I started brewing last month.

I'm a 1-gallon brewer. I have four 1-gallon carboys that I'm going to continue to use to have new beers coming out every week (once my first brew is done).

My first brew was a 1-gallon kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop. I prepared well, but had some issues with maintaining my mash temp and then had about 1/4 gallon of water boiled off during the boil. So I just topped it off with spring water before pitching the yeast.

My second brew was again, a 1-gallon kit from Brooklyn Brew Shop. I prepared better this time, but had a really hard time hitting my mash temp consistently. I have now since learned the trick to doing this, so moving forward, I don't see this being much of an issue for me. Again, when I did my 1hr boil, I had a little less than 1-gallon, so again, I topped it off with spring water and pitched the yeast.

This past Sunday, I brewed my 3rd beer, a recipe that I found online and scaled down to 1-gallon. This time, I was prepared to adjust my initial water due to boil-off and grain absorption. Unfortunately, once I mashed in, I realized that the temp was too high, so I had to add more water to cool it down. Because of this, once I started my boil, I had wayyyy to much wort for the size of the pot that I have, so I put some in other pot and boiled it alongside of my main pot, but I didn't add hops to it, I just boiled it. Why? I have no idea. At the end of the 90 min boil, there was hardly anything left in it, so I just dumped it. Again, I came in just underneath my 1-gallon line, so I topped off with spring water and pitched my yeast.

Each time I've brewed, I have not taken hydrometer readings. I've been told by a few people on here that because I'm only doing 1-gallon batches, I can leave it in the primary for 3-4 weeks and all should be fine, and I really don't need to take any readings before I bottle, so I've been going that route, rather than lose beer by taking hydrometer samplings (I realize I can get a refractometer, but I can't do that right now due to $$).

Based on this information, is my beer going to be...Bad? Thin? Not tasty?

I want to brew correctly, and each time I get prepared to do a recipe, someone links me to a calculator for mr. malty, brewcalculus, or beer365 mash/sparge water calculations. These sites overwhelm me, I don't even know what my trub loss is, or equipment loss, etc. So using these calculators are no help to me.

Please help, as I'm moving forward, I feel like I'm getting more lost.

dcp27 01-30-2012 08:24 PM

since you're mashing you really should be taking an OG until you get your system dialed in and know what your efficiency is. knowing this will also help you better balance your beer with the appropriate amount of bittering. i understand not wanting to lose beer by taking the hydrometer readings when its such a small batch size, but losing a few oz is alot better than losing all those bottles when they blow up if you had a stuck ferment.

JeffoC6 01-30-2012 09:58 PM

Can someone please talk me off the ledge? I'm feeling really frustrated and feeling like I'm not doing this right at all. While I don't expect everything to be "perfect," I do want to do things the right way from the beginning. I feel it's harder for me though because I'm only doing 1-gallons. Can anyone please lend some words of advice?

@dcp27, I appreciate your comment, but I don't even know what "efficiency" is. I mean, I read what it is, but I have no idea how to even determine mine. And while I understand you think it's pertinent to take hydrometer readings, the "few" oz's that I'd be losing would be about a beer and a half, and since I'm only going to be yielding about 9 per batch, I'd rather not lose the samples.

dcp27 01-30-2012 10:17 PM

so theres nothing particularly wrong with not taking the readings, many people do it. however, in the beginning, its very useful to do so you can get a better grasp on how your system works and be able to improve it. the example i gave was a bit extreme (bottle bombs), but it is a very real possibility as there are many things that effect FG. in all likelihood, not taking a gravity reading will work out fine, but personally id rather not take the chance of something going wrong. by taking these readings, you're able to generally fix any issue that may have shown up.

your efficiency is basically how well you extracted the potential amount of sugars from your grain. say you used 2lbs of two-row, which has about 37 ppg (points per gallon). if mashed these to make 1gal of beer, the max OG would be 1.074 (total ppg / volume, 37 ppg * 2 lbs / 1 gal = OG). however, aside from in a lab, thats pretty much impossible and you'd be closer to an OG of 1.056. This would give you an efficiency of 75% ( actual gravity / potential gravity, 56 / 74 ). heres two articles that can explain it more, and what effects it:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Efficiency
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Understanding_Efficiency

while some people just drink or dump their hydrometer readings, if you sanitized properly theres no reason it can't go back into the batch (assuming you didn't drink from it first)

i hope this didnt confuse you more

JeffoC6 01-30-2012 10:34 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dcp27 (Post 3724395)
so theres nothing particularly wrong with not taking the readings, many people do it. however, in the beginning, its very useful to do so you can get a better grasp on how your system works and be able to improve it. the example i gave was a bit extreme (bottle bombs), but it is a very real possibility as there are many things that effect FG. in all likelihood, not taking a gravity reading will work out fine, but personally id rather not take the chance of something going wrong. by taking these readings, you're able to generally fix any issue that may have shown up.

your efficiency is basically how well you extracted the potential amount of sugars from your grain. say you used 2lbs of two-row, which has about 37 ppg (points per gallon). if mashed these to make 1gal of beer, the max OG would be 1.074 (total ppg / volume, 37 ppg * 2 lbs / 1 gal = OG). however, aside from in a lab, thats pretty much impossible and you'd be closer to an OG of 1.056. This would give you an efficiency of 75% ( actual gravity / potential gravity, 56 / 74 ). heres two articles that can explain it more, and what effects it:
http://www.homebrewtalk.com/wiki/index.php/Efficiency
http://braukaiser.com/wiki/index.php?title=Understanding_Efficiency

while some people just drink or dump their hydrometer readings, if you sanitized properly theres no reason it can't go back into the batch (assuming you didn't drink from it first)

i hope this didnt confuse you more

OK, I read the wiki link for efficiency that you gave me and it makes sense to me. So do I take my OG reading as soon as my wort cools below 70*?

When I see recipes posted on here with the OG being 1.057 (http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f70/weihenstephaner-dunkel-clone-42549/), am I too assume that this is at 100% efficiency?

dcp27 01-30-2012 10:42 PM

yup, the closer to 60F (or whatever your hydrometer is calibrated to) the better. there is temperature corrections for higher, but once you get over 90F its not very accurate. under 80F is usually ok.

nope, it'll never be 100%. if its not listed, id assume its in the 65-75% range. it looks like that one is around 75% based on a quick check


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