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Old 04-30-2011, 09:53 PM   #1
UnclePeaches
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Default OG is Too High. Trying to figure out why & if I can "fix" it

This is my 2nd batch of homebrew and I'm still in the "beginner mistakes" phase. Luckily my first mistake-laden batch ended up tasting like beer, so I'm pretty happy.

I brewed my 2nd batch on Monday (a hoppy American Wheat Ale) and my OG ended up being 1.074. The target OG was 1.050. I am trying to figure out the following:

  1. Why did this happen. I'd like to learn from my mistakes so they don't happen in the future.
  2. Is there anything I can do about it now before I rack to secondary, dry-hop, and bottle?

Here is the recipe I followed and then a list of known mistakes:
1 lb. 2 Row
1 lb. Torrified Wheat
6 lbs. Wheat DME or 7.2 LBS Wheat LME
4 oz. Amarillo Hops
White Labs WLP001 California Ale Yeast
  • Steep cracked grains in muslin bags from cold to 155 degrees. Hold at 155 degrees
  • for 30 to 40 minutes. Drain and remove muslin bags.
  • Bring to a boil. Add DME and 1 oz. of Amarillo Hops. Boil 30 minutes.
  • Add 1 oz. Amarillo Hops. Boil for 25 minutes. (1/2 oz. if less hoppy is desired)
  • Add 1 oz. Amarillo Hops. Boil for 5 minutes. (1/2 oz. if less hoppy is desired)
  • Mix with cold water in fermenter to make 5 gallons.
  • When cooled down to under 80 degrees, add White Labs WLP001 California Ale
  • Yeast
  • Ferment 68 to 70 degrees until fermentation completes.


STEPS REMAINING
Re-rack and dry hop with 1oz of Amarillo hops for an additional week.
Bottle with ¾ priming sugar and allow 14 to 20 days for bottle conditioning.


NOTES
  • This was my first attempt at making a starter 2 days prior from liquid yeast.
  • After the 60 min boil & hop additions, I cooled the wort from boiling to 72 degrees in 22 mins via ice bath.

KNOWN MISTAKES
  • I brought my water up to 155 degrees, turned off the heat, then added the muslin bag of cracked grains to the water and let it steep for 30 mins, stirring occassionally.
  • I did not shake/agitate the carboy before taking my gravity reading after I poured in the cooled wort & top-off water. (After I took the gravity reading, I pitched my yeast starter, then shook/agitated the carboy, attached blowoff tube and put in dark closet at 65-70 degrees.



So... back to my original questions:
  1. My OG ended up being 1.074 (target OG was 1.050).
  2. Why did this happen. I'd like to learn from my mistakes so they don't happen in the future.
  3. Is there anything I can do about it now before I rack to secondary, dry-hop, and bottle?


Many thanks,
PJ
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Old 04-30-2011, 10:01 PM   #2
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Your OG is probably too high because you boiled off too much water and now you have 4-4.5 gallons of wort instead of 5. The sugar in the wort is more concentrated so the gravity is higher than the recipe called for. If you haven't already added the yeast, add some bottled water to the wort until it reaches the correct gravity. I've done this before and never had any trouble with infection. Either that or boil some water for 15 minutes and add it if you're afraid of contamination. Mark your carboy, and pots with a marker on the outside so that you know how many gallons 5 is for the future. If you've already added the yeast I would avoid adding additional hot water to the wort so that you don't shock the yeast. If you decide to leave it as-is you'll just end up with a higher abv beer than you originally planned and since you decided to make a starter the yeast should be able to handle the higher gravity wort.

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Old 04-30-2011, 10:03 PM   #3
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Are you sure your hydrometer is measuring correctly? That seems way to high for the recipe you posted. It should have been around 1.055. Are you sure you added 6 lbs of DME? For that type of gravity it would have taken around 8 lbs of DME.

Other than that, I have no idea why it would have been that high.

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Old 04-30-2011, 10:07 PM   #4
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Unless you boil the total volume the worth will not be evenly mixed
you probably just had a layer of high gravety where you got your sample

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Old 04-30-2011, 10:08 PM   #5
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I just made a double IPA with 8 pounds of DME and it ended up around 1.075. 6 pounds isn't enough to get that high of a gravity reading unless there's less than 5 gallons of wort in the carboy or the additional water you added afterward isn't fully mixed.

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Old 04-30-2011, 10:08 PM   #6
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Extracts batches are reportedly notoriously difficult to get an accurate OG reading on because the wort rarely mixes completely with the top off water by the time you take the gravity reading. If you topped off to 5 gallons and that was the volume your recipe is supposed to make you are probably a lot closer to the target OG than your reading indicates.

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Old 04-30-2011, 10:10 PM   #7
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Any chance the sample contained more wort than water since it wasn't agitated?

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Old 04-30-2011, 10:16 PM   #8
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Beersmith puts you at 1.055 for 5 gallons.

As written, there is no way to get 1.074 out of that recipe. However, there are few ways to see 1.074 by accident. One, is to take you OG measurement before your top off water is completely mixed with the wort. Another, is to have a crack in your hydrometer (these can be small and hard to detect unless your looking for them). And the last one is to accidentally add more DME than you thought you did or less water.

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Old 04-30-2011, 10:33 PM   #9
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I am going with the thought of "operator error". The wort probably wasn't mixed well enough to get an accurate reading. I am assuming you drew your sample from an area of high concentrated wort. The problem with "topping off" with bottled water is that it doesn't mix well and takes AT LEAST 5-10 minutes of vigorous shaking to get it mixed well enough to get an accurate reading. I am assuming your fine if your used that recipe and had 5 gallons of wort. There is no way you could have that high of an OG if you used just those amounts of ingredients and hit your volume correctly. The good thing is the yeast as they are munching away at the sugar in your beer do an excellent job of mixing it correctly. I would say assume your beer started at 1.055 like beersmith says and use that as your starting point when figuring out what your abv is. Beersmith is usually very good at determining your OG. That's my take on it.

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Old 04-30-2011, 11:24 PM   #10
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In what I thought of as an interesting experiment, I cooled a bit of wort and poured it into a sample of yeast that I had washed from a previous batch of beer, expecting the yeast to come out of dormancy and begin to foam. Instead, I saw the wort go straight to the bottom of the yeast cake and lay there on the jar without seeming to mix at all. That sugary mix is so much denser than water that it takes a lot of stirring to mix it in so when you take a sample for your hydrometer, you get mostly water (very low OG) or mostly malt extract wort (very high OG). You got the sample that was mostly wort while someone last week reported a low OG because they got mostly water.

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