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Old 03-10-2009, 12:36 AM   #1
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Default OG Way off. What'd I screw up?

I just finished my second batch, Northern Brewer's Irish Red Ale. The kit states a target OG of 1.040. I'm reading 1.024 (being kind... it may even be a little bit less)!

How could I have done something that wrong? Here's my brew log;

Smacked Wyeast 9 hours before pitching. Good swell.

Brought 2 gallons up to 162f and steeped specialty grains for 20 minutes, off heat.

Removed Grains.

Brought to a boil, removed heat.

Added extract & Willamette hops, returned to boil.

No perceptible hot break.

Boiled for 30 minutes, added Kent Goldings.

Finished at 60 minutes.

Cooled in ice bath to 100f, about 25 minutes.

Poured wort into primary, left behind ~1/4 gallon of hops sludge.

Added tap water to 5 gallons, heavy aeration.

Pitched Wyeast "American Ale II" (1272) immediately at 63f.

OG: 1.024 (WTF? Supposed to be 1.040).

Set to ferment at 66f.


My first batch (a Kolsch) came in right on target. The only difference is this time I used straight tap water instead of pre-boiled cooled water to top up to 5 gallons.

Any clues...? And did I just brew Miller Lite Dark™?

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Old 03-10-2009, 12:37 AM   #2
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Did you shake the hell out of the wort before taking your measurement?

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Old 03-10-2009, 12:42 AM   #3
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Did you shake the hell out of the wort before taking your measurement?
What?

I guess I didn't if I have to ask. When I ran the tap water in, it foamed like crazy (we have high pressure in this house). If you're suggesting it was mixed poorly, I suppose that's possible but seems very unlikely.
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Old 03-10-2009, 12:43 AM   #4
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Did you shake the hell out of the wort before taking your measurement?
I'm thinking that your heavier wort "sunk" to the bottom, while the top off water mixed up a little and stayed at the top, so that your hydrometer sample is giving you the top sample, and not the "real" measurement. Leaving behind 1/4 gallon will affect the gravity somewhat (next time, pour it all in, and the sludge will settle to the bottom of primary) but not that much.

With extract, it's almost impossible to miss the OG by more than a couple of points, because the sugar is in there and doesn't disappear. But sometimes our readings are off because of inadequate mixing, or adding too much water at the end. In this case, it sounds more like inadequate mixing, so don't worry at all. I'm sure it's fine, as long as you added all of the ingredients, the recipe will work out!
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Old 03-10-2009, 12:45 AM   #5
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When brewing extract, and topping up, it is almost impossible to get the sugars uniformly mixed. There is at LEAST one post like this each day. Relax, if you have 5 gallons, you have the correct OG, you are just not able to read it.

Taking an OG with extract is really futile, you have 100% eff. The FG is imortant, your OG is irrelevant.

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Old 03-10-2009, 12:48 AM   #6
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Did you shake the hell out of the wort before taking your measurement?
and how much extract did you use? The reason that ArcaneXor asks that is that extracts can at times not be thoroughly mixed, which will leave you with weird OG readings. If you search around here- you can find more on this type of thing. Unless your recipe was wack (which has happened) then the sugar IS in there- it's just not cooperating with you, and your not able to read it right....
Bottom line is- so long as you had enough extract to get you to 1.040- it's there not matter what you did (Short of spilling half of it on the floor) but you could not take an accurate reading.....
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Old 03-10-2009, 12:48 AM   #7
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I'm thinking that your heavier wort "sunk" to the bottom, while the top off water mixed up a little and stayed at the top, so that your hydrometer sample is giving you the top sample, and not the "real" measurement. Leaving behind 1/4 gallon will affect the gravity somewhat (next time, pour it all in, and the sludge will settle to the bottom of primary) but not that much.

With extract, it's almost impossible to miss the OG by more than a couple of points, because the sugar is in there and doesn't disappear. But sometimes our readings are off because of inadequate mixing, or adding too much water at the end. In this case, it sounds more like inadequate mixing, so don't worry at all. I'm sure it's fine, as long as you added all of the ingredients, the recipe will work out!
OK, well that's two votes for heavy wort so I'll buy it. Should I go beat it up and try to get a better reading? Otherwise I'll never know my alcohol content.

The first time I brewed, I poured it all in, and some local home brewers I know said that was a bad idea and urged me to siphon it off to a secondary asap to get rid of the sludge, which I did do after a week. Is it a preference thing, or do I have some research to do?

Thanks!
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Old 03-10-2009, 12:49 AM   #8
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What?

I guess I didn't if I have to ask. When I ran the tap water in, it foamed like crazy (we have high pressure in this house). If you're suggesting it was mixed poorly, I suppose that's possible but seems very unlikely.
Filtered tap water, right??
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Old 03-10-2009, 12:52 AM   #9
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OK, well that's two votes for heavy wort so I'll buy it. Should I go beat it up and try to get a better reading? Otherwise I'll never know my alcohol content.


You can do that if you want, but I'd just go with the kit's OG. The sugars are there, and the yeast know where to find them!

The first time I brewed, I poured it all in, and some local home brewers I know said that was a bad idea and urged me to siphon it off to a secondary asap to get rid of the sludge, which I did do after a week. Is it a preference thing, or do I have some research to do?

Thanks!
I rarely rack to a secondary, so I guess it's a preference thing. I will say that leaving it on the yeast cake a bit longer will make better beer. After the fermentable sugars are gone, the yeast will start to eat other things, like their own waste products before falling out of suspension. This process "cleans up" the beer quite a bit, and gets rid of off-flavors like excess diacetyl in the beer. The "sludge" will not harm your beer, and will actually compact into a thick layer so that you can just rack off of it when you're ready. I'd suggest leaving the beer in the fermenter for two weeks before deciding on a secondary.
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Old 03-10-2009, 12:54 AM   #10
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Filtered tap water, right??
This is a zero-impact house... we take all of our water out of the air (rain) and put it all back into the air (constructed wetlands septic, evaporation). The water is cleaned via particle filters and a UV sanitizer. No chemicals here!
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