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Old 05-25-2012, 12:08 AM   #1
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Default Only dropped 10 points?

Hi guys,

I looked around a bit, and found some relevant posts, but nothing answering my question closely enough, so here I am:

I brewed, a week ago today, a Hefeweizen extract kit. I made up a 2L starter, using Safbrew WB-06, and pitched it into the wort, with an OG of 1035 (a little low, I know - my refractometer wasn't calibrated at the time, and I wanted to have it at 1040.)

So, a week has passed, I had a healthy looking fermentation - nice krausen, perky airlock. All activity has slowed to pretty much nil, and I racked it over to the secondary and took a reading: 1025!! Of note, I did this in my newly set up fermentation chamber, a chest freezer with an overriding thermostat - fermentation was at 20.5C +/- 1 degree.

The sample I took tasted right, if light on the alcohol, and the aroma was good - citrus with a bit of spice.

Now, the beer is pretty cloudy, but the trub was looking quite settled, and I figured the residual cloudiness was just the characteristic of the yeast, and the fact that I forgot the Irish Moss until the last minute or two of the boil, negating some of it's effectiveness.

So then, what, if anything, did I do wrong?

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Old 05-25-2012, 12:45 AM   #2
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How did you take the 1.025 gravity reading? Was it with an hydrometer or refractometer?
If you took the reading with the refractometer did you apply any sort of correction to account for the alcohol?
Assuming you actually got an OG reading of 1.040 (which is likely if you were using extract), and you just did a simple conversion from brix to SG without accounting for the alcohol, you would get a brix reading of about 6.6. Accounting for the alcohol, this would actually translate to an SG reading of about 1.017 which is pretty reasonable after just 7 days.

-a.

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Old 05-25-2012, 12:56 AM   #3
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Both were taken with a refractometer that is directly labeled in Specific Gravity, but the original reading at time of pitching was off by 5 points - I thought I had 1040, but really only had 1035.

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Old 05-25-2012, 01:24 AM   #4
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You say it was a kit - probably you nailed the OG unless you added too much water or something. It's really hard to miss OG on a kit.

Any chance you can confirm your current reading with a hydrometer? Not saying you should run out and buy one, but if you have free access to one, might be nice.

Hefs are supposed to be a little cloudy, so I wouldn't worry too much about the clarity thing. If it were me, I'd let it go another week until gravity is atable, then bottle.

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Old 05-25-2012, 01:30 AM   #5
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Once alcohol is produced, your refractometer will not give an accurate reading of the sample. BeerSmith has a tool to use a refractometer for fermenting wort. I don't think it is entrely accurate, but it is close and better than nothing. But you'll need a brix reading...

With an original reading of 1.035, according to beersmith 1.4:
7.0 B - 1.023
6.8 B - 1.022
6.5 B - 1.020
6.2 B - 1.018
6.0 B - 1.017

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Old 05-25-2012, 01:36 AM   #6
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I agree with the comments on the refractometer. I also would suggest that you take another reading in a couple of days. Don't be surprised if the gravity has dropped a little more. One gravity reading is not enough to determine if fermentation has finished, nor is your observation of airlock activity, krausen formation, etc. The ONLY way is to take multiple gravity readings, and to observe no change in the gravity.

I think you've done nothing wrong. Go get a hydrometer -- they aren't expensive and take readings 2 days in a row.

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Old 05-25-2012, 01:39 AM   #7
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Just to address something that nobody else did... Hefeweizens are supposed to be cloudy. The yeasts used tend to say in suspension for a long time. If it was clear, it'd be considered kristallweizen.

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Old 05-25-2012, 01:40 AM   #8
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Even with correction tables, once alcohol is in the mix, FG readings with a refractometer are useless.

Wait a few more days, and then check it with a hydrometer. That will be a totally different reading than you're getting with the refractometer!

I use my refractometer for preboil readings, and for prefermentation (OG) readings. The last reading is always done with a hydrometer. Alcohol in a liquid skews the reading in a refractometer.

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Old 05-25-2012, 06:13 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Yooper
Even with correction tables, once alcohol is in the mix, FG readings with a refractometer are useless.
I've heard this from a few people, but haven't found it to be true. I have a Hanna bench digital refractometer, and one of the more expensive hydrometers that has an extra-wide bulb and extra-slim stem designed specifically for taking (more accurate) FG measurements, and I've found the correction algorithms to be quite accurate.
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Old 05-25-2012, 02:59 PM   #10
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I will take a hydrometer reading when I keg it in a couple weeks, so we will find out then for sure.

A few things:

-I know hefe ought to be cloudy, I'm not too worried about that, but thank you for noting it.

-I read 1040 on the refractometer at yeast pitching time, but I did NOT calibrate the refractometer at that time. So, who knows what I actually had. I had to add water to get down to 1040, I was actually way high, 1065 or so after the boil - I followed the kit instructions, but my burner has a little more horsepower than I think the kit guys anticipated.

-I used Sean Terrill's refractometer correction sheet last night, and that says I probably have a SG of 1017 right now, which makes me feel a little better.

Things to take away from this: CALIBRATE, CALIBRATE, CALIBRATE! (And use correction factors)

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