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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Problems with First Shot at Pale Ale
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Old 09-17-2010, 04:34 PM   #1
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Default Problems with First Shot at Pale Ale

Hi-

I brewed my second batch of beer I've ever made last night. I made an American Wheat beer about a year and ahalf ago from a kit and it turned out fine. This time, I went for a regular Pale Ale. I also didn't use a kit but got a recipe and got my own ingredients. It was more complicated than the first time.

So, I brewed this thing last night and followed the directions to (what I thought) a "T." I encountered what I think were some problems late in the brewing process and I'm hoping some experts on here can provide some insight.

Everything seemed to be going fine until I started to siphon the wort into hte fermenter. After the 1 hr boil, I cooled my wort in the brewing kettle in an ice bath to get the temp down fast. It worked and I got the wort down to about 93 degrees F before siphoning into the fermenter.

When I started siphoning, I had problems getting it to work, because hops kept clogging the hose. I mean, a lot of hops. It took FOREVER to get the wort into the fermenter.

This did not happen last time I brewed. Is this a problem? Could I have used to much hops? I don't think so. I'm pretty darn sure I followed the recipe correctly but maybe not. I used 1.25 oz fuggles first flavoring; 1.75 oz fuggles second flavoring; and .5 oz goldings for aromatic. The hops I got were plugs and came in bags marked "2 x .5 oz" which I assume means 2 plugs in the packet, each measured at .5 oz, right? I

steeped 12 oz. 20 lvbnd amber crystal malt prior to the boil, and used 6.6 lbs Munton's light extract and 1 lb dry light extract. This is what the recipe called for.

I also took a final gravity reading at 1.022 which I was not happy about. I might be rusty with the hydrometer but I'm pretty sure I wasn't. Any idea what the most likely cause of a really low SG like that is? Could it be that the 2 gallons of H20 I put into the wort prior to taking the SG and priot to adding yeast caused a weird reading on my SG?

I don't know. Feeling frustrated but I figure I'll just let the thing sit for a month, bottle it for a month, and see how it tastes.

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Old 09-17-2010, 04:48 PM   #2
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well, I'm not sure exactly how you took your hydrometer reading. I put your recipe into Beersmith, and it kicked out a SG potential of 1.060 for a 5 gallon batch. I am curious if you cooled your sample before taking your reading. I know that make a difference. Also without knowing the AA% of the hops, it looks like you might be just a bit low, but not by much. I think it will turn out just fine. Just take another SG reading when you rack it off the inital yeast cake.

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Old 09-17-2010, 04:51 PM   #3
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It's a pretty common issue for ANYONE topping off with water in the fermenter (and that includes partial mashes, extract or all grain revcipes) to have an error in reading the OG...In fact, it is actually nearly impossible to mix the wort and the top off water in a way to get an accurate OG reading...

Brewers get a low reading if they get more of the top off water than the wort, conversely they get a higher number if they grabbed more of the extract than the top off water in their sample.


When I am doing an extract with grain recipe I make sure to stir for a minimum of 5 minutes (whipping up a froth to aerate as well) before I draw a grav sample and pitch my yeast....It really is an effort to integrate the wort with the top off water...This is a fairly common new brewer issue we get on here...unless you under or over topped off or the final volume for the kit was 5 gallons and you topped off to 5.5, then the issue, sorry to say, is "operator error"

More than likely your true OG is really what it's supposed to be. And it will mix itself fine during fermentation.

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Old 09-17-2010, 05:00 PM   #4
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the hops you used should float on the surface so to siphon with out getting a plugging situation you should have the end of your siphon half way to the bottom of the wort. If you took a gravity reading right after you added your dilution water with out stirring well your gravity would be significantly lower than the actually gravity of your wort. I suggest just relaxing and letting the yeastie beasties do their job the beer will probably come out just fine.

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Old 09-17-2010, 05:03 PM   #5
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I forgot to mention, when I use hop plugs or leaf hops, I usually just pour the wort into the primary and use a grain bag and a large collander to filter out the hop matter. This also helps aerate the wort too. Which we all know is a very important part at this stage of making beer.

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Old 09-17-2010, 05:04 PM   #6
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Regarding the low O.G. reading: Revvy's right, it's hard to get an accurate reading after topping off. But also, it's darn near impossible to miss the target O.G. if you add all the extract. So relax, and assume an O.G. of 1.060 and proceed.

About the siphon problems: it took me a few batches to figure out how to deal with hop sludge. Using plugs, it's a different issue because the particles are bigger. The most common recommendation is to put a sanitized muslin hop sack around the end of the siphon. Think about it and plan to try something on your next batch. Look into whirlpooling, it never seemed to work for me but others use it, so maybe it will work for you. Good luck, and keep on brewing!

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Old 09-17-2010, 06:12 PM   #7
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thanks guys. i feel slightly less bad about my batch after reading some encouraging posts on here.

i noticed, when i went to siphon from the kettle to the primary fermenter, that the hops didn't all sit at the top of the wort. they seemed to be mixed throughout the wort. could this be because my boil wasn't vigorous enough, or is that normal? maybe i didn't let it cool long enough in the ice bath or something, though i think i did. i just don't recall having the hops mixed throughout the wort like this the last time i brewed.

great tip regarding using the straining bag or something like that at the end of the siphon to keep the hops from clogging it. when i read that now i was like, DOH, i'm such a dummy. why didn't i think of that last night! great idea

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Old 09-17-2010, 08:51 PM   #8
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You don't need to syphon wort into the fermenter. Before you pitch your yeast oxygen is fine. Just pour it into the fermenter. You can also pour through a cooking strainer. I am still new at this so I just started doing this step.

Once fermentation is complete, if you rack to a secondary, then you want to syphon to avoid aeration that can cause bad taste. At this time all the sediment should be settled and you syphon all except the last 1/2" or so.

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Old 09-17-2010, 09:09 PM   #9
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oh ok thanks for the tip. the directions i used said to siphon. i guess that's probably not b/c of aeration but as a way to keep the trub from getting into the fermenter, maybe (just a guess). there must be some reason the directions said to siphon it instead of just pouring it.

anyway it's good to know i can just pour it. a heck of a lot easier. thanks

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