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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Problems hitting starting gravity
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Old 08-09-2011, 04:15 PM   #1
blackbear219
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Default Problems hitting starting gravity

My starting gravity in 70 degree wort from extract recipes is consistently low. For example, I brewed a Hefe last night and starting was supposed to be 1.058 and I came in at 1.046. However, after fermentation my final gravity is always dead on.

I would assume that with an extract kit, it is extremely hard to mess your gravity up that bad, so there is only one thing I can think of which is that my 2 gallons of wort is not completely mixed with my 3 gallons of water that I top off with which throws the reading off.

This got me thinking that if the mixture isn't complete, then the temperature throughout could be spotty as well and I pictured myself pouring my poor little yeasties into what I thought was a spot-on 70F when really just below the surface it was higher/lower.

Anywho, once add your wort to the bucket, do you stir it up to mix/aerate? I've always just sloshed my wort from my brewing kettle into the bucket to make it splash into the water on the way in but after I do the actual dumping I've never done any additional stirring, etc. I always figured that was enough, but now I'm starting to think I should stir it all up really well just before pitching the yeast. Thoughts? Thanks.

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Old 08-09-2011, 04:19 PM   #2
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You will definitely want to mix everything up. I am an A.G. brewer with plenty of extract experience. I never understood why they had you add water at the end as I just add everything at the beginning and boil down to my target water level. This way all the water is sterilized and there is no extra step. This way you could boil down to your target gravity as well if you had a refractometer.

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Old 08-09-2011, 04:20 PM   #3
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We get this question 3-4 times every day, so you're not alone. And in reality, nothing's wrong.

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.

And just use the number it says in the instructions as the true OG, because it will be.

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Old 08-09-2011, 04:23 PM   #4
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That often happens with extract recipes, or any time you're adding top off water. If it's not mixed thoroughly, you'll get a flawed sample. But since it's an extract recipe, don't worry as long as you topped off to the recommended level in the recipe. It's extremely hard to miss OG on an extract brew.

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Old 08-09-2011, 04:24 PM   #5
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can i drink this? I mean. Im gunna. But is it fine?
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Old 08-09-2011, 04:26 PM   #6
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Cool, thanks guys. I'll be sure to whip it up a little better in the future. I'd assume that the extra aeration would do a lot to help the yeast take off too, which I'd view as more important than getting an accurate reading.

Overall, I'm really getting the extract process nailed down. I cooled my wort and hit 70F on the head within about 20 minutes last night. Smoothest "wort-cooling" process that I've had so far, and now that I know to give it a little extra stir I'm already looking forward to my next brew night to improve my process even more.

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Old 08-09-2011, 04:39 PM   #7
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Just did my first batch (weizen) and it was a partial boil as well, topped off with 3 gals of cold water. I used spring water I purchased straight out of the bottle to top off and cool, so hopefully that's not an issue. At any rate I took an OG reading at 84F and mine was high (1.052). With the correction at that temp I think I'm looking at 1.055 if I understand how to adjust correctly. I made a noob mistake I guess and took the reading right in the primary. I really stirred it up good getting it cooled down prior the reading. I assumed I did something wrong to throw off the OG reading.

Made another noob error and pitched at 84F, although the kit directions led me to believe that was fine. Mine was done bubbling with 24hrs and I've yet to get a FG reading (42 hrs in now).

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Old 08-09-2011, 04:49 PM   #8
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I also pour in the chilled wort vigorously,dito with top off water. I then stir like mad for 5 minutes,as revvy says. I get better readings now,compared to before.
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Old 08-09-2011, 05:33 PM   #9
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I figured I'd ask this question in this thread since it relates to it. Since I'm still doing partial boils, I typically top off to a little more than 5 gallons to account for trub. If I top off to the 5 gallon point, I won't actually be getting 5 gallons to drink. This weekend, I made BM's centennial blonde and topped off to about 5.25 gallons. Is this ok, or did I set myself up for a lower than intended SG?

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Old 08-09-2011, 05:35 PM   #10
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Did you take a measurement for OF? That's tell you what you need to know.
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