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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Specific Gravity Problem/mixing problem
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Old 03-10-2012, 12:29 PM   #1
drunkenfud
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Default Specific Gravity Problem/mixing problem

I am a homebrew newbie, 2 days into fermenting my first batch. It's making me as fretful and anxious as a new mother!

I live and work in a small country town in South Korea, the beer available to me is terrible, so I decided to give making my own a go. After picking up The Complete Joy of Home Brewing by Charlie Papazian, and browsing the forums at the excellent homebrewkorea.com, I ordered some supplies and got to work.

Like many beginners, I figured my best choice was brewing from an extract kit. Having visited an great microbrewery in Seoul the previous weekend (Craftworks, an oasis in a sea of mediocrity), and having enjoyed their pale ale, I chose this pale ale kit http://www.esbrewing.com.au/esb-3kg-...-pale-ale.html. I got it from a Korean homebrew site, so there were not as many available choices as there would be in a Western store.

I followed the instructions on the tin - mix with 2 litres of boiling water, pour into a fermenter which already has 2 gallons of water in it, and top up to 22.5 litres (or 1 imperial gallon). I was using bottled water (my tapwater tastes second-hand!), and was pouring from a height to get as much oxygen as possible into the mix.

The hydrometer I was using didn't come with any type of cup. I tested it with a tea cup of water - not deep enough. I tested it with a 500ml beer glass of water - not deep enough. I tested it with a tall glass designed for Erdinger wheat beer, it was deep enough and showed water as 1000. Fair enough, but I didn't want to take that much wort out of the fermenter each time I wanted to take a reading! I sanitised it with diluted bleach, and rinsed it in boiling water, then put it directly into the fermenter. The reading was 1025.

My impression is that this is way, way too low for this type of beer. A little later, after having put on the lid and airlock and sprinkled the dry yeast on the surface without stirring (as per the instructions on the tin), I was feeling the side of the plastic fermenter. About 2 thirds of the way down, I could feel hot-spots, making me think that the extract was suspended midway. Not wanting to take the lid off, all I could think to do was pick up the fermenter and give it a shake.

On the first night, there was some froth due to the pouring, which settled down. Now, 48 hours later, I can see through the plastic sides of the fermenter that 2-3cm of foam has formed. There are some tiny bubbles in the airlock, but no consistent flow. The plastic fermenter is supposed to be 10 (I presume US) gallons. 5 imperial gallons fills it about 75%. The lid doesn't have a good seal, and is being held in place by gravity alone.

Anyway, I'm worried that the wort hasn't mixed properly, that the yeast is apathetic as a result, and that I'm going to end up with 22 litres of sweet, barely alcoholic liquid when it comes to bottling time.

Any thoughts or advice welcome. Is there something I should do, or should I just RDWHASSKPIOB (Relax, Don't Worry, Have A Sub-Standard Korean Pale Imitation Of Beer)?

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Old 03-10-2012, 09:31 PM   #2
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yes you should absolutely RDWHASSKPIOB. your low gravity is probably from not mixing well before you took the sample. if it wasn't and your gravity is that low then it's not a big deal. I'd rather have a 2%abv handcrafted ale than any macrobrewed american garbage. start planning your next beer and welcome to homebrewing

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Old 03-10-2012, 09:39 PM   #3
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Nothing to worry about. The act of fermentation causes the fermenting wort to swirl up & down. So it'll mix it & ferment out the way it's supposed to. And try to keep your ferment temps down to 18-20C. You'll get less off flavors & cleaner taste that way.
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Old 03-10-2012, 09:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drunkenfud View Post
I am a homebrew newbie, 2 days into fermenting my first batch. It's making me as fretful and anxious as a new mother!

I live and work in a small country town in South Korea, the beer available to me is terrible, so I decided to give making my own a go. After picking up The Complete Joy of Home Brewing by Charlie Papazian, and browsing the forums at the excellent homebrewkorea.com, I ordered some supplies and got to work.

Like many beginners, I figured my best choice was brewing from an extract kit. Having visited an great microbrewery in Seoul the previous weekend (Craftworks, an oasis in a sea of mediocrity), and having enjoyed their pale ale, I chose this pale ale kit http://www.esbrewing.com.au/esb-3kg-...-pale-ale.html. I got it from a Korean homebrew site, so there were not as many available choices as there would be in a Western store.

I followed the instructions on the tin - mix with 2 litres of boiling water, pour into a fermenter which already has 2 gallons of water in it, and top up to 22.5 litres (or 1 imperial gallon). I was using bottled water (my tapwater tastes second-hand!), and was pouring from a height to get as much oxygen as possible into the mix.

The hydrometer I was using didn't come with any type of cup. I tested it with a tea cup of water - not deep enough. I tested it with a 500ml beer glass of water - not deep enough. I tested it with a tall glass designed for Erdinger wheat beer, it was deep enough and showed water as 1000. Fair enough, but I didn't want to take that much wort out of the fermenter each time I wanted to take a reading! I sanitised it with diluted bleach, and rinsed it in boiling water, then put it directly into the fermenter. The reading was 1025.

My impression is that this is way, way too low for this type of beer. A little later, after having put on the lid and airlock and sprinkled the dry yeast on the surface without stirring (as per the instructions on the tin), I was feeling the side of the plastic fermenter. About 2 thirds of the way down, I could feel hot-spots, making me think that the extract was suspended midway. Not wanting to take the lid off, all I could think to do was pick up the fermenter and give it a shake.

On the first night, there was some froth due to the pouring, which settled down. Now, 48 hours later, I can see through the plastic sides of the fermenter that 2-3cm of foam has formed. There are some tiny bubbles in the airlock, but no consistent flow. The plastic fermenter is supposed to be 10 (I presume US) gallons. 5 imperial gallons fills it about 75%. The lid doesn't have a good seal, and is being held in place by gravity alone.

Anyway, I'm worried that the wort hasn't mixed properly, that the yeast is apathetic as a result, and that I'm going to end up with 22 litres of sweet, barely alcoholic liquid when it comes to bottling time.

Any thoughts or advice welcome. Is there something I should do, or should I just RDWHASSKPIOB (Relax, Don't Worry, Have A Sub-Standard Korean Pale Imitation Of Beer)?
Definitely relax don't worry have ... well, maybe some soju

As your fermenting wort better mixes, you can take additional hydrometer readings with a sanitized hydrometer (order yourself a hydrometer flask, and a wine thief if possible). Your beer is going to be better than any of that "Max" beer - some singularly bad Korean macro.

Let us know how your expedition into brewing goes, and welcome to the craft! kawn-bae (or however you spell it!)
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Old 03-10-2012, 09:46 PM   #5
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Yeah you are probably well on your way to a great homebrew. Sounds like you have a krausen forming so fermentation is underway. Airlock activity could be pretty minimal if you don't have a good seal with your lid.

SG is good to have very early on if you can identify why it is off and do something about it. At this point the SG of this batch is only good for identifying possible improvements for your next batch.

For this batch now, it is all about having good fermentation; which it sounds like you have; and letting the yeast do it's thing. SG is done and gone and you have a couple of weeks to find a better glass/plastic tube to use for your FG and SG of your next great batch.

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Old 03-11-2012, 09:13 AM   #6
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Thanks for all the advice and encouragement, I will take it to heart and hope for the best!

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Old 03-19-2012, 01:05 AM   #7
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I thought I would update this topic, in case anyone is searching for a similar problem in future.

Bottling day was Friday, 9 days after pitching the yeast. For my first brew, I decided to follow the instructions on the kit - in future I think I will take the advice of others on this forum and leave in the primary for 3 weeks.

Anyway, the liquid was of a thin and even consistency. It smelled slightly of pale ale, and had a distinct alcohol smell and taste. The FG was 1010. If we assume that my first reading was indeed off due to inadequate mixing, and further assume that the OG should have been around 1050, this means an ABV of around 5% - can't grumble at that. There was a thick yeastcake at the bottom of the fermenter, showing that fermentation hadn't been the least bit inhibited.

The story has a sad ending however. For my first ever bottling, I figured an extra pair of hands would be useful. My friend and I were perhaps a little too relaxed, a little too unworried, and perhaps we'd had a few too many (non) HBs - it's bad luck to bottle completely sober, right? Despite our best intentions, our inexperience showed, leading to several severe failings in relation to sanitation and oxidisation (including, but not limited to, the end of the siphon tube trailing in spilled beer and a spigot which spat out oxygen and beer in equal measure through a poorly attached and too-thick tube). The upshot is, I'm a little worried that the beer may be infected and undrinkable - one of the bottles even seems to have a couple of foreign bodies in suspension. Nothing to do but wait and see I suppose.

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Old 03-19-2012, 03:23 AM   #8
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We've all been there... nothing harmful really lives in beer - the worst that will happen is that it will taste... less good

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