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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Beginners Beer Brewing Forum > Wanting to learn about Attenuation and Floculation.
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Old 11-27-2013, 04:27 AM   #1
bigken462
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Default Wanting to learn about Attenuation and Floculation.

Hello all, I just seen a post from another member asking about Attenuation and Floculation and I have a few questions of my own. Not wanting to hijack his thread, I posted this one. I read the answers to some of his questions, but I still have a cpl questions to help me better understand some terminology and how it applies to my brewing habits.

I have just two extract boils under my belt, so not much experience to fall on.
Both boils, I was not able to get into the OG-FG parameters of what was listed on the instructions.

Brew # 1 was a pumpkin Spice Porter. I think I may have missed my OG from boiling with the lid on, not cooling fast enough, and perhaps not sparging the specialty grains. Although from what I read, steeping grains only effect flavor and aroma, I’m not sure how that may or may not have impacted the OG falling short. Naturally, since I fell short on the OG, I was also low on my FG and ABV. I may have transferred too soon to the secondary and I also struggled a few times with this brew on temp control as well so those things I understand could have affected the overall FG levels.

OG listed on instructions was (1.057-1.061) I came in at 1.055
FG listed on instructions was (1.014-1.018) I came in at 1.021

Brew number # was a Kolsch. I had a better luck with this and my OG was just inside the upper limits of the instructions. With the second brew, I felt like things went much smoother, I was able to use a wort chiller, done the sparge, left the lid off etc. etc. But it still looks like I was lean on the OG.

OG listed on instructions was (1.042-1.046) I came in at 1.042
FG listed on instructions was (1.10-1.013) I came in at 1.012

So my question is, in a nut shell. How does these numbers pertain to Attenuation and Floculation?

When someone describes “poor attenuation” are they talking about brews coming in short on the FG?

Also, I kinda understand what flocculation is. The settlement of yeast during the fermentation process. But I don’t quite understand how it relates to FG or does it at all?

Lastly, when I plan my next brew. Lets say I come up short again on my OG. Would it be appropriate to then use more sugar to get it down? If it is, how do you know how much to add? Am I correct to assume happy yeast leads to high attenuation? Would slightly high fermenting temps (75* for both Nottinghams and SA 04) cause low attenuation?

Many questions, but I’m learning a bit more each time, Thanks for your patience with the new guys asking these basic questions.

Thanks much.

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Old 11-27-2013, 04:34 AM   #2
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http://www.whitelabs.com/beer/homebr...on-definitions

It's how long the yeast stay in suspension and how much sugar is consumed.

Different yeasts have different numbers. Those different numbers determine different characteristics in the beer. You can go to the yeast manufacture websites and learn about the strains.

If you miss your OG you can add sugar, or DME (dry malt extract) to get your OG up. You can also boil longer (but this can mess with your hops additions) IF you are high, you can add water to lower it.

Also - other factors can cause you to miss your FG other than the yeast. If you extract more complex sugars (mash too high) you can end up with a higher FG. Or if you put too much strain on the yeast. Or if you don't put enough oxygen. Or if your sugar levels are too high for the amount of yeast you pitch. Or if your alcohol levels get too high for that particular type of yeast... etc.

Poor attenuation does mean it didn't consume the expected amount of sugar.

Don't boil with the lid on because it will leave DMS that will leave off flavors of creamed corn. And missing the OG can be caused for a lot of reasons. You should learn about efficiency. It's the amount of sugar you can expect from your grain bill vs how much you actually get out.

Under crushing, improper mash temps or time.. etc. can cause you to be low.

Mashing colder will give you more consumable sugars, so you could end up with a lower expected FG.

---

My response applies to extract (to an extent) but assumed all grain. Are you missing your numbers with extract kits?
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Old 11-27-2013, 06:33 AM   #3
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The two kits that I've done were extract kits from Brewers Best.

The first one I know that I contributed from all sort of sloppiness. Despite feeling like it went well then, after doing much more reading, I see where I made all kind of errors. Fought with the boil, very long cool-off. Pitched with a 76* wort temp. House temps causing 10-15* changes along with the increased fermentation temps, early transfer. I can see why I may have missed the numbers. I could sell it as soured MadDog 20/20 or antifreeze and no one would know the difference. lol

The second one compared to the first, I felt really went smooth. I still struggled with the house temps. Tried the swamp cooler method and crashed it from 70* to about 54 over a 4-5 hours period. But despite it being a lil short of the FG, still actually tastes pretty good compared to the soured pond water that I managed to make on the first 5 gallons. I figure if all else fails, i'll give the stuff away as Christmas gifts instead of my normal fruit cake. lol

I'll do some searches on yeast efficiency and read up on that. I should also mention that I didn't make any attempts to aerate either of the boils. Although I did strain the second batch with a paint strainer so I may have done some there. Both used dry yeast which was pitched on top of a swirling wort. I see now perhaps maybe I should have rehydrated before pitching.

My next batch, i'll infuse some 100% oxygen for a minute or so, try to correct any problems with the OG if needed, pitch at 60* instead of what I thought was the correct of 68*, and rehydrate my yeast.

I would also like to try using a clearing agent just to learn the process.

The frustrating part is that the instructions included with the kits seem to contradict everything from what is printed on the yeast packets, and to what is printed by the mentors here on the forum.

As a new brewer, hell I don't know which to follow sometimes.

Thanks much,

Ken

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Old 11-27-2013, 06:59 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by bigken462 View Post
The two kits that I've done were extract kits from Brewers Best.

The first one I know that I contributed from all sort of sloppiness. Despite feeling like it went well then, after doing much more reading, I see where I made all kind of errors. Fought with the boil, very long cool-off. Pitched with a 76* wort temp. House temps causing 10-15* changes along with the increased fermentation temps, early transfer. I can see why I may have missed the numbers. I could sell it as soured MadDog 20/20 or antifreeze and no one would know the difference. lol

The second one compared to the first, I felt really went smooth. I still struggled with the house temps. Tried the swamp cooler method and crashed it from 70* to about 54 over a 4-5 hours period. But despite it being a lil short of the FG, still actually tastes pretty good compared to the soured pond water that I managed to make on the first 5 gallons. I figure if all else fails, i'll give the stuff away as Christmas gifts instead of my normal fruit cake. lol

I'll do some searches on yeast efficiency and read up on that.

Thanks much,

Ken
If you're doing kits, you don't have to worry about efficiency. Efficiency is about the amount of sugar extracted from the grain bill. You also don't have to worry about mashing temps.

Kits are generally pretty accurate. Your main issue coming low on a kit is not boiling long enough or adding too much water. If your pot isn't big enough for a full 5 gallons, it's difficult to fix since you're adding water to your fermenter. If you're doing full boils, then boil longer.

You can add dry malt extract to water and boil it, cool and add... But it gets messy.

Long cool off is only a problem for giving bacteria a chance to infect your beer. The longer your beer is sitting with out yeast, the higher chance you have of letting an infection over take the yeast. You want the yeast to get build up fast and health to over take any possible infections.

Also, long cool offs can cause flaws in the beer like chill haze. There are people who don't chill at all. They put the beer in a container and let it stay in it until it naturally chills down.

You do want to pitch your yeast as close to the fermentation temp as possible. This helps eliminate off flavors. Keeping your fermentation temps consistent is one of the best things you can do for your beer.

Early transfer can cause some issues with low attenuation. Keeping beer on the lees can be beneficil, but if left too long can cause off flavors (some say its bogus i don't know) I generally don't rush mine. I let it sit in primary for up to 45days then go straight to keg.
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Old 11-27-2013, 12:07 PM   #5
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Looking at your readings and what you are "supposed" to get you aren't really off on your gravity readings. The "off" readings could easily be attributed to you reading the hydrometer just a little different than the person who came u with the reading for the kit, difference in equipment used to make the reading, difference in amibinet temp, and even difference in altitude. Personally I wouldn't really consider a reading to be "off" until you starting getting about plus or minus .008-.010 over or under what the recipe calls for.

Also I think a lot of extract kits assume those brewing them can't do full boils so the recipes only have you boil a smaller amount of water and top it off in the fermentor, so if yours asked the same thing and you don't get the wort and top off water fully integrated (which is no big deal if you don't since the yeast will get it all mixed up for you as it feeds) then your readings will be off as you will either being reading a denser wort (if you take your sample from the bottom) or a water down wort (if you take it from the top).

Basically put there are so many things that can throw off your readings that as long as you are sure you did everything you were supposed to right then you have nothing to worry; about even if your readings are off.

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Old 11-27-2013, 12:29 PM   #6
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Thanks for the help guys. I found some replies from Revvie? Seems like he and others covered these type questions on many previous post. Honest to goodness I did do a search. lol. I do appreciate the patience with answering these repetitive questions over and over from us new guys. I know the search tool is invaluable, but sometimes it feels good knowing you’re getting fresh info.

The second batch did go much smoother than the first and I hope the trends continue on so. I do have sufficient kettle and heat capabilities to do a full boil, but I just don’t trust my experience to do one quite yet. I suppose at some point , I’m going to have to say WTH and light the fire and do a full boil. Not sure what the fear is, other than spilling the stuff on me. Lol My 15 gallon pot is quite old and needs a good scrubbing, but it will be used on the next boil. The other pot is a bit too large 30gallon, but who know what that could be used for in the future.

I’m hoping with a full boil on my next batch, the gravity reading will be better. But from what I have read over the past few hours is that those are pretty much dead on regardless of what you do so long as you get the water volume right. Nevertheless, I hope the next ones comes to a full amount of fermentation. Both gravity and ABV.

Anyway, it’s time to go home and hit the sack. Should this be the last post on this thread, wishing all you guys and your family a Happy Thanksgiving!

Kenny

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Old 11-27-2013, 04:25 PM   #7
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Another thing is your hydrometer might be a few points off, easy way to check is put some water in your reading tube and then take a reading it should be 1.000 if it is dead on. I know mine will read at 0.096.

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Old 11-27-2013, 05:20 PM   #8
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Another thing is your hydrometer might be a few points off, easy way to check is put some water in your reading tube and then take a reading it should be 1.000 if it is dead on. I know mine will read at 0.096.
Right good point... And always adjust the reading based off the wort temp.
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Old 11-27-2013, 05:22 PM   #9
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Plus check you did your OG reading at 20C (most hydrometers are set for that temp).

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