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Old 04-04-2011, 03:52 AM   #1
dttk0009
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Default Weird hydrometer readings and other inquiries

So I got done with my first 'real' batch (aka not a 'just add water' LME beer) and had some confusing moments, although the beer appears to now be happily bubbling away in the fermenter. I had a few issues that I'd be curious about clearing up. For reference, my recipe was:

Amber LME 4kg
Brown Sugar (Dark) 225g
Wheat Malt 225g

Total batch size: 20L

I malted the wheat in about 2L of water for an hour, sparged in 3L for 5 minutes (due to the small amount), added the mash malt to the sparge water, brought it to about 75C, added the LME and sugar, brought to boil and added my hops. Smelled fantastic. When finished, I took it off the heat, added it to the fermentation vessel, added ice cold water until it hit 20L and cooled to around 30C, pitched my started yeast which was also at around 30C and put it in my fermentation chamber (chest freezer with thermostat) and it was at around 21C 12 hours later.

I have two questions:

1) My OG reading was at 1.080. This seemed abnormally high but at that point I just sorta shrugged it off as a botched reading and proceeded with the beer as scheduled. Is my hydrometer busted? Any way to test this?

2) When boiling the wort, I noticed that small lumps started forming and floating to the surface, and that there were particles in the wort while boiling and when taking the reading. My guess is that my wort was too thick while boiling and some of the sugar caramelized (could be wrong). Will these particles be dissipated in after a while? Could they have had an effect on my OG reading? Will it have a negative effect on my beer?

Other than these two things my first beer went rather well! Seems to be happily fermenting away. Thanks in advance for the clarifications!

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Old 04-04-2011, 04:13 AM   #2
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i think if u put a hydro meter in water it reads 1.000

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Old 04-04-2011, 07:04 AM   #3
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1. When did you take the OG? If you took it before the top-up it will be high because you had little water in there to concentrate all the wort sugars.

2. Did you strain your wort before putting it into the fermentation vessel? What you likely saw was the hotbreak, which is mostly clumps of proteins forming together and is perfectly normal. Had you added hops before seeing these lumps you could be seeing them too, although if you use pellets they would have dissipated very quickly.

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Old 04-04-2011, 07:47 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smokeater233 View Post
1. When did you take the OG? If you took it before the top-up it will be high because you had little water in there to concentrate all the wort sugars.

2. Did you strain your wort before putting it into the fermentation vessel? What you likely saw was the hotbreak, which is mostly clumps of proteins forming together and is perfectly normal. Had you added hops before seeing these lumps you could be seeing them too, although if you use pellets they would have dissipated very quickly.
1. I took the reading right before pitching the yeast, so at 20L. I think I may have botched the reading somehow. I must have.

2. Ah ok, I didn't strain them, and I saw them first as the wort was nearing the boil. I used hop leafs in a strainer bag so I don't think that much could have gone through (hope not). Do those protein clumps go away?
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Old 04-04-2011, 07:58 AM   #5
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1. With all you threw in there it would have been impossible for you to reach 1.080 - maybe close to 1.060 or just a bit less. It's certainly possible that you didn't combine your wort and top-off water well, and when you pulled your sample you got mostly wort...or it's user error with the hydrometer.

2. If you didn't strain, don't worry about it. Some of it will break up and much of the remaining junk will settle to the bottom of your fermentation vessel and it won't be something you carry over to the bottling bucket.

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Old 04-04-2011, 08:22 AM   #6
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That's great to know, thanks! I wasn't really all too worried because I had a sip before pitching (from the hydrometer case) and it was tasty!
I appreciate the input and time taken to read my post though.

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Old 04-05-2011, 12:49 AM   #7
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Hehehehe - don't rely on your tongue in the future...it can't tell whether you hit your FG... Do the best you can to get to know your hydrometer as it's one of the most important tools in your brewing arsenal.

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Old 04-05-2011, 12:52 AM   #8
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1) We get this question every day.

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.

2) The lumps and such is called break material it is perfectly normal. It's prefectly normal, it is proteins and such from the grain. If you have pilsner or later brew all grain you will see much more of it. in fact with pilsner malt it will look like egg drop soup. It doesn't mean anything....

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