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Old 03-17-2010, 06:34 PM   #1
pym99
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Default OG woes with second all grain--should I dump it?

I just finished my second all-grain batch yesterday, after doing the first over the weekend. For the first I did Orfy's Hobgoblin 2, 23L (as it was formatted). It turned out at 1063, with a target of 1053. I added water and got it down to 1053 easily.

However, for my second batch, I tried Adnams Bitter from Graham Wheeler's Real British Ale book. Not sure of my efficiency, since I didn't measure it the first time, so I made a 23L batch (even though my goal is 19L or 5 gallons for a Corny), figuring I could just throw some out if need be.

I had way more trouble. First, my mash started at 66C, as Wheeler instructed, but dropped to 60C after an hour. I tried adding boiling water, but it didn't raise the temp much, and I'm sure there was way too much water in the mash to start with. I let it mash for another 30 minutes. I'm mashing in a 10 gallon rubbermaid, and had no problems the first time (but then there was a LOT more grain in the Hobgoblin).

Second, my sparge was too slow, and therefore too cool; it didn't get above 60C in the grain bed for the first hour (even though it was 85C in the hot water cooler). By the end, I raised the flow enough to get it up to the mid-60s.

I got plenty of wort, filled my 7.5 Gallon kettle, boiled for an hour, added some more wort to top it off, boiled for the last 30 minutes. I ended up with 4 gallons in the fermenter at 1053.

The OG for the recipe was 1036, so I calculated that I needed to ad 1.8 gallons of water to dilute it properly using this formula:

(Current OG / Desired OG) * Current Volume = Desired Volume

I had pre-boiled about 1 1/4 gallons, so first I only added 1/2 a gallon, then another, then a quarter, measuring the gravity each time after rocking the bucket to mix it. But I was still measuring 1050, which I now know was because I didn't mix it nearly well enough. (I've since read that you need to stir it really, really well to fully distribute the hot water into the colder, denser wort).

I ended up dumping a gallon of wort and adding another gallon of boiled water before bed.

This morning, I measured it and I am now at 1030, well under my target OG. I have a bucket of watery wort. I suppose I could add sugar to raise the gravity, but the recipe already called for 6.8 lbs of malt and .75 lbs of sugar. If I now add another 3/4 lb of sugar to raise the OG to 1036, I'm afraid the recipe will be all out of whack.

I'm inclined to just pitch the whole thing and start over, considering the OG problems and the really poorly-done mash and sparge. As it is now, the wort tastes both watery and, I think, tannic, a bit like over-extracted tea. Should I just chalk it up to a learning experience and dump it in the compost pile?

At this point, I'm only out $15. I can pick up more grain, fix the huge problems with my process, and start over. If I pitch the yeast and rack to keg to just see, then one of my kegs is tied up for however long and I'm out $21.

Any advice would be most welcome.


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Old 03-17-2010, 06:55 PM   #2
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I'd say pitch the yeast and get a pound of DME to add sometime in the next week. That will bring it up to 1.036 or so and not impact the flavor too much. An Ordinary Bitter is an easy-drinking session ale and you can start on it as soon as it clears. Out of the fermenter, it will be REAL ale.


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Old 03-17-2010, 07:51 PM   #3
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Doing the math, you are at where you should be at with the water you added. 1.050 to start, +1.25 gallons of water puts you at 1.038. 4.25 gallons of 1.038 + 1 gallon water puts you at 1.031ish. So what's the worry? Your OG was only 1.036...you're only a few points off....Could it, perhaps, taste a bit watery because you are used to tasting higher OG samples?

I say pitch and wait...david's got good advice too with the extra DME, but personally I'm too lazy to futz with a batch after it's in the fermenter.
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Old 03-17-2010, 09:37 PM   #4
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It probably does taste watery because I've never brewed below 1040 or so, but I'm just as worried about the fact that the wort doesn't taste very good (the tannin flavor) and that my mash/sparge was so far off target temps. Shouldn't the wort taste pretty good, or am I just not used to tasting wort at that low a gravity?
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Old 03-17-2010, 10:40 PM   #5
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How are you taking your gravity readings? I'm sure I don't need to tell you this, but heat is a factor in the reading and it appears your OG changed drastically overnight, which might indicate the reading changed with the temperature change.

Just a thought.
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Old 03-17-2010, 11:46 PM   #6
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The problem with the readings was that I was taking them from the spigot on the bucket--so it was at the bottom, where the denser and cooler wort was--while I was adding hot water to the top. I did shake the bucket, but apparently it takes a lot more than that to thoroughly mix the water into the wort. When I left it overnight, the water had ample time to cool off and mix with the wort. Lesson learned. Next time, I'll just do the calculations and trust it (or mix it very well).

The idea of adding DME instead of sugar is appealing, too, but I'm still leery of the way the wort tastes now. But thanks everyone for their suggestions!
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Old 03-17-2010, 11:55 PM   #7
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Im w/ David on this one. My first AG's grav was way off (it was low due to me not know wtf I was doing), but after 2 days in primary I boiled a little dme, cooled it and added it to the primary and ended up w/ some more or less great beer. I wouldn't scrap it unless you truly don't have the fermentation space for a lil experimentation or want to get the orig recipe exactly right. As I'm sure you've heard you'll at least have beer w/ most of your mess ups.
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Old 03-18-2010, 04:32 PM   #8
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Don't toss it out! I'm sure it will be drinkable and you'll learn a valuable lesson about how a beer ages by drinking it along the way. It's troubling to make mistakes, but learning from the mistake is so valuable that I wouldn't beat yourself up over what happened.

I would suggest using a gravity calculator online to determine gravity when the temp is too high. Just take the temp of the wort, take the gravity, and plug it into an equation to get the adjusted gravity. This way you won't have to worry about temperature conversions, since it will be provided for you. If you google gravity calculator I'm sure you'll find something.

Also, I'd highly suggest buying a refractometer if you have an extra $60 lying around. It's quite a chunk of change, but I would gladly have bought one early on in my AG brewing had I known how much easier it makes the process. Of course, it will not give you an accurate reading post fermentation, but it's a life saver when you're mashing and sparging.
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Old 03-18-2010, 05:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by homebrewpey View Post
Don't toss it out! I'm sure it will be drinkable and you'll learn a valuable lesson about how a beer ages by drinking it along the way. It's troubling to make mistakes, but learning from the mistake is so valuable that I wouldn't beat yourself up over what happened.

I would suggest using a gravity calculator online to determine gravity when the temp is too high. Just take the temp of the wort, take the gravity, and plug it into an equation to get the adjusted gravity. This way you won't have to worry about temperature conversions, since it will be provided for you. If you google gravity calculator I'm sure you'll find something.

Also, I'd highly suggest buying a refractometer if you have an extra $60 lying around. It's quite a chunk of change, but I would gladly have bought one early on in my AG brewing had I known how much easier it makes the process. Of course, it will not give you an accurate reading post fermentation, but it's a life saver when you're mashing and sparging.
Good points. I'd add that the temperature correction calculations for hydrometers are pretty wonky above about 90-100 degrees F. It's better to cool your wort to at least that range, (ice water in a pitcher, fridge/freezer, etc.), then temp correct if still above 60°.

Two, you can get an ATC refractometer on Ebay for 30 bucks, free shipping. It actually can work post fermentation if you know the OG, you just have to use another calculator.


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