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Old 02-09-2008, 11:53 PM   #1
Feb 2008
Waxahachie, TX
Posts: 115

Greetings all!

I brewed my frst 5-gallon batch last weekend after taking a few years off from the hobby. Before my "break" I used a Mr. Beer kit. This time around, I had upgraded all my equipment - to a 5 gallon setup. Today, after racking to my secondary fermentor, I noticed that I had considerably less than 5 gallons. I knew that a little loss was going to happen, but I wasn't expecting this much. I've heard of people "topping up" to 5 gallons before using boiled, chilled water. Does anyone recommend doing this? If so, when should this occur? Also, won't this also dilute your beer?

Thanks in advance,

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Old 02-10-2008, 12:01 AM   #2
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BierMuncher's Avatar
Jan 2007
St. Louis, MO
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It all depends on what your specific gravity reading is.

If you're original gravity was higher than expected, then topping up a bit with boiled, cooled water shouldn't affect that much. (assuming you're not adding 2 gallons ).

If the beer tastes good now and you simply undershot the volume, live with a good beer...just a bit less. Then adjust your next recipe accordingly.

If you do add water, add it to the secondary but be very careful to add it gently and not splash. At this point, the biggest danger to your beer is oxygen.

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Old 02-10-2008, 12:03 AM   #3
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Revvy's Avatar
Dec 2007
"Detroitish" Michigan
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Most of the time with extract brewing you are boiling around 2 gallons of wort and topping off with 3 gallons of water to hit your 5 gallon mark.

Different people will have different opinions about whether or not to boil your 3 gallons of topping of water, but personally I don't bother. I use a gallon jug and the water straight from the tap.

One thing to think about though is that if you are trying to hit a target original gravity then you may not actually be hitting 5 gallons then.

I've been doing 2.5 to 3 gallon boils, adding one gallon of water into my fermenter. Pouring in the cooled wort and mixing thoroughly. Then taking a gravity reading and adding the final gallon a little at a time and taking more readings until I hit my target gravity. (Making sure to mix the new water thoroughly and to calculate for the temperature of everything.)

Usually kits are formulated for exactly 5 gallons anyway, but this way you can be sure..even if it means maybe you only get 4 and a half gallons, the beer will be smack on your numbers.
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Old 02-10-2008, 01:56 AM   #4
Feb 2008
Waxahachie, TX
Posts: 115

Originally Posted by BierMuncher
It all depends on what your specific gravity reading is.

Hmm...well, let's just say I "forgot" to take an OG reading, so I'm not sure what the final should have been. The reading I took today was 1.016. The beer did taste good!

I boiled between 2-3 gallons and added enough cold water to have exactly 5 gallons in the primary.

The recipe I followed was a partal mash. Should I have started with more than 5 gallons in the primary?


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Old 02-10-2008, 04:27 AM   #5
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Oct 2007
Hillsborough, NC
Posts: 251
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What did the recipe say?

Most say to top to 5gal. A few say 5.50gals.
If the kit was prepared properly hitting their volume should give you the right OG.
But with a 5gal volume in the primary, you're going to just end up with something closer to 4.5 gals by the time your done.

Better to go with less volume than dilute in my book.
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Old 02-10-2008, 05:29 AM   #6
Jun 2006
South River, NJ
Posts: 2,587
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I'd just make the beer, fill to 5 gallons, STIR/MIX!!!!, take an OG. If its low, oh well, if its high either oh well or top it off to 5.5.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ ~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~~~___//_ ____________________________~~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~~~_/ [][]| | /```\/```\/```\/```\/```\ |~~~~~~~~~~
~~~~~~~_/_______| |____NOW TRIPLE HOPPED______|~~~~~~~~~~
~~~___/[_]| 00 /| | \,,,/\,,,/\,,,/\,,,/\,,,/ |~~~~~~~~~~
~~|___|___|___/_| |___________________________|~~~~~~~~~~
~~|=(*)[________]==(*)(*)=| \________/=(*)(*)=|~~~~~~~~~~

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