Am I being an idiot when reading my Hydrometers ? My kits / Recepies tell me 9% ABV but I get 12-13% ABV readings !!!

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AxelF

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Hi Guys,
I am begining to question myself as to why this keeps happening.
When brewing whole grain kits and my own recepies for double IPA's and Belgian Doubles ...... I end up for target ABV's according to the recepies of approx 7-9 % ABV actually getting 12 - 13 % ABV's !!!

I have calibrated a load of iSpindels and i also take SG and FG using a hydrometer bought from a reliabable Belgain brew supplier (Cheap Chinease Free kits that come with distillers are complete unreliable c*ap).

Both My iSpindels and my Hydrometer keep telling me that my Final gravity is nearer 12% than 9%. !!!!!

I cool the wort and final beer when botteling to 15 C when I take the hydrometer measurements.

The yeast I have been using for my Double IPA's is Imperial Yeast A07 (live yeast harvested several times)
The yeast I have been using for my Double Belgian Beer is SafAle BE-256 (Abbey Yeast) from dry yeast sachet added as a live starter.
I use a tempriture controlled fermentation chamber using fermentract and I user tehermowells in the fermentor.

Is this possible ? Am I going mad ?

The only thing I do differently from the kit is to;

a). Grind my own Grain (I used to use a household Blender kit) but I now have a propper grain hand grinder.
b). I divide all my ingredients for a 5 US Gallon Recepie by 50% because I only brew approx 10 liter batches.
c). I tend to double the yeast starter (for exampe I figure I will use the whole Abbey yeast sachet rther than half and harvest the yeast for the second batch of the kit I will make).

When I harvest my yeast for the double IPA's , I start with 2 x mason jars (after allowing the diluted sediment to settle for 30min before harvesting the top 50% minus the trub) for the 50% recepie. Whack the 2 jars in the fridge for 2 weeks.
Then I take the 2 mason jars from the 50% recepie and poor off the liquid beer and condense into one mason jar.
Then I use that conentrate for my yeast starter on my second next brew.

In all cases my brews seem to hit 12-13% ABV when I do my final calcs from websites like Alcohol By Volume ABV Calculator - Brewer's Friend and my fermentrack.

Personally when dry hopping I have found the iSpindel concept completely unreliable ..... even though I calibrate the devices accuratly see below (I take 10 calibration readings verifying with the hydrometer because I go for high ABV when I brew)..... I live in Denmark and I have got used to drinking strong beer now I cant drink anything less that 5% and think it lacks flavour !!!! :-0

Calibration.PNG


The reason is that unless you weight the hop bags so they sink to the bottom of the fermentor they ruin the iSpindles readings through contact with the floating hops bag.

So for Double IPA's where you need to dry hop .... I ignore iSpindle and I fall back to the hydrometer from brewMaster readings.

But take this Belgian Double .... no dry hops and look what the iSpindel reports !!!! (I did ferment for 3 weeks at 21 C rather than my usual 1 week)

CalibrationWierdBelgianDouble.PNG

The battery crapped out on the 14th Aug when I went on holiday for 2 weeks .... but my other ispindels looked OK in the same fermentation chamber (see below). Perhaps I did not cool the wort enough for the belgian double ..... perhaps the iSpindle went wonky due to low battery voltage / device electronic issues and I need to garbage it) .... but why did the Gravity increase over the 1st 3 days of a dry sachet .. the iSpindle must be unreliable on low voltage.

(Below was my Double IPA with dry hops floating on the surface) in the same chamber without battery issues ( i cold crashed when I got back from holiday)

iSpidleReadingsGoodBattery.PNG



The only rational conclusion is that you cant trust iSpindel/Tilt devices and you should rely on good quality Hydrometers taking readings at 15 C.

AND .... that these yeast varieties at double the live pitch rates are able to reach 12% ABV ?????

The cause for the discrepency between the recepies estimated ABV and my results is becase I have been grinding my grain *too* fine.
1st a hand belender and then with my manual brewferm grain grinder.

I simply did not think that Abbey yeast BE-256 and American Imperial yeast A07, could ferment ABV that high given and extra 2 weeks fermentation (3 weeks instead of 1) when I went on holiday combined with a very fine grind on my grains on a 50% recepie ...... I use boil in thebag rather than sparging.

Whats peoples opinions on what has gone on here ?
 
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AxelF

AxelF

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Ok, let’s take the Belgium for example.
what was the grain bill and the SG/FG from the hydrometer readings?
and batch size

I am ignoring the iSpindle readings because the low battery voltage could throw the results and made them go mental (even though no dry hops)


My Hydrometer read.

SG 1.135 15 C
FG 0.025 15 C


The grain Bill was from as kit from Brew Monk (Sister Caramel Brown).
An undisclosed mix of
Pils Malt.
Munich Malt
Cara-Crystal Malt
Special B Malt.
Hops Northen Malt.

Their Documentation stated that:
OG = 1.068
(I managed to achieve 1.135 ... thats double the predicted ...must be due to too fine a grain size + using a boil in the bag without additinal sparging volume dilution because Im using Boil in the bag)
EBU 32
EBC 86
ABV 7%

The whole grain weight was 4.8 kg ... in my half batch I used 2.4Kg

+ Added Candi Sugar Blond (500g I used 250g)
+ Caramal Extract 100ml (I used 50ml)

I used 50% of the ingredients and sugars + flavorings. (the grain was one bag, the candi one bag and the caramel extract 1 bottle)

But the whole sachet of yeast in a live starter (they only gave me 1 sachet which was a surprise for such a High ABV) of SafAle BE-256 Abbey Yeast.

Maybe its my ignorance .... but I did not think that ABV could go so high with these yeast varieties .... forget the iSpindle unreliability ,,,, I have to trust my hydrometer readings .... especially as I take them at 15 C at SG and FG ...

I just did not think that these yeast could go that high !
 
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Maxkling

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Chico yeast says it’s good to 12%.

I think you are looking in the wrong place. Fermentation will run its course depending on what you give it. If your wort is highly fermentable and your SG is high enough and the yeast is obviously tolerant enough, then you will end up with high alcohol %. With small batches you are doing a pack of healthy yeast will run it’s course fairly efficient.

What are your mash temperatures and have you calibrated your thermometers?
 
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AxelF

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This is FG room temp now (not 15 C which read 0.25 ) for the Belgian Double which reads 0.02 at room temp approx 21 C
SistercaramelBrown.jpg
 
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AxelF

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Chico yeast says it’s good to 12%.

I think you are looking in the wrong place. Fermentation will run its course depending on what you give it. If your wort is highly fermentable and your SG is high enough and the yeast is obviously tolerant enough, then you will end up with high alcohol %. With small batches you are doing a pack of healthy yeast will run it’s course fairly efficient.

What are your mash temperatures and have you calibrated your thermometers?


In that case ... that explains it ..... I have been using a finer grain size + longer fermentation period at optimal temp + double live starter for faster sugar conversion + I have been using boil in the bag without sparge wort dilution and accuratly keeping +/- 2% C to the mash tempritures at the right times ..... AND I DONT SPARGE ..... why is the US obsessed with sparging against boil in the bag ?

52 C 5min.
62 C 20min
67 C 30min
72 C 15min
78 C 1 min

Brew Monk must quote the worst possible results based on people doing worst case senarios .... and my results must be at the higher end of the spectrum because I am anal on detail and PID tuning for temp controls (Im a 3D Printing FDM reprap electronics veteran, used to building tempriture controlled chambers).

Wow these yeast strains just keep on impressing me :), and sparging is just a bad option compared to boil in the bag !

I have been so used to Dainish & German beers between 5 and 12% .... that my UK palllet no longer cannot distinguish between a 12% Dainish craft Beer that feels like a UK 3.6 % beer ! So I question If this great beer im tasting can really be 12-13% ... because its so light refreshing and nice ! :)

Now it makes sense ... last time I was in London .... I thought they had watered down the beer .... its just that my taste buds have changed !

#lovebrewing

#whyAreWeStillPromotingSpargingSolutionsWhenBoilInTheBagIsSoMuchBetter ?
 
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marc1

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This is FG room temp now (not 15 C which read 0.25 ) for the Belgian Double which reads 0.02 at room temp approx 21 C
View attachment 696433
What kind of hydrometer is that? A narrow range? Why doesn't it go below 1.000? I've never seen an SG hydrometer that looks like that - maybe it's reading a different scale?
 

VikeMan

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My Hydrometer read.

SG 1.135 15 C
FG 0.025 15 C

The whole grain weight was 4.8 kg ... in my half batch I used 2.4Kg

+ Added Candi Sugar Blond (500g I used 250g)
+ Caramal Extract 100ml (I used 50ml)

There's definitely something off with your measurements somewhere. 2.4 Kg of malt + 250 g sugar + whatever sugar is in 50 ml of caramel extract can't yield an OG of 1.135 in 10 liters. Let's pretend there are 50 g of sugar in the caramel extract. (There aren't, but we'll be generous.) Assuming 38 ppg for the grains (again, generous), the highest OG you could get in 10 liters with those ingredients would be ~1.088, at 100% mash efficiency. And you can't get 100% mash efficiency.

The question isn't why you are getting such high gravities and ABVs. The question is which measurement(s) is/are messed up.
 

marc1

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What kind of hydrometer is that? A narrow range? Why doesn't it go below 1.000? I've never seen an SG hydrometer that looks like that - maybe it's reading a different scale?

Wait, is that hydrometer in Plato?

You said:
"My Hydrometer read.

SG 1.135 15 C
FG 0.025 15 C"


I thought that the 0 in the ones place was a typo in your FG, but it might not be. I think you may be confusing scales and mixing up the numbers. You can't get a 0.025 on a homebrewing hydrometer for Specific Gravity.

2.5 Plato is 1.010 (Final Gravity) which you were calling 0.025.

Not sure how you read 1.135 off that hydrometer, but if it was 13.5 Plato, than your OG was 1.055.

1.055 to 1.010 is 5.9% ABV.

If 15C was the calibration temp of your hydrometer, then these numbers are good. Otherwise you'd need to correct the SG to account for it.

I hope this was it and I could help you figure this out!
 
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AxelF

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Hi Guys, apologies busy day at work.

The way that Hydrometer works is that it read's 0 when in water. So as SG of water is 1..... when the density of the water increases the hydrometer rises.
The next digit down is 1 whic I erad to understand is 1.010 and then 1.020.

You can see my calibration using the iSpindle1 using sugar concentrations based on this hydrometer.

when I had the hydrometer at 1.040 My Calibration curve in the iSpindle spreadsheet calculated that the plato was 9.994 ?!?

But as you guys noticed sometimes I get a bit confused and forget to add the 1.

So The correct readings where I believe;

SG 1.135 15 C
FG 1.025 15 C" (I originally forgot to add the 1 ... my bad). When I type that in the ABV Calculator it says 14.4%

I must have got the wrong end of the stick somewhere.

Let me find the description of the hydrometer I bought from Brouwland ... in Belgium I translated it as being Calibrated for Beer;
 
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AxelF

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This is what I bought


2240.png



Beer wort spindle set
Spindle, thermometer, glass cylinder in an affordable complete set

Item no .: 2240
I2240G
Inexpensive complete set, consisting of:

- Beer wort spindle (Art. 2200) with instructions. Used to measure the original and residual wort and is necessary to measure the alcohol content. Required temperature of the liquid 20 ° C. With plastic protective sleeve,
- Glass cylinder (Art. 2220) for removing brew from the fermentation tank,
- Glass thermometer (Art. 2250) to determine the brew temperature. Temperature range from -10 ° C to + 110 ° C. With plastic protective sleeve
 
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AxelF

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So I had made a little mistake in that I thought it was calibrated at 15 C when it should have been 20 C (Room Temp ish ) would 5 C make such a difference ?
 

VikeMan

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So I had made a little mistake in that I thought it was calibrated at 15 C when it should have been 20 C (Room Temp ish ) would 5 C make such a difference ?

It makes a small difference, but nothing like the discrepancy that you are calculating.

That hydrometer in the picture definitely looks like a Plato scale. So your original reading was 13.5 °P and your final reading was 2.5 °P. You need to calculate ABV using a formula that takes Plato inputs, or you need to convert the Plato readings to Specific Gravity readings.

This one accepts Plato readings as input: Alcohol By Volume ABV Calculator - Brewer's Friend
 

marc1

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Hi Guys, apologies busy day at work.

The way that Hydrometer works is that it read's 0 when in water. So as SG of water is 1..... when the density of the water increases the hydrometer rises.
The next digit down is 1 whic I erad to understand is 1.010 and then 1.020.

You can see my calibration using the iSpindle1 using sugar concentrations based on this hydrometer.

when I had the hydrometer at 1.040 My Calibration curve in the iSpindle spreadsheet calculated that the plato was 9.994 ?!?

But as you guys noticed sometimes I get a bit confused and forget to add the 1.

So The correct readings where I believe;

SG 1.135 15 C
FG 1.025 15 C" (I originally forgot to add the 1 ... my bad). When I type that in the ABV Calculator it says 14.4%

I must have got the wrong end of the stick somewhere.

Let me find the description of the hydrometer I bought from Brouwland ... in Belgium I translated it as being Calibrated for Beer;

1.040SG is the same as 10 Plato. They are different scales, like Celsius and Fahrenheit.

After looking at this more, I really think that that hydrometer is in Plato and not SG. Do the directions for the hydrometer say anything about the scale? The webpage you linked does not seem to say.

Maxkling had a good idea above that will get to the bottom of this quickly. Make up the sugar solution and see what your hydrometer reads.

The temperature being off from 20C will make a difference in the reading, but not a huge one. There are online calculators that can correct it for you:
 

VikeMan

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@AxelF, the hydrometer temperature correction calculator that @marc1 linked lets you choose between Specific Gravity and Brix. You'll want to choose Brix. Brix is (for practical purposes) the same as Plato.
 

marc1

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@AxelF, the hydrometer temperature correction calculator that @marc1 linked lets you choose between Specific Gravity and Brix. You'll want to choose Brix. Brix is (for practical purposes) the same as Plato.
Good catch!
AxelF brix, balling, and plato are pretty much the same scale
 
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AxelF

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Hi Guys ,
this is the reading I took from 1 liter of tap water with 100g of dissolved table sugar at a temp of 20 C

It look to be 1.095

1l100g.jpg
 

Maxkling

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That would be 10 Plato. The scale is Plato not gravity points.

Edit::: just to clarify you made a solution that is 1.040 gravity or 10 Plato. So if it’s reading 10 then I’d assume the scale is in plato not gravity points.
 
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AxelF

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I took one liter of tap water and dissolved 100g of sugar, so (after googling what Plato is) suggests you are correct the scale must be plato even though there are no markings on the hydrometer, other than below, and there was no documentation with the hydrometer.

But I translated the text on the Hydrometer from German to english ..... and it looks to describe plato

"Sucrose mass fraction in beer wort (% mas) at 20 C reading on the liquid level"

Thanks for all your help guys :):):):):):).... I have been puzzeled for ages on my ABV Calc's !

So what I thought was;

SG 1.135
FG 1.025

Was in fact Plato;

SP 13.5 Converts to SG 1.0547
FP 2.5 Converts to FG 1.0098

So my double has an ABV of 5.91% Which is short of the target 7% ABV and technically not a double.

This was because my target OG/SG was 1.068 and I only hit 1.0547 ....... lolz so perhaps Sparging *is* more efficient than boil in the bag or I need a finer grain size !

The mystery has been solved! Well done guys ..... as a noob I would have carried on with this mistake as its the only hydrometer I have
I now have to re-calibrate 5+ iSpindels.

I really appreciate all your help guys .... thanks a million ,,,, so I was an idiot after all :ghostly:

hydrometer.jpg
 

VikeMan

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Well, my German isn't great, but I think the words on the hydrometer are trying to say that it's a Brix (Plato) scale...

"sucrose mass part in beer wort (percent mass)"

(One brix = one part sucrose in 100 parts of solution, by mass.)
 

marc1

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...

So my double has an ABV of 5.91% Which is short of the target 7% ABV and technically not a double.

This was because my target OG/SG was 1.068 and I only hit 1.0547 ....... lolz so perhaps Sparging *is* more efficient than boil in the bag or I need a finer grain size !

The mystery has been solved! Well done guys ..... as a noob I would have carried on with this mistake as its the only hydrometer I have
I now have to re-calibrate 5+ iSpindels.

I really appreciate all your help guys .... thanks a million ,,,, so I was an idiot after all :ghostly:

Glad we got that figured out! If you used it to incorrectly calibrate your iSpindles, that could be why you found them unreliable!

Sparging and brew in a bag aren't mutually exclusive. You don't have to sparge with BIAB, but it's not difficult. From theory and from personal experience it does get you more efficiency. If you have a hoist for the bag it is much easier. (As a side note, boiling the grains in the bag is not common accepted practice. You should mash in the bag, then remove the bag with grains (or remove the wort from the mash vessel), sparge them if you want*, dispose of the grains, and then begin the boil.)

* You can sparge by moving the grain bag to another pot with water in it, it's not even necessary for that water to be hot if you don't want it to be.
 
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