Diluting beer

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bigringking

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My beer fermented really well and ended up stronger than I wanted. OG was 1.065. FG is 1.012. ABV is 7.0%
A calculator showed me that adding .84 gallons to 6.5 G of 7% beer will result in 6.2% beer. Easy enough.
questions:
- Is it 'easy enough'?
- Do I need to treat the water to approximate my mash and boil additions? I use purchased RO water and would do so for the dilution water.
- Are there any other things I need to do/not do/watch out for/avoid etc. and such?

Cheers,
 

day_trippr

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It should be "that easy", as long as sanitation is respected - and oxygen-introduction is avoided as best as possible.
I don't think you need to do anything to RO water for the purpose of dilution at the level described...

Cheers!
 

DuncB

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The RO water will have some oxygen dissolved in it, without opening a can of worms or being controversial could consider adding something to the water to absorb the oxygen. Ascorbic acid had a lot of interest on a thread earlier. Another option not sure if crazy or not would be to add a little bit of sugar to the water and some yeast that would use the oxygen up as well and then add that. This seems rather experimental an idea though, although based on some facts.
I have no experience of diluting beer except with Lemonade or Ginger beer to make shandy. Rumoured that Courage Best is just diluted Courage Directors beer although not sure it's made anymore in the UK. I could not notice the similarity between those two beers to convince me that one was a dilute version of the other.
Undoubtedly many breweries blend beers though in their barrel program so using a weak beer is also an option.
 

Red over White

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This is a situation where you really should consider alternative options. The time to add water with X amount of oxygen in it is in the fermenter. You can add water to the keg if you're game is tight, but it's a pain in the balls and not worth the trouble in my opinion.
 

mashpaddled

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Any water you add is going to change the salt content but whether it is enough to agonize over depends on the recipe and how much you care. Most likely it won't be enough to really matter.

WRT oxygen in the water kinda the same thing. How much dissolved oxygen is in the water and what effect would it have? If you care about the dissolved oxygen options are pretty simple here. If you bottle, add it in the bottling bucket and rack into it so it mixes well. The priming sugar plus yeast will uptake the oxygen. If you keg you can do the same thing but mix it right into the keg. If worried about the extra alcohol from priming in a keg, then account for that with a small amount of extra water.
 

Red over White

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If you decide to prime your beer, just be aware it can take hours for the yeast to consume the oxygen. Can your style beer shoulder that? Can you boil the whole dilution and make it your priming addition? Probably the best choice.
 

Bassman2003

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I would boil the water addition, cool it quickly with a floating cap to minimize the O2 uptake and add it. Adding this much O2 (dissolved O2 in water is ~8 ppm if one does not boil first) cold and after fermentation is asking for a short shelf life imho.
 

duncan_disorderly

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I would boil the water addition, cool it quickly with a floating cap to minimize the O2 uptake and add it. Adding this much O2 (dissolved O2 in water is ~8 ppm if one does not boil first) cold and after fermentation is asking for a short shelf life imho.
What's a floating cap? (Other than one that blows off in the wind).

Would natural carbonation deal with the introduced oxygen do you think? Are we only worried about the oxygen where the beer is being force carbonated?
 

McMullan

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Blending beers isn't unusual. I think I'd rather dilute with beer. Unless the wort was specifically brewed to be diluted with water there's a good chance of ruining the beer. Either way, test before diluting the whole batch.
 

Miraculix

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Throw in some sugar, wait till the yeast starts to get active again, add the additional water, be happy that the active yeast now scavenges the oxygen in no time.
 

Alan Reginato

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Boil the water. If you're going to priming with sugar, just add it to the dilution water, and boil it.
When you're adding it, avoid splashing.

Maybe add some hops to it, after stops boiling. I made some tests diluting 1 bottle of beer in 2, with water and flameout hops. Straight priming to the bottles, with 1 mL slurry. And I got full carb beer within 1 week. Works, at least.
 

Beermeister32

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If this was my batch, I’d be inclined to keg it and let it age out a couple months at the 7% ABV. You might like it that way.

If you wanted to water it back, You could use some seltzer water in the glass.

Along the same lines…… If you have a keg of Pilsner or a cream ale on tap, It is fun to do a mix, maybe 80% your heavy beer, maybe 20% of a Pils, Helles, Kolsch, cream ale, etc. blended back in the glass. It’s like having more styles on tap!
 

Alan Reginato

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If this was my batch, I’d be inclined to keg it and let it age out a couple months at the 7% ABV. You might like it that way.

If you wanted to water it back, You could use some seltzer water in the glass.

Along the same lines…… If you have a keg of Pilsner or a cream ale on tap, It is fun to do a mix, maybe 80% your heavy beer, maybe 20% of a Pils, Helles, Kolsch, cream ale, etc. blended back in the glass. It’s like having more styles on tap!
Well, it's a safer approach. Give you more options, too.
 

Bassman2003

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What's a floating cap? (Other than one that blows off in the wind).

Would natural carbonation deal with the introduced oxygen do you think? Are we only worried about the oxygen where the beer is being force carbonated?
Floating cap is something that covers all or most of the surface of the water to stop oxygen ingress into the freshly boiled (& O2 free) water. Something as basic as a sheet of aluminum foil would work etc...

Yes, natural carbonation would scavenge the O2. In that case one could add water directly. But, as stated, if you are using priming sugar, then it is common practice to boil the sugar solution first. Any way one does it, getting the oxygen out on the cold side is quite important as it only takes a little to ruin things.
 

hotbeer

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How much beer we talking about? Why don't you bottle four bottles worth. Diluting two of them with boiled and cooled water. Then just keep the rest in the FV until you know the results. I'd expect the strength of your hop flavors and notes to be different.

I may just be lucky since I don't really have the experience, but all my batches wind up at more or less the same FG, 1.010. So I'd have diluted the wort to the desired OG to obtain my desired ABV prior to pitch. Usually before cooling.
 

Velnerj

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I've done this without very good antioxidant practices and it came out great. One caveat, I bottle conditioned it. I cannot speak about kegging. OP never specified packaging.
 

duncan_disorderly

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Floating cap is something that covers all or most of the surface of the water to stop oxygen ingress into the freshly boiled (& O2 free) water. Something as basic as a sheet of aluminum foil would work etc...

Yes, natural carbonation would scavenge the O2. In that case one could add water directly. But, as stated, if you are using priming sugar, then it is common practice to boil the sugar solution first. Any way one does it, getting the oxygen out on the cold side is quite important as it only takes a little to ruin things.
Cheers.

I had a beer judged by the Cloudwater quality control person a couple of years ago. I don't do a lot of oxygen avoidance but she was really complimentary about my beer (which was a big boost for me at the time) and thought it was the best entry, though it came second. She commented on the score sheet that there was no oxidation and that that was unusual for home brew. I think bottle conditioning seems to take care of that for me. I'm not careless but the bottling process must introduce some oxygen. Then the yeast removes it.
 
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bigringking

bigringking

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Well thank you all for the great replies. Quite a bit of diversity and all opinions were well reasoned and thoughtful.

The beer is a double batch of a 2-Hearted-ish beer that I will be kegging into 2 corny kegs. One hit 7% and the other 6.8%. I think it would be best if I left one alone if I decide to do anything. If I decide to dilute the bigger beer, I'd want to do the priming sugar route. I could let that one warm back up a bit to let the yeast and sugar do their thing, hoping they'd scavenge that DO. There are plenty of hops in the beer so I'm not worried about losing bitterness or aroma by diluting. I boiled that beer for 75 with the initial charge of Centennial at 75 min.

I do like the idea of either adding seltzer water to the glass, or mixing some lighter beer in the glass. I have a popcorn cream ale I did recently from a Zymurgy article that turned out great and would fit the bill for this exercise.

I floated my other IPA this weekend so I want to get one of these on gas asap. So I'm going to keg the 6.8% and then work up a priming mixture for the 7% to dilute it. That will server double duty as it can carb it at the same time.

The 7% batch is, as I mentioned in the OP 6.5 Gallons (its actually closer to 6.25 but whatevs). I have enough kegs that I could keg some of it at straight 7% so that I end up with 5 Gal of diluted beer and have all three beers to try - that being 6.8%, 6.5% diluted and primed, and straight 7%. Not to reveal myself as a total hack but the two batches have different yeasts as well - the 6.8% is all US-05; the 7% is one packet of US-05 and one Lallemand English Ale. Both were fermented at 66*F. I thought I had enough US05 but didn't so as Papazian says, RDWHAHB.

Stay tuned...I'll see how things shake out and let you all know how it goes.
 

AlexKay

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Just chiming in to say that brewing at higher gravity and then diluting at packaging is something the pros — many of them — do to maximize utilization of equipment capacity. And deoxygenated water really is necessary; this is not the usual LODO voodoo. (Sorry! No implication meant about whether voodoo is a good thing or not.)
 

Albany brew guy

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General thought for the future - build in a top off water contingency to your boil. O2 is not a concern at the end of boil. Since it is unusual that you would ever want to add more than a gallon, you could take a gravity sample, and make the call. Use an electric tea kettle and add the desired quantity very quickly at the end of boil. pour it in straight away. doing it that way, you would gain a little bit of beer and only add five minutes to the process.
 

Red over White

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General thought for the future - build in a top off water contingency to your boil. O2 is not a concern at the end of boil. Since it is unusual that you would ever want to add more than a gallon, you could take a gravity sample, and make the call. Use an electric tea kettle and add the desired quantity very quickly at the end of boil. pour it in straight away. doing it that way, you would gain a little bit of beer and only add five minutes to the process.

^^^ I agree with that.

I brew high gravity exclusively and dilute in the fermenter with 34°F distilled water. I love the flavor developed boiling high gravity wort as well as the time and energy savings it brings along for the ride.
 

Toxxyc

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I typically dilute after cooling in the fermenter, if I do dilute. It's happened to me before where I overshoot gravity, and then I just use a hosepipe with tap water in the fermenter to top up to the level I want. It's not ideal, it dilutes the IBUs and sugars and all that that was boiled to a specific number, but eh, my beers are alright.

RDWHAHB.
 

superiorsat

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2-Hearted-ish beer
7% is right on the money for 2 Hearted. Guessing you brewed this because you or someone who drinks your beer likes it. Hey to each his own. I have watered down beers on many occasions with no notable issues. I boil the water always to try and get out the oxygen. I have added to the fermenter after cooling it down but prefer to add to the keg. If adding to the fermenter you have to add more water to dilute a larger amount. In the keg lets say I will enter ( using Beersmith ) 4.5 gallons for example and only .5 gallons of water vs. more in the fermenter at 6.25 gallons starting volume. I will pour the freshly boiled water right into a sanitized keg and put on CO2 and purge as normal before kegging. When I get there ( usually kegging multiple beers on any given kegging day and I will do the boiled one last ) I just keg on top of the water. Just did this last weekend.
 

Nagorg

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I've never found myself concerned that my beer finished with a higher than targeted %ABV.

Personally I wouldnt do anything to it but drink it. I would be concerned about ruining what is probably a good beer. And then I'd adjust the recipe for another run until I "got it right".
 

Velnerj

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Another idea that popped into my head is that a lot of us have seltzer water on tap... Water already full of CO2 that might work...
 

Dland

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If it's cold weather, you might enjoy at full strength, if it is hot, enjoy served over ice. If you want to keep it real simple.
 

LitBrewing

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I'm interested in your results as well. I have a 5.5 that ended up 6.6 due to some brewing complications I won't get into here. :)

I have boiled some water, and I'm going to pour it into a sanitized keg, then purge it with CO2 thoroughly then let it cool and get infused with CO2.

I have 2 kegs with 3.5g each roughly so I can add some of the sparkled water to the keg via jumper line a small amount at a time then test. Worst case I still have another untouched keg and I will have learned something.
 
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bigringking

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Reporting back on my dilution situaish. I ended up with 3 conditions. Undiluted lower ABV beer that I didn't change, diluted higher ABV beer, and undiluted higher ABV beer left over due to the excess volume.

I calculated the amount of dilution water I needed to add to the 7% beer, boiled, and cooled that. I mentally subtracted 5 gallons from that Big Mouth Bubbler fermenter which left me with about 2 gallons of 7% beer which went into its own keg - just to see. I always rack into pinlock kegs that have been filled with Starsan then purged with CO2. I don't use the jumper method espoused by Drew Beechum et al for reasons I won't bore you with now. Then I force carbed that keg and cooled it to serving temp. Maybe due to oxygen (most likely), or poor racking technique, or poor sanitization, that beer was ass. Dumped it. It was only 2 gallons, and I still had 10G of what I hoped would be good beer so it was bonus beer anyway.

I diluted the 7% beer with water I had boiled and cooled. I added no salts to the dilution water. I racked the diluted beer into a keg, then added priming sugar for the 5 gallons of beer - based on recommendations here. I think this saved the beer. It turned out great-ish. I knew I had over-boiled the 60 minute hop addition by at least 15 minutes so the base bitterness was not as pleasant as I wanted. But the beer flavor, hop flavor, head retention (mostly), and aroma were good enough for me - good enough for the excess bitterness. The color is about what you'd expect for a well done 2 Hearted homage, although I do still have a little haze. I'm convinced that the priming sugar and yeasties gobbling up the O2 that was induced in all of these shenanigans and left the beer as good as it could possibly be. It is not perfect by any means but given where it started, I can not complain at all. My buddy had nick-named my 2H homage 'Octovalved' in honor of the four valves in a heart times two. I cheekily call this beer 'Septovalved'. Damn I'm clever. Just ask me.

The undiluted 6.8% ended up great - except for the aforementioned excess bitterness from the longer hop boil. The head retention on this one is even nicer than the diluted beer, which doesn't surprise me.

I don't know what the final ABV of the diluted beer is. I know I should check. It just hasn't made it high enough on my To Do list. But I know that it is lower than the 6.8%. I mean duh. It is nice to have something with a little less punch but still tasty and hoppy. I like to have 2-3 full pints on a Friday and Saturday and Sunday night without being completely toasted. Which is why I wanted to dilute the bigger beer. I'm not going for a true clone of 2H, just something that tastes as good as that but fits my other wants. Long and short of this for me is that I learned a little bit more about the dilution process, and I learned that I'm getting closer to what I'm going for with this beer. I do truly appreciate the advice and comments you've left. They all poured into my tiny little brain and filtered through my gray matter to get me where I ended up which I consider a success.
 

burntchef

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This a related question, sort of. How would you lower the abv of any given all grain recipe by 1/2? Raising the mash temp seems risky to me as in, how many degrees higher to reduce by 50%?
Eric
 

hotbeer

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How would you lower the abv of any given all grain recipe by 1/2? Raising the mash temp seems risky to me as in, how many degrees higher to reduce by 50%?

I've reduced a recipes ABV to 75% of the original recipe by just using less fermentable's so my OG is lower and paying attention to the IBU/GU ratio.

It seems to be pretty successful with keeping the same taste and aromas about the beer I liked. Though side by side the original is much better and you will perceive the tastes a little differently. But none the less I like it and I'll probably be shooting for a 50% reduction in ABV in the next batch of it.

Mashing higher to me just seems like it'll make a more sweeter beer in the end. And I'm not a big fan of sweet beer. So I've never tried to even see what the result is.
 

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