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First time brew - low OG but okay?

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Alpsie

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Hi all,
I´m a long time lurker without an account, but decided to create an account to get a bit of help.

I just brewed for the first time yesterday, with a pre-made recipe for a "Belgian Blond"
I followed the recipe step by step, but ended up with less of a OG than listed.

Recipe was in metric, so I´ve changed it to imperial and full recipe is below:

Grain-bill
13,22 pound Pilsnermalt
0,55 pound Cara Wienermalt
0,55 pound Caramunic 1-Malt

Hops
East Kent Holding 1.05 ounce – added at boil start
Styrian Golding 0,35 ounce – added last 10 min of boil
Styrian Golding 0,70 ounce – added at flame out

Sugar
Candid sugar 10,58 ounce – added last 5 min of boil

Other
Also Irish moss 0,35 ounce – added last 15 min of boil

Mash amount was 4,29 Gallons, time was set for 60 min at temperature 149F.
Sparge amount was 5,28 Gallons at temperature 165F.
Boil was for 80 min.

Yeast is Yeast Wyeast 1388 Belgian Strong, and Its fermenting at 77F, while recipe say 71,6F, but I have no means to cool it for now, will it result in off flavour?

Noted OG in recipe 1070, while my OG was 1041, this read while temperature was 25F with hydrometer and refractometer that corrects up to 86F

I think the change in OG is due to me sparging too much at a time? But I´m not sure, so would like your input on it. Could be the recipe is just not correct with temperature etc.

Thanks for taking your time and reading through the post.
 

brewcat

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Just try to keep your fermenting temp stable. Right now it is within range.

The OG reading was taken after the boil, correct? With the OG off that much it makes me wonder about the grist. Seems like the grain didn't get milled good.

How long did your sparge take you?
 
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Alpsie

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@brewcat

Thanks for your insight good to know im within the safe range of the yeast. I had just been reading that some yeasts gives one flavour profile at lower temperature and a other at higher temperatur.

The sparge was very quick, too quick I think. Havent really read what is the typicall amount pr min etc.
But all the sparge water was gone in 10-15min.
 

RM-MN

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Your sparge may be the culprit. If you fly sparged and did it that quickly you may have had channeling in the grist so your sparge water went in only a small area of the grist and picked up little sugar on the way. If that is the case, you also might have gotten poor mixing with the initial runoff and sampled a part of the wort that was mostly sparge water.

My suggestion for the next batch is to forget fly sparging. Done very well, it gains a little efficiency over batch sparging. Done less well it may get much worse efficiency than batch sparging. With batch sparging you add half the water needed, stir well so it collects as much sugar as possible, then drain. Repeat for the second sparge except you can note how much wort has already been collected and just use the amount to get your expected preboil amount. Since the grist is already saturated with water, what you add now is what you get back out.

The other cause of a low OG is a poor crush of the grain. If you have your own mill, set it tighter. If you don't have a mill and plan on making beer for a long time, buy a mill and buy grain in bulk. It won't take many batches for the savings in the cost of grain to pay for the mill.
 

Soulshine2

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I fly sparged my batch previous to the last . Last one(the oatmeal stout) I batch sparged and I feel did much better with my numbers. I mashed with approximately half of the expected finished (pre-boil)volume , then batch sparged twice with the approximately half the remaining amount and then finally whatever I needed for the pre-boil volume. Mill rollers are set at 0.035, milled once.
 

Tribe Fan

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Search 'swamp cooler' for a technique to cool your fermentation. The basics are to put the fermenter in a container with ice water at the bottom, drape a tshirt around the fermenter so that it soaks up water from the bottom and the evaporation will cool the fermenter.

With this yeast strain you are fine in the upper 70's F. With a standard american or english ale yeast, you wouldn't be and you would get esters, most common of which is banana-like.
 
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Alpsie

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Thanks all for your inputs, I do think its due to the sparge, but now you got me thinking about how the grain was milled, the grain was all pre-milled so I´m not sure how fine/rough it was.

The OG was taken after the boil, having missed the OG, I will just end up with a beer that has less alcohol is that correct?

For my next brew, I´ll sparge as you guys suggested, just one more question, should I stir/mix the grain after having done the mash and drained it?
I´m using a bulldog brewer, so all the grain is in the center container that I raise up for draining after the mash.

Thanks again for helping me improve the brew.

@Tribe Fan thanks for the input about the yeast and the esters that had me worried. I´ll look into the "swamp cooler" that you mentioned, sounds quite simple so that will be great.
 

deadwolfbones

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Less alcohol, less malt character, less body.

The other possibility that I don't think anyone has mentioned is that your final fermenter volume may be way over what the recipe specified. Do you know if it's on target or not?
 
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Alpsie

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Okay so it will be a somewhat weaker beer, ill take it as a learning experience :) and if it is horrid, ill give it away for taste tests at work haha.

Final volume for the fermenter should be 6.07 gallons and I ended up with 5.81 gallons, so not that much of the mark.
 

Soulshine2

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youre basically off by a quart. Not bad . drinkable is good . You'll get it , its just fun science .
 

Tribe Fan

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For reference, when my grain is crushed I can pick up handfuls and not see anything that looks like a whole barley grain. It's all crushed into pieces. The more powder, the better. I'm setup for all grain mash ton and sparging and get low 80% mash efficiencies. I used the same crush for BIAB and have gone from 60% to 75%. There are guys that get high 80's in BIAB so I know I could crush mine even finer. If you have anything that looks like whole grain husks, it's not fine enough.
 

Soulshine2

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mine is about the size of builders sand. Nothing looks like grain , just grit.
 
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Alpsie

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Hi again all,
Thanks for describing the grain and how yours are milled, I´ve reached for the specialty grain and taken two pictures, this is similar to how the pilsner malt was milled, do it look okay to you guys?

One more question, I´ve been keeping an eye/ear on the fermentation bucket and for now it seems to have stopped bubbling regularly. So I decided to take a hydrometer measurement, and it came out at 1.011 which do seem to be in range for the yeast, however this has only been fermenting since Saturday. so 6 days. do that at all seem reasonable?
The recipe say to let sit for 3 weeks, so was expecting it to take longer.
I understand this can also be due to my low OG compared to recipe, but will be nice to hear the thoughts of more experienced heads.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Tribe Fan

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Not a great crush there, imho. This is a random google pic, but is what mine looks like. you can see all the white smashed kernel bits and the husks are shredded.
http://craftbeertemple.com/videoblog/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/milled_barley.jpeg

Here's a good thread for those yeasts:
https://www.homebrewtalk.com/forum/...e-with-wyeast-1388-belgian-strong-ale.138027/

You're at 73% so those yeasts should take it down even more. Consensus on the thread above was 74F for 3-4 weeks. You started with a hot fermentation, so the longer side of that won't hurt. You've had a good fermentation so far to take it down that low in 6 days. Let it keep doing it's thing.
 

tellyho

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Hi again all,
Thanks for describing the grain and how yours are milled, I´ve reached for the specialty grain and taken two pictures, this is similar to how the pilsner malt was milled, do it look okay to you guys?

One more question, I´ve been keeping an eye/ear on the fermentation bucket and for now it seems to have stopped bubbling regularly. So I decided to take a hydrometer measurement, and it came out at 1.011 which do seem to be in range for the yeast, however this has only been fermenting since Saturday. so 6 days. do that at all seem reasonable?
The recipe say to let sit for 3 weeks, so was expecting it to take longer.
I understand this can also be due to my low OG compared to recipe, but will be nice to hear the thoughts of more experienced heads.

Thanks in advance.
Agree that that crush is pretty coarse. I gave up on HBS mill pretty early on - they tend to be gapped pretty wide to speed things up.
 

metanoia

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Agree that that crush is pretty coarse. I gave up on HBS mill pretty early on - they tend to be gapped pretty wide to speed things up.
Is it uncommon for most LHBS to let you crush your own grain? I'm guessing I'm spoiled at Adventures in Homebrewing's physical location, as I've been able to experiment with changing the crush size on their industrial crusher over the years. If you ever order from there, I'm sure they'd tighten the gap for you if you leave a note.
 

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I would also make sure your thermometer is calibrated. I’ve known people to find out their readings were 8°F high, which would be enough to really mess up your mash.
 
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Alpsie

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Thanks for the new replies.
Sounds like I´ll need to find a new store for the malt/grain, or invest in my own mill. I see mills with 2 rollers and some with 3, is it worth getting one with 3, despite it being 100$ more?

I´ve double checked the thermometer, and it shows the same numbers as the build in thermometer on the pot I use, so I think its accurate.
 

Tribe Fan

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Thanks for the new replies.
Sounds like I´ll need to find a new store for the malt/grain, or invest in my own mill. I see mills with 2 rollers and some with 3, is it worth getting one with 3, despite it being 100$ more?

I´ve double checked the thermometer, and it shows the same numbers as the build in thermometer on the pot I use, so I think its accurate.
I've used the same barley crusher for 12+ years. And an AC power drill. My DC will do it with a full charge, but I get a better crush with the higher torque AC drill.

Tons of threads to search on options. I would look on craigslist if you are in the US. I always get a half dozen hits on people getting rid of their brew stuff.
 

Bobby_M

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I ask every customer how they want their grain crushed. I would not shop at a place that doesn't ask or one that refuses to adjust to your desires. Make sure they know you won't be back.
 
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Alpsie

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Thank you all for the comments about the milling of the grains, I will try a different shop next time and ask before I buy anything.

I hope it is okay, I keep updating this topic, I like to have stuff collected one place, so that I can go back to it during my next brew.

I have two question and hope you all can provide assistance again.
My beer have been fermenting for 15 days and gravity seem to have stabilized (I´m using a tilt, just to monitor if it´s stable, will do proper hydrometer reading before bottling)

My two question is, stuff is still floating on top of my beer, it don´t look like the krausen I had while ago, but do you guys think its still a krausen, or just yeast floating? It do not smell bad at all, it has a very plesant beerish smell to it.

Should I wait longer, for this to vanish ?

Thanks again
 

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anotherbeerplease

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29 points off is huge... so to ask the obvious question, this is post-boil OG we are talking about right?? If you measured pre-boil then you will be way off.

Now assuming the measurement is correct, and done at the correct time, then I'm sure you know that many Belgians benefit from a "drier" taste, which is pretty easy to attain using sugar additions. A rough estimate of 0.09 gravity points added for each pound, and if you want to hit your gravity, just add slightly more than 3 pounds sugar over about 3 days or so (1lb per day). Then you get your 1.070 OG (equallivient) and also get that nice dry belgian character. Good luck!
 
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Alpsie

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Hi @anotherbeerplease
Yes this was post-boil, I´ve been getting other replies and the consensus seems to be that my sparge was too quick and the grain was not milled correctly. So I know what to improve upon :)

Now I´m just a bit hesitant about how the beer looks haha, if you look at the post just above yours, you will see my latest question about the beer, can I get your thoughts on that?

Thanks.
 

anotherbeerplease

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If you have the patience another week won't hurt it, and likely will make it better. Also if you do want to hit your 1.070 og you could add sugar over the next couple days... All depends what you want to do with it. If you just want the beer now then if your gravity stopped dropping and you are at or near expected attenuation for your yeast then you could bottle now and enjoy even sooner :)
 
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Alpsie

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I´m not sure I´ll want to boost to 1.070, I´m quite fine with the 1.041 it started at, will make an experience for my next brew when I do hit correct OG, see how much a flavour change it has compared to this "bad" OG haha.

When using the Tilt to monitor, it has been changing between1.005 and 1.006 for the last 48 hours. So it do seem stable. But I might give it a day or two more befor I cold crash.

Apparent Attenuation seem to be roughly 87,80%

-

Do the stuff that floats ontop of the beer look to be krausen or yeast floats to you?
 

brew703

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Your photo looks like yeast rafts or something like that. Doesn't appear to be anything bad. If you are at 1.005 or so then I would say it's finished. I've never had a beer finish that low unless I use an enzyme to dry out. If you had the ability to cold crash, those floaties would drop.
How to you plan on racking to bottles or a keg? You may pick up some of those floaties when you transfer.
 

Tribe Fan

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I´m not sure I´ll want to boost to 1.070, I´m quite fine with the 1.041 it started at, will make an experience for my next brew when I do hit correct OG, see how much a flavour change it has compared to this "bad" OG haha.

When using the Tilt to monitor, it has been changing between1.005 and 1.006 for the last 48 hours. So it do seem stable. But I might give it a day or two more befor I cold crash.

Apparent Attenuation seem to be roughly 87,80%

-

Do the stuff that floats ontop of the beer look to be krausen or yeast floats to you?
Picture looks fine to me. Wait until there is little to no foam and just yeast rafts to crash it.
 

Soulshine2

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Thanks for the new replies.
Sounds like I´ll need to find a new store for the malt/grain, or invest in my own mill. I see mills with 2 rollers and some with 3, is it worth getting one with 3, despite it being 100$ more?
The only reason I bought my own mill is because I now live in an area with no LHBS in sight. Where I used to live , the LHBS would crush the grain for me ,free. I try to keep my equipment investment low and on an as needed basis . If I can do without it , I do. I'm trying to stay away from all the automation and flashy lights and gizmos. I bought a small pump last year ,for sparging. I've used it once ,and it didn't really do what I intended . I batch sparge now and gravity transfer everything , my numbers are spot on.
 
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Alpsie

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I´ve put this in the fridge yesterday for cold crashing at 40F and it is slowly dropping down in temperature currently at 45F, hopefully I´ll be able to bottle (don´t yet have a keg) on saturday when I don´t work.
I´m thinking I´ll siphon it through some thin mesh from my hop-spider into a new "bucket" add priming sugar and then bottle from there, then leave them standing for 2-3 weeks at 71F for bottle conditioning, before putting them in the fridge.

I´m thinking of adding apple juice ontop of the yeastkeg to see if it will manage to produce a drinkable cide. This is just a leaning thing and if it ends up bad, I will give it away to people who are used to drinking cheap cheap cider.

Regarding the mill, I´ll put it on a wishlist for christmas, I can get by without it after all :)

Again thank you all for providing assistance and knowledge.

Best regards
 

Tribe Fan

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I´ve put this in the fridge yesterday for cold crashing at 40F and it is slowly dropping down in temperature currently at 45F, hopefully I´ll be able to bottle (don´t yet have a keg) on saturday when I don´t work.
I´m thinking I´ll siphon it through some thin mesh from my hop-spider into a new "bucket" add priming sugar and then bottle from there, then leave them standing for 2-3 weeks at 71F for bottle conditioning, before putting them in the fridge.

I´m thinking of adding apple juice ontop of the yeastkeg to see if it will manage to produce a drinkable cide. This is just a leaning thing and if it ends up bad, I will give it away to people who are used to drinking cheap cheap cider.

Regarding the mill, I´ll put it on a wishlist for christmas, I can get by without it after all :)

Again thank you all for providing assistance and knowledge.

Best regards
If your are going to use a hop spider as a filter, do it in a way that minimizes aeration of the wort to the greatest extent feasible. You want to avoid spraying through the screen and get the siphon hose submerged as quickly as possible.
 
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Alpsie

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Oh, I was thinking I would use the hopspider in the current fermentation bucket, have it down near the yeastkeg, and then siphon directly over to a new bucket, where the hose is touching the buttom bucket, to prevent splashes and airation like you mention.
 
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Alpsie

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Just a update.

The beer turned out great taste wise, sadly I seem to have missed t he mark with carbonation, it has a "fizz" at the start, but it vanishes quite quickly, like less than 5 min.
I´ll try and add more fermentables next time.

I decided to make cider on the yeastkeg, and I just bottled this yesterday, OG was 1.047 and FG was 1.003, flavour wise its very dry, but I like a dry cider. I bottled half with sugar and other half with apple juice, so will be fun to see how they turn out in 3 weeks time.
 

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