Getting the right Original Gravity Extract Kit

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Mightykyle

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I brewed a brewers best IPA extract kit last night and had a few boil overs when adding LME and DME, before adding hops. I started with 3 gallons of water. I was concerned that I had lost some sugars, so at the end of the process I added water until the 17 liter/4.5 gallon mark and took my Original gravity reading, which ended up at 1.060, which is very close to what they recommend 1.061 being the minimum og specified on the kit. Was this the right move? Or should I have just topped off to 5 gallons?

I'm new to brewing, and my first 2 beers tasted horrible. So I was very meticulous on this one, using Spring water, making sure I followed the direction exactly. it would be a shame if I screw this one up too.
 

VikeMan

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Basically, your choices were to top off or not:

Top Off to 5 gallons:
- OG (and ABV) lower than planned
- Bitterness (IBUs) about right

Don't Top Off to 5 gallons
- OG (and ABV) about right
- Bitterness (IBUs) higher than planned

I wouldn't say it was the right or wrong move. It's a sort of "pick your poison" situation. But since you didn't top off, what would that have done to your IBUs? Roughly, your IBUs will be...

Planned IBUs x (Planned Volume / Actual Volume) =
Planned IBUs x (19 liters / 17 liters) =
Planned IBUs x 112%

So, about a 12% increase in IBUs. Probably not the end of the world.
 
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Mightykyle

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Thanks for the feed back, very informative! I didn't even take the IBU into consideration. The recipe calls for IBU's between 60-65, so with a 12% increase that's 67.2-72.8 so I think we are still good to go.
 

VikeMan

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Thanks for the feed back, very informative! I didn't even take the IBU into consideration. The recipe calls for IBU's between 60-65, so with a 12% increase that's 67.2-72.8 so I think we are still good to go.
"Luckily" (at least for you in this case), hop utilization really starts to flatten out above about 65 IBU. So your higher theoretical (e.g. Tinseth formula) IBUs may not even be noticeably more bitter.
 
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Mightykyle

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I had another question if you wouldn't mind me asking, My last beer I was impatient and kegged it after 10 days in Primary. Was an American pale ale extract kit. it also had a low OG, suppose to be 1.051 minimum. I got it to 1.044. It ended up very watery, and gross after a force carbonation. On this one I thought I would leave it in the fermenter for 3 weeks before moving to a keg. Do you think letting it age longer would do it some good. I read somewhere that a secondary doesn't do much different than just leaving it in the Primary longer.
 

VikeMan

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My last beer I was impatient and kegged it after 10 days in Primary. Was an American pale ale extract kit. it also had a low OG, suppose to be 1.051 minimum. I got it to 1.044. It ended up very watery, and gross after a force carbonation. On this one I thought I would leave it in the fermenter for 3 weeks before moving to a keg. Do you think letting it age longer would do it some good.
It doesn't really sound like your problem with the Pale Ale was likely related to how long/where it aged. First, let's figure out what went wrong with the Pale Ale's OG. With extract kits, it's pretty hard to not hit the recipe's OG. When you get an OG reading significantly lower than planned, here are several possibilities, alone or in combination...

- You didn't get all the extract into the kettle (LME stuck in the jug?)
- You topped off with water to more than the target volume
- You didn't mix the top-off water with the wort thoroughly before measuring the OG
- You measured the OG while the wort (and top off water) was still hot, and didn't adjust the reading for temperature.
- Some wort was left behind in the bottom of the kettle, so more water was used to top off to reach the target volume.
- Your hydrometer is inaccurate (try checking it with plain water)
- Operator error on the gravity reading
- Recipe/Software problem

Does any of the above resonate?

I read somewhere that a secondary doesn't do much different than just leaving it in the Primary longer.
That's right. Most people don't do a secondary anymore, unless there's a specific reason to do one for a given batch.
 

cactusgarrett

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hop utilization really starts to flatten out above about 65 IBU.
Additionally, it's said that the threshold for humans to detect IBU is between 4 and 9 IBU anyway, so you'll likely be none the wiser there.

Like VikeMan said, you either choose to have 4.5 gal of the target OG beer, or you have 5.0 gal of something a little lighter. I'm assuming the target OG was for 5 gallons into the fermenter, so you were a bit off there - might be worth dissecting that issue for future improvement considering when doing extract brewing, there shouldn't be much deviation from the target numbers if your processes are tight. This speaks to the issues VikeMan just brought up about various measurements (gravity, volumes, weights, etc.).
 
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Mightykyle

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If I had to guess, 5 Gallons is roughly 18.92 liters. and I filled the fermenter to 21 liters when I added water. I thought I had the conversion right, but double checked recently for this batch just to make sure i had the 5 gallon mark right. I dont know if a 2 liter difference would make that much of a difference.
 

VikeMan

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If I had to guess, 5 Gallons is roughly 18.92 liters. and I filled the fermenter to 21 liters when I added water. I thought I had the conversion right, but double checked recently for this batch just to make sure i had the 5 gallon mark right. I dont know if a 2 liter difference would make that much of a difference.
Ok, your expected OG in 19 liters was 1.051. Let's say 51 gravity "points."

51 x (19 liters / 21 liters) = ~46

So, you'd expect an OG of ~ 1.046 in the larger volume. Not too far from the 1.044 you measured.

So, you made a lower gravity version of the recipe, which could certainly explain a bit of "watery."
 
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Mightykyle

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One more question too. If that explains the OG/ watered down issue. I was previously fermenting in a cabinet next to a litter box(litter box was outside the cabinet). Would Ambient odor get into the beer somehow and effect the taste? or as long as the fermenter is closed it should it be alright? This batch I moved the fermenter into another room in a closet just to make sure that wasn't the reason why my last 2 batches may have tasted off.
 

kartracer2

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I posted this in another thread;
Go ahead and check your hydro with water and it should be pretty much "1.000" at a specific temp that should be stated with the hydro. (my cal temp is 68* F. or 20*C.) Then you know if there is any deviance with it.
Also 2qt (1.89L.) difference from 5.0 gal to 5.50 gal (18.9L to 20.8L) can take a 1.065 beer to 1.059 OG. for an example according to my quick (often flawed) math. (LOL).
Cheers, :mug:
Joel B.
Yes, 2qt/liter can make a notable difference.
Cheers, :mug:
Joel B.
(edit, @VikeMan beat me to it, LOL)
 

VikeMan

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One more question too. If that explains the OG/ watered down issue. I was previously fermenting in a cabinet next to a litter box(litter box was outside the cabinet). Would Ambient odor get into the beer somehow and effect the taste?
Through an airlock that is for most of that time expelling CO2? Probably not. But I've never fermented near a litter box.
 

VikeMan

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I'm using a coopers fermenter so there was no airlock.
Something in that lid configuration must function as an airlock (i.e. a tiny opening), albeit a dry one, else the fermenter would become pressurized.
 
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