Low Alcohol

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rjwerb

Member
I just brewed my first beer ever, a Wheat Beer. I let it ferment in a carboy about 9 days, and bottled it when it appeared all fermentation stopped. As I was bottling, and before I primed it, I took a FG reading, and calculated my potential alcohol. LESS THAN 1% !!!!

Did I do something wrong in the measurement process (i.e. when do you take a proper FG reading, before priming, after priming, or after carbonating?) Or did I possibly not allow it to ferment long enough.

I know part of brewing is having a few bad batches....but I hope this first one isn't going to be some o'Douls!

fermenator

Well-Known Member
You should take a hyrdometer reading before fermentation starts, then again when fermentation stops (or you think it's stopped!) Can you let us know exactly how you checked your gravity readings, 1% doesn't sound right (to me at least!)

NitrouStang96

Well-Known Member
Sounds like he read his FG but not SG.

Yooper

Ale's What Cures You!
Staff member
Mod
Well, your hydrometer has more than the potential alcohol scale on it, and we use the specific gravity readings you'll find on it. Your beer is NOT 1%! That's the "potential alcohol", just like you said. That means that is how much sugar is in there, if it were to ferment fully. It really means absolutely nothing in beer making. It is minimally useful for winemaking.

The way you measure alcohol content in beer is by taking the original specific gravity (OG) and subtract the final specific gravity (FG) and multiply by .131.

So, to find out your ABV, you need to do the math. (OG-FG) x .131= % ABV.

If your beer was a "regular" beer kit, you should be in the 4% range.

fermenator

Well-Known Member
YooperBrew said:
Well, your hydrometer has more than the potential alcohol scale on it, and we use the specific gravity readings you'll find on it. Your beer is NOT 1%! That's the "potential alcohol", just like you said. That means that is how much sugar is in there, if it were to ferment fully. It really means absolutely nothing in beer making. It is minimally useful for winemaking.

The way you measure alcohol content in beer is by taking the original specific gravity (OG) and subtract the final specific gravity (FG) and multiply by .131.

So, to find out your ABV, you need to do the math. (OG-FG) x .131= % ABV.

If your beer was a "regular" beer kit, you should be in the 4% range.
Good catch, I completely forgot about the potential alc readings on the hydro Sounds like you were reading 1% on the wrong scale and did not take a starting gravity reading. NitrouStang96 and Yooper are correct.

uglygoat

Well-Known Member
use the hydrometer in your belly to decide how much alcohol is in there, especially if you didn't take a reading initially. give it two to three weeks in the bottle and try it.

skou

Well-Known Member
Less than 1 %, should be a tasty beer, if my memory serves.

Guys, (and YooperBrew) you CAN use the potential alcohol scale, to determine alcohol. That is what it's for! All you need to do, is record your OG, and your FG. Now, by looking at the hydrometer, twist it and see what the potential alcohol scale reads for each reading. Subtract the smaller, from the larger, and you have your % alcohol.

Or, record the reading on the potential alcohol scale, at OG and FG readings, and subtract.

steve

NitrouStang96

Well-Known Member
If you can tell us the FG and what yeast you used, we can probably tell you pretty close to how much %abv you've got.

OP
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rjwerb

Member
Here's my #s. OG: 1.025 @ 71F....FG 1.019 @ 64F

.....adjusted for temperature, I got OG= 1.027 FG 1.021

I used a yeast called an "Ale Yeast"

Thanks for the help, but I have a few general questions:
1) do you take the FG before you prime?
2) Should I have figured out what the estimated FG should have been, rather than assume that a stop in the "bubbling" meant it was done fermenting?
3) The fermenting was done at about 64-65 degrees, is this too cold?
4) Did I use the right yeast? Does the type of yeast matter with different types of beer?

THANKS

PintOfBitter

Well-Known Member
depending on the precise strain of your "ale yeast", that could have been a cool enough temp to shut the little guys down. Your SG looks a bit low, and it appears that the ferment was not complete.

Were you using a kit? Was the yeast in an unmarked pouch? How much bubbling did you observe in the airlock?

Ooompa Loompa

Well-Known Member
1.025 OG?? Post the recipe. I think you must have gotten a diluted hydrometer reading.

OP
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rjwerb

Member
It's a Muntons Wheat kit. Looks like 55% wheat.... does that help?

EvilTOJ

Well-Known Member
rjwerb said:
1) do you take the FG before you prime?
2) Should I have figured out what the estimated FG should have been, rather than assume that a stop in the "bubbling" meant it was done fermenting?
3) The fermenting was done at about 64-65 degrees, is this too cold?
4) Did I use the right yeast? Does the type of yeast matter with different types of beer?

THANKS
1)Actually, you take several readings to determine if it's ready to bottle, not the other way around

2)airlock bubbling is never a reliable way to tell if fermentation is done.

3)that's just about perfect for ale temps

4) Yeast types do matter for some kinds of beers, but for kits and most ales the yeast that comes with it is adequate. Oftentimes they're old and stale, and a fresh packet of any dry yeast will work in a pinch.

Rick_R

Still Love Fried Chicken
Here's my #s. OG: 1.025 @ 71F....FG 1.019 @ 64F
I'd guess that you didn't get a solid OG due to the wort not being mixed well. If it's an extract, then give a listing of what extract went into it and how many gallons of wort there was and it's pretty easy to determine the OG based on the fermentables that went into the recipe. As to the FG, I'd expect a lower reading than that.

1) do you take the FG before you prime?
Before.

2) Should I have figured out what the estimated FG should have been, rather than assume that a stop in the "bubbling" meant it was done fermenting?

You should take specific gravity readings over a couple of days and make sure it has 1)stopped fermenting (dropping), and 2) is in the expected FG range based on the recipe and yeast used.

3) The fermenting was done at about 64-65 degrees, is this too cold?
No. Generally speaking, best is to ferment in the range suggested by the yeast strain, but that should be fine.

4) Did I use the right yeast? Does the type of yeast matter with different types of beer?
It does matter, because different styles have different flavor attributes and the yeast strain makes a difference in the flavor -- but it doesn't mean the beer won't be good. It's just that if you are, for example, aiming for a Northern English Brown Ale and you use a White Labs California Ale yeast strain, you'll get something less like the the Northern English style beer.

Different yeast ferment to higher attenuation leaving the beer sweeter or dryer, and have different flavor profiles. For example, the California Ale has a 73% to 80% attenuation rate, while the WL British Ale has 67% - 74% attenuation rate so the British Ale will leave a more malty flavor.

The above more from reading and less from experience, but if I missed the mark someone will be along and set me straight.

Good luck,

Rick

OP
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rjwerb

Member
Crap... I might have discovered my problem.....

I used ONE 3.3# can of Muntons (or a 4# can of Alexander's Wheat, I can't fully remember) and I made a 5 gallon batch. Herein lies my problem, I think I should have used TWO cans. Is this true?
If so, I have some beer tasting water bottled in my basement....and the <1% ABV is correct. DAMN. Oh well, gotta learn some how.

NitrouStang96

Well-Known Member
Yeah, you needed two cans.

Guys, can he save it by adding the extract now?

fermenator

Well-Known Member
Im just guessing here, so feel free to chime in, could he make another batch and blend them together??

OP
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rjwerb

Member
OK, I had it wrong. I made my beer with 4lbs Alexanders Liquid Unhopped Wheat Extract (60/40). I did not add a "kicker", which it suggested. And I made 5 gallons.

Given these changes to the info I've provided you, is my beer still a hopeless cause (still <1% alcohol) or is it still worth my time?

Jonnio

Well-Known Member
From what I have read those kits are just hopped specialty grain extracts and they need fermentable sugars added in. I think you probably brewed some hopped water (basically) and that your best bet is to start over rather than wasting more time and money on this attempt, but I will wait for the experts to chime in.

Yuri_Rage

Gritty.
Jonnio said:
From what I have read those kits are just hopped specialty grain extracts and they need fermentable sugars added in.
That's incorrect. Hopped extracts are indeed quite fermentable.

The OP used unhopped extract, so I hope he remembered to add at least a few hops to the boil. It looks as if he's made 3.2% beer at best (assuming his FG reading is either incorrect or his beer is still fermenting).

Assuming you did add some hops to the mix, it's not a total loss. Add another 3-4 lbs of extract (wheat or light) to the fermenter and let it go for another couple of weeks.

Jonnio

Well-Known Member
Yuri_Rage said:
The OP used unhopped extract
Oops I missed that part, thanks

Yuri_Rage said:
Assuming you did add some hops to the mix, it's not a total loss. Add another 3-4 lbs of extract (wheat or light) to the fermenter and let it go for another couple of weeks.
OP has already bottled so if the fg is correct and fermentation hasn't stopped are we looking at bottle bombs?

You are correct though, I did a quick beersmith recipe of 4lb of 60/40 Wheat extract and Red Star Ale Yeast - the result is 2.99% ABV with an estimated FG of 1.006

Yuri_Rage

Gritty.
Jonnio said:
OP has already bottled so if the fg is correct and fermentation hasn't stopped are we looking at bottle bombs?
Oops...my turn to have missed something.

If his SG reading at bottling time is correct (1.019), he may have set himself up for bottle bombs!

Keep those things in a plastic container, preferably in a guest bathtub until you're sure they won't explode!

OP
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rjwerb

Member
Thanks everyone! I just opened a bottle (10 days after I botted) to see how carbonated it was. There was a nice little "gasp" when I popped it open...not sure if this is what I should expect at this point, but it tasted pretty carbonated, with a fair amount of head.

If I do have impending bottle bombs, what can I do to make sure they don't explode.
Put in a cooler area? Right now they're at about 64*F.
Open and recap them?
Wait and see attitude? haha