Quantcast

LOW Original Gravities....

HomeBrewTalk.com - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Community.

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

Buddhabuddha

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2005
Messages
52
Reaction score
0
Location
Milwaukee, WI
Ok, a newbie I am... :)
I have now started my second batch,, the first was an "oktoberfest ale" it was a Brewers Best kit... the OG was supposed to be 1.050 or something, and my measurement came out to be only 1.034.. ???? But regardless, the fermentation went well, and the FG was 1.010. The beer tastes great.. big hit.. hurray... SOOO any ideas why my OG was low...
The reason I am concerned is my second Batch... (it is in primary, and is a Pale Ale) ALSO had an OG of 1.034??? Firmentation is going well, but man the OG's are just makin me a little nuts!!

SO, for all the experts out there, any ideas?

Thanks!
 

Janx

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2004
Messages
1,677
Reaction score
24
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
Did you take your hydrometer reading at the proper temperature or adjust the reading according to the temperature? Hydrometers are calibrated and only accurate at a certain temperature.

Did you add more water than the recipe called for?

Just a couple of initial thoughts...
 
OP
B

Buddhabuddha

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2005
Messages
52
Reaction score
0
Location
Milwaukee, WI
I had thought about that... I know the Hydrometer's are calibrated at 60 F. I think the Temp was about 75... So, you adjust by adding .002 then (or so) correct? And I filled the 5 gallon Carboy up to 3 inches from the top like the recipe says? It is all rather weird..? Wonder if I have a faulty Hyd.. ha.
 

Janx

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2004
Messages
1,677
Reaction score
24
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
Filling the carboy to within three inches of the top sounds like you added too much water to me. That would be well over 5 gallons. So it was filled up the neck? That seems like you'd definitely get bigtime blowoff.

I don't know or remember the hydrometer reading adjustment. I don't use one.

Another possibility is that your wort was stratified when you took a sample, and you pulled a more watery sample than is representative of the whole.

This is pretty much exactly why I don't think new brewers should bother with a hydrometer. With extract brewing, it's like making Kool-Aid...there's nothing you can do to increase or decrease your extraction like there is with all grain. I can see why hydrometers are useful to grain brewers to see how their mash efficiency is, but for extract, it just doesn't make sense. Enjoy your beer. Don't worry about the gravity readings. If you want it stronger, dump in more extract next time. Simple as that :D

In any event, I'd guess temperature adjustment was done incorrectly, the wort was overly watered down, or you pulled watery wort off the top. Or some combination.
 
OP
B

Buddhabuddha

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2005
Messages
52
Reaction score
0
Location
Milwaukee, WI
Really? (on the watered down part) I thought I had a 5 gallon carboy, are they actually bigger than 5 gallons, like 5.5 or something? (if so then I feel Dumb) The directions said fill them to 3 inches from the top, so I just assumed the Top was the "top" (opening).... hmm,, curious. (that would put the level to just at the bottom of the neck...)

As for the hydrometer, I only use it for the original and final... Just seemed strange to me that my OG came out low for my first two batches, and found it even Stranger that they were both EQUALLY low? I wonder if I am filling them tooo full?

well that would be a beginner move now wouldn't it?

thanks
 

Janx

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2004
Messages
1,677
Reaction score
24
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
"5 gallon" carboys definitely hold more than 5 gallons. I *think* it's 5 gallons to the place where the vertical walls bend to form the neck, but I'm not positive. One of us could find out by taking a reliable measuring device and pouring 5 gallons in one. I need to do that with my demijohn, too, because on Sunday I put 15.5 gallons in a "14 gallon" demijohn ;)

In any event, you don't want them filled higher than that bend or it will probably blow off.

Both OGs could be equally low if you watered the batches down at the same rate. Or if you took the reading at the same temperature (not 60 degrees). Someone needs to chime in here with how to adjust the reading for temp. Come on one of you hydrometer users! :D
 
OP
B

Buddhabuddha

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2005
Messages
52
Reaction score
0
Location
Milwaukee, WI
yeah, the blow off was extensive (i had a blow off tube in through the first few days) I have to clean and sanitize my second 5er anyways, i will just measure how much it holds... Given the consistency of how low the OG was, for both batches... the overfilling scenario seems to make the most sense....
and heck if the Hyd measurement adjustment was off then that would make sense too.

Eh, the first batch tasted great anyways... So I guess I don't have toooo much to complain about. now If i could just keep my family members out of my fridge.. :)

Thanks for the help. This has been an interesting forum thus far..
 

Janx

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2004
Messages
1,677
Reaction score
24
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
Hey if you do measure a carboy, post your results. I'm interested and I'm sure other lazy folks are too ;) Cheers! :D
 
OP
B

Buddhabuddha

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2005
Messages
52
Reaction score
0
Location
Milwaukee, WI
Ha, i just did a quick calculation, and if 5 gallons should have been 1.050 then it would only take like .08 extra gallons of water at 1.000 to throw the OG down to 1.034.... SO, maybe there is my answer (then again I am a recruiter and math is NOT my strong suit)

Thanks for the Problem solving help!!!

Hoppy Brewing!
 

D-brewmeister

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2005
Messages
224
Reaction score
1
Location
Pocatello, Idaho
If you have a hydrometer with a built in thermometer, it is pretty easy to do your adjustments, as long as you are sure that it has had time to come up to temp. with the sample. If you have a hyd. without a thermometer, it is a bit trickier to be sure you are reading the right temp, but it should be possible if you can fit both the hyd. and a thermometer in your testing jar. All hydrometers I have bought came with a chart indicating how much temprature correction is needed at various temp readings, although I don't know off hand the exact formula (I'm sure there is one, but it is probably too complicated to be worth it). Really the reading and adjusting of the Hydrometer is not the hard part, getting an accurately representative sample is much more critical, and difficult (depending on your brewing methods). Short of turning a carboy upside down and shaking it like mad, it is pretty hard to insure that there aren't layers of differing gravity wort, especially if cold water was added to bring up the volume. Liquids of different temps and different gravities naturaly stay separate untill they are stirred or can reach the same temp. at which point diffusion takes over. If the full volume of wort is boiled and cooled, you are much more sure to get an acurate reading anywhere in the carboy.
 
OP
B

Buddhabuddha

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2005
Messages
52
Reaction score
0
Location
Milwaukee, WI
Buddhabuddha said:
Ha, i just did a quick calculation, and if 5 gallons should have been 1.050 then it would only take like .08 extra gallons of water at 1.000 to throw the OG down to 1.034.... SO, maybe there is my answer (then again I am a recruiter and math is NOT my strong suit)

Thanks for the Problem solving help!!!

Hoppy Brewing!
Scratch that whole calculation... WAY OFF!!
I would have to over fill the carboy by 2.35 gallons to get my OG...
Yikes... my carboy isn't THAT big..
So, i still don't know why?? :(
Oh well, I will just keep making the sauce... it tastes great regardless.
 

Janx

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2004
Messages
1,677
Reaction score
24
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
Seriously...the stratification issue that D-brewmeister so eloquently explained is a real possibility. I think you have a combination of bery real possibilities as to why this happened...temp, watering down, stratified sample...
 
OP
B

Buddhabuddha

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2005
Messages
52
Reaction score
0
Location
Milwaukee, WI
Thanks for alllll the help fella's (and ladies if that is the case)
Heck, in the end I could just have a clunker of a hydrometer tooo! ha.
 
OP
B

Buddhabuddha

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2005
Messages
52
Reaction score
0
Location
Milwaukee, WI
desertBrew said:
I use this site whenever I want to adjust the gravity readings to the actual temperature during the reading.

http://hbd.org/cgi-bin/recipator/recipator/hydrometer.html

Simple and gets me close enough and I don't have to look for that darn chart that came with the hydrometer...
That site comes up with about what I have calculated... So at least I know my calcs weren't way off..
thanks for the help.
 

DeRoux's Broux

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2004
Messages
2,959
Reaction score
6
Location
Beaumont
Buddhabuddha said:
That site comes up with about what I have calculated... So at least I know my calcs weren't way off..
thanks for the help.
eh, don't sweat it. as long as it tatses good and it gives you a buzz, you know it's got enough, right? i never used my hydrometer until i started my all-grain brewing. once i do some more batches, i'll probably stop worry about those too. i just wanted to know for the pure "beer-geek" knowledge :p
 

SwAMi75

Banned
Joined
Mar 6, 2005
Messages
2,458
Reaction score
10
Location
Midwest City, OK
Janx said:
"5 gallon" carboys definitely hold more than 5 gallons. I *think* it's 5 gallons to the place where the vertical walls bend to form the neck, but I'm not positive.
I believe that's correct, as I transfer 5 gallons from my plastic primary to my 5gal carboy for secondary. Generally the top of the beer is maybe 1/4" below where the walls begin to taper upwards.

Buddah, as you said, I don't think that's enough to effect your readings dramatically, but it's a contributing factor, as well as the "stratification" issue.

As an aside, I had the same problem with my first two batched.....OG's were too low. I broke that hydrometer, and since I've had the new one my OG's have been right where I estimate they should be. So who knows.

I think gravity readings definitely have their place, and I think it's something those of us who are new to brewing should learn a little about. It serves to inform you of many the factors at play when brewing beer. But in the end if you're happy with your results, then to hell with the hydrometer and enjoy! :) I'm not anal about my readings, but I do take them sometimes to make sure my beer is about where I think they should be.

Sam
 

homebrewer_99

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Messages
19,577
Reaction score
1,192
Location
I-80, Exit 27 (near the Quad Cities)
I agree with all the previous comments. Sounds like too much water added.

I've been adding an extra gallon of water (on purpose) to my 5 gal batches just as an experiment to get them a bit thinner (relative) than the style dictates. Many of them have come out just great tasting.

Next I'll lower that to just 1/2 gal. I usually lose that much by sampling and transferring. In the end I should have 5 gals to bottle/keg.
 

Rhoobarb

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 25, 2005
Messages
3,553
Reaction score
20
Location
Gainesville
I like using my hydrometer, I just do overdo it. I draw off a sample, pop it in the fridge, use an instant read thermometer and wait until it reads 60 degrees, then do my reading. I only take three readings - after brewing (before pitching yeast), transfering to secondary and at bottling. Other than that, I'm a bubble counter.

Another thing I did early on - and I'm glad I did it - is to fill my fermenter with a measured five gallons of water and mark the 'fill line' with a permanent marker. I never have to guess what 5-gallons is. :)
 
OP
B

Buddhabuddha

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 29, 2005
Messages
52
Reaction score
0
Location
Milwaukee, WI
Hey, thanks everyone for all the responses...
I brewed my third batch on Friday.. It was an "American Lite" recipe I found, had some rice syrup solids etc... SO, now my fiancee will drink some of it... She only likes the lite stuff (frankly, If I keep her interested in this hobby then I can justify continuing to spend money on it ;) ) But any way.. I went out a purchased a 6.5 gallon glass carboy, I measured out 5 gallons and (like was stated above) marked off the 5 gallon spot. The blow off tube is now almost unessecary, OH, and the OG, was 1.050... SO the combo of the right amount of water.... and a bigger jug (was able to shake the hell out of it before takin the sample :D ) probably was all I needed. SO, now i will be checking out the cider section of this site, and Will probably be starting a batch of that later this week!

again, thanks.
 

Special brew

Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2005
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
I have found that (as a Brit) I'm constantly having to calculate between different measuring standards - US gallons to Imperial, metric to US etc etc.
Most recipes I have found on the net do not specify US or Imperial. This is significant because 5 US gallons is 4 Imperial! Also, I have to buy DME in kg measures. Mixing these standards is a situation just waiting for you to forget to convert or use the wrong calculation etc... if this sounds suspiciously like I'm speaking from experience...
As an aside, hydrometer readings are standardised at 59 degrees F. At 65 F you add 0.0006 and at70 F 0.0012. at 75 F 0.0018. The corrections are pretty small though. Hardly seems significant.
 

myndphaser

Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2005
Messages
22
Reaction score
0
Location
Las Cruces, NM
What's the point of a hydrometer? Other than taking multiple readings at the end to tell if the fermentation has completed it seems more complicated than it is helpful. I don't really feel like crunching numbers on my beer. I do this for fun and for beer, but I'll be damned if I'm going to work at it.
 

ryser2k

Well-Known Member
Joined
Mar 10, 2005
Messages
466
Reaction score
4
Location
Schuylkill Haven, PA
Well the main use besides what you mentioned is that it lets you estimate the %ABV of your beer. But I'm with you, I don't really need to know, I'm still gonna drink it no matter what that number is...
 

Janx

Well-Known Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2004
Messages
1,677
Reaction score
24
Location
San Francisco Bay Area
myndphaser said:
What's the point of a hydrometer? Other than taking multiple readings at the end to tell if the fermentation has completed it seems more complicated than it is helpful. I don't really feel like crunching numbers on my beer. I do this for fun and for beer, but I'll be damned if I'm going to work at it.
I couldn't agree more. It is unnecessary to brewing good beer. Use it only if it adds something to the brewing process for you. If you want to think about gravity readings, go for it. They can certainly be useful if you're really getting serious and particular about a specific batch. Or for analyzing your mash efficiency.

But hydrometers are really overemphasized as a necessary tool, especially when extract brewing, and serve to stress out new brewers who put too much relevance in the readings. With extract brews, you're basically mixing beer Kool-Aid...the gravity will be what it will be, and the FG will be what it will be. There aren't the variables inherent to all grain brewing that can affect gravity, so you really don't need to worry about it.

I've brewed many gallons of beer and I don't own a hydrometer.
 

tnlandsailor

Well-Known Member
Joined
Apr 13, 2005
Messages
533
Reaction score
21
Location
Knoxville, TN
When formulating recipes, the OG is a key component. When you are trying to dial something in over the course of several batches, it's pretty much a necessity to know what your OG is, otherwise, you're just relying on blind luck to give you what you want. A hydrometer is also essential for repeating recipes. The hydrometer can also be used as a trouble shooting device. A lower than expected OG can indicate a drop in efficiency (for all grain brewing), a poor grind, poor quality grain, etc. Just think of it as one more tool to tell you about your beer.

If you really don't care about repeating recipes or note taking, a hydrometer is certainly optional. As mentioned here, many people don't use them. But if you make a good beer, trying to repeat it can be difficult or nearly impossible if you don't even know where you started. Ingredient amounts are never enough to duplicate a recipe given grains from multiple sources with varying shelf ages. In cases like these, the hydrometer can tell you quite a bit. Personally, I wouldn't brew without one.
 

homebrewer_99

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 1, 2005
Messages
19,577
Reaction score
1,192
Location
I-80, Exit 27 (near the Quad Cities)
Special brew said:
I have found that (as a Brit) I'm constantly having to calculate between different measuring standards - US gallons to Imperial, metric to US etc etc. Most recipes I have found on the net do not specify US or Imperial. This is significant because 5 US gallons is 4 Imperial! Also, I have to buy DME in kg measures. Mixing these standards is a situation just waiting for you to forget to convert or use the wrong calculation etc... if this sounds suspiciously like I'm speaking from experience...As an aside, hydrometer readings are standardised at 59 degrees F. At 65 F you add 0.0006 and at70 F 0.0012. at 75 F 0.0018. The corrections are pretty small though. Hardly seems significant.
With your nationality you should have no problem deciphering whether or not measurements are in US pounds or metrics. As for myself, I would consider the source of the recipe (US or not). Last I checked, all US recipes would be in pounds since we (collectively speaking) Americans are too ignorant to learn the much easier measurement system (metrics - a system based on 10's versus 12 (inches) and 16 (oz)). I lived in Germany for 9 years (like you, I know how to use both systems) and really don't mind doing the mental exercises. (It's a lot like all the idiots out there...I don't mind them (most of the time) because they all make me look smarter :D ).

I believe hydrometers are "calibrated" at 60 F, not 59.

I agree with your comment on the hydrometer numbers, your numbers would be pretty insignificant by a power of 10 since they are wrong. Check your numbers again...you have too many (significant) zeroes in there.

Cheers!
 

myndphaser

Member
Joined
Feb 24, 2005
Messages
22
Reaction score
0
Location
Las Cruces, NM
My point was that hydrometer readings tend to make the whole process more anal than necessary. I'm going to drink almost anything I can make regardless of the OG readings, and prefer to have something that is different from what I made last. If you keep striving to repeat something you are preventing yourself from striving for something better. If a sheet of paper tells you that your OG should be 1.0XX and your wort doesn't match that, who cares. Write down what you got and move on. As I understand it, brewing is a craft, not a science. Get the brewing out of the lab and back to the garage, basement, closet, kitchen or wherever else it might take place for you.

On the other hand, if you like to be meticulous and want to repeat everything exactly as you did before instead of trying to make tweak or improvements, then by all means do so. I'm just saying that for me I'd rather play around with the process and ingredients and if it tastes good this time I'll try to make it better next time.
 

Special brew

Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2005
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
homebrewer_99 said:
With your nationality you should have no problem deciphering whether or not measurements are in US pounds or metrics. As for myself, I would consider the source of the recipe (US or not). Last I checked, all US recipes would be in pounds since we (collectively speaking) Americans are too ignorant to learn the much easier measurement system (metrics - a system based on 10's versus 12 (inches) and 16 (oz)). I lived in Germany for 9 years (like you, I know how to use both systems) and really don't mind doing the mental exercises. (It's a lot like all the idiots out there...I don't mind them (most of the time) because they all make me look smarter :D ).

I believe hydrometers are "calibrated" at 60 F, not 59.

I agree with your comment on the hydrometer numbers, your numbers would be pretty insignificant by a power of 10 since they are wrong. Check your numbers again...you have too many (significant) zeroes in there.

Cheers!
Thanks for the reply homebrewer_99, I've still not managed to check my source on the hydrometer corrections for temperature... but you're right there would appear to be too many '0'.
However, if I might just clarify my previous post...the Hydrometer is 'calibrated', as you know, using water as the datum "0.00", the graduations being an indication of fluid density. Fluid density is temperature dependant. Therefore, the corrections for temperature standardise the readings globally. So, if one states an SG reading without stating a temperature, the reader/listener must assume the figure is corrected for temperature. What I said is that the corrections are 'standardised' at 59 degrees F, not that the hydrometer is 'calibrated'.

I believe most everyone, who regularly use degrees F, will automatically round up 59 degrees to 60, as the difference is tiny. However, I also believe 59 degrees F was selected because of the Celcius scale, as 59 degrees F is 15 degrees C. Who did the standardising?... I'm not sure... But I bet the French were involved somewhere along the line, as they have standardised everything else in Europe... their way!

As you are a true 'familiar' of European ways then you can understand the difficulties your countrymen could encounter with the lack of standardisation. And the fact that, unless stated, Americans will assume American fluid measurements, where as, having been 'bitten', I now check! Unless a recipe states which standard of measure is being used, one cannot simply 'know' simply because of one's nationality...
The real problem is volume not mass. As American gallons are only 80% of an Imperial gallon then knowing which is being used IS significant and not just dependant upon one's clairvoyance!
The purpose of my post was to draw attention to a potential problem that may not have yet been encountered, or written about... not to start a debate on semantics. Unlike you, I don't think that "... all the idiots out there..." are idiots. I am just generous of spirit enough to assume they are unfamiliar and inexperienced...
My apologies to all for this rather... pointed post. :(
 

Special brew

Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2005
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
myndphaser said:
My point was that hydrometer readings tend to make the whole process more anal than necessary. I'm going to drink almost anything I can make regardless of the OG readings, and prefer to have something that is different from what I made last. If you keep striving to repeat something you are preventing yourself from striving for something better. If a sheet of paper tells you that your OG should be 1.0XX and your wort doesn't match that, who cares. Write down what you got and move on. As I understand it, brewing is a craft, not a science. Get the brewing out of the lab and back to the garage, basement, closet, kitchen or wherever else it might take place for you.

On the other hand, if you like to be meticulous and want to repeat everything exactly as you did before instead of trying to make tweak or improvements, then by all means do so. I'm just saying that for me I'd rather play around with the process and ingredients and if it tastes good this time I'll try to make it better next time.
Spot on Mate! Do it... don't do it...who cares! These forums can just add food (or drink) for thought. It is up to the reader how much weight they give to a particular post or comment... but it is good to share thoughts and anecdotes! :)
 

mgavrilov

New Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2005
Messages
3
Reaction score
0
Several questions:
1. If I should not care about the starting gravity, then why does almost every recipe mention it?
2. Several people said here that taking OG reading makes sense only for all-grain brewing or when trying to exactly reproduce another batch. But still what is the point of taking this reading when the boiling is over? I can't correct anything at this point, can I? If it's less then it should be, does it mean that I have to throw this batch and redo it again (using other/better ingredients)?
3. I read the reasons of OG being less then it should be. But what about the effects it has on the resulting beer? Here I am - let's say the OG reading is .010 less the in the recipe. What should I expect to see/taste from the rest of the brewing process? Longer fermentation? Color change? Taste change?..
Thank you!
 

Special brew

Member
Joined
Apr 7, 2005
Messages
13
Reaction score
0
mgavrilov said:
Several questions:
1. If I should not care about the starting gravity, then why does almost every recipe mention it?
2. Several people said here that taking OG reading makes sense only for all-grain brewing or when trying to exactly reproduce another batch. But still what is the point of taking this reading when the boiling is over? I can't correct anything at this point, can I? If it's less then it should be, does it mean that I have to throw this batch and redo it again (using other/better ingredients)?
3. I read the reasons of OG being less then it should be. But what about the effects it has on the resulting beer? Here I am - let's say the OG reading is .010 less the in the recipe. What should I expect to see/taste from the rest of the brewing process? Longer fermentation? Color change? Taste change?..
Thank you!
Hi, if you read back through the posts you will get a good idea of why and how homebrewers use their hydrometers...and it seems to be a personal thing!
However, the hydrometer readings can help with many things:
As 'ryser2k says it can help estimate %abv. By using the OG and the FG it is possible to estimate the %abv.
As 'tnlandsailor' says it can help when creating recipes.
But as 'myndphaser' quite rightly points out, brewing is a craft not a science. And as Janx says, if you'll drink almost everything you brew... what's so important?

If you are faithfully reproducing a recipe, there seems little point in using a hydrometer... but if things should go wrong, having taken and recorded readings could indicate where a mistake or oversight was made. For example, I always take a sample of the wort just before I pitch the yeast. Only last week, the reading was higher that usual. Puzzling over this a moment made me return to the kitchen to see the 10 litre water bottle that I should have emptied into the fomenter sitting on the side!
If I had not added the extra water no doubt the brew would have been great...very full bodied. But I'm brewing to order and need consistency. So for me it's a check tool... and a confidence booster!

That's why recipes will indicate gravity readings, to act as a guide and a confidence marker... they're not rules.
Your hypothetical situation of a wort reading less that the recipe (if not temperature affected) could indicate too much water or too little malt/sugar etc. But don't ditch the brew, the resulting beer may just 'feel' as if it lacks a little 'body'. But equally you may prefer the lighter 'feel'. Or you may not be able to tell the difference.

As mentioned in previous posts, if it tastes good, does the trick and gives the buzz... is a hydrometer really that important? :)
 

Latest posts

Top