New guy is confused

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I made my first batch a week ago. Everything seemed to go fine, except I think I got confused on what to put down as my OG. I took a sample before I pitched yeast and used my hydrometer. I was definitely confused on what number I was reading and I put down “90” which was the only number I was able to read clearly. I thought this was the Brix reading, but after finally finding a conversion chart I see that converts to a 1.50 SG. That doesn’t sound right so I must have wrote something down wrong or read it wrong all together.
 

Maylar

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With reasonable (typical) amounts of honey and water specific gravity of 1.090 is right in the ballpark. Like, 3 lb honey and a gallon of water or 12 lb honey and 4 gal water. What did you use?
 
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BilbomelBaggins
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It was a one gallon batch of blueberry mead. The recipe and amounts I used aren’t in front of me, but it was 2lbs of frozen/thawed blueberries, 3 lbs of local honey, and Red Star Premier Rogue was the yeast pitched (half a packet). There was also 1/2 a teaspoon each of yeast energizer and acid blend. The local brew shop recommended it for my recipe. Fermentation seems to be doing fine, I just can’t read a hydrometer apparently
 

Maylar

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A pound of honey typically contributes .035 sugar per gallon. So 3 lb plus the berries would be in the 1.120 bracket I'd guess. Dunno where 90 would fit into that.
 

BobBailey

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I made my first batch a week ago. Everything seemed to go fine, except I think I got confused on what to put down as my OG. I took a sample before I pitched yeast and used my hydrometer. I was definitely confused on what number I was reading and I put down “90” which was the only number I was able to read clearly. I thought this was the Brix reading, but after finally finding a conversion chart I see that converts to a 1.50 SG. That doesn’t sound right so I must have wrote something down wrong or read it wrong all together.
On a triple scale hydrometer the only 90 would represent a specific gravity of 1.090.
 

bernardsmith

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Hi BilbomelBaggins - and welcome.
Wine grapes have a Brix of about 25, so a Brix reading of 90 would be close to dry sugar. For good or bad the reading was most likely 1.09X - each line is 2 points so the X might be anything from 0 - 8 and that is what you might sorta kinda expect if you mix 3 lbs of honey WITH 1 gallon of water. If you mixed 3 lbs of honey to MAKE 1 gallon of must (note the difference: 3 lbs of honey is about 1qt so you would be adding 3 qts water) you would get closer to an SG reading of 1.105 - but these numbers are approximate as a) temperature changes volume, b) it's not always easy to get every last drop of honey out of jars; c) 1 gallon carboys hold more than 1 gallon; and of course, d)it's not easy to stir honey in water so that the honey is absolutely thoroughly mixed such that every sample you draw will have exactly the same SG reading.
 
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BilbomelBaggins
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Great info, thank you! Seamonkey and Bob pretty much cleared it up. I was confused on why the SG readings on the hydrometer has increments that read 70, 80, and 90. I see now those numbers simply represent 1.070, 1.080, and 1.090, and so on. In all the guides and research on how to read a hydrometer, nobody covered this point directly. To a new guy that is already vision impaired, looking at a tool with 3 ways to read the same tool becomes a blur lol. Thank you everyone. That’s my newb lesson of the week.
 
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bernardsmith

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But the three readings actually offer different information all based on the same data. One reading is the SG (specific gravity) or density of the solution and that density is valid even if you added salt or a non fermentable sugar such as lactose rather than fructose or sucrose. You would (or could have ) used an hydrometer to measure the antifreeze in your car radiator.

When you have added fermentable sugars a second scale gives you a measure of the Brix which is the percentage of sugar in the solution. One Brix is 1g of sugar dissolved in 100g of solution - so 25 Brix would be 25 g of sugar in 100 g of solution and 90 Brix (my earlier example) would be 90 g of sugar in 100 g of solution. Brix tells you the actual sugar content.

The third scale is potential ABV. So, if we know how much sugar is in solution or how dense the must is because of the sugar dissolved in it and we know that with wine (but not beer) every molecule of sugar is for all intents and practices fermentable (grains contain sugars that every strain of yeast cannot ferment equally - so brewers refer to attenuation of their yeast), then a specific gravity of 1.090 means that potentially your wine can finish at about 12% ABV, (alcohol by volume) and if your starting gravity was 1.060 the potential ABV would be about 8%.

The potential ABV scale is useful only when you have mixed all your sugars and liquids. After you pitch the yeast and the yeast begin to convert sugar to CO2 and ethanol, the "potential" does not in fact drop but the reading does because some of that "potential" alcohol is now present and is no longer "potential". The density (SG) also changes - the density decreases as more and more alcohol and CO2 replaces the sugar and alcohol is less dense than water but while you are no longer interested in the potential ABV you are interested (or you should be ) in the dropping density because this is absolutely bound up with the increase in alcohol and the decrease in sugar and at some stage you will want to transfer the "wine" to a vessel that you can seal with an airlock and bung to allow the wine to continue to ferment while protecting it from being oxidized now that the yeast are no longer pumping out pounds (literally) of CO2 (half the weight of the sugar is transformed into carbon dioxide gas - so if you mixed 3 lbs of honey almost 1.5 lbs of CO2 will have been produced).
 

NeverDie

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.... at some stage you will want to transfer the "wine" to a vessel that you can seal with an airlock and bung to allow the wine to continue to ferment while protecting it from being oxidized now that the yeast are no longer pumping out pounds (literally) of CO2 ....
At what "stage" should the airlock be put in place?
 

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Hi NeverDie - I guess that if there are ten wine makers you will get 11 answers to the question when should an airlock be attached, but in my opinion you want to rack to a vessel with no headroom while the yeast is still active and so is still pumping out CO2. But if you transfer the wine too early then because racking will leave behind a large proportion of the yeast colony it is possible that racking will stall the fermentation so finding a balance that works for you is what is critical. I like to rack and so add a bung and airlock when the gravity drops below 1.010 and is above 1.005 but I am not going to have kittens if for some reason I don't have the time to rack until the gravity drops below 1.005. But the key point is that you are monitoring how the fermentation is going and that you don't forget about the batch after you pitch the yeast - but if you read old books (early 20th Century or 19th Century) about home wine making "forgetting" about your batches was certainly standard practice when it came to country wines.
 

Maylar

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Yeah, I agree with Bernard. Somewhere below 1.010 is typical for me. That's where I stop stirring the lees and start wanting the mead to clear. But that's only when I'm using a bucket, since popping the lid is such a PITA. With a carboy I typically airlock from day 1. It's easy enough to pop the bung out when I need to reach in with a stirrer or take a gravity sample.
 
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