OG lower than recipe states

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MartyMiller

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Just finished brewing Buxom Blonde Ale from DeFalcos in Houston, TX. The recipe states that my initial specific gravity should be about 1.052. I'm at about 1.042 on my initial reading (80 degrees, yeast not added, still cooling wort). Is this an issue?
 

kh54s10

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Is it an extract with top up water? If so mix it more and take another reading. Also your OG will be off a little unless you measure the sample at about 60 degrees.

Worst case it is a bit lighter a beer than intended. Unless something else is wrong.
 
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MartyMiller

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Can't remember the correct term (still learning) but it was a premixed grain bag but I added syrup and then hops three times throughout the boil. I added tap water to make the 5 gallons. I'm not sure this batch will ever get to 60 degrees as it was at 72 when I put the yeast in. The house stays at about 72-74 so it shouldn't get any colder. Will that be an issue?
 

woozy

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The that sounds like an extract kit. (Extract is the syrup and/or dried powder. The grains are called specialty grains and you steep them like a teabag in a sack.) The reason we ask is that with an extract kit with the correct amount of water and extract the original gravity shouldn't really ever vary. (Basically gravity is how dense the sugars are in the water; with a set amount of extract and a set amount of water there is nothing really that can cause the measurement to be different.) The most common reasons for gravity readings to be different are 1) The amount of water add and/or the ammount of water evaporated mean that the batch size is actually different then what the recipe intended (too much water and it'll be lower [because the is more water to sugar]; too little water and it'll be higher [because there is more sugar to water]) 2) the solution wasn't properly mixed (thus the *sample* in the hydrometer jar is weaker or stronger than the rest of the wort) or 3) a simple error in reading the hydrometer. (Sometime the hydrometer is badly calibrated. Try floating it in plain water. It should read 1.000. Try floating it in a sugar solution [well mixed] made with on ounce (weight) of sugar to 1 cup of water. [edit: what I wrote earlier about a Tablespoon was simply wrong. This does seem to be my night for errors and saying the wrong thing.] That should read 1.046.)

The 80 degrees will offset your reading but by very little. (http://www.brewersfriend.com/hydrometer-temp/) I honestly don't think anyone measures their wort at sixty and as long as its under 80 your reading will only be off by a point or two.

Those are the most common reasons. If you tell us exactly what the size of your batch was in the end, and exactly how much extract you put in we can tell you what your O.G. should have been. (We'll use this calculator; it's pretty straightforward.)

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If your room temperature is at 72-74 your fermenting temperature will probably be higher at 78 or so. What temperature range does your recipe say it should be at? [original bad advice]I actually wouldn't worry about this. At least not on one's first batch.[/original bad advice] [newer better advice]This is unrelated to reading gravity, but fermenting at too high a temperature can lead to some off flavors. You can take the advice of the post below and take simple steps to get the temperature inside the fermenter down to a more favorable range.[/newer better advice]
 

kh54s10

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If your room temperature is at 72-74 your fermenting temperature will probably be higher at 78 or so. What temperature range does your recipe say it should be at? I actually wouldn't worry about this. At least not on one's first batch.
I disagree with this. Get a large basin add 8-10 inches of water to it and set the fermenter in it. Add frozen water bottles and rotate as necessary to keep the wort itself below 70 degrees. At 74 ambient the wort may go to 84 or so and that is likely to cause off flavors and maybe fusel alcohols which will give the beer and alcoholic bite.

You can also cover the fermenter with a t-shirt with the tail in the water and direct a fan on it. The evaporation will cool it a little.

I would do this right away.
 

woozy

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Well, yes, but for clarity sake, we should point out that this is an unrelated independent issue.

=== edit ===
My first few beers were pitched at much higher (in the eighties!) and fermented in the mid seventies (room temperature was 68 and fermenter was mid 70s). The beers came out good but they would have come out better if I had done it right the first time. (They *did* have the off flavors you describe but they were by no means undrinkable.) Beer is forgiving. Take lots of notes and learn from mistakes but don't sweat getting everything right at once.

To maintain temperature control, you can/should buy a "fermometer", an adhesive thermometer strip that when stuck to the fermentor will indicate your batch temperature. (Because batch temperature is 5 to ten degrees higher than room temperature.) Fermenting at too high does lead to off flavors. But, again this is completely unrelated to measuring gravity. Take notes and isolate your problems one by one.

Also, even if you *do* discover you utterly screwed up one aspect of your procedure, beer is forgiving and you will have beer of some form. That's why I said *I* wouldn't worry *too* much about it *yet*. But maybe that was misleading advice on my part. [edit: No maybe. It *was* misleading advice. I didn't want to burden the OP with extra unsolicited advice unrelated to the original question being asked. But I shouldn't have dismissed and downplayed the secondary issue when it arose on it's own accord.] Maybe I should have said, try to do the best you can and try to get as much right the first time but don't knock yourself out or get overwhelmed trying to do everything perfectly the first time.

And don't get fuddled by too many concepts and technicalities all at once.

(And don't let your cat pee in your fermenter.)
 
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MartyMiller

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kh54s10 said:
I disagree with this. Get a large basin add 8-10 inches of water to it and set the fermenter in it. Add frozen water bottles and rotate as necessary to keep the wort itself below 70 degrees. At 74 ambient the wort may go to 84 or so and that is likely to cause off flavors and maybe fusel alcohols which will give the beer and alcoholic bite.

You can also cover the fermenter with a t-shirt with the tail in the water and direct a fan on it. The evaporation will cool it a little.

I would do this right away.
OK, I took a big plastic storage container and filled it 1/4 full with water. It's up to the two gallon mark now and I'm freezing water bottles now. Heading to get a few bags of ice to start the cooling process.
 
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MartyMiller

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This may be a dumb question but where does the fermometer go? Inside or outside the bucket? If it goes inside, how do you read it? If outside, is it accurate? Again, sorry for all the newbie questions but just trying to learn!
 

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This may be a dumb question but where does the fermometer go? Inside or outside the bucket? If it goes inside, how do you read it? If outside, is it accurate? Again, sorry for all the newbie questions but just trying to learn!
Outside. And you should put transparent packing tape over it to keep it from getting wet. Oh, and put it low enough that it's actually on the beer and not on the air overhead.

It's more accurate than one would think. I wouldn't make medical decisions based on its readings but it does let you know the general range of the temperature at a glance with a minimum of effort. Basically it gives you just that one more piece of input.
 
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MartyMiller

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kh54s10 said:
I disagree with this. Get a large basin add 8-10 inches of water to it and set the fermenter in it. Add frozen water bottles and rotate as necessary to keep the wort itself below 70 degrees. At 74 ambient the wort may go to 84 or so and that is likely to cause off flavors and maybe fusel alcohols which will give the beer and alcoholic bite.

You can also cover the fermenter with a t-shirt with the tail in the water and direct a fan on it. The evaporation will cool it a little.

I would do this right away.
I've got the tub with water and ice bottles now but I've also read that beer likes to ferment best at a steady temp. I work in the restaurant industry so will only be able to change out the ice twice a day. I'm worried that the temps will fluctuate more than I want. Thoughts?
 

woozy

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I've got the tub with water and ice bottles now but I've also read that beer likes to ferment best at a steady temp. I work in the restaurant industry so will only be able to change out the ice twice a day. I'm worried that the temps will fluctuate more than I want. Thoughts?
Twice a day should be plenty. once a day in the morning should be fine. Water temperature takes a while to distribute (which is the whole point.)
 
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