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Overshot OG. Again.

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NEIPA_Allday

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Ive seen a fair amount of posts on this topic but figured I would ask anyway to try to gain some insight. Ive been overshooting expected OG by anywhere from 2-8 points on my last 4 brews. I brewed a pilsner today that I intended to ring in at 1.049 and it ended up at 1.057. That's a pretty significant jump. The only thing I can think of is that my Edelmetall Bru Burner is too intense and boiled it down way too much over 60 mins therefore concentrating the wort. Mash bill was pretty simple at 9 lbs of Pilsner malt and 0.25 lbs of victory. Anything I'm missing? Preboil volume was 6 gallons, as per the recipe. Any help/comments/advice would be appreciated so I can finally make a session beer and stop overshooting! Cheers.
 

day_trippr

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Well..without knowing the actual volume to the fermentor, we can only wonder what's going on here.
If you know what that volume is...

Cheers!
 

RM-MN

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Are you milling the grain yourself on a mill you own? If not you have no real control over the mash efficiency as that depend primarily on the crush of the grain. A new mill to replace the worn out one at the LHBS or an employee or customer changing the mill setting could easily improve the mash efficiency.
 
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NEIPA_Allday

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I order all of my grain from Northern Brewer already milled and brew within a week of the grain arriving.

Unfortunately I'm fermenting in a glass carboy that does not have volume marks on it. If I had to estimate, I would say 5 gallons made it from the brew kettle to the carboy. Looks like I'll need to upgrade my fermentation system to keep a closer eye on volume if this is going to be a reoccurring issue.
 

McKnuckle

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If you have a decent scale, you can tare the carboy while empty (i.e. get a baseline weight). Then when it's full with wort, weigh it again. Subtract the tare weight to get the weight of the wort.

Next, divide that by the gravity (1.057) to get the approximate water weight within the wort. If you do this in kilograms, it equates to liters. There's your volume.

When the carboy is empty again, you can weigh out water and pour it in one quart at a time, and mark the outside with a Sharpie.
 

VikeMan

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Next, divide that by the gravity (1.057) to get the approximate water weight within the wort. If you do this in kilograms, it equates to liters. There's your volume.
Or more precisely, it would give the weight of an equivalent volume of water (not just the water portion of the wort), because some of the volume of the wort is from things that are not water.
 

McKnuckle

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Correct. :) The point being to figure out how much liquid is in the container. I never use visual cues for volume anymore, from measuring strike water to finished wort.
 

Holden Caulfield

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To hit your target gravity you need to be able to accurately read your volumes in the kettle, in addition to being able to take fast gravity readings.

The amount of sugars (points) in the wort remains the same throughout the boil process, so if you know the amount of sugar in your preboil wort, you will know the OG of the post-boil (cooled) wort if you hit your volume targets.

At this time you do not know the cause of exceeding your OG target as the problem could be:
  1. Your efficiency is higher than expected
  2. Your boil rate is higher than expected
  3. Your preboil volume could have been lower than the recipe (assuming you did not measure this, rather that is what the recipe said you would get)
  4. The weight of the grains were measured incorrectly
Some best practices (in my opinion):
  • Learn how to count points and make adjustment by adding DME or pouring off wort and replacing with water - this is very simple to do
  • Use a refractometer as gravity can be assessed quickly, the small wort sample can be cooled rapidly in a chilled glass unlike a hydrometer
  • If you don't have kettle markings, notch a wooden dowel or long plastic spoon at important volume levels for your system (for example, preboil, hot post boil, cooled post boil) - use a scale to measure the volume of water (8.34Lbs/gal) or a very accurate measuring cup
  • Learn to adjust your points pre-boil, not post boil. Post boil adjustments may fix OG, but they also impact your target hop profile as if you have to pour off points you will also be pouring off your hop bitterness and flavors
  • It is better to boil faster than expected (within reason) than slower as it is easier to add a little sterile water to a post-boil kettle. If you boil slower, you will undershoot your OG and hop profile. This can be fixed by adding boiled DME, but this is just another step, and while your OG will be on target, your hop profile ends up diluted
 

jrgtr42

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DO you have anything to mark down your volume? or are you shooting from the hip as far as how much wort, then finished beer you have? If nothing else, you do need to know that.
I got an oak dowel at the big-box home improvement place and marked down (with a knife then a chisel,) the volumes of my various containers, kettles, carboys etc, and I verified the markings on my Ale Pails were more or less accurate. My newer kettle has the markings already inside, but I did verify those as well.
For those with factory applied markings, if there;s any deviation, keep a list of how off each one is.
 

LittleRiver

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Don't rely on just a timer to gauge your boil duration. Near the end of the boil, say in the last 10 minutes or so, use a refractometer to check the gravity of the wort. That will tell you if you need to shorten or extend the boil to hit your gravity target.

Thoroughly rinse (and dry) the refractometer between uses, otherwise your readings can get skewed by sugars left on the device from the previous use.

Get your own grain mill. That will give you control over the consistency of your crush, which will help give you consistency in the efficiency of your mash.
 
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NEIPA_Allday

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DO you have anything to mark down your volume? or are you shooting from the hip as far as how much wort, then finished beer you have? If nothing else, you do need to know that.
I got an oak dowel at the big-box home improvement place and marked down (with a knife then a chisel,) the volumes of my various containers, kettles, carboys etc, and I verified the markings on my Ale Pails were more or less accurate. My newer kettle has the markings already inside, but I did verify those as well.
For those with factory applied markings, if there;s any deviation, keep a list of how off each one is.
Yes, my brew kettle is graded for volume measurements and most of my carboys have Sharpie marks for 5 and 6 gallons that I measured out in the past. The one I used for this past brew doesnt have any scale or marks on it. I will need to pay closer attention to post-boil volume and volume going into the fermenter in the future. And purchase a refractometer.

Appreciate all the replies, tips and advice!
 

jrgtr42

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And purchase a refractometer.

Appreciate all the replies, tips and advice!
I picked up a refractometer a while back, and I really like it. Keep in mind that a refractometer won't give accurate measurements post fermentation - the alcohol affects the readings.
I use a calculator to check Brewer's Friend Calculator
They say not to trust it, but for the first several brews I double checked on my hydrometer and it came out spot on (except one that was user error) so I don't bother with the hydro anymore.
 
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