Short on water in fermenter

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FunkyScribe

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Hello!

Obviously I made a mistake in my first attempt.

I made a 5-gallon recipe but only wound up with 4 gallons in my fermenter and didn't know I was supposed to top it off. Fermentation is done, it's ready to bottle, should I just use a gallon of water instead of 4 cups when I boil the sugar I'm supposed to add before bottling? What would be the likely impact of less water - higher ABV or excessive sweetness or something?

It's a basic American Ale, if that helps.
 

hottpeper13

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Welcome to the obsession! I'm a Beatles fan so most of the time when I mess up I just Let it Be,make notes and make another beer. My thinking is you'll get a much higher ABV, might be a bit sweeter depending on when you added the malt extract. Most keep some out until the last 10 min so the hop utilization is better. You most likely under pitched yeast because of the higher OG. If any off flavors are there, the bigger beer(not diluted) might cover them up.
 

Gilbert Spinning Horse

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You'll be alright mate. You can use a bit more than 4 cups of water to add your sugar but I wouldn't go to a gallon.
Presumably you are using dried malt so, yes, your ABV will be higher but I doubt you'll have any noticeable off flavors from your mistake.
The first few brews are a pretty steep learning curve.
Hope you enjoy your first beer.
 

odie

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Adding water after fermentation I think will make it "watery", thin it out, body and alcohol. Adding before fermentation will not have the watery affect but still be less ABV.

The real question is what was your OG? Was it on target? Then leave it alone. If it was too high, then you should have added water when you pitched yeast.
 

hotbeer

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This is one of those things the you'll never know unless you try. Some considerations though if you haven't had them already....

Is your OG the same as what the recipe called for? If it was, then your ABV will be way out of whack if you hit your predicted FG when you add that much water. If the OG was higher, I might figure out what amount of water will bring the ABV back to where it is supposed to be. If your OG was lower and FG the predicted, then I'd probably just use a minimal amount of water for my priming solution.

Hop notes balance against the alcohol taste so adding too much water might affect everything about your beer if your water loss wasn't balanced by an increase in your OG. -- But I might be wrong in this idea, so any that know or just have a different take on that might help my education if I'm wrong or mixed up.

In the beer software I've used you can play with the numbers in the recipe to come up with what your addition of water will give you toward final ABV or there are calculators to figure out the reduction of ABV when water added.
 
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FunkyScribe

FunkyScribe

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I think my OG was a bit high, around 54, recipe says estimates OG should be 44-50, but old eyes and the microscopic print on the hydrometer presented some challenges getting a solid reading (stupid bifocals). I’m guessing it will just be a little bit ‘heavy’, but I’m not really clear on the chemistry yet.
 

ncbrewer

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Theoretically I don't see a problem with using a gallon of water for the priming sugar. But in practice, I think it would be difficult to pour it into the bottling bucket gently. A forceful pour would tend to aerate it, which you want to avoid. You could probably work out some way to do a gentle transfer, but it seems easier to use the normal amount of water and just live with the somewhat bigger beer. It should be very good - just different from what you expected.
 

odie

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Why would it make a difference when the water was added?
just what I have heard from the results of others...add water before, not after fermentation.

I have never done "after" so I don't really know. Someone who has done both on a similar/same recipe would be the one to ask.
 

KcNola

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I did the same.. going to add half a gallon when i prime and just hope for the best..tastes correct and of was high but finished in the right gravity..so the half gallon to four before bottling sounds right because the flavor is too strong not really enjoyable as you’d hope..ah well..5 gallons of personal if no one else likes it🤷🏾‍♀️ Imo
 
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