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guinnessface

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Brewers-

I could use your help here, I've been running into dead ends lately with much higher than expected final gravity. A month ago I brewed an AG imperial brown on a grainfather. Pretty typical malt bill with a pound each of DME and brown sugar at the end of the boil, mashed at 155, mashed out and added a 1.5-2L starter of fresh yeast from a large pack. To my surprise, the OG was much higher than expected: 1.089....I was going for 1.075 or so. I think my efficiency was low on Beersmith (73%), I had a thicker mash this time and perhaps the software didn't account well for the brown sugar. Once in the conical it turned into a middle school volcano science project! I had brown foam/lava shooting out of a blowoff tube like crazy...I lost at least a gallon and a half, or more. I felt pretty confident about the process despite the unexpected readings, except for some concerns that the end product would be a little too sweet. Alas, this morning I took a reading and it's 1.046. To taste, it's pretty malty and sweet with a definite alcohol presence contrary to what the numbers show.
As you can imagine, I'm not only frustrated (as this has happened several times under similar conditions) but also at a loss as to why and what I can do to save the beer.

As to the reasons why, here are my best guesses:
1. The fermentation temp swings too high/low: upper 60's to low-mid 70's in the basement.
2. The grainfather temp is out of calibration (despite the fact it displays 211-212 at boil and the latest batch was very fermentable at first).
3. The yeast worked too hard to fast and went dormant too soon.
4. My refractometer is way off despite reading zero for water.

As to what I can do now, here are my best guesses:
1. Re-agitate, which I did this morning. I don't have a lot of faith here...I poured out some dormant yeast from the bottom of the conical beforehand for some unknown reason.
2. Add another 1-2L yeast with starter.
3. Control the fermentation temp better in the future.

Any and all advice on how I can save this batch and avoid this in the future would be greatly appreciated. I've looked through other threads but can't find the exact conditions I've experienced here. Thanks in advance and happy brewing.

Guinnessface
 

myndflyte

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4. My refractometer is way off despite reading zero for water.

This is your problem. Refractometers are good for unfermented wort but alcohol skews the readings. Use a hydrometer for final readings or use this conversion calculation below. It's not as good as a hydrometer but it'll get you closer to the correct gravity.

FG = -0.002349Bxi + 0.006276Bxf
ABW = 0.67062Bxi - 0.66091Bxf
ABV = (FG * ABW)/0.791

Bxi is brix initial and Bxf is brix final.
 
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guinnessface

guinnessface

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You're a life saver!! I came up with about 8.9% based on your conversion factors that you provided...that seems more in the ballpark. I'll get another hydrometer to finalize, maybe this one will stay in one piece for more than a few months. Thanks so much for the information, I'm relieved and humbled. Cheers.
 

myndflyte

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You're a life saver!! I came up with about 8.9% based on your conversion factors that you provided...that seems more in the ballpark. I'll get another hydrometer to finalize, maybe this one will stay in one piece for more than a few months. Thanks so much for the information, I'm relieved and humbled. Cheers.

Glad I could help. I just realized an error in the FG equation

FG = (-0.002349Bxi + 0.006276Bxf) + 1

Sorry about that.
 

RM-MN

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You're a life saver!! I came up with about 8.9% based on your conversion factors that you provided...that seems more in the ballpark. I'll get another hydrometer to finalize, maybe this one will stay in one piece for more than a few months. Thanks so much for the information, I'm relieved and humbled. Cheers.

Buy hydrometers in pairs. If you only buy one it gets lonesome and commits suicide by falling onto the floor or something similar. Since I bought 2, I still have both.:rock::D
 

bracconiere

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Buy hydrometers in pairs. If you only buy one it gets lonesome and commits suicide by falling onto the floor or something similar. Since I bought 2, I still have both.:rock::D

honestly i didn't know that when i posted in the broken hydrometer thread! but i have at least three, and three proof alcoholometers too! and two graduated cylinders for them too! i had two vintometers, they didn't break but got clogged.... :(

must be why i haven't broke a hydrometer or a graduated cylinder in years!
 
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