Total Noob with Temperature Problems

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technerd3000

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Let me preface my current situation with a little background info… I’m an experience home winemaker and have countless batches of cider and fruit wines under my belt. I love beer, but the process always seemed too complicated and expensive – and kits/extracts just seem like cheating to me (no offense to anyone who prefers extract brewing).

So, recently I grew a pair and tried making a big all-grain IPA based on my own recipe I pulled together after reading countless others (and some calculations on BrewersFriend). It just finished priming, and the results are fantastic. I also bottled a spiced “winter warmer” this weekend that seems like it will be delicious. I hit about 70% efficiency, and both ended just slightly under the calculated FG.

So… I told my brother-in-law that we would try a high-gravity, all-grain porter (actually, we added 2# corn sugar to bump it up a bit). When I took my post-boil OG sample, I was at 1.090, but I was expecting closer to 1.106… I simply chalked it up to being too overly ambitious to make a HUGE beer (go big, or go home, right?).

It wasn’t until today – day +3 in primary – that I realized where I made my error. My gravity today was already at 1.011, but I was expecting my FG to be around 1.024. Putting two and two together, I realized that I had used a different thermometer for my mash (and single batch sparge) than I had for the first two batches that I’ve had success with. I dropped both thermometers in a glass of hot water, and sure enough, they were about 18 degrees different!!! This resulted in my actual mash temperature being around 139 degrees, and my sparge being around 152 degrees. I guess that’s the reason for both my gravity readings being so low.

Needless to say, I’ve purchased a new thermometer. :eek: But the question is: if this brew doesn’t stop right now (it shows little sign of slowing), what options do I have to add some body back to this beer? At 10+% ABV, it’s going to be hard enough to get some head on this brew as it is. If it were wine, I’d just kill it off now and backsweeten, but considering my only option for carbing is bottle conditioning, that’s really not an option. Any advice from those of you with more experience?

Grain Bill (3 gallon batch):
8# Pale 2 Row
1# Crystal 20L
0.5# Crystal 60L
0.5# Chocolate
2# Dextrose

Yeast: White Labs - English Ale Yeast WLP002

Thanks!!!
 

pgrebus

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No good way to "fix" this one. You could try blending with another beer.

You may see efficiency fall with high gravity beers, though.
 

BlackGoat

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Well, you could add lactose which will give you a bit of sweetness (unfermentable) but I'm not sure if that will get you to where you want to be with this one. I'm also assuming that 2lbs of corn sugar has quite a bit to do with the low FG you are heading towards since it is nearly 100% fermentable, that is quite a lot of corn sugar for a 3g batch. Personally, I'd probably just let it ride and see how it turns out without worrying about trying to fix it. If its bad, then its bad but you've obviously learned a few things in the process.
 

TipsyDragon

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I would definitely get rid of the bad thermometer and calibrate the good one. The low FG could be because of the low OG as well as the 2# of sugar. I just wonder if you got full conversion with a mash temp that low. You can do an iodine test to see if there are any starches in the brew. In any case you obviously got a hefty amount of fermentable sugars in there.
 
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technerd3000

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Thanks for all the advise! What if I did a small (say 1-2 gallon) mash at a higher temp and blend or add to this 3 gallons? Should I use a similar ratio of pale to crystal, or could I get away with say 1# crystal in a half gallon? What would be a a "high enough" temp? Are there any calculators out there to estimate temp and unfermentable levels?

Thanks again for the advice!
 

k_mcarthur

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I've never tried this, but I wonder if you could boil say 8 oz of maltodextrine, chill, and add to the fermenter. It adds body when added to the boil, why not at bottling? Just brainstorming here.
 
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technerd3000

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Mcarthur, I may try this... if I do, I'll provide an update for sure. The good news is fermentation APPEARS to have slowed down pretty well over night. I'll check the gravity this evening.
 
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technerd3000

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Well, I took a gravity reading tonight (day 4), and I'm sitting between 1.011 and 1.010, so it's definately slowing down quite a bit. Maybe the combination of low temp and extra corn sugar made it take off super fast. Is it normal for the majority of the fermentables to be consumed within 72 hours of pitching the starter?

At any rate, I tasted my sample, and while it's a little on the thin side, it's not horrible. I'll give it a few days and see if I think it needs a bit of malto added.

Thank you everybody!
 

pgrebus

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Yes, the most active fermentation is within a few days, with a few weeks (or more) to finish up. Take gravity readings a few days apart, and when they stabilize, it's done.

IMHO, not worth the effort to try and fix.
 
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technerd3000

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Well it's still sitting at 1.010 after a few days, so I think I'll just finish it off as-is, and consider this a lesson learned. Thank you everyone for your resplies!
 
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