Hitting the OG number

Discussion in 'Beginners Brewing Forum' started by PeteKap, Apr 23, 2018.

  1. PeteKap

    PeteKap New Member

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    Hi Guys,
    I have been brewing for a little over a year and my beers are pretty good but I have trouble hitting the OG number in a recipe. I'm not sure if my strike water is too high or I'm not sparging well enough but it seems I always have to add sugar towards the end of my boil. I usually have around 14 lbs of grains and my strike water is around 6 gals. I make 6 gals of sparge water to use and anything left over I use for cleaning. Once I collect my wart of around 7.5 to 8 gals I pull off a sample and let it cool down and check my OG. If I am looking for a OG of say 1.065 I am usually around 1.050. I cheat and dump in about 2 cups ( 10 oz ) of dextroce sugar right at the end and my OG is usually pretty close. I'm not sure if my strike water is too high or if my sparging isn't doing the job. I tried batch sparging and it was even lower. Can u have too much strike water?? Should u have more sparge water than strike water?? Not sure where I am going wrong. Thx in advance for any help. Pete
     
  2. jeffpn

    jeffpn Well-Known Member

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    #2 jeffpn, Apr 24, 2018
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2018
    What batch size are you shooting for? Typical size is 5 gallons packaged. You should only need about 6 gallons to the fermenter to make that happen. I like my post boil kettle volume to show 6.5 gallons. I leave the sediment behind when I rack to primary. For me, my beer goes from a 6.5 gallon carboy (for headspace) to a 5 gallon carboy to a 5 gallon keg. I like the 5 gallon carboy to be full up to the taper. That way I’ll know I’ll get a full keg and a couple mason jars of beer for cooking.
     
  3. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    First, I'm not sure exactly what you're describing. If you're making a 6-gallon batch (usually turns out to be about 5.5 after losses), you're using too much water. 14 pounds to collect 7.5 gallons of wort would be a water requirement around 10 gallons, not 12 as you use. And if you're measuring the gravity right after the mash, about 1.05 sounds about right for a 1.065 wort, post-boil. How are you estimating your pre-boil volume? Start with your finished volume, then add back all the losses: Hop absorption, wort left in the kettle, boil-off, wort left in the tun, grain absorption, any other losses and that should be your initial water requirement. As I said, for my system and a 90-minute boil, it's about 9.5 - 10.5 gallons total water, depending on how much grain I use (figure about 0.5 quart/pound grain absorption). I think you're using too much water.
     
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  4. PeteKap

    PeteKap New Member

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    After I collect the wort and as I turn on the flame I take a sample and let it cool and then check it with a refractometer to give me an idea of where I am at. I use 1.75 qts per pound in the mash. Should I cut it back to 1.5 or even 1.25?? I make extra sparge water just to have enough and use extra for cleaning. I brew year round and brew outside so the colder air and wind makes my evap greater in the winter months. I start with 7.5 gal and end up with 5.5 gal when its cold out with a 60 min boil. I guess my main question is if I use more water in mash does it help me or hurt me in getting my OG?? Do I get more sugars from mash or from sparge?? My temps for both are right on point and not sure why I wasn't hitting the number I want without adding sugar.
     
  5. J A

    J A Well-Known Member

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    So you're using 14 lbs in that batch size and expecting 1.065...that's a conservative 70% efficiency. No problem there.
    You're ending up with 5.5 gallons of 1.050 going into the fermenter? That would be around 50%. That's really low.
    Adding 2 cups (around 12-13 oz) of dextrose would raise it to 1.057 or so.
    You definitely should be getting better efficiency. Definitely try a 1.25 or so mash thickness and try a mash-out by adding boiling water to raise the temp. That should put you at about a 3-gallon sparge volume which should work fine.
    You don't mention your method or system and I suspect that's where a lot your efficiency is going. Doing a vorlauf helps release sugars, clear the wort and set the grain bed and long, slow sparge is the key to rinsing and releasing all the sugars from the malt. I can't dial my system down as low as I'd like, but I generally do around a 25 minute sparge and get in the neighborhood or 80% efficiency, depending on malt. Sparging too fast can result in channeling that just allows water to run right through the grain bed and not pick up sugars.
     
  6. Hawkbox

    Hawkbox Well-Known Member

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    Hell I no sparge and the worst efficiency I see is around 65-57% so something is definitely wonky.
     
  7. Nosybear

    Nosybear Well-Known Member

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    Same lines I was thinking along.... The 1.050 looks like it should be the pre-boil gravity. Mash thickness would not make this much of an impact on conversion efficiency, nor would a mash-out (not required for a batch sparge).... Something is not adding up. IF the end result is 5.5 gal of 1.050 wort, a lot of sugar is getting lost somewhere. Can the OP tell us step by step the process he's using?

    I batch sparge and generally wind up at around 70% brew house efficiency.
     
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  8. Head First

    Head First Well-Known Member

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    Petekap what is the hydrometer reading when you are finished boiling. You haven't stated it so far. That reading is your Original Gravity, before you boil is Preboil Gravity.
     
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