Questions--Carbonation, OG and water

Discussion in 'General Brewing Discussions' started by dave althouse, Jan 18, 2016.

  1. dave althouse

    dave althouse Member

    Aug 18, 2013
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    I have a couple of question …..

    The first. I brewed my first all grain, and some trouble from the start. I believe the yeast I purchased was bad, several days after pitching there was no activity, I keep a pack of dry yeast handy so I added it and got a bit of fermentation activity. The final gravity was within range, so I bottled it. Here is the problem, I would guess about 60% of the batch did not carbonate, was flat and was undrinkable. However the remaining batch, carbonated, had a nice foamy head and was the best tasting beer I have brewed. Strange but true…what went wrong?

    Second. Using a Brewer Friend recipe for a porter the first batch I brewed was good, but needed a bit of tweaking, heavy on the coffee side. It was a chocolate/coffee porter, it is an extract brew with steeping grains. Based on the recipe maker the OG should be 1.044 it ended up at 1.020, the FG is 1.010. What could effect the outcome of the OG?

    Third. Water How does water change the overall condition of the wort. Here are couple examples, I start with 3.5 gallons and steep grains, add to bring initial boil to 4 gallons and then add what it needs to bring it up to 5 gallons in the primary. By adding or reducing water in any of these 3 stages what is the effect. So most of my brews I boil and add water to bring it up to 5 gallons. If I were to take in account all my water losses and add that to the original water volume, boil and end up with 5 gallons is the final product the same? Just wondering.

    Thanks for any thoughts
  2. surfmase

    surfmase Member

    Nov 28, 2014
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    1) Possible sources of error depend completely on your technique for carbonating. i.e. what method do you use? Dosing sugar into bottles, adding sugar water to the wort after terminal gravity, bottling before terminal gravity is met?

    2) Primarily the amount of water and the amount of malt extract used. Keep in mind that temperature will affect your measurements.

    3) Based on the water volume I would expect only marginal differences in SG and slightly different hop utilization, which is usually known and taken into consideration when calculating a recipe. The reason people add water to the fermenter is a logistics issue; most brewers using extracts usually don't have equipment large enough to boil and cool that much volume.

  3. jmcnamara

    jmcnamara Well-Known Member

    Aug 29, 2012
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    Rosedale, MD
    and my 2 cents:
    1. If you use a priming solution, is it thoroughly mixed in with the wort? Are you putting that solution at the bottom of the bottling bucket then racking the beer on top of it? I'm thinking something wasn't properly mixed around.

    2. I'd also check and calibrate your hydrometer and other instruments. It might not be the culprit here, but it's a good thing to do at some point (the paper in the hydrometer can shift which will throw off the reading a bit)

    3. I brew all grain and I add water after the boil too. I just don't have the setup to boil more than about 4 gallons comfortably. I'd think you'd have more caramelization and maillard reactions going on if the wort has a higher gravity, but then you'd be diluting it afterwards. Just my logic, but it seems like this would make for a more intense, but less concentrated, flavor. Whereas a full boil might be less intense, but more concentrated? i realize that may not make much sense after i typed it out :roll:

    edit: also, really good avatar there

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