Author Topic: Chronically unable to acheive targeted FG  (Read 1130 times)

Offline jmbeach79

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Chronically unable to acheive targeted FG
« on: April 30, 2015, 04:47:03 AM »
I'm an extract brewer with 17 batches now complete.  I've hit only 2 target FG's of the 17 I've done.  Strangely, both targeted FG's were the only Belgians I've made.  What I focus on is as follows:

1. I add yeast nutrient to the wort at 10 minutes left in the boil

2. Pitch enough yeast.
The average OG for my beers is 1.055-1.072 for most batches.  I usually use a 2 liter starter with a SG around 1.38 and then step up again (on my higher gravity beers) with the same SG. I've tried several liquid yeast strains including WLP san diego super yeast (very high attenuating strain) and WLP 001

3.Aerate the wort.
I usually vigorously shake the primary for 5 minutes. I've recently added a fish tank pump in addition to this for about 20 minutes.

4. Ferment at the optimal temperature.  I have a small dedicated freezer for my primary with a johnsons a419 temp controller set at usually 68-69 degrees F for IPA's that I mostly make with the differential set at 1-2 degrees. I often check the temp of the controller and it reads several degrees cooler than targeted temp but I have a second thermometer that shows at the targeted temp usually.  I feel that this must be normal then.  Should I ferment at 70 degrees?  Most literature states 67-68 is the sweet spot for IPA's. 

My usual FG is 1.015 with lower OG and 1.020 on my higher OG's.  I like a dry IPA and looking for a FG of 1.010-1.012.  I'm lost on this + frustrated.  Bought a second hydrometer to make sure that's not the issue -- it's not.  Any thoughts would be helpful!  Thanks
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Chronically unable to acheive targeted FG
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2015, 05:27:26 AM »
On your IPA try subbing sugar in for some of your extract.

Also, ignore FG targets in recipe computers

Offline majorvices

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Re: Chronically unable to acheive targeted FG
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2015, 11:04:43 AM »
I know you said you bought a second hydrometer, but double check both of them in regular old water at the correct temp (60-70 degrees) to make sure they are both calibrated properly.

That said, extract brewers notoriously finish high. Try subbing 5-10% regular sugar for malt extract. That will dry the beer up with no noticeable flavor difference.

Offline dmtaylor

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Re: Chronically unable to acheive targeted FG
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2015, 11:14:00 AM »
I agree with Jim and Keith.  Extract is not often highly fermentable, so if you want lower gravity, you need to replace some of your extract with simple sugar like cane or corn sugar.  You might appreciate this and many other hints available here (click to enlarge):

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Offline jmbeach79

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Re: Chronically unable to acheive targeted FG
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2015, 04:10:27 PM »
thank you all for your help!  Really appreciate it!  The chart is great - will definately use those tips.  I usually put around 10% corn sugar to help with this but may go up to 15% and see how it tastes.  It's time for me to save up and go to all grain.

If 100% extract doesn't attenuate as well as grain, I wonder if it would help doing a partial mash with a few lbs of 2-row?  If so, how much should I use?     
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Offline Jimmy K

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Re: Chronically unable to acheive targeted FG
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2015, 04:42:54 PM »
The mini-mash could help, especially if you mash really low - like 146-148F, but there is a bit of guesswork involved there too. And it'll be tough to translate that into an all-grain recipe if you eventually go that route.
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Offline Jimmy K

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Re: Chronically unable to acheive targeted FG
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2015, 04:51:31 PM »
You could also try a different brand of extract. Designing Great Beers has a fermentability table on pg 15. If you don't have the book, you can see that page in Amazon's preview mode.
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Offline a10t2

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Re: Chronically unable to acheive targeted FG
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2015, 05:27:54 PM »
If 100% extract doesn't attenuate as well as grain, I wonder if it would help doing a partial mash with a few lbs of 2-row?  If so, how much should I use?

Each pound of 2-row will convert twice its own weight in other grains, so for most any mini-mash a pound would be enough. Expect each pound of grain in the mash to contribute around 0.004-0.006 SG in 5 gal of wort.

This could also just be a recipe issue, especially if you're already using 10% simple sugars. Make sure to use only the lightest extract you can find and get your color and flavor from the specialty grains.

It's also difficult, verging on impossible, to tell the difference between two FGs that close, so at a certain level you just can't sweat it.
« Last Edit: April 30, 2015, 08:27:55 PM by a10t2 »
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Offline troybinso

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Re: Chronically unable to acheive targeted FG
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2015, 06:44:58 PM »
You could just raise your expected final gravity a few points. You'll be consistent at least.

Offline reverseapachemaster

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Re: Chronically unable to acheive targeted FG
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2015, 01:38:22 PM »
Are you dissatisfied with the flavor of the beer? If not then FG is irrelevant.
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Offline jtoots

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Re: Chronically unable to acheive targeted FG
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2015, 03:23:44 PM »
bump, this is one i want to follow.

Offline erockrph

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Re: Chronically unable to acheive targeted FG
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2015, 04:43:46 PM »
Are you dissatisfied with the flavor of the beer? If not then FG is irrelevant.

Bingo! In the end, FG is just a number. Your tastebuds can't read a hydrometer.
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Offline HoosierBrew

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Re: Chronically unable to acheive targeted FG
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2015, 04:48:52 PM »
Are you dissatisfied with the flavor of the beer? If not then FG is irrelevant.

Bingo! In the end, FG is just a number. Your tastebuds can't read a hydrometer.

+2.  I've had beers beers attenuate better than planned - like 1.008 - that tasted just like what I wanted. And I've had 1.012 beers that seemed a little thin. Grist and yeast strain play a big role.
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Offline Joe Sr.

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Re: Chronically unable to acheive targeted FG
« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2015, 05:48:31 PM »
If 100% extract doesn't attenuate as well as grain, I wonder if it would help doing a partial mash with a few lbs of 2-row?  If so, how much should I use?

Each pound of 2-row will convert twice its own weight in other grains, so for most any mini-mash a pound would be enough. Expect each pound of grain in the mash to contribute around 0.004-0.006 SG in 5 gal of wort.

This could also just be a recipe issue, especially if you're already using 10% simple sugars. Make sure to use only the lightest extract you can find and get your color and flavor from the specialty grains.

It's also difficult, verging on impossible, to tell the difference between two FGs that close, so at a certain level you just can't sweat it.

I've found Breiss pils DME to be the most fermentable and lightest color available.  You could give that a whirl and see how it works. 

LME and darker DME will typically be the ones that don't finish as low as you'd like.
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Offline jmbeach79

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Re: Chronically unable to acheive targeted FG
« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2015, 12:42:41 AM »
I'm definately good with any gravity reading as long as the beer tastes great for the style.  The thing is, the style I'm currently focused on is IPA and I tend to favor a low and dry malt profile to have the hops shine through.  Which leads into a 2nd chronic issue I've had with my IPA brewing is a lack of hop flavor.  I know that this is off the yeast/fermentation category but may relate to the yeast problem I've had with attenuation.  With all your advice, I have a lot of things I can try!  Thank you ALL!
 
I've been shying away from bittering because I prefer a less bitter IPA with high emphasis on flavor/aroma with little to show for it.   Below is my last batch brewed that I recently kegged with a final gravity of 1.015, amber in color, mild hoppiness for IPA standards:

Steep: 4.2% carapils
4.2% caramel 20
60 minutes: 82% Pilsner LME
10 min: 1 oz simcoe
7 min: 1 oz simcoe
5 min: 1 oz simcoe
2 min: 1 oz simcoe, 1 oz cascade
0 min: 2 oz centennial, 1 oz cascade
0 min: 9.6% corn sugar
cooled over 15-20 minutes with wort chiller
aerated + pitched WLP 001 (2L stepped up decanted starter)
fermented at 68-69 degrees
Dry hopped 10 days 2oz simcoe
Dry hopped 5 days 1oz cascade, 1oz centennial
kegged

Solutions
-Will use all this advice to help with the FG (breiss pils DME over LME, 2-row grain low temp mini mash, increase simple sugars a bit etc.)
-buying a hopback, plate chiller, pump
-FWH for smooth mild bitterness
-might use 50% softer water (distilled)

Thanks again everyone!







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