Author Topic: Question about raising Specific Gravity, first time brewer here!  (Read 965 times)

Offline jivetyrant

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First and foremost, hello everyone!  First time reader, poster and brewer here!

I am working on my first batch and will be switching to secondary fermentation today or tomorrow, but have a question about the process.  When transferring to my carboy for primary fermentation I took my OG reading and found that I had to dilute the mixture down to the target OG of 1.072.  (it was somewhere around 1.093)  I over-diluted the mixture to an OG of 1.054.  The recipe I am following is somewhat un-specific in what to do if that happens, saying "add a few extra ounces (or grams) of maple syrup at the prescribed point a little later in fermentation."

My question is this; is there any method to determine roughly how much more I should add to reach the intended gravity?  The recipe calls for 8-10 oz of maple syrup.  Any suggestions?

Offline corkybstewart

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Re: Question about raising Specific Gravity, first time brewer here!
« Reply #1 on: October 20, 2010, 01:11:02 PM »
When you add cool down water to the boiled extract you have to be very sure it's well mixed before you take a reading.  If you over diluted how much beer did you end up with?  If it's not significantly more than 5 gallons then you really didn't "over dilute", you just took another OG measurement of poorly mixed wort.
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Question about raising Specific Gravity, first time brewer here!
« Reply #2 on: October 20, 2010, 01:14:46 PM »
Without seeing your recipe, my first suggestion is don't rack to a secondary vessel.  It's rarely necessary, and it's unlikely your first time recipe needs it.  You can do your "secondary" in the primary vessel after most of the fermentation is done.

Second, if that is an accurate reading that is way over diluted - that doesn't mean it won't be good, but I think you need to accept that the finished beer is going to taste exactly like the recipe is supposed to.  To get from 1.054 to 1.072 you're going to need about 3 lbs of maple syrup.  That's going to be pretty fermentable and thin out the body of the beer.  I think you'll be happier if you just add 8 oz of maple syrup to the primary vessel and call it good.  Since fermentation has slowed or stopped, you'll still retain the aroma from the maple syrup (which is why you would add it to secondary) without having to deal with the hassle of racking the beer.

Let us know how it turns out.  :)

PS - Welcome to the hobby.  ;D
Tom Schmidlin

Offline bluesman

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Re: Question about raising Specific Gravity, first time brewer here!
« Reply #3 on: October 20, 2010, 02:00:44 PM »
Wecome to the AHA Forum.

Can you post your recipe?

I also avoid using a secondary fermentation if at all possible.  The risks outweigh the rewards.
Adding maple syrup will tend to dry out the beer.  Depending on the recipe you may be better off fermenting as is.

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Offline a10t2

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Re: Question about raising Specific Gravity, first time brewer here!
« Reply #4 on: October 20, 2010, 02:17:23 PM »
If you're using malt extract (and I would assume you are as a first-time brewer) then you can probably calculate the OG more accurately than you can measure it. If your volume was close to the target, then the OG was right on, and you got a high reading because of inadequate mixing.
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Offline tubercle

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Re: Question about raising Specific Gravity, first time brewer here!
« Reply #5 on: October 20, 2010, 03:31:43 PM »
There comes a time when you need to quit messing with it. What you have now will make beer. There will be many more batches in your future to dial it in. ;)
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Offline jivetyrant

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Re: Question about raising Specific Gravity, first time brewer here!
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2010, 07:11:42 PM »
Wow, thanks for all the great (and timely!) responses, everyone!

The recipe I am using is the A-Z brown ale from the book Extreme Brewing by Sam Calagione.  Based on the responses here and some other research I did this evening I believe that I did not actually over-dilute the beer, as I originally thought, but that I simply did not properly mix it after adding enough water to bring it to the 5 gallon mark in my carboy.  Just incase I did accidentally add a bit too much water I bumped the amount of maple syrup up from 8-10 oz's (per the recipe) to 12, not a big difference but it was simply the entire container I purchased instead of measuring out all but 2 oz's. :p

It appears I was mixing up my terminology a bit regarding secondary fermentation.  I was using it to describe adding the second round of sugars a few days after fermenation has begun, not it's intended usage to describe transferring to a second carboy to continue fermentation in the absence of all the cruddy stuff on the bottom.  The recipe I am following does not call for a true secondary fermentation.

The recipe I am following is as follows:

Preboil

1/2 lb crystal crushed specialty grain

Boil
all __ minutes indicate the remaining time before the end of the boil at which the ingredient is added.

6.6 lbs liquid malt extract (65 minutes)
1 oz Northern Brewer hop pellets (60 mins)
1 lb Belgium light candi sugar (30 mins)
1/2 oz cluster hop pellets (30 mins)
1 tsp irish moss (20 mins)
8 oz brown sugar (15 mins)
8 oz molasses (15 mins)
1 oz whole leaf Goldings hops (10 mins)

Fermentation

1 vial or slap pack of american ale yeast (I used white labs liquid WLP001)
8-10 oz maple syrup (2-3 days into fermentation)
5 oz priming sugar

Target OG is 1.072
SP target when adding maple syrup is 1.040
Target final gravity is 1.010


Offline jivetyrant

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Re: Question about raising Specific Gravity, first time brewer here!
« Reply #7 on: October 21, 2010, 05:39:53 PM »
Another question!  I was a few days late in adding the maple syrup, it was closer to 6 days instead of adding it 2-3 days into fermentation as reccomended by the recipe.  By the time I added it fermentation had slowed to a crawl.  It was about 3:30pm when the maple syrup went in and by 6:30 it was fermenting vigorously again!  When I checked it today things seem to have slowed down considerably.

My questions is thus; would being late in adding my second round of sugars adversely effect the final product?  Should I add a yeast energizer if fermentation slows substantially in a short period of time, or is only to be used in a stalled fermentation?

Side note - The beer smells great!  I had to take a whiff when I added the maple syrup, and again this afternoon.  I am really looking forward to the final product!

Offline a10t2

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Re: Question about raising Specific Gravity, first time brewer here!
« Reply #8 on: October 21, 2010, 05:42:02 PM »
You added a really small amount of sugar. I'm sure it's just finished. The fact that you saw active fermentation is a good sign though.
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Offline jivetyrant

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Re: Question about raising Specific Gravity, first time brewer here!
« Reply #9 on: November 06, 2010, 05:54:46 AM »
I bottled this batch last night, it tasted like beer!  Flat and warm, but beer none the less!  I am reasonably sure that I hit my SG target, I ended up at 1.010 and it tasted quite strong so I'm pretty certain my OG was correct all along.

About how long does bottle conditioning normally take?  I'm impatient to enjoy the fruits of my labor!
« Last Edit: November 06, 2010, 06:00:30 AM by jivetyrant »

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: Question about raising Specific Gravity, first time brewer here!
« Reply #10 on: November 06, 2010, 01:03:21 PM »
To be sure it is done carbonating, 2-3 weeks.  But you can chill sample bottles starting after one week to see how it's going, it will probably still be pretty flat but if you can't wait anymore than one should hold you for another week or so.
Tom Schmidlin

Offline gordonstrong

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Re: Question about raising Specific Gravity, first time brewer here!
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2010, 12:17:15 AM »
Two weeks warm, then one week cold.  It's a big beer, so you will probably want to age it to improve the flavor.

Now that your equipment is available, try making a lower-gravity beer.  This will give you something to drink while the other one ages.  Pick something in the 1.040 to 1.048 range.

I know you're eager to try it, but it's a disappointing feeling when the best beer of the batch is the last one you try.  Sample, but think about storing a bigger beer longer.

If you're missing your gravities by a large amount when making extract beers, you probably need to pay closer attention to your water volume measurements.  If you're doing a concentrated boil and adding more water at the end, make sure you have a good measurement of the final volume.  Make sure it's thoroughly stirred and cooled before checking the gravity. 

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