Author Topic: ESB high gravity help  (Read 3668 times)

Offline DaveR

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ESB high gravity help
« on: October 17, 2011, 07:39:08 PM »
I brewed an ESB yesterday. I was shooting for a gravity of just under 60. I used a newly opened bag of Maris Otter for base.

I'm using a new system and my efficiency hasn't been the greatest lately. I thought it quite possible that I'd end up with an OG in the mid 50's.

Here's my recipe:

Batch size: 5.25
70 min boil
Grain:
Maris Otter  8.5 lbs
Amber         1.0 lbs
Crystal 60    1.0 lbs
Carapils       0.5 lbs

Hops
Sonnet Golding 1 oz 4.1% 60 min
Tettnanger         1 oz 5.3% 20 min
Sonnet Golding 1 oz 4.1% 5 min

60 min mash at 154 F

WLP002 1.2 Liter starter

My boil was vigorous and I ended up with 5.0 gallons, or a quart less than planned. The thing that threw me, though, was my OG. It ended up at 1.068.

I double checked everything. I normally estimate my OG based on 75% efficiency and 36 potential points per lbs for the base malts and 34 for the cara and crystal. After reading up it appears that Maris Otter might yield a little more than regular 2-row.

I'm wondering if this OG is too high for an ESB. If so, any recommendations at this stage to salvage what at least appears to be a nice looking wort? I plan to ferment in the mid 60's. I probably won't tap into this batch until December. Just looking for some feedback.

Thanks
Dave



 

Offline hokerer

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Re: ESB high gravity help
« Reply #1 on: October 17, 2011, 07:50:08 PM »
Since you came out slightly low on your projected volume anyways, dilution would seem to be an obvious suggestion.  Looks like if you added 2 qts of water to your 5 gallons at 1.068, that would get you down to 5.5 gallons at just under 1.062 - pretty close to the ESB top end of 1.060
Joe

Offline The Professor

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Re: ESB high gravity help
« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2011, 08:09:09 PM »
Please....don't try to "salvage" it....1.068 is not too high for ESB.     
I've got one on the tap now that clocked in at OG  1.075.  It is still an ESB.

Besides, who is going to call you out on it?    ;)

There's no rulebook on this stuff...the only rule is that it's open to  individual interpretation (though of course,  if the gravity was significantly higher, at some point most would start calling it a barleywine or the like).

Judging from the recipe and your yeast choice, the flavor profile should be right on the money and you can probably look forward to a mighty tasty brew, especially  if you really can leave it alone and age it until December...it should be especially good then!
See where  the FG finishes up...between the 154°F mash temps and the WLP002, the ABV will probably not be off the charts.

Just my opinions here, of course and you'll get other opinions. 
But personally, I think it would be a shame to dilute it. 
AL
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Offline mtnrockhopper

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Re: ESB high gravity help
« Reply #3 on: October 18, 2011, 05:38:21 AM »
Please....don't try to "salvage" it....1.068 is not too high for ESB.     

Diluting isn't exactly a risky maneuver. It is done all the time, especially by extract brewers. There is no shame in trying to create the beer you intended to make.
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Offline The Professor

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Re: ESB high gravity help
« Reply #4 on: October 18, 2011, 07:00:49 AM »
Please....don't try to "salvage" it....1.068 is not too high for ESB.     

Diluting isn't exactly a risky maneuver. It is done all the time, especially by extract brewers. There is no shame in trying to create the beer you intended to make.

Of course, you are correct on all counts. 
But I think that you misread my intent...I didn't say that diluting it was risky.   I've done it myself on a number of occasions,  doing high gravity brews to make double batches of session brew (I've done it both pre and post ferment with excellent results).  And your right...it's a common practice in the commercial world.

It's just that the recipe the OP listed looked so potentially  tasty, I couldn't see diluting it.   ;D 
But if the extra gravity is that bothersome, then sure, go ahead and dilute it.  Done carefully it poses practically no risk.

I guess I was just trying to point out that there was no "styles" issue involved, really:   even at the somewhat higher higher gravity it is still an ESB. 
There's no shame in missing your targets either.   The difference can always be compensated for in the next batch.
AL
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Offline DaveR

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Re: ESB high gravity help
« Reply #5 on: October 18, 2011, 07:01:32 AM »
Thanks for the feedback everyone. I may dilute by adding some water. Not sure yet. I used a 6 gallon carboy and I'm a little concerned about head space. As the Professor says the gravity isn't too excessive. So I may just go with it and see what happens. .

I've been brewing for two years and this was my 35th batch. Only three of those batches were really disappointing. Two I blame on OG that was too high. Thus my concern with this ESB.

One of the previous batches was a California Common. I'd made the recipe a few months earlier. The OG of that was 1.054 and it fermented to 1.012. The beer was fantastic. The second time I made it I inadvertently used too much extract (back then I was doing PM). The OG was 1.068. It fermented down to 1.014. The second batch wasn't anywhere near as good as the first. I repeated that mistake later with a Kölsch. The lower gravity batch was tasty. The higher gravity batch wasn't good.  

When I first started brewing I just assumed that higher gravity was better. But I'm more conscious of styles now.  Don't get me wrong, I'm all for high gravity beers. But not all beers are meant to be high ABV.  That's probably the biggest lessons I've learned in home brewing. I'm sure this is common knowledge on this forum. But I had to learn it the hard way.

The third disappointing batch, BTW,  was not due to gravity. It was because I used a Hefeweizen yeast that had way more clove flavor than I anticipated. I'm not a big fan of clove flavor.

I'll post an update as to how the ESB turns out. Thanks again for the feedback.  

Offline DaveR

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Re: ESB high gravity help
« Reply #6 on: October 18, 2011, 07:41:23 AM »

I guess I was just trying to point out that there was no "styles" issue involved, really:   even at the somewhat higher higher gravity it is still an ESB. 


I think that sums up my dilemma. What are the risks of this beer being ruined if the ABV runs higher than anticipated?

Of the two other styles where I previously exceeded my expected OG by a lot  -- California Common and Kölsch -- both seemed to be very sensitive to a higher ABV. They both got more drinkable over time. I know because it took me a long time to get through the kegs. They were my last choice and I only drank them when I was out of everything else.  :-\  Is an ESB going to be as sensitive as those other two? Or might it simply fall into another style category?

It's my understanding that Bitter is really just a name for an English Pale Ale. So if there's Bitter, Special Bitter and Extra Special Bitter -- based on gravity, IBU's, etc. -- what, if anything, comes next after ESB? Or am I completely off base?


 

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Re: ESB high gravity help
« Reply #7 on: October 18, 2011, 07:45:44 AM »

I guess I was just trying to point out that there was no "styles" issue involved, really:   even at the somewhat higher higher gravity it is still an ESB. 


I think that sums up my dilemma. What are the risks of this beer being ruined if the ABV runs higher than anticipated?

Of the two other styles where I previously exceeded my expected OG by a lot  -- California Common and Kölsch -- both seemed to be very sensitive to a higher ABV. They both got more drinkable over time. I know because it took me a long time to get through the kegs. They were my last choice and I only drank them when I was out of everything else.  :-\  Is an ESB going to be as sensitive as those other two? Or might it simply fall into another style category?

It's my understanding that Bitter is really just a name for an English Pale Ale. So if there's Bitter, Special Bitter and Extra Special Bitter -- based on gravity, IBU's, etc. -- what, if anything, comes next after ESB? Or am I completely off base?


 

After ESB, as the proffesor says, comes barley wine, or maybe IPA. If you havn't already looked it over check out the shut up about barclay perkins blog. He goes into detail about historical origins of british beer styles in depth
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Offline richardt

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Re: ESB high gravity help
« Reply #8 on: October 18, 2011, 08:18:45 AM »
I'd leave it alone, especially if you're submitting it for a competition.

If you're brewing for competitions, it is my perception that, within styles, the stronger beers (i.e., those with more aromas, flavors, maltiness, hoppiness, ABV) tend to do better.  An ESB will almost always beat a standard bitter.  A DE or MH will almost always beat a Light American Lager. 

And it isn't unusual for entrants that win to later admit that the OG was a little too high for the style... e.g., a dubbel with an OG of 1.085 (instead of 1.062-1.075) or a weizenbock with an OG of 1.100 (instead of 1.062-1.090).  Did the increased gravity give them an advantage--I dunno.  Probably, as there's no denying that a 20 or 30 point gravity spread between two or more beers won't significantly escape any judge's perception.   But, there's no way to determine the OG as a BJCP judge, so the benefit of the doubt is always given to the entrants.  And the beer with relatively higher maltiness/hoppiness usually alerts even a fatigued judge's palate that this is a more substantial beer that is being sampled.  Unfortunately, many take that "more substantial" stimulus to mean the beer is somehow "better."  I don't necessarily agree.  An English Pale Ale should be quite drinkable and have restrained ABV levels.

I intentionally brewed a low-end IPA (EIPA = 1.050-1.075, AIPA = 1.056-1.075) which came in around 1.052.  IMO, it was supremely good and very drinkable.  Everyone enjoyed the flavors, the balance, and the more sessionable 5% ABV.  Everyone was putting down their chardonnays and Ultras and drinking my beer out of plastic solo cups.  However, it did not score high enough in competition against the IPA's with OG's of 1.075 and higher to win anything.  I didn't expect it to, either. Howver, I plan to brew it again as 10 gallons disappeared within two weeks of production.

If you're not submitting the beer for competition, and would rather have a lower ABV beer, then dilute it a little.

Offline DaveR

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Re: ESB high gravity help
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2011, 08:25:06 AM »

After ESB, as the proffesor says, comes barley wine, or maybe IPA. If you havn't already looked it over check out the shut up about barclay perkins blog. He goes into detail about historical origins of british beer styles in depth

Many thanks for the barclay perkins reference. I'm just getting interested in British beers. I picked up a used beer engine at a flea market recently. I'm going to refinish it. Thinking about making a cask ale. I don't know if I'm up for it yet. One step at a time.    :)


Offline DaveR

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Re: ESB high gravity help
« Reply #10 on: October 18, 2011, 08:31:53 AM »

If you're brewing for competitions, it is my perception that, within styles, the stronger beers (i.e., those with more aromas, flavors, maltiness, hoppiness, ABV) tend to do better.  An ESB will almost always beat a standard bitter.  A DE or MH will almost always beat a Light American Lager. 


Very interesting and good to know. I haven't entered any competitions yet. Everyone says it's a must at some point.

Offline The Professor

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Re: ESB high gravity help
« Reply #11 on: October 18, 2011, 11:17:12 AM »
Many thanks for the barclay perkins reference. I'm just getting interested in British beers. I picked up a used beer engine at a flea market recently. I'm going to refinish it. Thinking about making a cask ale. I don't know if I'm up for it yet. One step at a time.    :)


The Shut Up About Barclay Perkins blog is a MUST READ if you are serious about British beer styles, as is another blog, The Zythophile.
Ron Pattinson and Martyn Cornell are certainly the "mythbusters" of the beer world and their research has produced some very eye opening material about how off base much of the beer history we've read has turned out to be.  Really interesting stuff. 
AL
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Offline tschmidlin

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Re: ESB high gravity help
« Reply #12 on: October 18, 2011, 11:49:28 AM »
I've been brewing for two years and this was my 35th batch. Only three of those batches were really disappointing. Two I blame on OG that was too high. Thus my concern with this ESB.
There is a difference between a high gravity because you added too much extract and a high gravity because you boiled too long.  In the latter case, the total sugars are the same, just more concentrated.  In the former there is more total sugar.  It may have been a yeast pitching rate problem rather than the high gravity itself that caused the beer to be less impressive than you'd hoped.

I picked up a used beer engine at a flea market recently. I'm going to refinish it. Thinking about making a cask ale. I don't know if I'm up for it yet. One step at a time.    :)


Nice, how much did you score that for?
Tom Schmidlin

Offline DaveR

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Re: ESB high gravity help
« Reply #13 on: October 18, 2011, 02:45:00 PM »

There is a difference between a high gravity because you added too much extract and a high gravity because you boiled too long.  In the latter case, the total sugars are the same, just more concentrated.  In the former there is more total sugar.  It may have been a yeast pitching rate problem rather than the high gravity itself that caused the beer to be less impressive than you'd hoped.

Indeed the problem may not have been the gravity per se. I pitched a pretty big starter. Fermentation might not have been ideal. I can't remember. Before this ESB it's been a while since I overshot my gravity by a big number.

Through this past Spring and Summer I was undershooting expected gravity by a few points more often than not. Recently I've payed close attention to water chemistry. That seems to be helping with mashing efficiency. Can't say how much it's helping, but it certainly isn't hurting. Other benefits as well, I'm sure. .


I picked up a used beer engine at a flea market recently. I'm going to refinish it. Thinking about making a cask ale. I don't know if I'm up for it yet. One step at a time.    :)
Nice, how much did you score that for?

I traded some stuff for it so I don't have a figure . I recall the guy was asking around $90. However, he was pretty motivated to sell it. It seems to work, which surprised me.   

Offline tschmidlin

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Re: ESB high gravity help
« Reply #14 on: October 18, 2011, 03:16:10 PM »
I traded some stuff for it so I don't have a figure . I recall the guy was asking around $90. However, he was pretty motivated to sell it. It seems to work, which surprised me.   
Great find, congrats :)
Tom Schmidlin