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 Post subject: Slightly Watery Beer?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2010 10:13 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2010 7:26 pm
Posts: 5
I'm sorry this is so long, but I'm anal (heh...) and want to provide as much info as I think is necessary (which may or may not be too much).
We've only tasted two of our five batches at this point, and bottled a third, which are the ones I'm wondering about. Hopefully this doesn't sound like the standard n00b freakout, it's more of an academic question since the beers are quite drinkable. I actually think we're fine, we've just gotta brew more beer and shit'll work itself out eventually - but my brother is worrying about this quite a bit.

The deal is basically this: we (my brother and I) have done five batches so far - n00bish to say the least. The two we've tasted were IPAs, kits from Austin Homebrew - one was a generic extract recipe with steeped grains, the other DFH 60 min clone mini-mash. The third that's currently carbing in bottles is a generic dry stout, mini-mash. All three have over-attenuated, and the two we've tried have been watery-ish.

We're doing full boils in a keggle; so far every beer has come in low on the OG because we're still working out our equipment and end up with too much liquid in the carboy for the recipe, among other problems (mostly mash related) that have popped up from following the kit instructions exactly (which are exactly the same for every beer, regardless of grain bill, save the hop additions - I only realized this after probably the third batch; gotta stop drinking so much on brew days) - we're done buying kits, we're building our own recipes from here on out.

But the main problem I would think is that, like I said, we've over-attenuated on all three of the finished beers. Each has hit about 5-7% higher apparent attenuation than the White Labs literature suggests (-001 for the IPAs, -004 for the stout). All the beers are getting temperature control via swamp coolers in an unfinished bathroom in our basement, so it's not as exact as I'd like (soon to be rectified, I hope) - temp has hovered around ~70* for all the beers in question.
Both of the beers we've tasted (the IPAs) have lacked any real body. They still taste good, just not great. And the 60min clone was nowhere near as malty as the commercial version. I should mention that - as far as we know - our cleaning and sanitation has been impeccable (we're both, like, really really anal - hehe, anal...).

So what's the deal? Is my brother freaking out too much? Or am I being too cavalier?


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 Post subject: Re: Slightly Watery Beer?
PostPosted: Fri Sep 10, 2010 11:04 pm 
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It sounds like the beers are diluted. You said that they are coming in low OG. The only way that can be is if you are ending up with too much volume. You are starting off with too much water, and not boiling off enough.

Start by estimating how much you think you have been off by, and cut back by about that amount first.
Keep trying the same or similar recipes until nailing the boil volume becomes second nature.

By then, I'd bet that the body will have improved. Don't jump right straight to recipe changes until you have your process worked out. It takes a little practice but it'll be worth it.

HTH-

_________________
-B'Dawg
"Lunch Meat. It's an acquired taste....." -- Mylo


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 Post subject: Re: Slightly Watery Beer?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2010 5:29 am 
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Sounds like you need to calibrate your keggle for boiling levels. You probably want to finish the boil with 5.5-6 gallons of wort. Start by adding this amount of water into your keggle. If you use an immersion chiller place that into the water after adding it to the keggle for displacement (mimicing your final minutes of boiling). Measure from the inside top of your keggle to the liquid level with the immersion chiller in place and write this number down. Take a good look at where the water level resides with regards to your chiller position (if using one). This will give you a rough estimate as to where your wort level should be and look like at the end of the boil. If you are nearing the last 10-15 min and you have too much wort, increase the boil. If you have too little, add back water to adjust. After a few brews you will get better at estimating this and figuring out where you need to be at the end of the boil for wort level. Just remember that as your hot wort cools it will contract and drop lower in the keggle than the water did, so be sure to adjust for that too (very minor). If you are not using an IC, then simply use your measurements to adjust the boil and water additions.

-brewinhard


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 Post subject: Re: Slightly Watery Beer?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2010 8:04 am 
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Joined: Tue Jun 22, 2010 7:26 pm
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Thanks for the replies, you've both told me what I suspected. I just wanted to make sure there wasn't something else I was not thinking about.
I've actually got a sight glass on the keggle now; it's been on for the last two batches, and I thought I did OK with what I planned to put into the fermenter - 5.25gal - but the recipes seem to be built for putting exactly 5gal in. Like I said, every single batch we've done has come in low - and I measured what I'm leaving in the kettle as one ~qt, so I don't think that's part of the issue. Ah well, I guess I'll just have to keep brewing beer until I get this right.

follow-up: we did an Imperial stout (probably a bit early to jump into big beers, but whatever) that ended up way low. The instructions said 1.086, we ended up with 1.076. Would wort volume account for that? Or is it likely that our mash efficiency is dreadfully low?


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 Post subject: Re: Slightly Watery Beer?
PostPosted: Sat Sep 11, 2010 9:05 am 
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Can you post the recipe, the gravity readings (pre and post boil), and volumes (pre and post boil)?
If you don't know these numbers, start to track them on your next batch and subsequent batches until you have the issue solved.

Remember, brewing 5.5 gallons instead of 5 will distribute the same sugars amongst more water, lowering the gravity:

1.086 = 86 gravity pts.
86*5 = 430 gravity points total in the 5 gallons.
430/5.5 = => 1.078, pretty close to what you measured (did you adjust the Hydrometer reading for temperature, too?)

You can easily remedy this by keeping a little bit of pale DME on hand and adding some to every recipe. DME provides 44 points per lb in a gallon. 44/5.5 = 8, so, if you add 1 lb of DME you will add 8 pts (ie, 0.008) to the OG. Just divide the number of points you need to add by 8, and that gives you the number of lbs of DME to add to hit the target.

You asked if your efficiency could be the culprit. Mini-mashes tend to yield around 50% efficiency. In other words, for every lb of base malt, you'l get approximately (36*.5) = 18 pppg, or 18/5 = 3.6 gravity points in a 5 gallon batch. A 3 lb minimash should give you 10.8 gravity point boost in OG. I doubt that you can miss your efficiency by enough to lose 10 pts unless you didn't convert the mash at all, in which case you will have a very hazy, cloudy beer and stability problems due to the unconverted starch. I seriously doubt that mash efficiency is the problem. I think you are brewing larger batches than the recipe is designed for.

_________________
-B'Dawg
"Lunch Meat. It's an acquired taste....." -- Mylo


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