what should the final gravity be? how high is too high?

Sun Sep 03, 2006 9:29 pm

I'm working my way through Greg Noonan's book "Scotch Ale", and he talks about historical beers with final gravities as high as 1.055 with 9% alcohol (p.15). My jaw dropped!

Somewhere I got the impression that one really wants final gravities of 1.02 and lower, and that high final gravities are "a bad thing" leading to poor stability and other problems. Towards that end I have been bringing in the big guns when my fermentations stop at 1.04 or 1.03 - champagne or belgian yeast, beano (couldn't find any amylase), which result in some reduction of "body" but gets me down below that 1.02 target.

I just looked in the BJCP guidelines, and for strong scotch ale they list FG of 1.019-1.025+

What are the pros & cons of having such high final gravities?
Where should you consider a beer 'done'?
What is the relationship between high final gravity and body / mouth feel - is the body coming from the residual unfermented sugars or proteins or what?

One of my goals is to make truly excellent beers that will age like wine, so I'm facing this kind of issue with almost every carboy I fill - Barleywine, strong ale, imperial stout.

Any advice or information is appreciated. Can anyone point me to websites or literature that discusses this in some amount of detail? I'm trying to brew beers with a hefty kick with good mouthfeel and substantial body.
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Mon Sep 04, 2006 6:24 am

WOAH those are some dry beers.... dude relaxxxxxxxx don't do it.... etc.
1.0anything is fairly dry but to style for some beers.. you scottish, scotch, IPA's may have a much higher FG. Stop putting all that crap in there and let the yeast do it's work like it is supposed to, you are significantly changing the flavor if you bring it down that low for many styles. Look at the recipes/styles and use that as a guideline to what the FG should be.
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Mon Sep 04, 2006 6:30 am

I just did a 80/- that finish out at 1.015 from 1.060. I boiled the shit out of 1 gallon of the first runnings to get some kettle carmelization going. Turned out nice.
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