Can I lose two gallons of liquid during fermentation?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by ValleyPlaza, Jul 14, 2020.

  1. ValleyPlaza

    ValleyPlaza Initiate (26) Jul 14, 2020 California

    We started our fermentation of beer at the five gallon mark on our bucket , and over the past two weeks it has gone down to the three gallon mark. It has been real hot where we live for the past two weeks. The yeast that we pitched was white labs WLP- 550 Belgium because it can withstand the warmer temperatures. Is it possible for us to have lost two gallons of liquid to the heat, or could there be another explanation.

    P.S. Temperature of the beer was 81.3 degrees when we pitched it, and this is our fifth time time home brewing.
     
  2. riptorn

    riptorn Disciple (382) Apr 26, 2018 North Carolina
    Society Trader

    Sounds bizarre unless your doing open fermentation, as in a bucket with no lid. And even then it would be unusual to leave it open for two weeks.
    More details about your process and equipment might help in getting to the crux of your issue.

    Welcome to BA and its homebrewing forum. :beers:

    ETA: Checked for leaks?....or is it possible one of the volumes was read incorrectly (either the amount you put in the fermentor, or the amount that's in it now)?
     
    #2 riptorn, Jul 14, 2020
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2020
  3. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,789) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Society

    Welcome to the BA site and to the Homebrewing forum and to this great hobby. You're welcome to hang around as much as you'd like.

    That kind of liquid loss is just not realistic. I think you need to check your notes, transfer procedures, measuring process, etc. Possibly you intended to add top-off water but overlooked doing it? It seems to me that there just has to be a mistake somewhere.
     
  4. Genuine

    Genuine Devotee (452) May 7, 2009 Connecticut

    I hope you don’t have a leak somewhere. You might experience *some* hop absorption if you’re heavily dry hopping but the amount in there should change much if any.
     
  5. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Devotee (493) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    Worst I had was a gallon loss due to blow off and not enough head space in the fermenter, did you lose any with the beer fermenting over?
     
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  6. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (1,950) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Dry hops absorb wort, but that doesn't decrease the total volume in the fermenter. ("over the past two weeks it has gone down to the three gallon mark")
     
  7. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,911) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Society

    That is a high pitching temperature, even for a Belgian yeast. High yeast activity could drive blowoff, but you haven't described a 2 gallon mess on the outside of your fermenter. High external temperatures can drive evaporation, but I assume you have a closed fermentation, so evaporation would be pretty minimal.
     
  8. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Disciple (312) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    You got a leak somewhere. Any other occurance causing 2 gallons if loss is improbable.
     
  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,662) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    I am thinking the same thing but how would a 2 gallon leak go unnoticed?:confused:

    Cheers!
     
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  10. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Disciple (312) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    Concrete floor maybe on a hot day I think could evaporate a drip pretty quickly.
     
  11. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,662) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Wouldn't there be a sticky, stained area there?

    I have never had a primary leak wort/beer so I have no personal experience here.

    Cheers!
     
  12. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Disciple (312) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    I havent either. I cant fathom such a loss without having a leak though. I do imagine there being a stickt mess.
     
  13. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,662) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    What do you think the chances are we are being Punk’d here?:grimacing:

    Cheers!
     
  14. ValleyPlaza

    ValleyPlaza Initiate (26) Jul 14, 2020 California

    No ones getting punked . We’re thinking we forgot to add 2 gallons of water to bring the total wort to 5 gallons after we did our partial boil. If this is the case, what can that do to our final product? We’re just learning as we go, and only noticed this mistake on bottling day.

    thanks for the feedback, much appreciated!
     
  15. VikeMan

    VikeMan Poo-Bah (1,950) Jul 12, 2009 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Mainly, you'll have a higher ABV and a higher final gravity than you otherwise would have. And more malt character.
     
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  16. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,662) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    I just gotta ask: you stated in your original post:

    "We started our fermentation of beer at the five gallon mark on our bucket."

    So, you really did not take note if the quantity of liquid was actually at the "five gallon mark"?

    Cheers!
     
  17. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,911) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Society

    In theory you can dilute post fermentation, but I have to warn you: you had a concentrated wort and you pitched your yeast at a very high temperature. I fear for your beer.
     
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  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,662) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    I personally would have concerns about oxidation here. I suppose you could pre-boil the water to be added (2 gallons) to drive out air (oxygen) and let it cool down but I am unsure what the DO would be at this point. Maybe low enough?

    Cheers!
     
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  19. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,911) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Society

    I agree that oxygen is a concern. It was partly why I said "In theory." Big breweries reportedly brew concentrated batches and dilute down, but they have better means than your average homebrewer, beginner or not, for eliminating oxygen. If kegging gear is available, you could further try to drive out oxygen with CO2. Another idea (again, kegging) is to keg as is and also make some carbonated water and dilute to taste.

    But I worry about the fermentation temperature and concentration. Before attempting any rescue attempt related to the gravity, I would be sampling to evaluate whether to dump.
     
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  20. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,662) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    I agree with you here.

    In the OP the temperature of the wort at pitching was provided but it is unknown what the fermentation temperature was.

    I personally have never fermented with WLP550 but according to White Labs it can ‘go’ pretty high: “Optimum Fermentation Temperature: 68.00-78.00” degrees F.

    https://www.whitelabs.com/yeast-bank/wlp550-belgian-ale-yeast

    And Belgian yeasts tend to ‘work’ for higher gravity worts. I homebrew Quads for example.

    I suppose we will see here?

    Cheers!
     
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  21. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,911) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Society

    I like 550. Never brewed with it over 72, I would guess. I realize that Belgian yeasts are used on high gravity worts and at higher temps than I go. I am guilty of assuming the worst from my early years. Did they use a starter?
     
  22. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,789) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Society

    I agree that you will have a higher abv with a concentrated beer flavor, and if that's what you are willing to live with, leave it go to the end of fermentation and package it.

    However, if you are going to bottle this beer you still have the opportunity to add some water with your bottling priming sugar. You need to boil the sugar with water to get it into solution before mixing it into your beer, and it's easy enough to use a quart of water to do this. If you want to use a half gallon, that would get you closer to the 5-gallon level. I've done a half gallon once in the past with no negative oxidation results. But it's up to you if you want to try adding more water than that, although a greater amount might cause oxidation more quickly in your beer. BOIL for awhile** whatever amount of water that you choose to use to help get the O2 out of the water, and then GENTLY mix the solution into your beer. No bubbles while stirring.

    (**I don't have a recommended length of time so you're on your own to research the boiling time, but I typically boil rapidly for 5 minutes when making my solution.)

    You should probably drink the beer quickly after it's carbonated before oxidation rears its ugly head.
     
  23. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,662) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Society

    Who the heck knows. This detail was not provide in the OP (or subsequent posts) and what information was provided in the OP seems to be 'incorrect' as regards wort volume?

    Cheers!
     
  24. ValleyPlaza

    ValleyPlaza Initiate (26) Jul 14, 2020 California

    We're two brothers who just started home brewing (batch #5), and love doing it. One of us noticed the lower than expected volume once we started our bottling day. So, we figured this would be the best place to ask as there are not a lot of places aside our local home brewing stores to ask.
    We used 6lbs of Pilsen Light Malt LME (haven't transitioned to steep graining yet)
    .5lbs of corn sugar, but we used organic cane sugar (suspect this changed something)
    As far as grains: Aromatic Malt 4 oz, Biscuit Malt 4 oz, Caravienne Malt 4oz, and Carafoam 4oz
    Hops: Crystal (5.7 Alpha Acid) 60 min 1.oz, Saaz (2.4 Alpha Acid) 15 min .40 oz, and Saaz (2.4 Alpha Acid) 0 min .20 oz.

    Our starting gravity was 1.092 (with the now learned 3 gallons)
    Fermentation Temp was noted at 70 degrees
    Our FG was 1.022 (although we messed up and took it with the priming sugar)

    All in all, we're learning as we go so we're aware that they'll be growing pains.

    We'll keep you guys updated once they're ready to consume. Thanks for the responds! Any advice is welcomed.

    cheers
     
  25. ValleyPlaza

    ValleyPlaza Initiate (26) Jul 14, 2020 California

    They'll be gone quickly! Wish we would have came on here before so we could try adding more water as you recommended. Thanks!
     
  26. ValleyPlaza

    ValleyPlaza Initiate (26) Jul 14, 2020 California

    Our bad, first time posting on here. Lesson learned. Makes sense to post as much detailed OP.
     
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  27. ValleyPlaza

    ValleyPlaza Initiate (26) Jul 14, 2020 California

    No starter used, but definitely going to look into it. Any advice for first timers? What are the positives to using one? Thanks.
     
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  28. ValleyPlaza

    ValleyPlaza Initiate (26) Jul 14, 2020 California

    We figured this would happen as well. Hey, both aren't necessarily bad things lol.
     
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  29. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,911) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
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    Starters can help guarantee that you are pitching enough active healthy yeast to complete the fermentation while creating minimal off flavors. That oversimplifies yeast metabolism, but is perhaps a fair summary. There are various internet tools and brewer software tools to help you figure out if you need one and how big it should be. I believe you can find an article about how to make a starter at mrmalty.com but also probably at a lot of places. There are multiple approaches, and like most things in homebrewing, you want to find the approach that works best for you.

    One liquid yeast brand, Imperial, advertises that you typically don’t need starters with their yeast because they package more cells than other brands. I have had success with their yeast. I typically use dry yeast because it too is less likely to need a starter and is a little more convenient - easier to store and stays viable longer than liquid. White Labs and Wyeast advertise their products as suitable for a 5 gallon batch but most calculators say that is not true. Depends on the gravity of the wort.

    My early batches had a lot of off flavors. Your batch may turn out delicious, but it seems like there are things going on that might contribute to off flavors. If so, I suggest you investigate ways to ensure healthy fermentation. Key considerations are how much yeast, oxygenation of wort, and fermentation temperature for a given wort strength, volume, and beer style/ yeast strain.
     
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  30. Prep8611

    Prep8611 Disciple (312) Aug 22, 2014 New Jersey

    With that OG id day they just didnt use enough water from the start. No leak just a brew day gaffe. Enjoy your imperial.
     
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  31. utahbeerdude

    utahbeerdude Devotee (407) May 2, 2006 Utah

    For a starting gravity of 1.092, a final gravity of 1.022 is pretty reasonable. Enjoy your beer! :slight_smile::beers::slight_smile:
     
  32. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,789) May 30, 2005 Michigan
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    @ValleyPlaza Have you read John Palmer's book HowToBrew.com yet? It's free to read online (1st ed.) and isn't very expensive to buy (4th ed.) if you prefer a hard copy to write notes, highlight, etc. It will fill in any gaps in your brewing knowledge.
     
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  33. ValleyPlaza

    ValleyPlaza Initiate (26) Jul 14, 2020 California

    I haven’t read that one, but am in the process of reading Charlie Papazian’s the complete joy of home brewing (4 Ed). I’ll add it to the queue.
     
  34. pweis909

    pweis909 Poo-Bah (1,911) Aug 13, 2005 Wisconsin
    Society

    And the age of the yeast, I should add.
     
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  35. GormBrewhouse

    GormBrewhouse Devotee (493) Jun 24, 2015 Vermont

    nothing wrong with imperials ,,,,, im having one right now:sunglasses::sunglasses::sunglasses:
     
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  36. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Meyvn (1,487) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
    Trader

    That wouldnt account for a shrinkage in volume.
     
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  37. skivtjerry

    skivtjerry Zealot (547) Mar 10, 2006 Vermont

    Maybe too many "hydrometer samples"?
     
  38. DoubleT_inTheMorning

    DoubleT_inTheMorning Initiate (25) Jul 8, 2020 California

    Not to sound the alarm.... isn't 1/2# of priming sugar way too much? Double the amount needed for 5 gallons?

    I fear for your bottles OP.
     
  39. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (2,789) May 30, 2005 Michigan
    Society

    I think that sugar was a supplement to the LME during the boil to get the abv up a little higher. But you're right if it was used for bottle conditioning.