Mayday, mayday, OG of 1.020, how can this be?

Discussion in 'Homebrewing' started by Providence, May 19, 2013.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I bought the Dead Ringer all grain kit from Northernbrewer and brewed it today. I did it "brew-in-a-bag style. I got the water up to temp, dump in the grains and maintained it at the temp recommended on the recipe guide (152 degrees) for an hour (again, as the recipe suggests). I then boiled it for an hour doing my hop schedule as I should. I used my wort chiller and brought it down to 70 degrees in no time.

    Unfortunately, there was way more boil-off than I expected and I ended up with 3.75 gallons, so I had to add a gallon and a half (poor planning on my part).

    When I took the gravity reading it said 1.020. I took it three times and it kept saying that. The recipe indicates that the OG should be 1.064.

    What did I do wrong here? Could it be the addition of the 1.25 gallons of water. When I used to do extract recipes I would have 2.5 gallon boils and would add way more than that, and I never had a problem hitting my OG. Could that have been it?

    It looked like an IPA. It smelled like an IPA. The color was fine. I don't get it. What did I do wrong?

    Thanks so much in advance.

    PS: My hydrometer was new. Right out of the packaging.
  2. mikecharley

    mikecharley Savant (1,128) Nov 6, 2008 Pennsylvania

    Test the hydro in a glass of water to see if it is off. Did the kit call for any extract additions?
  3. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    No, no extract additions.

    I will test the hydrometer now.

    EDIT: Just tested it. It's accurate. 1.000 right on the nose....sigh.....
  4. MasterCraft

    MasterCraft Initiate (0) Sep 2, 2012 Massachusetts

    Probably a combination of adding the water post-boil, and perhaps the kit accounting for a higher efficiency than your BIAB is providing. Still seems like a big discrepancy, though.
  5. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    Are you sure it was boil off to blame for your low post boil volume? Could it be possible that you didn't hit your expected preboil volume to begin with?
  6. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I am not exactly sure what you mean. Could you explain a bit more? I started with 6 gallons originally....
  7. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    After you removed the bag of grain (post mashing but prior to boiling), how much wort was in the kettle?

    Also, how many pounds of grain were in this recipe and how long of a boil did it call for?

    Did northern brewer mill the malt that came in the kit or did you?
  8. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    1.) I would say there was about 5 gallons after I removed the bag of grain.

    2.) It was 12 lbs. of malt and a 60 min. boil.

    3.) This question scared me the most. I was skeptical of whether or not they milled my malt. All of it looked like it was in full form, not the ground up stuff my LHBS usually does. I spoke with a firned and conuslted some wbesites and it turns out that that's what crushed grain is "supposed to look like." So I went ahead with it. If I knew how to pot pictures I'd show you what it looked like, as I took a picture of it before I brewed.

    My stomach just dropped as I am now wondering if there is a difference between milled and ground.....oh dear.

    EDIT: On Northernbrewer the options when buying the dead ringer kit are either "crushed" or "unmilled." I chose crushed, the sticker on my bag said crushed, but man, it didn't looked crushed.
  9. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    When I used to do BIAB I would only lose 0.05 gallons per pound of grain. So if I made a batch using 6 gallons of water and 12 pounds of malt (like you did) I would lose 0.6 gallons of wort and start the boil with around 5.4 gallons. I'd then usually lose 1 gallon after boiling for an hour, resulting in 4.4 gallons. (Thats a gentle boil at 212F. A vigorous boil at 216F would result in boiling 1.5 gallons off on my system). Then there would be some dead space in the kettle / transfer loss resulting in anywhere from 3.75 - 4 gallons into the fermenter at most. So to end up with 5 gallons in the fermenter on my old BIAB system, I would have to start with at least 7 gallons of strike water.

    Crushed = Milled. Unmilled = not crushed.

    Did the grain look 100% un-cracked (unmilled, not crushed) or did it look like it was cracked slightly (crushed, milled) but not broken into pieces (as a finer crush would look)? With BIAB you want grain that is crushed/milled more than usual.
  10. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Thanks for the info.

    It's hard to describe I suppose. It didn't look broken up at all, like a big bag of grains, where I could clrealy see each individual grain.

    Do you know how to post pics?

    But let me ask this, if the grain weren't properly crushed why did the beer come out the right color? Wouldn't it be lighter in color? Maybe I am grasping at straws here....

    Here's what I got via the internet as far as pics.....

    uncrushed rahr 2 row malt:

    crushed rahr 2 row malt:

    Is there a difference between these two pics? There seems to be to me. Mine looked like the first pic....
  11. Eriktheipaman

    Eriktheipaman Initiate (0) Sep 4, 2010 California

    Not trying to be a smart ass but I didn't think water could even boil above 212*F. Am I incorrect?

    inchrisin likes this.
  12. Eriktheipaman

    Eriktheipaman Initiate (0) Sep 4, 2010 California

    Google is amazing :slight_smile:
  13. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    If you have a pic uploaded to the internet somewhere, you can post the link here by clicking on the "insert edit image" button towards the top right side of the reply text box. You could probably post the pics onto facebook or a video on to youtube and then use the "media" icon to link to it as well I assume.

    I've never done partial mash brewing (where people steep unmilled grains for color and flavor) but I wouldn't be surprised if steeping unmilled grains would still produce the same color wort as milled grains.

    P.S. I just noticed your post in the "who is brewing this weekend" thread where you said you were "jacking up the hops" on this recipe. Do also realize that hops absorb wort, so more hops = more wort absorption = lower post boil volume.
  14. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    My "jacking up" of the hops is going to come mostly in the form of dry hopping. I did add an ounce more in the boil though.

    Even if the hops absorbed a lot of the wort, wouldn't my addition of water to get it back to 5 gallons give me a reasonable OG?

    Clearly I am out of my league with all this. I got to go back to extract.....
  15. franklinn

    franklinn Initiate (0) May 29, 2012 Vermont

    Water can only boil at 212, however having things dissolved in the water (sugars in this case) can raise the boiling point.
  16. FATC1TY

    FATC1TY Initiate (0) Feb 12, 2012 Georgia

    If your grain looks like the 1st one.. It wasn't crushed, and explains the shit gravity.
  17. thedarkestlord

    thedarkestlord Initiate (0) Jan 13, 2013 Illinois

    Bottom line is BIAB sucks. The 10 or so times I did it I could never get the water volumes down and never get anywhere close to expected efficiency, 70%, I always had to up the base malt to get there.

    What I used to do was hold back water for the "sparge", that way you at least have some idea of how much you are gonna be short. Over, not such a big deal as you can always extend the boil. Also, if you try this again, try a 90 minute mash, I had slightly better results that way.

    I feel that adding the water at the end/low efficiency was culprit to your low OG. For a scenario like this, it pays to keep some lite DME on hand so you can top off if your OG is low. Also, a good refractometer is also useful so you can check your mash in a instant, not wait for it to cool to use the hydrometer.

    BIAB is a easy way to get into all grain and some people swear by it, but you have to really know/trust your equipment and get your numbers down in order to be really successful with the technique.
    cavedave and Providence like this.
  18. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    I assume that your extract brew recipes call for adding that water and are formulated with enough extract to concentrate/strengthen the wort so that when you add the water it "cuts" to the right strength.
  19. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Thanks for the response. It's good to hear this from someone that has done 10 BIABs.
  20. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I did extract brews with partial boils (usually around 2.5-3 gallons) and full 5 gallon boils. With each I would have to add water at the end (more in the 2.5-3 gallon batches, but still some in the 5 gallon batches as there would be boil off).

    I should have taken a reading of my 3.5 gallons of wort tonight before I added the water....
    thedarkestlord likes this.
  21. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    Yeah definitely get in the habit of always taking the following measurements if you want to lock your system in which allows for proper recipe formulation:

    total #'s of grain

    strike water volume
    preboil volume
    (the difference between those two should equal your grain absorpotion loss when taking your total pounds of grain into account)

    preboil gravity
    (helps you calculate your mash extraction efficiency when taking your grain bill size and preboil volume into account)

    post boil volume
    (the difference between it and the preboil volume helps you calculate your boil rate when taking your boil length into account)

    post boil gravity
    (usually dependent on your preboil gravity and boil off rate)

    volume into the fermenter
    (difference between your post boil volume and this is your combined "cooling loss", "kettle hop absorption loss" and "transfer loss", which helps you calculate your brewhouse efficiency)
  22. Eriktheipaman

    Eriktheipaman Initiate (0) Sep 4, 2010 California

    I disagree that it biab sucks. I have been limited to 1-2.5 gallon batched for the last year and biab has been my savoir. It's only a couple bucks to make up the loss in efficiency when it's such a small batch. Although this statement is neither here nor there for the OP.
  23. MrOH

    MrOH Pooh-Bah (2,989) Jul 5, 2010 Malta

    The Northern Brewer BIAB kits are meant for three gallon batches.
  24. Eriktheipaman

    Eriktheipaman Initiate (0) Sep 4, 2010 California

    BAM! Here's the answer
  25. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    No no....I didn't buy a biab kit. I bought a regular 5 gallon all grain kit and did it using the brew in a bag method.
  26. Eriktheipaman

    Eriktheipaman Initiate (0) Sep 4, 2010 California

    Fair enough. Was hopping this solved your problem because 1020 seems insanely low I wouldn't even know what the cause was. How many BIAB batches have you done so far? I'm sorry if you've already answered this...
  27. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    The way I look at it is as follows:

    If the mash extraction was correct, then...

    1. A higher boil off rate would have yielded a higher OG than expected.
    2. Topping that post boil volume off with water to reach the originally intended post boil volume should have resulted in the correct OG.

    Since he got a lower OG than expected (with the right post boil volume), the issue clearly can't be due to boil off rate and is probably due to a poor mash extraction. Poor mash extraction is usually due to a poor crush (especially when brewing BIAB).

    Plus, as somebody else previously mentioned, BIAB typically gets lower mash extraction efficiency (usually 10% lower) than other forms of all grain brewing to begin with. So if the recipe kit wasn't formulated for BIAB, it probably didn't have enough grain in it to hit the target OG via BIAB.

    Starting down 10% on grain and getting very poor mash extraction efficiency (due to a poor crush or NO CRUSH as may be the case here) could result in an 1.020 OG.
    cavedave and Providence like this.
  28. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Pooh-Bah (2,549) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    Low ambient pressure will decrease the boiling point, high ambient will raise it.
    At 10,000 ft. Water boils at 193.2 F - Leadville CO.
    At -1300 ft. It will boil at about 214 F. - Dead Sea.
    Then there is what you get in a pressure cooker, about 230F when I saw a cereal mash done in one.

    Agree on that addition of dissolved solids.
    franklinn likes this.
  29. Eriktheipaman

    Eriktheipaman Initiate (0) Sep 4, 2010 California

    Makes sense. But I have much faith in Northern Brewer and don't think they would set up a kit that would be so easy to mess up. I would think with above that it is maybe possible the grain wasn't crushed at all.

    OP- Maybe send an email to NB with this issue and see what they have to say about it.
    Providence likes this.
  30. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I wish your hypothesis were right, at least it would have given me an answer. This is biab #2 and so far I am 0 for 2.
  31. koopa

    koopa Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2008 New Jersey

    The only thing I'm thinking though is if the grain wasn't crushed at all, would it even be possible to hit a 1.020 OG? Can a small amount of sugar be extracted from the grain despite it not being milled at all? I doubt it.

    With all that being said, I think this situation is due to:

    1. Kit not being formulated for the 10% lower mash extraction BIAB typically gets
    2. Poor crush (I doubt the grain was unmilled) yielding in poor mash extraction*

    * ph (and possibly water mineral content) could play a small role in lowering the mash extraction too, but I doubt they could solely account for the 1.020 OG in this case.
    thedarkestlord likes this.
  32. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Somebody FUed...uncrushed grain has to be the problem...with minimum wage unsupervised workers being the root cause : )
  33. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Regardless of what the root cause is, which at this point is just beyond frustrating, this batch is unsalvageable, no? I am ready to dump the whole thing in the woods....
  34. GreenKrusty101

    GreenKrusty101 Initiate (0) Dec 4, 2008 Nevada

    Northern Brewer does sell the kits as all-grain UNcrushed if you order it that way...pardon my indictment of Northern Brewer junior personnel...boil up some extract (your call on how much, but I'd guess 2/3 of the amount for their all extract kit), cool it and add it to your fermentor. Any part of homebrewing can be the weak link...including the ordering process.
  35. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Pooh-Bah Trader

  36. GeckoPunk

    GeckoPunk Initiate (0) Jul 29, 2012 Connecticut

    You can try making a mead by adding a mass amount of honey in your fermenter.
    A combination of maple syrup, table sugar/brown sugar can also help.
    Bear in mind, it will probably not taste like beer if you go this route...
    You can also try blending your 1.020 brew with a high gravity 1.075+ beer...
    Just remember, any options you do, the beer beer will not taste like it originally was intended.
    Providence and NiceFly like this.
  37. NiceFly

    NiceFly Initiate (0) Dec 22, 2011 Tajikistan

    Hoppy mead, hmm interesting idea.

    OP like others pointed out your grain was not crushed. You can pick up a corona mill for 15-20$ and make a mash tun while you are at it. Then start buying ingredients in bulk. You will be able to brew at will. You will feel all powerful and awesome and for good reason.

    One more thing you can do with this batch is to just treat it like a giant starter and harvest the yeast for future batches.
    flagmantho and whereizzy like this.
  38. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    I think I figured out how to post pics. Here's a pic of my grain right out of the box from Northernbrewer. I hope it comes through....

  39. Providence

    Providence Pooh-Bah (2,366) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island
    Pooh-Bah Trader

    Update: I sent the picture in my last post (directly above) to Northernbrewer. They recognized that they made a mistake and apologized. They offered to replace the kit or refund the money. They also offered me a $15 credit towards a future purchase. $15 seems a bit stingy considering I wasted about 5 hours brewing yesterday, but it was better than nothing.

    The mystery of my OG has been solved. Thanks for all your information folks.
    cavedave and sjverla like this.
  40. inchrisin

    inchrisin Initiate (0) Sep 25, 2008 Indiana

    There are places below sea level in this world. :slight_smile:
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.