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Need help troubleshooting poor batch

This was my 3rd brew. It is a Kolsch. Using a bottle of imported Kolsch for comparison, the taste and flavor profile are very close. BUT, my beer is like 50% watered down . Very pale and very weak flavor. Exactly like a 50% dilution.
This was a BITB method. The bag was let to drain, not pressed hard. It seemed well drained.
Water was added to compensate for bag retention and boil-off. Last topping off was in the fermenter to reach 5.5 gals. My guess is that the hour soak at 151* did not extract all that was needed. I’m not sure how to change that.
SG= 1.040, FG=1.014, ABV=3.4
Any ideas?

It sounds like you watered down your brew in the fermentor. How about next time start with more grain and more mash water to hit your target 5.5 gallons and a higher gravity. Also, yeast is an important part of the kolsch style, so make sure you are using a quality kolsch yeast.

I agree. You said you added more water to help for boil off… Did that extra water touch the grain as well? Aka sparging? Or did you just top off with water before the boil, then also top off with more water in the fermenter? If you didn’t “sparge”… Meaning you just added water to the wort before boil, then that could be the problem.

If not, all-grain brews typically are full-boil. That means you don’t add water into the fermenter to reach a certain volume. Extracts are often partial boil, and then you top off in the fermenter. With grains, I don’t know many people who do partial boils. You’d need more grains, as mentioned, to get a MUCH higher gravity, then add water later to even it all out

Some great simple info on BIAB I think I referenced when I was starting out with all grain years ago:

You dont add water unless you’re gravity is off not your volume. I would mash at a higher temperature and yes use more grain. Was this your own recipe? A lot to unpack here

Can you send us. Your recipy. Could be. Your. Grainbill to small. And you did sparge to much. Only way go over your recipy see what happend during the mash

This was a kit form NB (Kolsch (all Grain). It used 9 pounds of German Pilsner.
I followed the provided instruction carefully.
Adding water does not seem like a problem if it winds up 5.5 gallons at the fermenter.
The only water removal is evaporation and waste grain mass.
Maybe the bag could have been sparged or pressed hard to help. The mashing at 150* for 60 minutes was called out in the directions.
I do believe that something went sideways with the grain bag. Not enough goodies were extracted.
I would like to try a Kolsch again, but don’t know what I would do different.
Thanks for your suggestions, they help.

Exactly so if you’re OG is low do not add water. Check the gravity before adding water. I’ll leave it to others to explain why

1.040 for a 9 lb grain bill in a 5.5 gal. batch seems about right. I don’t think you did anything wrong with the mash. I think you just need to use more grains next time to end up with a higher gravity.

If you don’t mind ending up with less than 5.5 gallons, then do what @brew_cat says.

These recipes are designed to hit a specific amount (5gals) at a specific efficiency. So if the recipe is set at 70% efficiency and 5gals and you hit 65% and top off to 5.5gsls your beer will be thin…

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I may try it again. Liked the beer flavor.
Thanks for the insights.

A big surprise and a twist to the story of diluted beer.
Needing the bottles for my next batch, I was dumping the Klosch and after about six bottles I decided to have a taste.
Turns out it was great. Full strength and flavor. Thinking only carbonation would take place in the bottle, I was blown away by the transformation.
I continued to dump the batch. I have another Klosch kit on hand for the next brew. Beer from that will be compared to a few of the ones held back from dumping and an import of the real deal.
Very puzzling outcome.
The beer to be bottled is an IPA that tastes great. With the Klosch turning out ok, I have an intact record of 4 brews that were all successful.
Now I’m all full of myself.

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