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BBP Numbers question…

Good morning,
First time brewing BBP. I’m still a brewer in training!
I’m brewing 5 gallon extract BBP and sitting at 2 weeks in primary right now. Only two things varied from instructions.

  1. Started with 3.5 gallons of water
  2. Added the DME after steeping grains rather than bringing it to a boil first
  3. Used one pack of yeast. Found several posts here where others have used one successfully so I did the same.

Fermentation was very active, using blow off was a must. Bubbles in the airlock for a week. Temperature 64-67 degrees.
I use a dual scale refractometer. Pre-fermentation readings were: Brix: 14.9, SG: 1.058
At this point is the refractometer SG number accurate?
The NB calculator pre-fermentation calculator comes up with SG of 1.061.

Present refractometer readings are Brix: 11, SG: 1.042
My concern is that NB calculator conversion numbers are Current Gravity: 1.033, ABV: 3.06

Did a little more water cause a problem?
One yeast should have been two?
Am I messing up my calculations?

Oh, and final numbers haven’t changed in 3 days

Any comments much appreciated!


A little too much water will bring the final ABV down… a little with a small amount… and alot with a large amount…
One packet can work, yet with a “big brew” like the BBP, an extra pack helps…
Now, the refractometer… I use that on brew day… now your into fermenting… best not to monkey with with it until the bubbles are next to stopped…
Your temps you had for fermenting an Ale look good… so your 2 weeks(?) I’d bring it to a bit warmer so the yeast will finish up…
To test to see if it’s done, I’d use a hydrometer… in fact there is one called a finishing hydrometer… you also get to sample…
Some peeps are able to put the hydrometer right in the bucket…
But be very very quiet with the almost finished brew… Oxygen(O2) is now the enemy!
Keep us in the loop, sounds like you’ll have beer soon!

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Excuse my ignorance but I’m not familiar with what ‘BBP’ beer is. Now to your questions:
I’m not seeing it but I assume you are partial boil and topping up to 5gals? If so as long as your accurate with your volumes and using all the extract you should hit your SG as it’s fixed with extract batches. Your 1.058 is fairly close to 1.061. The difference could be a result of a little to much top off water and/or leaving a little extract behind. In addition, wort stratification is a common issue with extract / top off method.
In regards to your refractometer. Have you checked it’s calibration - which could also result in your SG being a little low? Did you take multiple readings? I found mine would often give me different readings. IIRC I read an article about this once where you should run multiple readings on a known substance and then find your deviation and adjust. Just a thought.
In regards to the conversion method. I’m not familiar with NBs. The article I mentioned above also discussed how often this is done incorrectly. I’m betting in your situation this is what’s occurring. I wouldn’t hesitate one second to only pitch one satchel of yeast into a 1.061 beer. So I don’t believe your yeast was too stressed and stalled.
As @sneezles61 said, using a hydrometer for final readings is best as there is no conversion. I’ll try to find that article and link it here if I can. So far my efforts have been unsuccessful.
I’m not affiliated with this product or company by any means. But I have an Anton Paar Easydens and I highly recommend it for anyone in the hobby for the long haul. It’s rather costly but I’ve found it accurate as my hydrometer, both with SG and FG, and uses next to no finished product.

No, my bad… BBP= Bourbon Barrel Porter. A little higher gravity than your typical Porter along with some bourbon barrel oak cubes and bourbon added.
Yes, boiled close to 4 gallons with the extract included. Topped it off to 5 gal before I pitched the yeast.
All good pointers on the refractometer and I’ll follow through on those.
I will try and find my hydrometer. I may have given it to my son-in-law to help him give home brewing a try. I like the thought of final gravity with the hydrometer.

Thanks for your reply!



10-4 ! Thanks for the feedback!


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Are you using the refractometer conversion tool when in the presence of alcohol? There is an adjustment that needs to be made in that situation.

Disregard. It appears that you are.

OK, I found my hydrometer form my NB starter kit. :slightly_smiling_face:
First, I checked the calibration of my refractometer with distilled water and found it to be spot on: SG=1.000
Next I checked the accuracy of the hydrometer with 60 degree (calibrated temperature) distilled water and found it reading .998 so add .002 to the FG reading of my BB Porter which is 70 degrees. This reading is 1.027 Calculated ABV: 4.45
So I’m going to keep moving. The readings are what they are and I’ll assume my starting with 3.5 gallons of water must be the culprit to missing the target SG values.

Oxygen has been mentioned and I’ve never really thought twice about popping the lid off the bucket to check SG but now I’m understanding that it’s not a good thing.
So my thoughts are should I be using a standard carboy for fermentation, thinking there should be less air exchange through a small hole vs the lid off a 6 gallon pale?
Should I be looking into a stainless fermentor with an air tight lid and a spigot for sampling and airless transfers etc? I retired this year so hoping to pick my brewing game up a notch or two so new toys are very possible!
I’m also thinking what are the odds of tasting a difference in two batches where the lid came off a pale a couple times once fermentation was complete vs a stainless steel sealed fermentation?

The easy things to do I feel are to skip secondary fermentations.
Use a a fermentation vessel or bucket with a spigot for testing and leave the lid on.

By the way I thought my porter tasted good to me but no experience to measure against.
Look forward to any feedback!


1.027 is too high for your SG… it could finish closer too 1.010… perhaps a whisker higher…
Let it keep going…

No change in final SG. It’s been at 70 degrees for a week and day 1 and 2 of that week I gave the bucket a gentle jiggle (zero splashing) to hopefully stir up the bottom a little.
I’m ready to move on to bourbon, oak and bottling in a few more weeks.

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The gravity reading is the best way to tell fermenting is done… at least on a large scale….

Thanks for you feedback! Much appreciated.
Would you agree that if my final SG hasn’t changed in over a week, then it’s not going to change without some other kind of intervention?
I remember during my first brewing experience or two, Northern Brewer told me to be sure the final SG hasn’t changed in 3 days to be sure fermentation is done.
Are there options to try to get to the 1.010ish SG without any negative consequences?
Thx again!

The final gravity is dependent upon the grainbill…. Without looking close at BBP, there may be alot of unfermentables that will cause a higher reading… Maltriose is the first that comes to mind… thus also giving a very thick mouth feel… I great brew in my opinion!

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