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Belgian Witbier low ABV question

Hey folks!

So a quick question: Just bottled the Belgian Witbier kit over the weekend, and my FG was 1.01, which, from all I can tell, gives me an ABV of 3.9% (OG was 1.04)… For anybody that has brewed this kit before, does this sound a little low to you?

This is my 3rd brew, so I’m new to this. I followed the directions with the exception that I didn’t rack to a 2ndary. Quite honestly, I had gotten a little busy, but I understand that a good many people skip that step without incident. For the entire time that it was in the primary fermenter, there was NO action in the airlock - Which, I also know is not the be-all-end-all indication of fermentation, but still, I thought it was odd. I could get a few bubbles if I pressed down on the lid, but that was a bout it. Furthermore, I kept my fermenter in a second floor hall closet. There was maybe a day where the temp got above 75, but I don’t really think that was an issue.

Is this all pretty much par for the course? I’m not terribly worried about it, but it did seem a bit low to me… Just looking to see if anybody has any thoughts?

Thanks!
-Pete

I’m sure everything is fine, just a little lower on the alcohol than you might have preferred, but will probably taste great.

How accurate were your volume measurements? Assuming you brewed a standard 5-gallon batch, if you did not start with exactly 5 gallons, but instead, for example, if you started with like 5.5 gallons, this will have a huge impact on your original gravity, by a ratio of 5/5.5 = 0.9, or in other words, your original gravity was only 90% of what it could have been if your volume had been correct. Just that extra half gallon will make you lose 4 points of original gravity, so it would have been more like 1.044 at the proper volume. Still seems a little bit low but not too bad. If you instead filled the whole bucket up to 6 gallons, now this would have had a huge impact, as you could have had 1.048 at the proper volume of 5 gallons.

Was this a partial mash beer? If so, perhaps you did not crush your grains hard enough. Next time, crush your grains almost all the way to flour, and your mash efficiency will be significantly improved. So that could also be part of the problem.

Those are the two big things: crush, and volume measurements. Take care of both those two things, and your original gravity should fall very closely in line with most standard recipes.

Right on - Thanks, Dave! Yeah, the directions said the OG ought to be 1.044, and I figured my 1.040 was “close enough”. Being that it was a month ago, I don’t recall how accurate my volume was. Nor did I really think to check. I just took for granted that I would be adding my wort to additional water in order to bring it up to 5 Gal. Was there more water than wort? I don’t know - But I see how that would affect the FG. Certainly something to keep an eye on with my next batch, so thanks for the tip there!

There were no grains involved, so I think it’s down to the question of volume.

-Pete

Also, FYI, sometimes the volume measurements are slightly off on the ale pails/buckets.

Quite often it is difficult to get the boiled wort and top off water evenly mixed despite violent mixing during aeration. Your sample for the SG reading may have been taken from part of the wort that was light on sugars. If your volume in the fermentor was correct the OG and ABV will be according to the recipe.

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