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British Bitter assistance

Good evening all,

I brewed a british bitter today (NB recipe) - http://www.northernbrewer.com/documenta … Bitter.pdf

I am concerned about my OG, which came in at 1.026, shooting for 1.035. At this point, do you think I can add some sugar to boost the gravity, then some maltodexterine to prevent it from getting too thin? Or just let it ride?

For completeness, this was all grain, mashed at 154 for 60 minutes, boiled for 60 and ended up with 5.25 gallons.

It’s crazy, 1.026 seems soooooooo low. If it was 1.028, I’d probably shrug my shoulders, but mentally that number is almost laughing at me.

Any thoughts are appreciated.

Here’s something I’ve done a few times when I’ve ended up with a beer that’s too low in gravity and it’s in the fermenter before I fix it. Get a pound of DME, and just pour it in. I realize that it’s not technically sanitized, but I’m confident in the practices of extract packagers. I’ve also done this with canned liquid malt extract, and you can be pretty confident that this is sterile (or at least sanitized). I think you could even stir it up once you add it (with a sanitized spoon or plastic rod), since you’ve got some significant fermentation still to go. If you’re really worried about introducing bugs, you could cook up some very concentrated wort (1.100, 1.200, 1.400 maybe) and then you would only need to add a quart or so.

btw, 1 pound of DME in 750ml of water, boiled, cooled, and poured into your 5.25 gallons will bring you within a point or two.

Thanks bro, I’ll give that a try.

took into account temp and a calibrated thermometer and hyrdrometer when you took the reading?

You definitely want to figure out why you got 54% efficiency on a low gravity grist.

You definitely want to figure out why you got 54% efficiency on a low gravity grist.

Agreed. I have been giving this a great deal of thought.

-I am wondering if the crush was not “good”, for lack of a better word. I ordered the grains crushed from NB, the hulls seemed to be largely intact, a little powdery etc. I am reluctant to blame the crush though.
-Maybe I am sparging too fast? It took maybe 7 or 8 minutes to collect my second runnings. Is that too fast by anyone’s standards?
-My mash tun is a typical “denny” style, no stuck sparges or anything.
-I am batch sparging at 168 (infusing 182F water to hit 168F).
-I think my hydrometer is good, I take take temp into account. I noticed my sample tube is slightly deformed, maybe that can distort the reading?? I think I am grasping at straws now…

Crush. pH. Temp. Most likely one (or more) of these is the cause of your low efficiency. Did you do anything to check and adjust your mash pH?

NB’s crush is notoriously coarse and that can cause you to go from 75 to 70%, but I don’t think its the only problem. I’d mash longer (90min or so) and maybe use a little higher mash ratio (over 1.5). The pH issue goes away if you use RO and a teaspoon of calcium chloride. Also make sur eyou don’t have a big dead zone in your system, leaving wort behind at each step makes things less efficient.

Batch sparging isn’t sensitive to the amount of time taken to drain, I always run mine off full blast. I do tend to let the sparge water sit on the grist for 5min befor edraining, my thought there is to make sure it has time to infuse into the solids and let the sugars distribute into the water completely.

Finally, I’d have bumped that recipe up to a special bitter anyway. I don’t like the really low OG brews, they need to be 1.040 to have decent body and flavor. Really an ordinary bitter like this is tricky to make, you really need to mash high (156-158) to leave enough body behind so the beer isn’t thin. And this is going to affect efficiency too. Plus if you start with a 1.045 OG recipe and its off by 5pts you still have a decent product. Miss on a 1.038 beer and you have water.

I did not check the pH, never have. If this becomes a persistant problem I guess I’ll have to start. I mash at a ratio of 1.25, for my next brew I’ll bump it up and see if there is an improvement.

I am afraid of having beer flavored water here, so I think I will try to add in some dme and see what happens. It may turn out as a nice table beer for kids.

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