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First Brew

Congratulations! I hope you had fun. Making beer rocks.

  1. No, adding the sludge would not have increased your OG. You probably added too much water or did not boil vigorously enough (or you measured something wrong.) Don’t sweat it.

a) OG is determined by fermentable sugars in the wort. If you use a lot of extract in the boil or grain in the mash, you will have a higher OG. If you use less grain, you get a lower OG, and a lower amount of alcohol in the finished product.

b) OG basically correlates to the amount of alcohol in the fermented beer. So you will have a weaker beer, probably about 4 percent by volume, though it depends on what yeast you used.

  1. You do not need to use a second fermenter for most beers, only high-gravity beers or beers that otherwise age for more than several week. You will be fine. Add the dry hops after the air-lock quits bubbling regularly.

a) I usually ferment for one week, then dry hop for two weeks all in the same bucket. Basically, once the primary fermentation is over (it should be over in a week), the air lock quits bubbling very often. This means less C02 is being produced. If you add the hops while gas is still being produced, it lessens the amount of hoppy goodness that will infuse the beer. So wait a week, then dry hop for two weeks (at least) then bottle and keg.

GOOD LUCK! I am sure your beer will be great.

It seems you can no longer edit posts … please excuse my typos … I meant bottle OR keg of course.

Also, I may not have made it clear, but you don’t want the sludge in the fermenter … so you did that right. The sludge is not SUGAR (maltose) and that is what determines your OG.

Brew on my friend!

The Hydrometer is reading SG which is Specific Gravity and is a function of dissolved sugar in the water. Unless you have reason to believe that the wort that you left in the fermentor was denser after the boil (highly unlikely) that what you took out, the SG should have been the same throughout.

What temp was the wort at when you tested the SG? It makes a difference.

Did you do a partial boil or a full boil? In a partial boil you would have topped off with a least a couple gallons of water after the boil (this is what I do)

How much liquid did you end up with?

If you did a partial boil and left too much in the bucket to avoid the sludge and then topped off to 5.25 go 5.5 gallons, this would explain the weaker OG.

You will still have good beer, it will just be a little weaker.

I am assuming you have added the yeast. If not, you could have boiled some DME in water or using some of the wort you created to bump up the OG, but since it is your first batch, just let it ride and learn.

As for Dry Hopping, after two weeks, if primary is complete, throw in the dry hops. I recommend using a hop bag unless you plan to cold crash before bottling

Sounds like you found the answer. What I have been doing lately, since I usually brew two different batches in a single session is…

I boil in a 7-8 gallon kettle, but still do partial boils. I use a paint strainer bag and pour the hot wort and all the sludge into my original smaller brew kettle (strainer bag fits perfectly) and then I can cool the wort and transfer free of gunk to the fermentor. This frees the big kettle up for the next boil and strains the wort. I even rinse the sludge with cool water to get all the sugars and flavor out (even squeezing gently) before discarding the sludge. I started this because I was having problems with clogging in my Counter flow chiller.

FWIW, I have never been low on a OG

[quote=“Larsen Ensberg”]Greetings!

      a) Should I add the 1 oz. dry hop after the instructed 1 - 2 weeks of primary and then finish it off with another week to make up for the lack of secondary firmentation? or just do nothing?


Your dry hopping period will act as a secondary. I’d let it ferment for 1 week, then dry hop in the primary for another 2 weeks. Then cold crash (place the fermenter in the fridge for 24-48 hours) before bottling. Be aware that during cold crashing, there is a tendency for the solution in the airlock to suck back into the fermenter. You can avoid this by periodically pulling the airlock out for just a second to neutralize the pressure. Alternatively, you could soak a bit of paper towel in sanitizer and plug the opening with it while the temperature drops.

You could also just skip the cold crash and bottle it after 3 weeks. The cold crash just helps to drop a lot of sediment out.

As for the “sludge” in your bucket, I’d go ahead and just add the whole bit next time. It’s called trub, and consists of coagulated proteins and hops particles. You can minimize the amount of trub by using a 5-gallon nylon paint strainer bag for your hops, as seen here

. You can also pour your wort through one of these bags into your fermenter. It works really well to both filter out the trub and aerate the wort. Just be sure to sanitize the nylon bag before you use it! I dedicate one bag just to wort straining, and replace it periodically (they’re $2.50 per 2-pack at Menards.)

Welcome to brewing! :cheers:

In a partial boil you only boil 2.5-3gallons and than top up with water as per the kits instructions. In a full boil you’d start with the full 6 gallons or so and boil down.
As far as the sludge goes I personally pour my wort through a big metal sieve or just pour the whole thing in, I’ve never noticed any difference either way. I hate the idea of leaving good wort behind.
Somebody correct me if I’m wrong but I recall hearing that taking a gravity reading after topping up with water can give misleading readings.
Honestly, I suggest moving to full boils ASAP if you can. Its much better. I moved to full boils after about 8 partials and have never looked back. You’ll need an 8 or so gallon kettle and a way to chill it quickly(and perhaps a propane burner) but the results speak for themselves.
Happy brewing!

+1 that a partial boil is where I boil 3 to 3-5 gallons and end up with about 2.5 when done.

The problem I have with full boils (besides needing a bigger pot) is cooling it down after boiling. I have counterflow chiller, but with summer tap water in the mid 70’s it cools it down to 85* at best. So by removing the sludge and making sure I get all the wort out, I then run ice cold water through the wort line of the cfc to flush it and begin the wort cooling process.

I finish by topping the bucket with ice water and usually hit right at 58-60*'s. I aerate for 4-5 minutes with a large wisk and then take my gravity reading, so I know it is well mixed. My gravities are usually spot on when I top to 5.3 gallons. Then I add the yeast.

Larson, since this is your first batch, do the following going forward:

Begin making starters to make sure you are pitching enough yeast. The process is pretty simple, but you need a system and planning as you need to do this several days in advance of brew day

Ferment at controlled temps - Pitch the yeast at as close to 60* as you can and keep it there during primary fermentation. Try to never let it get to 70* (for most styles) during this stage

Learn to be patient - for me this meant getting a pipeline of beers going so I ALWAYS have something in primary, something in secondary (optional), something cold crashing, something carbonating in the prep refrigerator and 4 beers on tap. This helped me make better beer because I was not “needing” a fermentation to finish so I had beer to drink.

You’re right about partial boil volumes. As long as you get 5 gallons in the end, what you start with is not that critical. Personally, I use a metal strainer to get all the wort into the fermenter.

Gravity is the density of a liquid in relation to water. Water is 1.000. The more sugar (or any other soluble substance, i.e. salt) the more dense the water becomes making the gravity higher. Gravity and the hydrometer are the brewer’s best friend. With your original gravity and the finishing gravity (also termed terminal gravity or final gravity) you can determine how much sugar was turned into alcohol by the yeast.

Temperature is one of the most important aspects of making beer. You want the yeast in their comfort zone. For ales, it’s typically between 60 and 70 degrees. It’s very important to remember that yeast produce heat during their feeding process. If ambient temp is 70, you can be sure that your beer temp is upwards of 10 degrees warmer. Invest in some fermometers. Stick on thermometers that will tell you the temp of the beer inside your carboy/bucket.

Do your best to maintain a comfy temp for your yeast and they will produce great results. Temp control is a great way to go from making beer to making good beer.

[quote=“Larsen Ensberg”]Thanks mvsawyer.

Regarding testing the SG, how soon after I pitch the yeast should I start taking testing samples? After I dry hop for my secondary fermentation, do I keep taking samples for the remaining weeks? (The secondary fermentation is happening in my primary). Thanks.[/quote]

Mvsawyer answered most of the questions. I use estimated volumes for the boil and top off amounts. The goal is to hit 5 usable gallons of beer when you are finished. There is always cold break and trub and used yeast on the bottom of the bucket, so I figure I am leaving about a quart in the bucket, sometimes a little more. I round up to “about” 5.3 gallons to account for the samples I take when checking the gravity. I try not to put the sample back in the bucket. I have done that with no problems but now try not to.

I generally take a few SG readings as possible. You will get over your excitement of watching it change after a few batches. I take 4 to 5 total at the most. OG reading before I pitch the yeast, another reading after the airlock stops and the foam drops, another reading about a week later when I transfer to secondary and a final reading before I cold crash. I would not take the first one for at least 10 days after pitching the yeast.

For reading, I have read Palmer’s How to Brew, but not all yet. I have a couple other books that I use as reference, but nothing is more valuable that spending time on this forum.

After 20+ batches, I’ve stopped taking SG readings. I make sure I give the beer plenty of time to ferment and clean up. I take my OG prior to pitching and then an FG when I bottle. Eventually you just start to “know” when the beer is finished. Then I just give it an extra week for good measure :wink:

You should have your normal sanitizing solution in the airlock. Pure sanitizer could be a problem if it got accidentally sucked into the fermentor.

I have also used cheap vodka in the past in case it ever got sucked in, no harm no foul.

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