Not off to a great start

So somehow I only filled my first fermentation to a total of 4 1/3 - 4 1/2 gallons instead of 5. Can I add the rest of the water after first fermentation? what effect will this have on the outcome of my batch? I was really excited but now I am worried I screwed my first batch up… :oops:

Ah well, goofs happen. AS far as goofs go, this is relatively minor, and pretty darn common. Probably best to leave it rather than trying to top it off after the fact. Did you take a SG to see where you were?

is that the gravity thing? no I dont have a tester… what is that for anyway? im not sure i understand it.

Yep, it’s the gravity thing.
Briefly, it measures the amount of solutes( in other words sugar) in your wort. Your recipe should have told you an expected Original Gravity (OG). When your fermentation is completely finished, you measure again and the difference between OG and FG(finishing gravity) can tell you how much alcohol is present. More importantly, it tells you when fermentation is finished. A hydrometer will be a good, most people feel necessary, addition to your equipment.
But to get to your situation, I’ll assume you followed your recipe exactly, and added all your extract and properly steeped whatever specialty grains you had. If that’s the case, then you have all your possible sugars in your fermenter. Lets’ say that your OG for a 5 gallon recipe is 1.050. You added all your sugars, but were short on the volume. An easy way to look at it is 50 points X 5 gallon = 250 points of sugar. That same 250 points of sugar are still in , lets say 4.5 gallons. 250 points in 4.5 gallons = 55 points or an OG of 1.055.
So, to shorten up a long winded answer, assuming everything ferments out,your beer will be a little stronger than the recipe, but you probably won’t notice. You made beer, it’s all good! :cheers:

Thanks…good to know!.. Well lessons learned for batch #2!

Would it hurt to add a little water when moving to secondary fermentation?

I have in the past, without consequences, but it’s usually considered a no-no. If you do, make sure you boil it for 10 minutes or more to sterilize it and drive off oxygen. Adding oxygen after fermentation starts can lead to problems. I’d taste it and see whether you think it needs to be diluted.

Your not off to a bad start at all. As mentioned above your beer will have a higher ABV. That’s not a bad thing. Instead of 5gallons, you’ll have 4.5,which will allow you to brew another batch sooner. IMHO, I would not mess with it by adding water.What you don’t want to do is what I did. I added water to make up for my boil off. That thinned the beer. It came out 2.9 ABV. This whole brewing thing is a learning lesson until you have a process down that has consistent results. I’m still looking for mine. Enjoy your brew. I think you will be pleasantly surprised.