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Trying a new recipe - got a couple of questions

One of our favorite summer beers is “Hell or High Watermelon”. Nice light session beer with the taste of watermelon.

I’m an emerging rookie brewer, having done 9 extract kits with good success.

The recipe i’m looking at says to brew as normal (5 gal batch), pitch yeast and into primary. Transfer to secondary after a couple of weeks. Steep watermelon chunks in 150 water for 20 minutes and add to the secondary. Continue in secondary for several more weeks.

So here’s my question: I anticipate i will add about 1/2 gal of watermelon plus about 1 gal of water to the secondary. Can i ferment 3.5 gals of wort in primary and then later add the watermelon and water bringing the total volume to 5 gal?

I appreciate your comments!

Yes, you can do that. Concentrated fermentation is something some commercial brewers do. It is suppose to give a better malt profile for low-alcohol beers than you would get by fermenting at full volume, but I suspect the real reason is it allows them to process more beer than would otherwise fit in their tanks per batch.

Does the kit instructions specify adding watermelon to the brew, or is that something you are adding on your own? If the first, then the kit maker probably already calculated the water and sugar that the fruit would add to the brew, and has taken that into account in the instructions.

If you want to ferment a concentrated wort in the primary, make sure you pitch the right amount of yeast for the concentrated OG and volume. High sugar concentration can be stressful for the yeast, so be prepared.

I don’t know how much sugar watermelon contains, but it is probably enough to kick off some additional yeast activity, so make sure you let that finish before bottling.

Here’s the Hell or High Watermelon recipe I use (which ironically I will be adding the watermelon tonight.) I froze the watermelon and will thaw and then add.

http://outofkey.com/beer/brewing/waterm ... at-recipe/

I can see why you have these questions, the writer isn’t very precise on how to do this, and doesn’t seem to care that much about what the volume or OG ends up as.
I suspect that this beer will come out too alcoholic if you use that much extract and the watermelon, then do the concentrated fermentation as you were planning. It would probably be better to make it to 5 gallons, ferment and then add the watermelon. That will likely give you 6 gallons of finished beer. But as you’ve already done it, just keep going and taste before bottling. If it is too alcoholic, you can add a gallon of water to dilute. Just make sure you boil the water first to drive off any dissolved oxygen.

Thanks for the comments, guys. The recipe i found is not very clear about volumes. I think it is suggesting that the basic beer/wort volume is 5 gal and the watermelon and water is added in secondary, as you suggested rebuiltcellars, to a final volume of 6+ gallons. But it’s not clear, hence my question. The recipe does say the OG should be 1.033.

I wasn’t sure about adding volume to the secondary. I don’t want to dilute the beer too much, flavor-wise or alcohol-wise. I’m looking for a nice session beer around 4% ABV.

Thanks enkamania, for posting your recipe! I will take a strong look at that and may just go with that method - lots more detail there…

I looked at the recipe again, and noticed that he says target gravity is 1.050. That would work with the grist listed for 10 gallons assuming 67% efficiency, or 12 gallons with 80% efficiency. Either efficiency is within the range of “reasonable” for all-grain homebrewing, so no real help there.

But extract is actually easier, as efficiency if always 100%. Two 3.3 lb cans of wheat extract (which is typically made from about 60% pale or pils malt and the remainder wheat malt) will get you to 1.050 with five gallons, and if it was me, I’d do that and then add the watermelon after to get 6 gallons of finished beer. You might still overshoot your intended ABV of 4%, but it will stay under 5%.

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