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"Watery" Beer

Since moving from 1 gallon batches to 5 gallon, my two 5 gallons have both turned out somewhat “watery.” For my first 5 gallon, I attributed this to the bottles being far under carbonated and the beer being a standard, somewhat bland American wheat beer. However, the latest batch, a pale ale also turned out somewhat watery. It’s still young so I’m going to give it some time. I was wondering if this was a necessary characteristic for people who do partial boils and top off with water, or if this was due to something else.

sounds like you may have just used too much top off water. Maybe start with double-checking your volume-measurement hash marks on your ale pail? Those are notoriously wrong.

Are you ensuring the wort and top-off water are really mixed and hitting the gravity you are supposed to with the recipes?

That is kind of a tough answer for a problem with so many potential answers/contributing factors. What was you OG/FG? Are these beers exclusively all extract or is there some specialty grain in there? If so, steeped or mashed?

I will take a shot in the dark and assume these are all extract batches. Others may have different experiences but when I have done just extract batches or even extract with steeped specialty grains, the mouth feel of the beers is somewhat lacking and just kind of is what it is. After a few batches I started playing with mini-mash/partial mash and have found that I can control a lot more with only adding a little extra time and no real extra steps (if already steeping grains). 3lbs-4lbs of grain in a muslin bag, mashed in a stock pot on the stove while the rest of my water comes to a boil can make a huge difference. Plus it give you experience to help make going all grain feel less daunting. I am still doing the partial mash and have been able to make quite a few good beers (and some bad ones) that have all of the attributes of their commercial counter parts.

Are you topping off with too much water? Are you using kits or making your own recipes? Give us your step by step process so we can help you more.

Using NB extract kits, about 3 gallon boils with about .5 gallon boil off/hour and topping off with about 2-3 gallons of water. Hitting final gravity dead on. Last kit was some steeping grains and LME and DME. Pitched liquid yeast (OG was about 1049 so no starter). Fermented in bucket at about 63 degrees using evaporative cooling for two weeks, dry hopped, left for another week. Bottled after the third week of fermentation, getting some hop debris in the bottles. Tasting after about 2 weeks conditioning with 3 days in fridge.

mmmmyeah. Your process sounds pretty rock solid…assuming by “final gravity”, you mean, “original gravity”. Start brewing in a bag all-grain. Cheaper, just as easy, and you will lose that weak mouthfeel. Might be something else, but as others have mentioned, probably a result of extract brewing.

Its also amazing how much the right amount of carbonation can make a beer (and how much the wrong amount of carbonation can make a beer…not taste good). If you want to continue brewing w/ extract, maybe consider adding some dextrine (maybe 1/4# for an APA like you made) malt to your steeping grains. I forget if they need to be mashed, or if they will convert through steeping.

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