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Weak extract kits?

I have posted before about low SG readings when using extract kits, and have been given several possible explanations for why … not mixing water with boil water properly, my water etc, . I have now brewed 4 extract kits (with specialty grains), and 2 all grain recipes. The all grain recipes are on the money for SG readings, the extract kits fall short - a long way short. Anybody else noticing this??

Are you doing full boils with the extract kits now and still finding the OG off?

Theres no way an extract kit will fall short if you made it to the right volume. There an error in volume or measurement, plain and simple. Sugar doesn’t evaporate, extracts are consistent.

I’ve never had an extract kit fall way short. They have pretty much all been right on the money.

I’ve brewed maybe 10 extract batches so far, and every one has hit pretty much where I expected it. If anything, I’ve had some a bit high.

Only time I had an extract kit (back when I did them) come up with a low gravity reading is when i topped up the fermenter with water and then took my gravity reading. When it read low I mixed the whole thing up really well and took another sample. Second time it was right on.

If you think you’re getting short changed next time weigh your extract to make sure you have what you should. As others have said, there is no way for extract to be significantly wrong unless you don’t use enough, or use too much water. It can LOOK wrong if you don’t mix top up water well, but that doesn’t impact end product.

^^^ I bet this is it. If you’re not giving the carboy a shake after you add the top-off water, you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a spuriously low gravity reading.

Accidentally wasting extract can cause low OG.

LME can be tricky if you rush it. I’ve seen as much as a cup try to stay behind, clinging to the sides of the bottle, which looks empty. Preheating the bottles helps. I now try to withhold about a quart of boil volume, and use it to rinse the bottles.

I’ve also noticed a fair amount of DME can turn to sticky “fuzz” in the bag if steam from the kettle touches the bag as I’m dumping it. I have not mastered any technique to avoid this; other than adding the DME to the kettle before it gets too steamy, but that’s no help for late additions.

I do not claim to be an expert, just reporting my findings.
The boils have been per the instructions, adding water after the boil to bring to 5 gal. The first and second may have been improper mixing, as was suggested earlier, but the ones after that had very thorough mixing, shaking the carboy to mix and airate the wort.
The all grain batches came out on the money

I have some kits left and will try a full boil. The end result tasted good, just curious

[quote=“Fireman181”]I do not claim to be an expert, just reporting my findings.
The boils have been per the instructions, adding water after the boil to bring to 5 gal. The first and second may have been improper mixing, as was suggested earlier, but the ones after that had very thorough mixing, shaking the carboy to mix and airate the wort.
The all grain batches came out on the money

I have some kits left and will try a full boil. The end result tasted good, just curious[/quote]

My experience is that shaking the carboy will not provide enough mixing. If you use all the ingredients and you end up with the volume the kit was intended for, you have to have the correct OG.

[quote=“JMcK”]Accidentally wasting extract can cause low OG.

LME can be tricky if you rush it. I’ve seen as much as a cup try to stay behind, clinging to the sides of the bottle, which looks empty. Preheating the bottles helps. I now try to withhold about a quart of boil volume, and use it to rinse the bottles.

I’ve also noticed a fair amount of DME can turn to sticky “fuzz” in the bag if steam from the kettle touches the bag as I’m dumping it. I have not mastered any technique to avoid this; other than adding the DME to the kettle before it gets too steamy, but that’s no help for late additions.[/quote]

Try submerging the jugs of LME or the packets of DME into the boiling or near-boiling water/wortm filling them (partially) and then emptying. Rinse & repeat until clean; that hot, hot water will ensure that it cleans the last traces of the extract from the containers.

[quote]JMcK wrote:Accidentally wasting extract can cause low OG.

LME can be tricky if you rush it. I’ve seen as much as a cup try to stay behind, clinging to the sides of the bottle, which looks empty. Preheating the bottles helps. I now try to withhold about a quart of boil volume, and use it to rinse the bottles.

I’ve also noticed a fair amount of DME can turn to sticky “fuzz” in the bag if steam from the kettle touches the bag as I’m dumping it. I have not mastered any technique to avoid this; other than adding the DME to the kettle before it gets too steamy, but that’s no help for late additions.[/quote]

Add the DME to a bowl(away from steam), then pour it into the wort and dip the bowl in to wash all of it off.

I guess I should throw this out there since it was something I missed early on. I got the mid range starter kit from this site and marked the five gallon mark on one of my two carboys. It was right on the rim so I didn’t bother marking the other one. I used the two carboys interchangeably. One time my gravity was low by a decent amount and I was a little confused but didn’t worry about it. I went to put it in the secondary a few weeks later and noticed it was filling up way more full than the primary, which seemed logically impossible. Finally, when I was done I sat the two carboys next to each other and for the first time realized they weren’t both five gallon capacities. One appeared to be six, which I obviously did not catch when I first got the kit. It’s a long shot, but thought I’d throw that out there just in case.

The larger carboy is meant to be for primary fermentation and the smaller one is a secondary.

[quote=“Denny”]
My experience is that shaking the carboy will not provide enough mixing. If you use all the ingredients and you end up with the volume the kit was intended for, you have to have the correct OG.[/quote]

+1 to denny.

to Fireman181: Extract has a known amount of sugar and sugar does not boil off. The kits know this. So if you ended with 5 gallons and used all the extract, your OG is what the kit predicts.
I’m 99% certain that your reading was low because it was diluted with the water you added after the boil (causing an inaccurate reading). it’s not a problem - fermentation will mix it better than you can. This thread topic is very common among extract brewers, it happens all the time.

This is why I quit taking starting gravity readings. The first few times I tried the numbers were all over the place, probably due to incomplete mixing of top-up water.

And - if the readings are off, there really isn’t anything that can be done for that batch. Plus a potential source of infection.

RDWHAHB.

I am aware of that.

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