FG question

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FG question

Postby Chickpeanut » Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:17

Hi guys.

I've been brewing now for just over a year, still doing kits and extracts. While I've made some really nice beers, I've yet to have a beer in the fv ferment down below 1010. All have been left in the fv for at least 2 weeks, some have been in there for 3 weeks.

I've had mixed results with priming. I rack to another fv just before bottling and batch prime with the advised 80g or so of white table sugar for an fv volume of around 20 litres. Sometimes this is ok, sometimes I end up with half the beer in the sink. (strangely the beer doesn't pop out the bottle, it froths up massively out the glass only when poured)

Where am I going wrong? I've tried more than one hydrometer with the same results. Is there something I should be doing during fermentation to get it to ferment out more before priming? I've obviously tried to cut down the priming sugar volume and have ended up with nearly flat beer.

Thanks for any advice.
Tom
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Re: FG question

Postby calumscott » Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:22

One thing to do...

Have you got a thermometer?

Fill your trial jar with plain water (from the tap is fine) and get it to the calibration temperature of your hydrometer - should be 15 or 20 degrees C.

Measure the gravity of the water. It should be 1.000.

But don't worry about 1.010 if your hydrometer is right. I rarely get below that and usually aim for 1.013 - 1.016 as a FG! I like my beer to fill me up! :lol:
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Re: FG question

Postby GrowlingDog » Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:25

calumscott wrote:One thing to do...

Have you got a thermometer?

Fill your trial jar with plain water (from the tap is fine) and get it to the calibration temperature of your hydrometer - should be 15 or 20 degrees C.

Measure the gravity of the water. It should be 1.000.

But don't worry about 1.010 if your hydrometer is right. I rarely get below that and usually aim for 1.013 - 1.016 as a FG! I like my beer to fill me up! :lol:


I have also never managed to get a beer to drop down to 1.010, Mine usually end around 1.014.

I can't help with the bottling I'm afraid as I don't bottle very often and when I do I don't prime my beers as I bottle from keg ready carbonated.
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Re: FG question

Postby jkp » Wed Apr 09, 2014 10:31

The level of carbonation also depends on the temperature of the beer when bottled, lower temps gives more CO2 within the beer. Might that have caused your extra fizz?
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Re: FG question

Postby Chickpeanut » Wed Apr 09, 2014 16:01

Thanks for the replies guys.

It seems to me that I'm treading a very fine line between virtually no carbonation and over carbonation. I feel it's got to be something else I'm doing rather than just a few grams of sugar either way.
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Re: FG question

Postby GrahamT » Wed Apr 09, 2014 16:43

Well the two things could be linked (attenuation and carbonation) if there is any chance your beer has sometimes not quite fermented out before bottling, but maybe not. Definitely check the hydrometer AND your thermometer (in melting ice water and at boiling point).

Carbonation can indeed be a slippery customer, but here's what I'd advise you do over the next few brews, to get towards some consistency. If you do ALL of these already, then I probably can't help:

1. Pitch plenty of yeast, checking with an online calculator such as Mr Malty's that it's enough: don't ignore that for kits.
2. If it's dry yeast, rehydrate it correctly for the strain before pitching.
3. Add some nutrient to every brew, yes, even the lower gravity stuff, such as White Labs' own.
4. Aerate well.
5. Towards the end of fermentation, let's say below 1.018 for a typical ale, rake the temperature up: around 22/23C (again, for a typical ale). It's safe to do that at that stage.
6. Only bottle when the gravity has been stable for 3 days, within the expected range of attenuation. You probably know a lot of this :roll:
7. Calibrate your scales with some coins (£1 coin weighs 9.5g) and batch prime as before. I'd go for 90g in 23L of typical ale, but your call. By all means adjust that for the temperature at which you bottle, using an online calc, but be aware that they may not take account of any degassing from racking (if you use a secondary) and into the bottling bucket. The best thing would be to bottle the next few brews at the same temperature and adjust accordingly.
8. Keep the bottles proper-warm (around 23C if you can) for two whole weeks, inverting and re-floating the yeast a couple of times, before moving to colder storage... even if you've done a plastic bottle as a tester and it already feels hard.
9. Keep them for another two weeks cold before opening one and making any judgement.

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Re: FG question

Postby Good Ed » Wed Apr 09, 2014 22:59

excellent advice from Graham, the only thing I would add is that with batch priming, after you have added the sugar and transferred, give it a gentle stir to make sure the sugar solution is well mixed in, careful to avoid introducing any O2

Here's to the man who drinks strong ale,
and goes to bed quite mellow.
Lives as he ought to live,
and dies a jolly good fellow.
- Old English folk song
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Re: FG question

Postby rpt » Wed Apr 09, 2014 23:21

I don't think I've had more than one or two brews go below 1.010 so I wouldn't worry about that. To help with attenuation you can raise the fermentation temperature once it is 3/4 of the way to its expected FG. I raise it 1C every 12 hours until it gets to 24C.

For batch priming, make sure you mix the sugar in well. I had an oatmeal stout where all the bottles were flat until one evening I opened one and the top blew off and I had a spectacular fountain of black beer hitting the ceiling. Fortunately SWMBO laughed and helped me clean up. So I came to the conclusion that most of my priming sugar was in the one bottle. I always stir the bottling bucket carefully now.

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Re: FG question

Postby Pjam » Wed Apr 09, 2014 23:31

Mine too are usually about 1012 0r 1014 ......... and though i hate to admit it, the one time I got to 1008, I did use some dextrose :oops: that was on a Porter.
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Re: FG question

Postby GaryG » Wed Apr 09, 2014 23:38

Why dont you try carb drops in your bottles. I know it can work out a couple of quid more expensive. I do 1.5 for a 500ml bottle with a lager. 1 for a 300/330 bottle.

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Re: FG question

Postby GrahamT » Wed Apr 09, 2014 23:41

Out of 5 completed AGs, 3 have been lower than 1.010, though two were Tripels with around 13% sugar and abbey yeast , and I reckon I've been mashing a bit low :oops:, having finally taken my own advice and checked my thermometer. :oops: :doh:

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