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Just brewed a batch, and my OG reading is significantly different (1.051 as opposed to 1.070) than what Beercalculus.com predicted based on my recipe. Is there any possible reason for this that anyone can come up with?

Let me clarify that this was an extract recipe in which I steeped specialty grains...

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Need more info about the recipe and process. – Homebrew Holli Mar 11 '10 at 16:02

See answers to this question.

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:-) That question has a good answer. – Homebrew Holli Mar 11 '10 at 16:03

Were all the malt extracts you used dry? If you gave to beercalculus some quantities in DME while you have used LME, it is inevitable that you have a much smaller OG. LME contains some water, so when planning your beer you should think of it as 80% the quantity of DME of equal mass. Seeing the difference you have in OG, i suppose this is the most probable answer.

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The most common reason for a variation like that is that you did a partial boil and added water afterwards to get your volume. It's very difficult to get wort and water mixed thoroughly. The wort is heavier due to the sugar and sinks to the bottom of the fermenter. When you take a reading, you get the watered down wort from the top of the fermenter. Unless you steep a LOT of grain, the efficiency of your steep will have little impact on your OG. If you're making an extract kit and you use all the ingredients and your volume is correct, you will inevitably get the OG the kit was designed for. It's easier to just accept that than to measure it.

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One caveat, spills and other tragedies can result in lower than expected gravity, while boiling too long or not adding enough top-off water can result in a higher than expected gravity. – Graham Jun 6 '11 at 18:25

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