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Imagine this scenario. Not that I know anybody who's done this. Let's say it's hypothetical. You're brewing from extract. You cool your wort, transfer it to your fermenter, add your top-off water, and take a gravity reading. You discover that your OG is much lower than you expect. You shake the fermenter a bunch and take another reading. Still low. So you look at the recipe. You see it called for:

  • 2.75 lb DME
  • 6.6 lb LME

It's then that you realize that you brewed with 2.75 lbs of DME and 2.75 lbs of LME. You curse yourself for buying "fresh" DME that came in a bucket from the shop instead of just buying two 3.3 lb cans. You want to blame the bucket, but in the end you know you're just dumb.

At this point, with the wort chilled, transfered, and topped off to 5 gallons, but the yeast not yet pitched, would it be OK to bring, say, two quarts of water to a boil, add the other ~4 lbs of LME you forgot, boil it until it's fully dissolved, cool it, then add it to the fermenter? This seems like it would be a sort of late addition, albeit a really late addition. Would you do this? Should I have done this? I panicked... I mean my hypothetical character panicked and never thought of doing this to correct the OG until just now. It's too late now, obviously, but if I'd have done this would it have done more harm than good?

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2 Answers

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I've made a similar mistake before. Not quite as big a margin, but I was still way too low. I can't recall the exact numbers, but if you do the math right, you should be able to hit your gravity on the mark. You just need to figure out how much water you'll need to boil to dissolve the extract, and how much extract you'll need to bring your total volume (including this new water) up to snuff.

The problems I see would be hop utilization. The hops were added at specific times for a certain volume, and now you're going to change that volume. I don't think this would ruin the beer, but it will definitely change the flavor from what the recipe called for. Not a huge problem, but an inconsistency.

Summary: RDWHAHB and all that :)

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I'm not worried by any means. I'm still really looking forward to this beer, even though it will be smaller than intended. The hop utilization will be much higher because of my mistake, but according to beer calculus it will be more like the IBU numbers for the recipe I was following, because it seems the recipe numbers in CloneBrews are based on full-volume boils even though the primary recipes are partial-volume boil. That is, their extract recipes, as printed, don't match the IBU numbers when run through Beer Calculus. –  JackSmith Mar 5 '10 at 18:21
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I just recently had a similar problem. I was trying to be cool and teach a friend how to Brew and got caught up doing more than usual and forgetting to add 3 lbs of DME at the end of the boil (10 mins). I had the Wort cooling, then my buddy asked if we had put all the hops in and then i remembered - we forgot to add the DME! I quickly added the extract and stirred like crazy until it looked dissolved. I didnt boil it. i realize that i made a mistake and hope this works out, but i am aware that i might have wasted a batch of beer, and looked stupid. I am going to check the gravity tomorrow to see how it is going.

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