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My roommate and I brewed our first batch of beer, a Rogue Dead Guy clone (with some substitutions). The brew has finished secondary fermentation and our hydrometer reads 1.007 (temperature-adjusted). With an OG of 1.033 This gives our beer an ABV of around 3.4. While the beer itself tastes great, we were hoping for something a little stronger.

Here's the recipe we ended up using: 1 lb Cara-Munich 1 lb Munich 1/2 lb Crystal 40L Steeped at 155 F for 30 minutes, then 1/2 gallon of water at 170 F was poured over the grain bag into pot. I think this is sparging, but I'm not sure :)

Added 4 lb Alexanders Pale LME, 4 lbs LDME. 1 oz Perle hops at 60 minutes, 1/3 oz Warrior at 30, 1/3 oz Warrior at 5, and 1/4 oz Saaz at 5.

The wort was cooled to 75 F and the yeast was pitched. We transferred to a carboy and filled it up to five-and-some-change gallons.

I have two questions. We realized later that the tap water we filled up with has a pH of 7.8 - is this too alkaline? Finally, is there anything we could do now to get fermentation started again (i.e., yeast energizers, shamanic chants, etc.)?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 9 down vote accepted

Well for starters, if you are SURE that you actually had 8lbs of extract, and you are SURE that you had approx 5 gallons of wort after adding the water, then there is NO WAY you actually had 1.033 starting gravity. More than likely, what happened was that the boiled wort and the top-off water didn't mix thoroughly and you took a sample from an area where the wort wasn't particularly well mixed. You see this error in gravity a lot with extract brewing. Fortunately, it doesn't impact anything, as the solution becomes homogenized within a short time anyway, and the yeasties plow through it with no problem.

Secondly, don't worry about pH for extract beers. If you water tastes good, it will make OK beer. The main thing you really have to watch out for are chlorine and chloramine, which will make a pale beer taste like pool water. Water pH is mostly a concern for all-grain brewing during the mashing process.

So given that you probably have a beer with a "real" starting gravity of 1.070, then you don't need to try to re-start fermentation. In fact, with a final gravity of 1.007, there aren't too many ale yeasts who can drop it any lower. I'm surprised that it's that low for a beer with 1.5lbs of crystal in addition to whatever crystal is baked into extract these days.

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Out of interest (since I'm a beginner and facing low gravity): Why is there no way to have 1.033 gravity from 8lbs extract and 5 gallons wort? –  Michael Stum Mar 4 '13 at 8:49
1  
Because there's a standard amount of sugar the various brands of malt extract, and 4lbs of Alexanders Pale Liquid extract plus 4lbs of Light Dry malt extract will yield a beer of about 1.062 OG in 5gal of water. Normal brewing technique will not alter these numbers at all (unless you don't have exactly 5gal at the end of the boil). There's a wide range of brewing software you can use to calculate these numbers, I personally use hopville.com. –  Graham Mar 4 '13 at 13:20

Putting this recipe into BeerSmith shows that the starting gravity from just the LME and DME is 1.066 and an estimated final gravity of 1.014, giving an ABV of 5.7%. Adding the specialty grains and 65% effeciency yields 1.077 for starting gravity, 1.014 for final and ABV of 8%.

Things to verify: 1. As the first answer said, you can get an inaccurate SG reading if the wort are not mixed properly. 2. Did you adjust your SG reading for temperature? For example, a 1.03 @ 120 is really 1.0404 @ 60.

With a final gravity reading of 1.008, you are likely done. Let the beer condition, carbonate and enjoy it. Sounds like it will be great.

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