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I made my third all-grain batch last weekend. I have had issues getting decent efficiency so I added a couple extra pounds of ESB malted barley (11lbs, instead of 9, and about 3lbs of specialty grain).

My mash was 154F (167 strike, 17 quarts), and I let it sit for an hour before draining. I batch sparged with 185F water (was 170F, 18 quarts), and let it sit for 20 minutes before draining into my pot. I use a cooler, and there was very little movement on the temp.

But the wort that came out of the mash tun was about 1.025 on the hydrometer. I got about 7.5 gallons out, and it boiled down to be about 5 gallons, so I am guessing it was about 1.037 post-boil (I didn't take a reading). The recipe called for a 1.053

The airlock started bubbling about 36 hours later, but it slowed down quickly. I am guessing there wasn't enough sugar from my extraction to keep it going.

So.... what are my choices? It's been in the primary for about 5 days now.

I was thinking I could do what I do for a saison, and boil up some amber rock-candy sugar, but how much? I also have some amber DME, but that seems a bit riskier.

Of course, my beer-in-a-bag landed at 1.090, so I must have done something right there.

Suggestions welcome. Let me know if I haven't provided all the needed information.

David.

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What sort of beer were you shooting for? You mention that the target OG was 1.053, but what about IBUs? Colour? –  Tobias Patton Apr 6 '13 at 3:00
    
And regarding your lower efficiency, what sort of equipment you use on your batch sparging? A manifold? False botton? Bazooka Screen? –  Cleber Goncalves Apr 6 '13 at 10:24
    
The IBUs were 35.2, colour was 6.7, boil time was 90 minutes. It was/is a Kona Fire Rock pale ale. I have a large square cooler for mashing and sparging, and it has a wire-mesh tube, like a bazooka screen. –  David Griffiths Apr 6 '13 at 17:42
    
Manifold, false bottom or screen should make no difference to efficiency in batch sparging. –  Denny Conn Apr 7 '13 at 15:34
    
@DennyConn Correct, I overlooked the batch sparge part. Just for the record, 'traditional' batch sparging doesn't require letting the wort sit any longer than the time it takes for the solids to fall back in after stirring (mash is already over, go ahead and drain it). –  Cleber Goncalves Apr 7 '13 at 16:43
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1 Answer

up vote 2 down vote accepted

You could add enough DME to offset the lower than expected starting gravity. However, you run a couple of risks by doing so.

  1. Contamination. You'll want to boil the DME in a small amount of water to ensure any foreign organisms are dead. Cool it to room temperature before adding to the fermenter. Also, sanitize everything that comes in contact with the cooled DME solution and the fermented wort.

  2. Oxidation. You'll need to stir the dissolved DME into fermented wort. No matter how careful you are, you'll be introducing some oxygen. This may cause your beer to stale faster than normal, and may even introduce off flavors (often described as "wet cardboard".)

Or you could just accept that the beer you made is not the beer you intended to make. It will be lower alcohol for one thing. Also, the bitterness to original gravity ratio will be much higher. The original recipe targetted an IBU:GU of 2:3, which is near the top-end for a pale ale, or the bottom end for an IPA. The actual ratio is closer to 1:1, which is at the top end of the IPA range and getting close to an IIPA.

If it were me, I'd taste the beer as it stands now and decide if I could live with it.

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I ended up boiling/cooling some candy-sugar, like a saison, and giving it a very brief stir. The airlock came to life for a few days, and has slowed again. I'm going to give it a taste after letting it sit for another few weeks. If its OK, I'll bottle it all, otherwise I'll bottle a few liters and discard the rest. I bought a kilogram of DME for the cupboard, for future potential issues. –  David Griffiths Apr 9 '13 at 16:18
    
To go along with this. Learn your system and where you are at with your pre-boil gravity. Once you get a feel for how much water you evaporate over the course of your boil, which also determines how many gravity points you gain, you can be prepared before you even boil if you want to add DME at the end of the boil, just boil longer, or just relax and go along and see how the beer turns out. Once you know your system, this won't catch you by surprise again! –  Justin Rassier Apr 10 '13 at 18:44
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