I "brewed" a beer that was described as "Chinese Rice Wine", but it is 50% grain so I will call it a beer!

Recipe: 18 liter batch; 2.5 kg boiled Rice, 2 kg sugar, a cup or so of raisins and one lemon. All the ingredients are poured into the fermenter. Yeast: S-04. Fermented for 2 weeks OG: 1,020. FG: 1,040!

Could it be that the rice/lemon/raisins added more body or other unfermentables to the beer?

The beer has a "Old School Ginger Beer" taste and aroma. Very drinkable.

My hydrometer is working fine as I kegged another beer and the readings were correct and I brewed another beer and there the readings were correct.

Note: the recipe is not exact as I can't find the notes now.

  • That's a strange recipe. Without some sort of enzyme to convert the rice starch to sugar, wouldn't it remain starchy after fermentation? Jun 8, 2015 at 13:36
  • I am starting to think that the rice is there more as a flavor than a fermentable. I think I will do a 10% milled base malt addition to the next batch. That should give me enzyme activity for the "mash". Jun 9, 2015 at 11:05
  • Rice adds no flavor. It thins the body and raises OG.
    – Denny Conn
    Jun 10, 2015 at 14:43

3 Answers 3


Did you add water after you put the rest of the stuff in the fermenter? If so you got incomplete mixing and a false OG.

  • Nope. Took my OG sample from the fermenter just before pitching the yeast. Took FG while racking to keg. Jun 9, 2015 at 6:45
  • So you did a full volume boil?
    – Denny Conn
    Jun 9, 2015 at 15:27
  • No, I did not do a full boil. You boil the ingredients in 3 liters of water then add the wort and trub to the fermenter and add 15 liters of cold water to fill the fermenter. OG was taken from the fermenter after the cold water was add added, just before yeast. Yeast was re-hidrated dry yeast, approx 200 ml. Jun 10, 2015 at 5:46
  • 2
    Ah ha! That's what I thought! what you have is a case of incomplete mixing. The wort, containing sugar, is heavier and sinks to the bottom of your fermenter. when you take a reading you get the weaker, watered down wort on top. It's very common.
    – Denny Conn
    Jun 10, 2015 at 14:43
  • Interesting. I never heard of that but it makes sense! Can you recommend any steps to avoid this from happening (apart from the obvious full boil)? Jun 11, 2015 at 7:06

Unless you added more sugars to the wort after taking the OG reading, it wouldn't be possible for the FG to be higher.

As you more than likely know, the Hydrometer measures buoyancy of the liquid. The physics of it works like this:

Pure water will have a gravity of 1.000. However, the more sugar you add to the water will make it lean towards a syrup, and I'm not sure what a syrup's gravity would be, but it would be massive. (highly buoyant, although sticky)

What the yeast does is "eat" that sugar, thereby reducing the gravity. However, another thing that the yeast does is make alcohol. The funny thing about alcohol, is that it's less buoyant than water. You can have 0.995 Gravity with highly alcoholic drinks. So in essence, the more alcohol that is produced, the lower the gravity would be.

Is it possible that you misread the hydrometer? It has happened to me on occasion where the increments on it are 1, 1.010, 1.020, 1.030, and instead of me reading it as 1.012, I've read it as 1.020.

  • I added nothing more. I am 99% sure that I did not screw up the reading. Reading 1.040 is easy because you immediately know your hydrometer should not stick out like that! :) Jun 9, 2015 at 6:44

It could be that starch from the rice was released over time into solution, raising the specific gravity. Starch has the same effect as sugar on specific gravity, as it increases the density of the solution.

  • I was thinking the same thing, as I did not add anything to the wort/beer. Jun 9, 2015 at 6:42
  • Assuming it is a starch, then it means that I can add enzymes to the beer and more magic will happen... EXPERIMENTATION TIME! :) Jun 9, 2015 at 6:46
  • My mother in law brews too - cooked sweet rice + baker's yeast - making a sweet, slightly alcoholic, slightly vinegary porridge. She doesn't mash or anything, the rice tends to break down spontaneously.
    – Pepi
    Jun 10, 2015 at 8:54
  • @Pepi, how long does she ferment her beer for? Jun 11, 2015 at 7:07
  • A couple days at ambient, not quite beer strength, but the alcohol is noticeable.
    – Pepi
    Jun 11, 2015 at 9:35

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