I seem to be the king of low alcohol beer! I have just brewed the “Make Your Own American IPA” from the Range. It started fermenting (quite aggressively) within a day. I left it for approx 14 days until I added the hops and at 21 days I tasted it.

The instructions say that you can bottle it “once it no longer tastes sweet” or in other words I guess when all the sugar had turned to alcohol (to quote the Holsten Pils advert from the 80’s). It didn’t taste sweet, in fact it tasted quite bitter, and when I use my hydrometer it also says that is has no alcohol in it! (See pic)

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Any ideas what I am doing wrong? This has happened on the last couple of batches that I have made as well. Should I leave it longer or bottle it?


1 Answer 1


Well, that is not the way a hydrometer is used. What you measure is the density of the wort/beer, which shows how many sugar is contained in the liquid. The amount of sugar in liquid solution increases the density (or gravity) of the liquid.

At the start of the brew you have a certain "Original Gravity" or OG, which, depending upon the wort made, can be between, let's say, 1.040 and 1.100 (broadly speaking).

When the yeast ferments the sugar, then the gravity drops, because the sugar disappears. At the end of the fermentation you measure the "Final Gravity" or FG.

A simple formula to calculate the alcohol in your beer is 131 X (OG - FG) (but see the Wikipedia article).

The most important question now for you is: did you measure the gravity of your wort after brewing, before you pitched the yeast?

  • Hi. I didn't measure the OG and I realise now that I should have. I'll be honest, I'm just using the scale on my Wilko Hydrometer which has a green band at the top labelled "beer start" and an amber one further down labelled "beer end" and a scale with approx alcohol on it. I imagined that as the beer brewed and the density changed that the hydrometer would float higher. My parents used to make wine and I rememebr the hydrometer floating very high due to the higher alcohol conent/change in density. Mine on the other hand hasn't even moved off the beer start band!
    – Andrew F
    Feb 23, 2020 at 17:55
  • You’re using it backwards. The green band around 1.010-1.020 should be the “beer end”. Perhaps the bands are mislabeled?
    – dmtaylor
    Feb 23, 2020 at 22:32

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