Author Topic: alcohol content  (Read 6564 times)

Offline tws

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alcohol content
« on: January 31, 2012, 07:38:34 AM »
i must be spoiled by store bought micro brews where nearly all the ones i buy are 6 percent or better alcohol content.

i recently brewed and tapped a bavarian weizen and though delicious it was disappointingly low on alcohol content. a hydrometer reading shows a tad over 2 percent alc.

here is the recipe i followed.

6lbs Wheat malt extract
1lb light malt extract
1oz hallertauer hops - boiling
1 tablet irish moss
1/2oz saaz hops - aroma

liquid Wyeast #3068 weihenstephen weizen

is there anyway to boost the alc? something to add to the basic brew that will increase alc?

i know that this particular beer can have a higher alc... because i have in hand a store bought lagunitas doppel weizen that reports alc. 9 percent by vol.

i'm new to homebrew beer crafting and have not completed much of the required reading. i hope someone can explain why my beer is so weak and especially how i might bring up the alc without disturbing the characteristics of a particular beer.

thanks,

tws

Offline jomebrew

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Re: alcohol content
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2012, 08:37:55 AM »
That is a 4% recipe.  Either you did not let it ferment fully or you measured wrong. 

Using beersmith, you can scale the recipe to the desired alcohol %.

Offline tws

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Re: alcohol content
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2012, 08:54:03 AM »
thanks jomebrew,

my hydrometer may be off... 5 weeks from kit start to tapping which is probably to young... fermenter for 2 weeks, secondary for one week and in the corny for 2 weeks before tapping.

i've been doing some reading and discovering that higher gravity beers require longer seasoning times...and more malt, special yeast and other care and considerations. 

but it seems to me that a beginner (like myself) should be able to brew 5 to 6 percent beer (maybe ales?) in 6 to 8 weeks... i'm trying to set up a pipe line and schedule. i've got 5 corny kegs and 3 glass carboys.

now i'd like to have a few good recipes to brew and learn.

thanks,

tws

Offline Myk

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Re: alcohol content
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2012, 09:51:29 AM »
What were/are your gravities? I really don't see any possible way for that beer to end up being 2%.

My guess (since you haven't given the gravities) is you're looking at the FG and thinking that's alcohol content instead of looking at the difference between the SG and FG.

Checking your hydrometer is easy, stick it in some 60° water.

Offline jomebrew

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Re: alcohol content
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2012, 11:31:33 AM »
but it seems to me that a beginner (like myself) should be able to brew 5 to 6 percent beer (maybe ales?) in 6 to 8 weeks... i'm trying to set up a pipe line and schedule. i've got 5 corny kegs and 3 glass carboys.

Yes, you can.  I brewed a bravarian wheat and was drinking it in 21 days.  6 weeks is a bit long for this style that was meant to be served fresh in 2 or 3 weeks.

Did you take gravity readings before and after fermentation?  To accurately calculate the %ABV you need to know how much fermentables you started and finished with.   So, if you started with 1.042 and finished with 1.010 that is 1.042-1.010 =.032 * 131 = 4.2% ABV (which is around what you should have gotten from this recipe) .  I am not sure what you mean when you say "a hydrometer reading shows a tad over 2 percent alc."

/Joe

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: alcohol content
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2012, 03:48:19 PM »
I'm with Myk in guessing you are thinking the final gravity tells you the alcohol level, rather than the difference between the pre and post fermentation readings.

As far as boosting the brew, I have a friend who routinely dumps a 2# bag of brown sugar in near the end of the boil to cheaply add to the kick. 

I personally wouldn't do it because I'm an all-grain purist (others call me a beer snob), but he and his drinking buddies (free beer!) like it well enough.
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

maddspoiler

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Re: alcohol content
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2012, 10:05:44 PM »
I recently broke and had to buy a new hygrometer and upon testing it in 60 F distilled water It measured 5 points over. Make sure your calibrating equipment... Brew pot, Thermometer, Hygrometer to make sure your measurements are accurate. Good Luck!

Offline tws

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Re: alcohol content
« Reply #7 on: February 01, 2012, 04:18:34 PM »
thanks everyone for your valuable input...

i just returned from two days on the road...

anyway i did not take an initial hydrometer reading for this brew - OG

so i know i can't get an FG.

however my hydrometer is a triple scale which includes a acl percent scale and that is what is reading just a bit over 2 percent.

i will test the hydrometer as i've been informed they are notoriously inaccurate.

thanks again for your input.

tws

 

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: alcohol content
« Reply #8 on: February 01, 2012, 06:29:09 PM »
Quote
so i know i can't get an FG.

however my hydrometer is a triple scale which includes a acl percent scale and that is what is reading just a bit over 2 percent.

That last measurement is your FG.

Here's how you get the alcohol content.  You measure the specific gravity before adding the yeast.  That tells you the potential alcohol.
My last brew I had an OG of 1.060, which is a potential of nearly 8%. 
I expect a final gravity in the 1.015 to 1.020 range (what you are reading as 2%).

The actual alcohol is the potential minus the final.  OG - FG.  In my case it will be 8 - 2 = 6.  (or thereabouts with some decimal points)

Quote
anyway i did not take an initial hydrometer reading for this brew - OG

In your case since we don't know the starting number, the final number is meaningless.

UNKNOWN - KNOWN = WHO KNOWS SINCE YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT YOU STARTED WITH

Relax, don't worry, and next time take a specific gravity (and temperature) reading before pitching the yeast.

If it tastes good, it is good. Drink it and stop asking so many questions!
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline Maine Homebrewer

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Re: alcohol content
« Reply #9 on: February 01, 2012, 06:33:15 PM »
Before anyone gets all huffy, that last sentence was not meant literally.
I know some people around here have zero sense of humor and cannot take a joke.

Ask all the questions you like.

There are no stupid questions.

Only stupid people who can't take a joke. (To you people who can't take a joke - that was a joke)
"To alcohol! The cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems!" -Homer Simpson

Offline Myk

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Re: alcohol content
« Reply #10 on: February 01, 2012, 08:48:40 PM »
What that gravity reading is telling you is your residual sugar. As stated above you need the OG reading to get alcohol level from a hydrometer.
I figured with it being extract your FG reading was giving you about 2% "potential alcohol" which is why I guessed that's what you were thinking it was saying.

Allow BeerSmith to figure your OG based on your ingredients, water amount, losses and any dilution in the fermenter and put that 1.015-ish reading in as your FG and let it tell you what your alcohol level is. It will be close enough (and it's definitely over 2%).

Alternately if you have a refractometer you can let BeerSmith calculate the alcohol level by comparing the differences between the FG readings the refractometer and hydrometer give.
But if your extract you really don't have a need for a refractometer IMO. It's not worth buying one just to figure out the alcohol level of a beer you forgot to take an original reading from.

Offline happy hillbilly

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Re: alcohol content
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2012, 08:44:53 AM »
YEP to everybody that said to go by the ingredients they gave because they will tell you  purty close how much OG there was. but really we aint talkin whiskey here that formula will be about the same ABV as most beers you brew for drinkin so just enjoy it and do somore testin on the next batch.