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Eric's Latest Mistake

Low Original Gravity?

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Thanks for your tutorial, as it differs slightly from what came with my hydrometer. I've had a few recipes start out with significant differences from what was listed on the website. I understand margin of error and getting cross-eyed at "is that 1.064 or 1.066?" It also makes sense that Final Gravity would have many more variables (temperature, how happy my yeast were, maybe even water quality) but what else goes into OG besides the water, malt, hops and any adjuncts?  Especially if it is an extract recipe, there don't seem to many moving parts to go wrong, assuming I put in all the ingredients.  If the end result tastes good, I'm not too concerned about ABV, but if my process is flawed, my end result may taste even better after correcting it.

Thanks for helping all of us

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Have you checked your hydrometer? It's accuracy depends on the application of the scale to the glass tubing. Also , the gravity of any liquid is related to its temperature so if you are taking a reading at room temperature and your room is at 80 F then the gravity will be lower than if the temperature of the wort is at 55 F. 

Additionally,  if you take a reading a few hours after you have pitched the yeast then it is very possible that the yeast will have started to gorge on the sugars and the yeast will have started to produce alcohol - and a) a reduction in sugar and b ) the presence of alcohol with a gravity less than 1.000 will mean that your reading will be lower than you might have anticipated.

Finally, gravity is also dependent on the final volume. Gravity is a measure of the density of the liquid, so if you have 1 lbs of sugars in a gallon of liquid the gravity will read about 1.040. That same amount of sugar in 7.5 quarts will give you a reading closer to 1.045. If that same quantity of sugar is dissolved in 8.5 quarts  of water the gravity is going to be less because the density will be less... 

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Thanks, you've given me some more pieces of the puzzle. My hydrometer scale appears to be lined up with the ridge. I do measure before I pitch but not taking a temperature reading to figure into the equation. Assuming the OG on the recipe site was based on the volume in the instructions, it  should be the 8 or 8.5 qt of the LBK. Also potentially not fully in solution so my sample wouldn't reflect the true gravity. I think my primary concern was the conditioning time, so I might just factor in the longer wait time.

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Also, be sure to verify the temperature your hydrometer is calibrated to. It should say in the instructions or on the hydrometer scale itself. Most are calibrated to 60F, but some of the older ones may be calibrated to 68F.

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