Monthly Archives: February 2013

My Rudimentary Alcohol Maths – working out the ABV

It’s been almost a week since I kegged my beer and I am finding that waiting is the hardest part. I am anxious to let the nectar flow and find out how it tastes… but patience is a virtue.

So in the mean time lunch breaks at work are spent reading brewing blogs, forums and books in an attempt to continue absorbing as much information as I can.

One point that I‘ve found comes up often is the question of working out the alcohol content of your home brew.

Alcohol Content

It is a valid question, but I’ve actually found it pretty hard to pin down a precise answer – as different brewers seem to favour different formulas.
Hydrometer

However, one constant in the alcohol maths is the main tool you use when gathering the numbers – of course, I’m talking about the hydrometer.

As you’ll no doubt be aware the hydrometer is used before fermentation (to find the original gravity – OG) and after fermentation (to find the final gravity – FG).

It is the difference between these readings that form the building blocks you require when working out how much alcohol has been produced by the yeast – when they’ve been snacking on the sugars in your beer.

The formula I have settled on for predicting the ABV (alcohol by volume), and one that I am fairly confident works well, is as follows:

ABV% = ((OG-FG) x 105) x 1.25)

Full disclosure: I’ve yet to find information explaining why 105 and why 1.25, but there we are.

With my recent extract home brew, the OG was 1.043 and the FG settled out at 1.012. Using the above formula this means that I have a beer on my hands (ok, in my pressure keg… don’t worry I’ve not contaminated the beer by sticking my hands in there) of around 4.06%.

ABV Reference Table

The reason I am happy with this formula (aside it being fairly straight forward – I should have paid more attention in maths at school!) is that in John J Palmer’s book “How to brew” I found a reference table for working out alcohol content.

Now, although this table is a general overview and should be taken with a pinch of salt, it does give you a nice reference point for you to check whether your formula conforms – the formula I use does.

Based upon John J Palmer’s table, I have made my own (apologies, it is rather crude due to width issues):

Original Gravity
Final Gravity 1.030 1.035 1.040 1.045 1.050 1.055 1.060 1.065 1.070 1.075
0.998 4.20 4.86 5.51 6.17 6.82 7.48 8.14 8.79 9.45 10.11
1.000 3.94 4.59 5.25 5.91 6.56 7.22 7.87 8.53 9.19 9.84
1.002 3.68 4.33 4.99 5.64 6.30 6.96 7.61 8.27 8.92 9.58
1.004 3.41 4.07 4.72 5.38 6.04 6.69 7.35 8.01 8.66 9.32
1.006 3.15 3.81 4.46 5.12 5.77 6.43 7.09 7.74 8.40 9.06
1.008 2.89 3.54 4.20 4.86 5.51 6.17 6.82 7.48 8.14 8.79
1.010 2.63 3.28 3.94 4.59 5.25 5.91 6.56 7.22 7.87 8.53
1.012 2.36 3.02 3.67 4.33 4.99 5.64 6.30 6.96 7.61 8.27
1.014 2.10 2.76 3.41 4.07 4.72 5.38 6.04 6.69 7.35 8.01
1.016 1.84 2.49 3.15 3.81 4.46 5.12 5.77 6.43 7.09 7.74
1.018 1.58 2.23 2.89 3.54 4.20 4.86 5.51 6.17 6.82 7.48
1.020 1.31 1.97 2.62 3.28 3.94 4.59 5.25 5.91 6.56 7.22
1.022 1.05 1.71 2.36 3.02 3.67 4.33 4.99 5.64 6.30 6.96
1.024 0.79 1.44 2.10 2.76 3.41 4.07 4.72 5.38 6.04 6.69

This is based upon table 10 in How to Brew: Everything You Need to Know to Brew Beer Right for the First Time by John J Palmer – page 98.

This table uses the formula stated earlier in the post and is for reference only – don’t take it as gospel.

Categories: Brewing Information | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Dipping my toes in Extract Brewing – Part 2

Well, it’s been one week and I am pretty sure… no, positive, that Strange Brew is ready for the keg.

After much sanitisation of equipment (Keg, Keg bits and bobs, Siphon tubes, bowls for sugar and gelatine, etc) I was ready to begin.

First I measured out 30 grams of white brewing sugar into a bowl and added 1 sachet of gelatine. I then retrieved the fementing bin:

Fermenting Complete

I took the last Hydrometer reading, which came out at 1.012. So, based on the OG of 1.043 it should work out at about 4.06% ABV if my calculations are right. If they’re wrong, please feel free to correct me. Still not 100% sure about calculating the alcohol content due to the fact there are a number of different formulas out there.

Once this was done I positioned the keg on the floor – with some towels in place to catch any spillage – and was ready to rock and/or roll:

Keg Ready

I began the siphon with the age old, but potentially bacteria compromising, sucking-on-the-tube-technique (I will be buying a better piece of siphoning kit soon – likely one with a pump to avoid possible contamination)  and collected around a pint in a measuring jug.

Adding some boiling water I then stirred in the gelatine, sugar mix until it was dissolved. Whilst this was going on the beer was passing nicely from the fermenter into the keg:

Siphoning beer

With the last of the beer locked away air tight in the keg, all that was left to do was store it safely away:

kegged

So… that’s that. I’m hoping that it’ll be in a state of good drinkability (I’m making up words) within the next 2-4 weeks. Patience is a virtue, apparently, so if it needs longer so be it.

Early signs are good – it had a nice aroma, sweet and not too overpowering.

Once the beer is ready – which could be for one of the last weekends of the 6 nations, so I’m not sure how long it will last – I’ll update on the outcome. Taste, colour, etc.

For now, all there is to do is wait and start planning the next recipe. I’m thinking a stout…

Categories: Extract Brewing | Tags: , | 2 Comments

Words words everywhere, nor any seem to make sense

Hmmm, that title is my rather poor attempt at some literature/home brew satire – I don’t think I pulled it off. I’ll just stick to simple ones in the future…

Anyway, to the purpose of today’s post. Words.

Home brewing, like most niche hobbies/interests has its own unique language.

As a relatively new brewer, I find that I regularly rely on Google to find a source which will explain terms that I come across whilst reading other blogs and forums.

So, to help myself keep track and learn the large plateau of home brew jargon that exists – it will hopefully aid others too – I intend to create and regularly maintain my own glossary of terms.

In other news, my first batch of extract home brew is almost ready to be kegged. I will update as and when this takes place.

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Dipping my toes in Extract Brewing – Part 1

Ok… that title may put some people off trying my first extract home brew, but it is purely metaphorical – honest!

I’ve brewed kit beer in the past, but this is the first time I have tried Extract Brewing. My goal is to try this method once or twice – to get a bit more experience – before moving onto all-grain brewing.

It’s all in the name – isn’t it?

I’ve decided to call the beer “Strange Brew”. This is mainly  an homage to the classic Cream song, however given this is my first attempt at Extract Brewing, the name could turn out to be very fitting!

As for the recipe, I’ve used the first recipe from “Brewing Beers Like Those You Buy” by Dave Line – Fullers E.S.B.

The copy of the book I own is actually pretty old (published in 1984 – hey that’s just older than me), I inherited it from my Granddad – who was a very keen home brewer and who gave me some of his equipment before he passed away. 

My plan is to base much of my early brews around the recipes in this book – there are many in here from Breweries of the 70’s that no longer exist. So it’ll be interesting to see how they turn out.

Anyway, to the good stuff – The ‘Strange Brew’ brewing process.

Ingredients

  • Medium Malt Extract
  • Crushed Crystal Malt
  • Soft Brown Sugar (not sure about this, but following the recipe)
  • Goldings Hops
  • Beer Yeast (I forget what I used)
  • Irish Moss
  • Gypsum
  • White Brewing Sugar

Process

So, I started by adding the malt extract, crystal malt, gypsum and Irish moss to around 3 gallons of hot water. Then added in the 2/3 of the hops and boiled for 35mins:

Boiling Home Brew

Due to this being my first time using the boiler, I think the water may have been a tad on the cool side and it took a while to get to the boil (live and learn).

After the boil was over, I switched off the heat, waited around 5 mins and added some more of the hops. Then once the wort was cool:

Wort Chiller Home Brew

I transferred it into the fermenting bin – using a mash bag as a sieve/massive tea bag. I washed the wort with boiled kettle water to get the last of the goodness out.

Straining Home Brew Wort

Next I dissolved the brown sugar in water and added to the bin, before topping it up to the 4 1/2 gallon mark with cold water.

My gravity reading was 1.043 and the beer is now comfortably fermenting away in my beer/coat cupboard.

Fermenting Home Brew

So, that’s it for now. All I’ve got is a few long can’t-wait-for them-to-pass days until part 2 begins – syphoning into my pressure barrel ready for the 2nd fermentation.

At this point I’m quite excited/anxious to see how it turns out. Fingers crossed….

Categories: Extract Brewing | Tags: , | 5 Comments

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