What If My Original Gravity Is Too High?

Learn what to do if your original gravity is too high in your homebrew, plus why it might be happening

TROUBLESHOOTING

Mat Stuckey

10/7/20233 min read

a close up of a glass of beer with drops of water
a close up of a glass of beer with drops of water

High Original Gravity (OG) - Introduction

Every homebrewer knows the critical role Original Gravity (OG) plays in the brewing process. It's the measure of sugars present in the wort before fermentation, giving a peek into the potential alcohol content of the finished brew.

However, stumbling upon a high Original Gravity can be a bit of a hiccup. It usually points to an excess of sugars which could result from several factors including an overload of malt extract or not enough water.

Potential Causes of High Original Gravity

Discovering a higher OG than expected is not uncommon. Here are some typical culprits:

  • Excess malt extract or grains: Too much malt can significantly spike the sugar levels.

  • Insufficient water volume: Not having enough water to balance the malt can result in a higher OG.

  • Inaccurate measurements: Sometimes, it's the small errors in measurement that throw off the OG.

Each of these scenarios presents a deviation from your brewing recipe, which could lead to an unanticipated rise in the alcohol by volume (ABV), or even an imbalance in flavour.

Implications of High Original Gravity

A high Original Gravity is not just a number; it's a prelude to what's to come:

  • Potential Higher Alcohol Content: More sugars for the yeast to feast on translates to higher alcohol content.

  • Impact on Flavour and Balance: A high OG can tip the scales, leading to a brew that might be overly sweet or alcoholic, overshadowing the other nuanced flavours intended for the brew.

Understanding the causes and implications of high OG is the first step towards rectifying the situation and getting your homebrew back on track.

Adjusting High Original Gravity

If you find yourself facing a high OG, fear not, there are several actions you can take to realign your brew:

  • Diluting the Wort: Adding more water to the wort is a straightforward solution to lower the OG. However, it's crucial to do this cautiously to avoid over-dilution which can lead to a bland beer.

  • Modifying the Yeast Strain: Employing a yeast strain with a higher alcohol tolerance can help manage the extra sugars without halting the fermentation process prematurely.

  • Adjusting the Fermentation Process: Tweaking the fermentation conditions, like temperature or duration, may also contribute to balancing out a high OG.

Preventing High Original Gravity in Future Brews

Prevention, they say, is better than cure. Here are some preventative measures for your future brewing endeavours:

  • Accurate Measuring Techniques: Ensure that measurements, especially of the malt extract and water, are accurate to prevent discrepancies in the OG.

  • Ensuring Correct Water-to-Malt Ratio: Adhering to the recommended water-to-malt ratio in your brewing recipe can significantly reduce the chances of a high OG.

Overcome High OG With These Steps

Encountering a high Original Gravity might initially be daunting, but with the right adjustments, it's a hurdle that can be overcome. Every brewing session is a learning experience. So, whether it's correcting the OG or tweaking your brewing process to prevent it in the future, each step takes you closer to mastering the art of homebrewing.

FAQ

  • How do I accurately measure my Original Gravity?

    • Use a calibrated hydrometer or refractometer to measure the Original Gravity. Ensure the wort is cool and follow the instructions on the device for an accurate reading.

  • Can high Original Gravity affect the colour or clarity of my beer?

    • High OG can potentially affect the colour and clarity as it often indicates a higher concentration of sugars and malts which might result in a darker and cloudier beer.

  • Are there specific types of beers that naturally have a higher Original Gravity?

    • Yes, certain styles like Imperial Stouts, Barleywines, and Belgian Strong Ales often have a higher Original Gravity due to their robust malt profiles and higher alcohol content.

  • How does the choice of malt influence the Original Gravity, and how can I choose the right malt to achieve the desired OG?

    • The type and amount of malt significantly influence OG. Selecting malts with lower sugar content or reducing the quantity of malt can help achieve the desired OG. Experimentation and experience will guide you in making the right malt choices for your brew.

Want more homebrewing tips? Head over to the Brewpedia blog for loads more!