Does using enhancer lower the ABV?

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Tokibrewer

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Hi there, I’ve been extract brewing since the start of the year and have recently started branching out into other options and hope to eventually get into all grain brewing. Since using enhancer, I have noticed my FG is always higher and my beer ends up being between 3%-4% even though the kit says it should be higher. My last brew I added some additional dextrose just to get the ABV up a bit as it was a lager and was meant to be 4% but came out 3.2%. Any help appreciated.
 
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Nick the Knife

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Coopers Brew Enhancer 1 contains dextrose and maltodextrin.
Coopers Brew Enhancer 2 contains dextrose, maltodextrin and Light Dry Malt.
Coopers Brew Enhancer 3 contains a high proportion of Light Dry Malt combined with dextrose and maltodextrin.
Sugars that ferment, produce alcohol as a by product - thus increase the ABV.

I'm reading between the lines of what you're saying - but you have to bear in mind those recipes are generally 'in a perfect world'. So unless you have exactly the same conditions as them & all other variables, your results will differ.

I assume you're using something like this via gravity readings to calculate ABV?

Using the kit yeast (a single one? Coopers generic?) or 3rd party? Controlled temps during ferment period or ambient?

I'd personally not worry about the ABV too much - if it tastes good thats considerably more important than hitting a given alcohol level. I'd be certain the variable thats stopping you hitting it is the yeast used (not enough & not as good as 3rd party ones) and perhaps it wasn't fully fermented given the cold temps at present, if at ambient.
 

Tokibrewer

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Hi there, I’ve been extract brewing since the start of the year and have recently started branching out into other options and hope to eventually get into all grain brewing. Since using enhancer, I have noticed my FG is always higher and my beer ends up being between 3%-4% even though the kit says it should be higher. My last brew I added some additional dextrose just to get the ABV up a bit as it was a lager and was meant to be 4% but came out 3.2%. Any help appreciated.
Sugars that ferment, produce alcohol as a by product - thus increase the ABV.

I'm reading between the lines of what you're saying - but you have to bear in mind those recipes are generally 'in a perfect world'. So unless you have exactly the same conditions as them & all other variables, your results will differ.

I assume you're using something like this via gravity readings to calculate ABV?

Using the kit yeast (a single one? Coopers generic?) or 3rd party? Controlled temps during ferment period or ambient?

I'd personally not worry about the ABV too much - if it tastes good thats considerably more important than hitting a given alcohol level. I'd be certain the variable thats stopping you hitting it is the yeast used (not enough & not as good as 3rd party ones) and perhaps it wasn't fully fermented given the cold temps at present, if at ambient.
Evening,

Yes I use the standard yeast it comes with. My temperature is consistent during fermentation but yes perhaps you are right and I should consider what’s in my enhancer a bit more! I also use a ABV calculator app. The beer tastes good, thanks for your response.
 

Good Truble

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Do the kits you are using say what yeast is included?

If fermentable sugar is in there, then the yeast should convert it. Different yeasts operate (well) within set temperature and abv ranges.

If you just want to drive up abv, add some sugar or extra dme to the boil next time, but the more sugar you add, the more it can thin out your beer. At some point, you will also max out the yeasts' top end abv range (but you don't seem very close to that yet).
 

Tokibrewer

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Do the kits you are using say what yeast is included?

If fermentable sugar is in there, then the yeast should convert it. Different yeasts operate (well) within set temperature and abv ranges.

If you just want to drive up abv, add some sugar or extra dme to the boil next time, but the more sugar you add, the more it can thin out your beer. At some point, you will also max out the yeasts' top end abv range (but you don't seem very close to that yet).
I’m using mangrove jacks and black rock kits mainly and the yeast does not have a description as far as I’m aware. I think I need to be more aware of what’s in my enhancer and perhaps look at branching into better quality yeasts. Thanks for your reply.
 

philrob

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Kit yeasts are not necessarily bad, just that there generally is not enough of it, and that it tends to be non-specific to style at times.
 

ckirtley

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I think this makes sense. The enhancers contain a proportion of maltodextrin, which is not fermentable. So it will keep the gravity high.
 

Liambeer

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The kit stuff generally allows some abv of .5% to be added during bottle conditioning. If you are doing a kit and a bit, the kit yeast will be fine
 

MHB

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Last I heard Blackrock and Mangrove Jacks kits were using Mauri 514 yeast in their kits (follow the link), If I were making a kit in Oz or NZ its probably the yeast I would reach for first.

Roughly to calculate the ABV we take the change in gravity and divide it by 7.5. The easy way is to treat the 3 places after the decimal as whole numbers (ie 1.050 would be called 50 "points). If a 1.050 wort was fermented down to 1.010 we would say the change was 40 points. The ABV would be 40/7.5=5.33%. It’s the CHANGE in gravity that matters.

Pretty obviously if you add more fermentable sugars (brewers call everything other than water/moisture Solids) your OG goes up. The more of those solids that are fermentable the higher the alcohol content. The more of the solids that are unfermentable the higher the FG and the lower the alcohol content... Within the alcohol limits of the yeast.
If you added 1kg of Lactose your OG and FG would go up by the same amount but the ABV wouldn’t go up at all.

If you want to have a play around with the numbers (even if you use a calculator it’s good to know what it’s doing), the basic equation you need is -
Mass Solids = Volume * SG * oP
Plato (oP) is the % weight of solids in a given mass of wort, to get from SG to oP (approximately) we use -
SG = (4*oP)/1000 = 1
So a 1.050 wort would be 12.5oP or 12.5 % solids
Volume of wort times its density gives you the mass of wort so if you had 23L of wort at 1.050 it would have a mass (OK weigh) of 24.15kg, 12.5% of that being ~3.02kg (solids)

A couple of other handy bits of information
LME is around 80% Solids; a 1.7kg kit contains ~1.36kg of solids and around 65% fermentable.
Dry Malt Extract is ~98% Solids and around 65% Fermentable.
Sugar (Sucrose) is 100% Solids and 100% fermentable.
Dextrose is 91% Solids (9% moisture) the solids are 100% fermentable.
Maltodextrin and Lactose are pretty much 95% (can be a pretty wide rang from 2-9%) solids and 0% fermentable.
Honey is around 80% solids and all of it is fermentable (well except for some very nice smelling/tasting bits and pieces <1%).

Tinkering with the equations lets you predict pretty accurately what both your OG and FG and the resulting ABV will be.
Sticking the equations in a spreadsheet and using "Goal Seek" makes it pretty easy to manipulate.
Yes brewing is a science.
Mark
 

swiftyb

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The other consideration is volume - how much are you making vs the kit suggesting (eg. if you're making a 23L batch, but the kit suggests 19L - then there is ~20% difference - your beer will be 20% lower ABV).

Cheers
 

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