Making homebrew is an acquired skill, and you are likely not going to master it the first time around. In fact, some homebrewers might need several attempts before being successful. Adding too much water is one mistake you can make when trying your hand at brewing your own nice, cold beer from the comfort of your home.
In some instances, if you have added too much water to the wort, it will turn out okay. The beer may have a lower ABV and may lack a bit in taste. However, you can add dextrose, sugar, or both to raise both the alcohol content and the malt to help recover the loss in flavor.
Nobody wants to sip on a beer that is lacking flavor. Well, if you are worried you added too much water to your homebrew, we have a few solutions you can try.
We’re going to take an in-depth look at the effects of water on homebrew and how to stop it.
What Happens When There is Too Much Water in Homebrew?
Of course, adding too much water when you are home brewing is going to have negative consequences on your final product. The level of changes will differ depending on how much water was added, though, so consider that when dealing with negative side effects including:
- Lower ABV. ABV, which is simply the alcohol by volume, “is a standard measure of how much alcohol (ethanol) is contained in a given volume of an alcoholic beverage.” Calculated by ABV = 131 x (Starting SG – Final SG), the less ABV you have, the weaker your beer will be. Think a 5.0% ABV lowered to 4.4%.
- Thinner Head and Mouthfeel. When we talk about head and mouthfeel, we are essentially talking about the consistency of the beer and how it feels when drinking. A thicker, malt beer that is overwatered may have a lighter beer consistency.
- Less Carbonation. Sometimes, excess water in a homebrew can have a negative impact on the carbonation of the beer.
- Less Flavor. Aside from a lowered ABV, one of the biggest disappointments associated with too much water in a homebrew is the lack of flavor. Now, keep in mind that someone who has never brewed before might not notice — but a novice knows when his beer flavor has been tweaked.
Keep in mind that sometimes the extra water does not make much of a difference.
For instance, if you add 0.25 extra gallons to your homebrew, it won’t make too much of a difference as opposed to adding .50 or more.
When a small amount of extra water is added, you can opt for a longer boil to help reduce the water content.
You will know whether you can do a longer boil once you check the OG (Original Gravity) levels. For instance, if you are supposed to have an OG of 1.050 (calculated here) and your readings are saying that you are at a 1.070, you can easily boil off those extra 32 ounces of water and have great tasting beer.
If you do not want to do a longer boil or have added even more than 0.25 extra water, you may have a trickier situation on your hands.
Luckily, there are two remedies that can quickly bring your homebrew back to life and leave you with delicious tasting beer.
What Should You Do If You Add Too Much Water to Homebrew?
If you are willing to fiddle with your homebrew, you have a few options.
Which method you choose depends on whether you are concerned more with the flavor or the ABV or the alcohol content.
Let’s take a closer look at the options.
1) If You Are Concerned About the Alcohol Content
Keep in mind that adding too much water to your homebrew will simply mean that you’re drinking a lighter beer.
It may take a few extra to reach your “happy point,” but it isn’t the end of the world.
But if you were dead set on getting your hands on an IPA at the end of your homebrewing journey, you can do one simple thing: add sugar.
Well, sugar is going to help with your ABV level and the flavor problem of too much water in your wort.
Remember that during fermentation, yeast consumes dextrose and other sugars. In turn, the yeast releases the alcohol, carbon dioxide, and flavor necessary for a top-notch beer.
You also have the option of adding dextrose on its own, as this will also affect the overall ABV and flavor of the beer.
Keep in mind, though, that dextrose tends to produce a lighter-bodied beer with a subtler flavor. You might want to consider adding sugar and dextrose to the wort.
When using food grade or homebrewer’s priming sugar, many brewers just throw the sugar in.
However, other homebrewers take no risk with contaminating their brew.
To make sure anything you add to the solution is safe, the sugar or dextrose (or both) should be dissolved in as little water as possible. Boil the water to sanitize it, wait for it to cool, and then add it to your homebrew.
Here’s a great calculator to help you decide how much to add.
2) If You Are Concerned About the Flavor
Flavor, on the other hand, will require malt.
When using all-grain brewing, you have to boil the grains to extract the malt. If your gravity reading is too low after boiling, it can be difficult and time consuming to boil additional grains in more water to add to your wort. Malt extract, then, can save you time and effort (and your beer).
You need to treat the malt extract the same as sugar when you add malt extract to the wort.
This means that you boil and cool it before adding it to your homebrew.
This is especially true if you are using LME (liquid malt extract) as opposed to DME (dry malt extract).
If you are concerned about the malt extract becoming diluted as well, you also have the option of adding whole hops at a late stage in the fermenting process.
This will ensure that your beer is getting all the much-needed flavor without compromising on flavor, once again, by the water.
How much DME is needed?
Well, you will want to start by calculating the difference between your goal OG and what you currently have. You will need to multiply what you have by 1000 points. For instance, if your goal is 1.060, but you only have 1.035, then you would use the following calculation — (1.060 minus 1.035) times 1000. This leaves you behind by 25, which is how much DME points/gallons are necessary.
From here, we can find out how much DME to use.
Start by figuring out your final yield amount, such as 1.3 gallons. You will need to multiple 25 by the final yield amount, such as 1.3, which equates to 32.5. Finally, divide 32.5 by 46 to get the amount needed — 0.71 lbs.
When All Else Fails
If you’re concerned about your current beer’s water level, you also have the option of brewing another batch of stronger beer and mixing the two together.
Sure, this will take a lot more time on your behalf, but you will be left with a lot more beer to drink.
It seems somewhat of a win-win situation!
Adding too much water to your homebrew is not the end of the world.
In most cases, you can leave it alone and still have a tasty beer — just be extra careful next time.
However, you can also add dextrose, sugar, or malt extract to increase the ABV and flavor of the beer. Just boil and cool it before adding to ensure it is sanitary.
Then there is only one thing left to do—enjoy your tasty handiwork.