Low Starting Gravity

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DME is the best way to get it up but in a pinch dextrose could be used.
No no no! do not add anything.

if you followed the recipe and added the right amount of water, there's NO WAY you missed your gravity.

When you boil all your malt extract in 2 gallons of water and then add 3 gallons of water to make a 5 gallon batch, it literally takes 10-15 minutes of mixing to get those two liquids to form a homogenous mixture.

put simply: your gravity reading was wrong. Many experienced extract brewers don't take an initial gravity reading because the recipe software calculates it for them. extract always gives the same gravity per pound of extract per gallon of water.
I agree with Malkore. Since you're doing extract, the only way your gravity will be off is if you added way too much water (assuming you're doing a partial boil). It's not like all grain where you could have gotten a lower efficiency. I wouldn't even bother taking an OG if you know the expected value for an extract batch to be honest.
I didn't add anything. By the time I was able to go to the store (about 8 hours later) it was already fermenting so I left it. I was amazed at how much more active beer is fermenting than wine does.
What are you doing to regulate ferm temps, bryan? Wine ferments around room temp (AFAIK), but normal ales should be kept in the high 60s and I'm talking about the temp of the wort, not the surrounding ambient temps. The temp of the wort can get 5-10 degrees warmer than the ambient temps for beer. High ferm temps can result in a quick but unhealthy fermentation and the final product can have various off flavors, specifically fusel alcohols.

Most new homebrewers think once they've pitched the yeast their job is done, but fermentation is the most important part of brewing beer.
I have it in the house. The temp strip says 70. Should I put it in the basement where the temp is about 5 degrees cooler than the house?
Yes, but that might not even be cool enough. Assuming your basement is 65 degrees (ambient), your wort during primary will be ~70-75. If it's 70, I suppose that's fine, but 75 is definitely too warm.

To regulate ferm temps, I have a freezer that is connected to a temp controller connected to a temp probe that allows me to keep the wort temp within one degree of where I want it. This option is a little expensive and you probably couldn't acquire the pieces of equipment fast enough for this batch.

A probably free and easy alternative is a water bath. Place your carboy in a keg tub or the like and fill it with water, submerging/surrounding the carboy with water. Put a t-shirt over the top of the carboy and wet it so that it will cool the top as well. A few times a day, add a bit of ice to it. This will hopefully keep your fermenting wort in acceptable temp range and avoid having fusel-laden beer aka rocket fuel.


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