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Old 06-03-2012, 04:58 PM   #1
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Default 3 weeks in primary and no fermentation

Brewed up a partial mash English bitter about 3 weeks ago, and I was hoping to have this kegged and carbed by the end of this weekend for some family that's coming to town. Was my first full boil in my small 7 gallon pot, but it worked fine, just had to keep my eye on it. Also hit all my numbers and temperatures without any problems. Ended up with 1.048 gravity, which is what beer tools pro called for. Used the Wyeast 1099 Whitbread without a starter (I know, I know...made my first starter with the last batch I brewed though) as I've had good results using just the smack packs. I knew there was going to be a lag time since I didn't use a starter, which was fine by me and I put it in my closet and let it ride. I went out of town for the weekend two days after I brewed so I wasn't able to keep my eye on everything. I came back and it looked like it had a settling layer of krausen on top and it had a few bubbles in the air lock (used a glass carboy btw). I let that sit in the carboy for about 3 weeks since I was waiting for my keg to open up. I was planning on racking to the keg today and I took a gravity reading and came up right at 1.046??? What's the deal?

My question now is, how do I get the yeast active again, if that's possible? Or do I need to pitch another pack? Basically, where do I go from here?

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Old 06-03-2012, 05:28 PM   #2
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Silly question but I've seen it before, how did you take your reading and are you sure the hydrometer was floating and not bottoming out, if you saw evidence of krausen it had to have fermented more than .002 points

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Old 06-03-2012, 05:33 PM   #3
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Does it taste sweet? I agree - sounds like a technical reading issue. Did the smack pack inflate? Were the temps OK in the spot where it was sitting? Assuming so if you saw krausen, and agree that 0.002 seems very odd with evidence of fermentation.

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Old 06-03-2012, 05:45 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies guys. I know it sounds weird, and I'm having trouble seeing anything wrong with what I did. That's why I came here and asked.

Smack pack inflated and temps were fine where I let it ferment (upper 60's for the most of the day). But I always fill up my test tube to where it doesn't bottom out. I also spin the hydrometer and let everything settle out of the way to where I can see everything clearly, so I know that's not the issue. It smells and tastes incredibly yeasty though. A little sweet and some bitterness from the hops, but definitely getting smacked in the face with yeast. Could the yeast be dormant and still sit on top??? Could that have been the layer of what I though was krausen on top?

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Old 06-03-2012, 06:31 PM   #5
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When you added the yeast did you aerate and mix it in or did you just pour it on the top?
Based upon your description it sounds like its just sitting there and wasn't mixed in?

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Old 06-03-2012, 06:36 PM   #6
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Agree with the above. The slight difference in hydrometer readings could be attributed to temp variations. Sounds to me like you have no fermentation at all? I'd get some dry yeast in there swirl the carboy some and see what happens. By all means take another gravity reading now just in case, but you either have dead yeast or some mystery problem.

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Old 06-03-2012, 06:45 PM   #7
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Aerated it as best as I could. Put the stopper on and shook the carboy for well over two minutes before I pitched, then swirled gently after I pitched so I know it was mixed in. I wish I knew what the date on the yeast pack was too. I'll have to run to the home brew store on monday and grab some dry yeast and try that I guess.

Also the gravity reading is sitting on my kitchen counter as we speak, and it's more then likely showing the temp drop from when I pitched to fermenting temps like befus suggested.

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Old 06-03-2012, 08:00 PM   #8
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Sounds like you got an old pack with very little viable yeast. As mentioned, re-pitch, sucks you wasted 3 weeks

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Old 06-03-2012, 08:06 PM   #9
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Do you have a second hydrometer? It's possible the paper shifted.

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Old 06-03-2012, 08:38 PM   #10
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Negatory on the 2nd hydrometer, but the paper didn't shift. I store it on it's side in an air conditioned room so there's no way the wax could have melted. I might have noticed if it shifted even 10 points, much less 40. That number I got is exactly the pre-pitching number anyway, so that's kind of a moot point.

Sucks that I waited so long to check, because I was at the home brew store (which is close to 50 miles away) last week. Guess I'll have to get ingredients for another batch while I'm there.....Shucks. I definitely appreciate all the help and speculation so far. I'll keep you guys posted on what happens though.

p.s. Here's some pictures of what my carboy looks like, if anybody is interested. Looked like this for 3 weeks.



Close up of the layer of stuff on the top. Looks just like yeast to me.

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