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Old 05-17-2010, 05:20 AM   #1
vertexbrew
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Default Appeared to Ferment for 4 days but has no Yeast Cake

Looked but couldn't find exact situation that I need help with.

I tried a Young's Double Chocolate Stout Clone AG recipe I found in BYO magazine. Followed the recipe (but doubled it to be a 10g) pretty much minus a few extra sugars my HBS said I didn't have to have and it started fermenting (or at least I thought it was) no problem on Wednesday. Fermented for a few days and then yesterday stopped.

I opened the lid and saw that there does not appear to be any Yeast Build up.

I'm concerned as to how it looked to be fermenting but there is hardly any visible yeast cake. What are my options now? I would like to save this batch as I paid quite a lot for all the ingredients it being a 10gallon batch.

Was the Fermentation? not really the kind I wanted? Was it a bacteria that was fermenting possibly turning my beer into Vinegar? I tried it and it smells odd but taste like coffee and chocolate.

Can I perhaps get some more yeast and add it to it??

Thanks in advance and sorry for the length.
This is only my 5th AG Batch and all the others turned out great.

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Old 05-17-2010, 05:23 AM   #2
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The temp on the Recipe was 68' F so I kept it there with a variance of 2 degrees +/-

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Old 05-17-2010, 06:10 AM   #3
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It sounds like you are using a bucket and that you expect to see the yeast cake at the bottom after fermentation. Through a Double Black Stout?
Take a gravity reading. This is your first measure of successful fermentation. Do not do anything until you find out if the first yeast accomplished its mission.

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Old 05-17-2010, 06:34 AM   #4
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Wait, I shouldn't be able to see the yeast on top?? So It's on the bottom then? I have a hydrometer but not exactly sure how to read it. There are no lines that move on it to tell me 10.60 or whatever. I usually let it go until it's done.

Thanks

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Old 05-17-2010, 06:37 AM   #5
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What I mean is, every time I've brewed in the past (with the same yeast) I've had a layer of yeast cake on the top. And now when I do not see a very thick healthy yeast build up I am concerned for the beer.

Cheers

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Old 05-17-2010, 10:26 AM   #6
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That layer on the top will fall to the bottom once fermentation has completed. Taking a gravity reading is the only foolproof method to determine if fermentation is complete. If you take readings for 3 consecutive days and they are the same, fermentation is completed. If your hydrometer doesn't have a scale in it, its not much use. do yourself a favor and get a new one.

Cheers,
Glenn

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Old 05-17-2010, 10:54 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vertexbrew View Post
Wait, I shouldn't be able to see the yeast on top?? So It's on the bottom then? I have a hydrometer but not exactly sure how to read it. There are no lines that move on it to tell me 10.60 or whatever. I usually let it go until it's done.

Thanks
If I am understanding what you mean, nothing on your hydrometer will move. It is not like a thermometer. When you place it in the wort or beer it will sink to a level based on the gravity of the liquid. You read the line that is at the surface of the beer. Pure water should read 1.000. Your beer will be higher than that. Sorry if I am assuming too much here.
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Old 05-17-2010, 11:47 AM   #8
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What is YOUR definition of "signs of fermenting" that you are referring to? Are you saying the AIRLOCK was bubbling? That is really not an accurate "sign" the airlock is not a fermentation gauge, it is a valve to release excess co2 (and even02 as it is initially being purged by the co2 building up initially after the yeast starts working.) But many beers brew without a blip in the airlocks, others ferment strongly and bubble for a couple of days, but as the excess co2 production winds down there may not be a need for it to blip, yet there is still plenty of fermenting it still needs to do.

That's why you need to take a gravity reading, NOT go by airlocks. The most important tool you can use is a hydrometer. It;'s the only way you will truly know when your beer is ready...airlock bubbles and other things are faulty. So is looking at the amount of kra usen you have or whether it is still there or not . It could have been a very fast and clean ferment and the krausen could have formed and fallen quicky, or it still hasn't formed yet, since sometimes there's a 72 hour lag time before it even begins to form.

The only way to truly know what is going on in your fermenter is with your hydrometer. Like I said here in my blog, which I encourage you to read, Think evaluation before action you sure as HELL wouldn't want a doctor to start cutting on you unless he used the proper diagnostic instuments like x-rays first, right? You wouldn't want him to just take a look in your eyes briefly and say "I'm cutting into your chest first thing in the morning." You would want them to use the right diagnostic tools before the slice and dice, right? You'd cry malpractice, I would hope, if they didn't say they were sending you for an MRI and other things before going in....

Thinking about "doing anything" without taking a hydrometer reading is tantamount to the doctor deciding to cut you open without running any diagnostic tests....Taking one look at you and saying, "Yeah I'm going in." You would really want the doctor to use all means to properly diagnose what's going on?

So if you are in doubt, take a reading and it will tell you and us what is happening.

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Old 05-17-2010, 01:11 PM   #9
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The "cake" that forms on top of your beers regularly isn't the yeast cake. It's krausen. Basically it's just whipped up beer, yeast and anything else that you have in your fermenter when you have extremely active fermentation. If you have a slow fermentation (typical in a stout) then you might not get much of a krausen at all. The cake is what's left after fermentation is complete and everything settles at the bottom of the fermenter.

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Old 05-17-2010, 06:12 PM   #10
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A fermentation lock will demonstrate that the gas pressure in the fermenter is a few cm of water greater than atmospheric pressure. Ongoing gas production will either result in release of the gas pressure by one route or another, or absorption of the CO2 into solution, as in carbonation. However, you can only use the lock as a measure of gas production if there is not an easier way out for the gas. If your system is [B]really[B] airtight, then the lock will be telling. That seems a bit optimistic for a bucket, especially on that has been used a few times. It doesn't take much of a scratch on the edge for the gasket to no longer give that tight of a seal. If you were fermenting in a corny keg it might be a different story.

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