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Old 08-11-2011, 01:12 PM   #1
ScrewBrew
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Default Consistantly Poor Attenuation...What Am I Doing Wrong???

First....thanks for all the great advice this forum has provided! I've been brewing since this past Christmas. My wife got me a kick-a$$ kit with glass carboys from Northern Brewer.

Anywho, I've got about 10 or so batches under my belt and altough I've been very pleased with the flavor and quality of the beers I've brewed.....one thing has always remained the same. I consistantly have high final gravity readings.

With the exception of two ciders I brewed, most of my brews don't get past 1.018-1.019 for a final gravity reading. Not the end of the world but it leaves the beer on the sweet side. Most of the beers I have brewed start out with correct OG readings (usually high 1040's to mid 1050's).

I have been using dry yeast, which I have been rehydrating per the manufacturers instructions. I always pitch into a wort that is around 75 or so degrees. I aerate the bajeezus out of it by swirling vigorously for 5-10 minutes. Temperatures have been on the high side but nothing alarming. Room temps are usually low 70's.

Any ideas on why my final gravity readings are always too high???

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Old 08-11-2011, 01:17 PM   #2
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I would pitch a little lower temp although that would be an unlikely cause of low attenuation.

How do you rehydrate? This is what I do:

90-100 degree sterile water
Let sit 15 minutes or so before stirring
Stir and let sit 10 minutes or so
Slowly add small amounts of wort to bring the yeast to wort temp slowly

But it may not be your yeast. How much crystal or carapils do you use? What about mash temps/times? Or are you doing extract?

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Old 08-11-2011, 01:20 PM   #3
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Extract or AG? Back when I was extract brewing almost all of my IPA's stalled at 1.020, even with Pacman. If AG, look at your mash temps, your thermometer calibration and the amount of crystal malts in your grain bill.

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Old 08-11-2011, 01:21 PM   #4
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Rehydrating according to the manufacturer's instructions is wise. Are you pitching one or two packs of yeast? Use Mr. Malty to help you decide but another pack is one obvious thing to try.

You don't say whether you are brewing extract or AG. Some extracts don't ferment out as well. I've never encountered the "1.020 curse" since going AG but did a few times with extract.

Lastly, have you checked your hydrometer? It should read 1.000 in distilled water at 68 degrees (or whatever temperature it is calibrated to; it will say on the instructions). My own hydrometer reads 0.003 high.

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Old 08-11-2011, 01:28 PM   #5
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Could be your mash temps are a little high (if you're doing AG).

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Old 08-11-2011, 01:40 PM   #6
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Wow...lots of quick responses...thanks!

1. I've been playing around with extracts only for now. Northern Brewer's and Midwest Supply so far.

2. For yeast rehydration I usually add the yeast to 102 degree sterile water, stir and let sit for 30 minutes. Often times it is more like an hour since my timing can sometimes be off. Either way though the yeast temp is usually about the same temp as the wort once I pitch it.

3. Since I have been brewing smaller beers I have just been using one packet of yeast. One time I used two 11 gram packets because I thought they were 6gram packs.....and still ended up with a high FG beer. I always check with Mr.Malty as well....

I've been in the habit of adding a half dose of yeast nutrient and a half dose of yeast energizer per batch. I've always had very aggressive fermentations that start very quickly.

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Old 08-11-2011, 02:00 PM   #7
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Just in case this will help answer any questions, my previous brew was a Caribou Slobber Brown Ale by Northern Brewer. Here is the recipe....

1. Steep grains for 20 min or until temp reaches 170. 4oz Briess Caramel 80L, 4oz Fawcett Pale Chocolate, 2 oz Black Malt.
2. Boil 6lbs Amber LME and 1lb Amber DME
3. 1 oz US Goldings at 60 min, 1 oz Liberty at 45 min, 1 oz Willamette at 15 min.
4. At 5 min I added some yeast nutrient

Super active fermentation, had to hook up a blow off at 12 hours. I kept the fermentation temp at 69 degrees by using a fan and wet towel. After 48-72 hours the krausen had fallen back in. I stopped the wet towel/fan trick and temps slowly rose to room temp (74-75) in a few days. Gravity had stabilized after a week. I kept it in the primary for a total of 11 days and just put it into the secondary. I'll probably keep it there for another 3 weeks. OG was 1053, SG was 1019 when I put it into the secondary....which was last night.

I had rehydrated the yeast but it sat in the water for a little over an hour. I really need a propane burner.....by electric stove takes too long to boil/return to boil. The yeast was Danstar Windsor Ale.

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Old 08-11-2011, 02:11 PM   #8
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I think it is the extract that is causing the high FG. I am an AG brewer, but occasionally do an extract batch to try out a concept or just for time. I never seem to get good attenuation when making extract batches. Mine all stall out around 1.018-1.020. I know it isn't my fermentation because I culture up all my yeast to proper pitching rates and have a dual controller for fermentation temps.

Try replacing some of the extract with some table sugar, or even some turbinado to dry it out a little more. Try the same recipe, but exchange the 1 lb DME for 1 lb sugar and see how that does.

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