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Old 08-09-2011, 02:13 AM   #1
small_apt
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Default Failed Pale Ale?

I brewed my first batch this Sunday, and while everything on the brew day went well, it has now been 24 hours and I have no activity in my carboy / airlock. I'd greatly appreciate suggestions you might have. I live in a small apartment, but wanted to brew all grain, so I've scaled down the typical 5 gallon batch by half, using a 3 gallon drink cooler with a false bottom I ground down to fit the smaller size as a mash and lauter tun. Here is a little detail on the recipe and brew day:

Recipe: Lady Liberty American Pale Ale (from Palmer)
Recipe Volume: 2.5 gallons
Pre-Boil Volume: 3.5 gallons
OG: 1.047

Grain Bill:
3.5 lbs pale malt, .25 lbs. crystal 60L, .25. lbs amber, .25 lbs. Munich.

Mash / Lauter:
Single infusion mash @ 155 degrees, with a two-step sparge. First sparge at 60 minutes, the second 15 minutes later. All volume and temperature calculations were from Palmer's How to Brew. I hit 155.8 for the first infusion, stirred every 15 minutes to redistribute mash, and the final temp. before the first sparge was 151.8. I hit 155.1 for the second infusion / sparge. This yielded a little over 3 and a half gallons of wort.

Boil:
.25 oz Northern Brewer for 60 min, .25 oz. Cascade for 30 min and .5 oz Cascade for 10 min.

I used an ice bath to cool the wort to 69 degrees, which took 35 minutes. I stirred, being careful not to let any water drip in. The spoon was sanitized from the boil. I whirlpooled, let wort settle 10 min, and transferred wort to sanitized carboy, getting a shade over 2.5 gallons. Aerated wort, sanitizing anything that touched it. I pitched half a pack of Wyeast 1056 (I smacked the nutrient pack 2 hours prior). Once pitched, I re-aerated wort, put in sanitized airlock.

I live in a small apartment with no A/C, and I knew the summer would be rough on fermentation, so I build a modified Son of Fermentation chiller. It can maintain 69.5 in an ambient temp of about 90. I placed the wort in, however unbeknown to me an hour later a pre-set energy star program turned the fan off. The wort spent the night at 73.5 degrees, 1.5 degrees above the optimal range. I noticed this in the morning, put in new ice and brought the temp down to 69.5, where it has stayed. Its now been a little over 24 hours and I have no activity.

Possibilities I've considered:
- Infection. Possible, but I cleaned and sanitized meticulously.
- Fermentation too hot. Also possible, but I would have expected a flurry of activity with a quick drop off. Instead, I've seen no activity. Also, the temp wasn't excessively above the optimal range.
- Bad yeast / poor yeast preparation. Two hours after breaking the nutrient pack, the yeast packet had inflated, indicating activity. The pitching temp of the yeast was a little warm, at 75 degrees. I pitched half a pack, which should have been a sufficient pitching rate for a 2.5 gallon batch of a medium / low gravity ale.

I hoped to have a nice thick kreusen at this point...or even some activity, however I've got nothing. Any ideas? Should I re-pitch?


Thanks!

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Old 08-09-2011, 02:25 AM   #2
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Relax and give it another day. While not a great sign, I've had beers that didn't start for 2-3 days. What yeast did you use? If the yeast pack swelled up and there was sugar in your wort, there WILL be fermentation. All your temps look fine, a little warm but fine. It would be almost impossible to not have fermentation. Give it a day or two and see what happens.

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Old 08-09-2011, 02:27 AM   #3
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Wait, it will start.

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Old 08-09-2011, 02:52 AM   #4
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I've been there, brother. I apartment-brewed until I finished college last year. I like your style, effective low-cost solutions at work. You sound like you have a good handle on sanitation, too. These guys above me are right, you're most likely fine. Sometimes it takes a bit.

Just to put your mind at ease, I wouldn't worry about the high temps, your beer hasn't really gotten going yet. Which yeast did you use? The most important times for temp control are the first couple days once the airlock starts bubbling.

If you want to keep your beer even cooler, you could try building a fermentation chamber. You can make a cheap easy one out of foam insulation board and tape and hook it up to your window AC or central vent. The AC will still keep your house cool because cold air will leak out of the chamber pretty fast. You'll have to mess around with the AC settings a bit, way easier with the window unit.

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Old 08-09-2011, 02:56 AM   #5
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I consistantly ferment around 70* with 1056...shouldn't be your problem...wait a bit and i bet it gets started

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Old 08-09-2011, 01:13 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone for the responses. I pitched a half pack of Wyeast 1056.

Rexbanner: I was thinking about a way to hook up my A/C wall unit. I modified the ‘Son of Fermentation’ plans similar to the website below, only built for two 3 gallon carboys instead of 6.5 gallon carboys. I have two separate front panels for the fermentation and cooling chambers, so I think I will try to build a second cooling chamber panel that can accommodate a hose from the A/C. The biggest difficulty here will be that it will be tough to precisely control the temperature….that is unless I disconnect the thermometer in the A/C and solder it on wires to extend it into the chamber. But at that point I might as well convert a mini-fridge. Part of the reason I went with the Son of Fermentation chamber was to reduce ongoing electricity costs, but I am quickly realizing how big a pain it is to change out ice all the time. I fell asleep last night dreaming of glycol jacketed conicals….might have a tough time justifying the cost and space with the wife.

http://www.wortomatic.com/articles/3...tation-Chiller

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Old 08-09-2011, 03:37 PM   #7
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I suspect by the time you get home from work today, it'll be bubbling away. It *sounds* like your process is just fine, so now it's the interminable "first batch" wait ;-)

One tip: next time you might as well pitch the whole yeast pack.

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Old 08-09-2011, 05:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwarbiany View Post
One tip: next time you might as well pitch the whole yeast pack.
I used the other half a pack to make a starter I'm hoping to cultivate. But I did contemplate pitching the whole pack. I was wondering, are there any downsides to over-pitching? I'm aware of the downfalls of under-pitching, but I haven't heard or read of any downsides to over-pitching.
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