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Old 04-24-2011, 01:15 AM   #1
isaacandreas
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Default Fermentation dilemma


I started brewing a batch of Coopers English Bitter ale two weeks ago.
This is my second batch, as the first one is still conditioning in bottles.
I am a huge fan researching and not posting as there is always answers out there. I've been using this site for a month now through my brewing process's and just registered as I am stumped, and I am not sure what to do now, looking for advice.
So its been two weeks now, I pitched the yeast while the brew was at 73 degrees. I set the brew in my back room, as the tempurature back there had been a steady 65 degrees and spring was on its way, so I thought I'd be fine. Well just my luck two days after I set it back there, bubbles had started in the airlock and fermentation had started. Since then the temp has gone from 70 to 65 to 55 and back up. I checked the airlock every day for the first week and the airlock never really bubbled like I thought it should, I checked under the lid and there was a small layer of foam. the temp went all over the place for a week, and I finally set it in my closet at a steady temp of 74 degrees hoping to keep it more steady. I opened it to check with the hydrometer and a extremely strong sweet smell and a reading of 1.170 which is right where it was when I initially pitched the yeast!
I'm not sure what to do. Is my yeast dead? Will it activate? has it been to long? Should I buy and pitch more yeast?
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Old 04-24-2011, 03:24 AM   #2
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Can you confirm your hydrometer readings? 1.170 is awfully high. At first I thought you meant 1.017, but then you said that was also your starting gravity. If you're really measuring 1.170, your hydrometer is probably broken.

In general, you want to avoid large fluctuations in temperature. It is OK, and probably recommended that the fermentation temperature rise slightly throughout the process, but drops in temperature are not supposed to happen until the yeast has done its job. The fact that there was foam when you looked in the fermenter is a good sign. It was also a good move to get it to a steady, warmer location. 74 may be a little too warm, but if it's the best you've got, it shouldn't be too bad.

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Old 04-24-2011, 10:53 AM   #3
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Yeah, I'd recheck those readings -they really don't make sense.
While you're at it, after you grab the sample for the reading, taste your sample (after you remove they hydrometer, please! ) and see how it tastes. If all else fails, as we used to say in the printing business: "You're selling the product, not the numbers!" -you will know if it tastes like beer (albeit flat) or pond water. I also agree that while wild swings aren't optimal, you probably didn't suffer for it. All it would have (likely) done was to slow the yeast a bit, but then the return would wake 'em back up.

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Old 04-24-2011, 07:36 PM   #4
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yep that is my hydrometer reading. Thats why I was stumped? Is it possible that the paper inside the hydrometer has slipped and is in a differen't position than it should be? I sprayed my meter with disinfectact spray that I've been using throughout my process and dropped it straight into the fermentation bucket. Will this make a difference? Would it be a different reading if I extracted some to sample in a clear pipe or container? it tastes like super sweet beer.. so I'm guessing the yeast haven't devoured too much sugar, but still has an alcohol flavor too it so it is working I'd imagen.
My plans are to just leave it for a couple weeks or two, I'm in no hurry to get it bottled because I don't think the first batch was done fermenting, and would rather be safe than sorry if my hydrometer is damaged.

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Old 04-24-2011, 07:36 PM   #5
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yep that is my hydrometer reading. Thats why I was stumped? Is it possible that the paper inside the hydrometer has slipped and is in a differen't position than it should be? I sprayed my meter with disinfectact spray that I've been using throughout my process and dropped it straight into the fermentation bucket. Will this make a difference? Would it be a different reading if I extracted some to sample in a clear pipe or container? it tastes like super sweet beer.. so I'm guessing the yeast haven't devoured too much sugar, but still has an alcohol flavor too it so it is working I'd imagen.
My plans are to just leave it for a couple weeks or so, I'm in no hurry to get it bottled because I don't think the first batch was done fermenting, and would rather be safe than sorry if my hydrometer is damaged.

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Old 04-25-2011, 01:40 AM   #6
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If you pitched at 1.170, the yeast probably died due to osmotic pressure, and never really did anything.

Might be worth giving the recipe. Don't just say 1 can of ........, give the weight, and also give the final volume.

You can check your hydrometer. Just measure the gravity of water out of the tap. It should be very close to 1.000.

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Old 04-25-2011, 02:41 AM   #7
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if this was a kit, theres zero possibility that you got 1.170 for an OG, even if it was insanely poorly mixed. thats the limit on most hydrometers, so unless the whole thing is sticking out of the brew, you must be reading it wrong. it would be damn near syrup at that level. however, 1.017 is easily mistakenly read for an OG if you topped off and took a hydrometer reading afterwards, and that would certainly make sense for a FG as well.

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Old 04-25-2011, 06:28 PM   #8
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Please forgive me for being most unintelligent. My hydrometer does indeed read 1.017 !! I used a kit, a can of coopers malt extract (not sure of the weight of that) two lbs of dextrose sugar and a cup of cane sugar from my cabnit. The recipe called for 2.2 lbs of dextrose but after my last batch I only had two lbs, did some investigating that cane sugar would be... OK to use so I threw a cup of it in with the boiling water to break it down before I added my malt extract. I just did another test and came up with a 1.012.

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Old 04-25-2011, 07:43 PM   #9
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the can was probably around 3.3lbs, so your OG was probably around 1.04. sounds like everything is moving along as it should.

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Old 04-25-2011, 09:19 PM   #10
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If your gravity reading is 1.012 then it sounds like your yeast did their job. Check it a couple more times over the next few days to be sure it's really done fermenting before bottling. What was your actual starting gravity? I still don't believe it was 1.170.

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