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Old 08-01-2010, 06:09 PM   #1
nuclearnova
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Default Fermentation stalled, or not?

So I decided to make a black lager (recipe below), and after almost a month it's gravity is stuck at 1.020. It started at 1.050, so I feel like I should end lower, but I'm not positive. Since the stall I've added on two occasions two new packets of good ale yeast, but nothing happens. I've tried lowering the temperature for the ale yeast down to 60, and all the way up to 76, but nothing happens. Thought it might be too acidic so I added two teaspoons of baking soda yesterday, but the yeast may already be dead and I don't want to waste another packet just yet.

Any ideas? The beer tastes sweet, so I could potentially just bottle and have a sweet 4% alcohol beer, but I was really trying to get more of a sam adams black lager or porter taste. I've considered adding beano, and then at ~1.013 dropping the temp down to 35F and kegging.

Thanks in advanced!

Recipe -
Well water, maybe a little on the hard side but it was run through a water softener
6 lb Munic malt (2-Row home roasted at 230F for 2 hours)
4 lb Pale malt
1 lb Chocolate
1 lb Roasted barely
1 lb Caramunic
1.25 oz Palisade (8.1%) 60 min
0.4 oz Saaz (3.9%) 30 min
0.4 oz Saaz (3.9%) 0 min
Saflager S-23 initially
Safale S-04 second and third try
Mashed a little on the warmer side for just over an hour, probably closer to 160 than 150 for the most part

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Old 08-01-2010, 06:46 PM   #2
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If you mashed at 160, you're lucky you got as low as 1.020! The higher temperature means that you'll have more long-chained sugars which are less fermentation, meaning more residual body and sweetness. Your beer is finished, if the SG isn't moving over three days or longer.

I've never heard of using baking soda to enhance yeast attenuation. That seems like it would not make the beer taste any better, so I wouldn't do that any more.

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Old 08-01-2010, 06:53 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply, thats good to know, I won't go that high for my next batch! The baking soda was to try to raise the pH, I wasn't sure if it was too acidic and killing the yeast, a pH meter is on my list of things to buy.

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Old 08-01-2010, 07:01 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nuclearnova View Post
Thanks for the reply, thats good to know, I won't go that high for my next batch! The baking soda was to try to raise the pH, I wasn't sure if it was too acidic and killing the yeast, a pH meter is on my list of things to buy.
A pH meter is handy for mashing, but not so much after fermentation. The beer pH doesn't drop nearly as much as something like mead. I've never heard of a beer that had trouble fermenting because of a low pH. If that was the case, there would be far more problems to worry about like aceterobacter infection or lactobacillus. Don't worry about adjusting the pH at all after the wort is made. Mash pH is crucial, of course.
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Old 08-01-2010, 07:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nuclearnova View Post
Thanks for the reply, thats good to know, I won't go that high for my next batch! The baking soda was to try to raise the pH, I wasn't sure if it was too acidic and killing the yeast, a pH meter is on my list of things to buy.
A pH meter is great to have for checking the mash (or viability of StarSan for that matter), but I do not know why there would be a need to check the pH of the wort.

Get your water chemistry correct for the mash, and a pH meter can provide confirmation, but it is not really necessary. Get your mash and fermentation temps correct, and with viable yeast you will get the attenuation you are looking for. Happy Brewing.
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Old 08-01-2010, 10:01 PM   #6
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Home water softeners do exactly the opposite of what you want -- they replace calcium (which yeast needs) with sodium (which kills yeast). If you want to soften your brewing water, use a portion of RO or distilled.

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Old 08-01-2010, 10:16 PM   #7
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higher temps release maltodextrines (which are unfermentable) from the grain. lower makes it ferment what should be flavor from the grain. keep it between 152-154, if possible. never add baking soda, as it only reduces oxygenation ( which yeast needs ). it's done; i'd mix it with a lighter lager for a little crispness

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Old 08-02-2010, 01:32 AM   #8
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Thanks for the tips. I need to browse these forums more, so much to learn here! Hopefully this batch turns out drinkable, but if not then I'll be more prepared for my next batches.

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Old 08-02-2010, 03:32 AM   #9
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+1 on not using water that's been through a softener. Many water softeners use potassium chloride instead of sodium, but either way it removes the minerals you need and replaces them with ones you don't want.

As others have pointed out, the real issue was your mash temp.

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