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Old 09-15-2010, 05:11 PM   #1
RichBenn
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Default S-04 and Way too high attenuation

OK, I think I MUST have something, perhaps a measurement error, wrong here. But I can't find it.

I made a Mirror Pond clone that I made before. Used S-04 the first time, but the yeast was bad and never took off. So I threw S-05 in and it made a great beer that finished at about 1.009.

This time I used S-04, and the beer finished at 1.005-1.006!!! That's with starting at 1.050! That would mean, what, 88%? If anything, I thought S-04 should finish higher, not lower than S-05.

Now, I did mash at a pretty low temp both times, 151 F. dropping to 149F in 1 hour. I fermented at 62F (temp on glass carboy). The two other differences (other than yeast) was that I had adjusted the chloride/sulfate ration to be a bit more towards "balanced" malt to bitter instead of "very bitter", and I got alot of trub into the primary fermentor. But I can't fathom this kind of attenuation.

I did take the final reading after transferring into the keg, and I used a refractometer for both the initial and final readings. Yes, I adjusted the conversion from brix to S.G. by including the initial S.G. and using two different calculators, to be certain. And I calibrated the refractometer just before each reading using distilled water.

I usually get good attenuation, but i can't fathom this reading, even mashing as low as I do. So.... any thoughts on what went wrong? Could it be real? Is it a measurement error? Temperature error?

It does tastes pretty bitter on the tongue for a beer that hasn't carbed yet. I guess that would seem that way if, in fact, it's really that dry......

Rich

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Old 09-15-2010, 07:11 PM   #2
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What was the mash temp. range for the first batch?

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Old 09-15-2010, 08:19 PM   #3
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Did you compare the reading with a hydrometer?
There are so many ways the measurement could go
wrong, I generally don't worry about it unless it's
too high.

Ray

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Old 09-15-2010, 08:38 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Teacher View Post
What was the mash temp. range for the first batch?
Mash temp range for the first batch was the same as the second. Maybe a degree higher, according to my notes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rayg View Post
Did you compare the reading with a hydrometer?
There are so many ways the measurement could go
wrong, I generally don't worry about it unless it's
too high.

Ray
I didn't compare the refractometer with a hydrometer this time (it broke), but when I tried it before, it was pretty much dead on. I just entered the before fermentation and after fermentation refractometer readings into the calculators to adjust, as I understand having alcohol messes up the post ferment reading without a correction.

I'll gladly drink the beer anyway, as I like a hoppy beer. But I was trying to get a bit more malt/hop balance for guests by using a different yeast and tweaking the water. Perhaps I should have upped the mash temp a bit and/or reduced the boil hops instead.

Rich
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Old 09-15-2010, 08:50 PM   #5
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You could try backsweetening it with lactose if you beer is really as dry as you have measured

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Old 09-16-2010, 03:37 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Germelli1 View Post
You could try backsweetening it with lactose if you beer is really as dry as you have measured
LOL! Something I would never do! My household's personal tastes are heavily against "sweet" of any kind. So even though I'd like to cater to guest's tastes, My wife and I will be drinking most of this keg. That's why I mash at the lower end of the temperature range. Was just trying to tone down the bitterness a bit.

I used FWH, and it appears, on my latest taste test at the proper serving temperature, that it's not as bitter as I initially thought. I think it'll be fine for others as well. It still needs another 2 weeks in the keg before I'll know for sure, but it's already tasting close to what I remember Mirror Pond to taste like. (I can see another blind taste in the works)

But that's not the issue as much as brewing by the numbers. They are not what I expected, and I wish I knew why. I've never seen S-04 reported apparent attenuation in the high 80's. So something was not right either in my process, a measurement, or this batch of yeast, or ??? I hate that!

I know, I know, RDWHAHB....
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Old 11-02-2010, 05:52 PM   #7
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Update - I found out my new mashing thermo is WAY off! So I think I mashed between 3-5 degrees too low! The refractometer correction setting may have been off as well, so I can't trust those readings either.

I hate that! I had very accurate results before replacing a broken thermometer as well as breaking my hydrometer and using a refractometer instead. Now I have two batches of beers that are not what I was shooting for.

Moral of story - if you have an accurate temperature gage and/or hydrometer, don't break them! Or at least take the time to check calibration on the new ones at several different data points. Most of this stuff is manufactured cheaply now, which doesn't always bode well for quality.

Rich

Edit - after testing the thermometer against a known standard it was only about 1.5 degrees off. Still, the mash was at a lower temp than planned.

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Old 11-02-2010, 07:55 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RichBenn View Post
Most of this stuff is manufactured cheaply now, which doesn't always bode well for quality.

Rich
I hear that. I had a nice expense digital probe thermometer that worked great the first time i used it. But, after taking it out of the hot wort and dropping it into a bucket of chilled wort it never read correctly again. Go figure.
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Old 11-02-2010, 11:20 PM   #9
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I don't mean this as a derail, but I've got an extract IPA resting right now that was pitched onto an S-04 cake that has way over-attenuated. Beer Smith said I should expect 1.062 -> 1.016, it finished at 1.007! Samples didn't taste infected, or any king of "off," just dry. The beer that generated the cake was a lower gravity beer that finished right on target.

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Old 11-02-2010, 11:31 PM   #10
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I had issues with over attenuation, I wasnt getting the grainbed temp up enough so conversion continued in the kettle, and I collected my total volume before starting to heat the wort. I started mashing out with boiling water, this got the grainbed up in the 168° range, and I also started heating after collecting the first runnings, this brought my FG more inline with recipe specs.

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