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Old 02-03-2010, 03:35 AM   #1
yearlylesson
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Default Stuck Fermentation?

I am a pretty new home brewer, just did my 4th batch, it was a Brewers Best Scottish Ale. I brewed it last Sunday, pitched the dry yeast in the evening and last Monday it was bubbling away nicely. I had it setup with a blow off tube going into a bucket. Unfortunately, by last Tuesday, it had completely stopped. There was only 24 hours of activity. Could it be done or is it a case of stuck fermentation? If it's stuck, what do I do?

One possible issue is that we have a programmable thermostat that let's the house get down to 62 during the week when we are at work. Normally, I override it while I have beer that is fermenting but I forgot to do it this time. I kept the house at a constant temperature and agitated my carboy a bit but nothing has happened.

What should I be doing to get this going again or find out if it's finished?

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Old 02-03-2010, 03:41 AM   #2
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First thing would be to know what your original gravity was, whether you measured it or know what it supposed to be approximately. Knowing that, you can measure your current gravity is, and figure out how much attenuation you've had so far. If you're around 65-70%, you're pretty good. If so, I'd leave it another week and measure again to see if it's changed. If it's the same, it's done. Of course, if your gravity is still high, something else might need to be done.

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Old 02-03-2010, 03:42 AM   #3
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Have you checked the specific gravity to see if you are really stuck or just fermenting slowly. Check it now and then in a few days to see what is going on.

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Old 02-03-2010, 12:29 PM   #4
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I didn't check it, my hydrometer broke so I don't know what the original gravity was. I ordered a new one that should arrive at my house today or tomorrow. What is the best way to get a sample of the wort out of the carboy and into the tube that the hydrometer goes in without introducing potentially bad stuff to the wort?

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Old 02-03-2010, 12:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yearlylesson View Post
I didn't check it, my hydrometer broke so I don't know what the original gravity was. I ordered a new one that should arrive at my house today or tomorrow. What is the best way to get a sample of the wort out of the carboy and into the tube that the hydrometer goes in without introducing potentially bad stuff to the wort?
Then all you really know is that your airlock isn't venting excess co2, NOT whether or not you have a stuck fermentation!

There's a big difference between those two conditions.

Just because your airlock isn't bubbling doesn't mean that fermentation is finished, or stuck, or anything.

Your airlock is not a fermentation gauge, it is a VALVE to release excess co2.

More than likely the peak of fermentation has already wound down, so there's simply no need to vent off any excess co2.


"Bubbling action" is not a good way to tell if anything is happening, plenty of beers ferment without a single bubble from the airlock.

Fermentation is not always "dynamic," just because you don't SEE anything happening, doesn't mean that any-thing's wrong,, and also doesn't mean that the yeast are still not working diligently away, doing what they've been doing for over 4,000 years..

The bubbling just means that it is venting excess CO2, nothing more. If it's not bubbling, that only means that it is not producing enough co2 to need to vent.

If your airlock was bubbling and stopped---It doesn't mean fermentation has stopped.

If you airlock isn't bubbling, it doesn't mean your fermentation hasn't started....

If your airlock starts bubbling, it really doesn't matter.

If your airlock NEVER bubbles, it doesn't mean anything is wrong or right.

The only way to truly know what is going on in your fermenter is with your hydrometer. Like I said here in my blog, which I encourage you to read, Think evaluation before action you sure as HELL wouldn't want a doctor to start cutting on you unless he used the proper diagnostic instuments like x-rays first, right? You wouldn't want him to just take a look in your eyes briefly and say "I'm cutting into your chest first thing in the morning." You would want them to use the right diagnostic tools before the slice and dice, right? You'd cry malpractice, I would hope, if they didn't say they were sending you for an MRI and other things before going in....

Thinking about "doing anything" without taking a hydrometer reading is tantamount to the doctor deciding to cut you open without running any diagnostic tests....Taking one look at you and saying, "Yeah I'm going in." You would really want the doctor to use all means to properly diagnose what's going on. It's exactly the same thing when you try to go by airlock....

I would suggest you get a replacement hydromter. And also that you get out of the habit od declaring a situation like stuckness by your airlock bubbles or lack of them.
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Old 02-03-2010, 12:41 PM   #6
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I have a wine thief that I use. A simple way to get your sample is to sanitize a turkey baster and us that.

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Old 02-03-2010, 12:47 PM   #7
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This is what I use, and it works with both buckets and carboys



And



Here's what I do....

1) With a spray bottle filled with starsan I spray the lid of my bucket, or the mouth of the carboy, including the bung. Then I spray my turkey baster inside and out with sanitize (or dunking it in a container of sanitizer).

2) Open fermenter.

3) Draw Sample

4) fill sample jar (usualy 2-3 turky baster draws

5)Spray bung or lid with sanitizer again

6) Close lid or bung

6) take reading

It is less than 30 seconds from the time the lid is removed until it is closed again.

Probably less if you have help.

And unless a bird swoops down and poops in your fermenter, you wont have any trouble.



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Old 02-03-2010, 12:57 PM   #8
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Yes, I do basically the same thing as Revvy for measuring specific gravity. It's really quite easy once you've done it a couple of times and get into the routine. Make sure you adjust your hydrometer reading for the temperature, as most are calibrated to be accurate at 60ºF.

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Old 02-03-2010, 01:06 PM   #9
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I like the 30 second time for lid off the bucket. Starsan spray is a good idea, too.

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Old 03-06-2010, 06:24 PM   #10
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Thanks for the suggestions guys, I am not sure what to do next. I bought a new hydrometer and took a reading. It looks to me that it's only at 1.10. My last hydrometer broke before my last brew session so I don't know what the original gravity was but the Brewers Best kit suggests it should have been at 1.034 - 1.038. 1.10 doesn't seem like much movement and it's been in the carboy for a month now. Any suggestions on what I should do?

Brian

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