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Old 02-06-2011, 03:12 AM   #1
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Default Stuck Fermentation or Just A High Final Gravity

First off I'm sorry but I don't have the recipe with me for this batch but it is a Dos Equis clone with an OG of 1.046 and I've checked it several times this week but the gravity has been stuck at 1.020 and we are going on about 3 weeks now. Im not sure about attenuation values and such but from what I've read this value is like 24%. Should I just try stirring up the yeast cake, should I repitch, or should I just call it quits and keg it?

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Old 02-06-2011, 03:14 AM   #2
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If it is extract I'd say it is the 1.020 curse, and it is done. It's almost expected these days that extract batches often finish at 1.020 (or 1.030 on occasion) and nothing will bring them lower. Back in my extract days I bottled many a batch that finished that high, the beers were fine. I've often wondered if it doesn't have something to do with the production of some nonfermentable sugars in the wort carmelization during the boil.

A recipe would help though....

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Old 02-06-2011, 03:30 AM   #3
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It is an all grain recipe, so what do you guys think?

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Old 02-06-2011, 03:32 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rtrevino View Post
It is an all grain recipe, so what do you guys think?
You probably have fermented all the fermentables you extracted then. Without seeing your recipe and you temps it's really hard to tell.

But remeber there's no sin in a 1.020 beer. If it's finished it's finished.
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Old 02-06-2011, 03:42 AM   #5
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I agree with Revvy, I've had a few finish higher than I liked but actually turned out surprised at the result in that they're better than originally anticipated.

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Old 02-06-2011, 04:30 AM   #6
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If it is at 1.020, it is not finished. You didn't provide too many details. Most common cause of stuck fermentation is temperature. Get it up to 70 F and see what happens.

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Originally Posted by Revvy View Post
If it is extract I'd say it is the 1.020 curse, and it is done. It's almost expected these days that extract batches often finish at 1.020 (or 1.030 on occasion) and nothing will bring them lower. Back in my extract days I bottled many a batch that finished that high, the beers were fine. I've often wondered if it doesn't have something to do with the production of some nonfermentable sugars in the wort carmelization during the boil.
I totally disagree! I am getting tired of people blaming extract for high FGs. Agreed, you can get lower with mashing grains low, but that's only if you deliberately mash low. Agreed, there are some extracts that have a lot of unfermentables (example; Laagerlander). But for the most part they are just as fermentable as an average (low to mid 150s) mash.

I partial mash, about 5 lbs grain per brew, so the majority of my fermentables are from extract. Occasionally to I use extract exclusively. I have never had a stuck fermentation, and usually get higher than the advertised max attenuation advertised by the yeast.

I'm on brew number 180, highest finish I've ever had is 1.016, and that was 75% attenuation ...... right in line with the yeast spec.
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:23 PM   #7
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I totally disagree! I am getting tired of people blaming extract for high FGs.
You may be tired of hearing something, but that doesn't make it any less true. It's unfortunate but it does seem that a lot of extracts beers that new brewers come in here having issues with are stuck at 1.020, despite everything they try, swirlirng, raising the temps, even pitching more yeast....I didn't coin the term 1.020 curse afterall. It just seems to happen to a lot of folks. I had my share of extracts peter out at that number over the years. It's no big deal, it's just seems to be a fact of life for many brewers that their extract batches finish there. There's countless discussions about it on every beer forum. What is it they say, "1 is an anamoly, 2 is a coincidence, 3 is an epidemic...."

*shrug*

But that point is moot since this isn't an extract batch anyway is it?
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Old 02-06-2011, 02:41 PM   #8
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It will also vary with the brand of extract. Calder: what are you using?

Extracts with adjuncts will have unussually high fermentability.

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Old 02-06-2011, 04:39 PM   #9
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I almost exclusively use Briess; Light or Pilsner.

I think a lot of the problem with high FGs has nothing to do with the extract, but has more to do with 'New brewers', and poor practices; under-pitching, fermenting too hot/too cold, and general yeast health, inadequate aeration, and racking off too early and leaving the yeast in the primary.

Revvy; I think the common thread is 'New brewer', and not the extract. I think you or I could take any of these kits and produce a well attenuated beer from it. Probably the first thing we would do is replace the yeast (often times you don't know it's age, storage conditions, or even what yeast it is), and pitch a healthy starter, aerate well, and keep it at the right temperature.

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Old 02-06-2011, 08:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rtrevino View Post
Should I just try stirring up the yeast cake, should I repitch, or should I just call it quits and keg it?
Stirring up the yeast cake isn't really going to do anything to help fermentation. The yeast could have stopped for a few reasons. The most likely is that they ran out of food. If you're doing all grain, is it a possibility you missed your mash temps (thermometer could've been off)? If so that could be an easy culprit.

You might have pitched too much or too little yeast. You could've stressed the yeast out with temperature fluctuations... There's all sorts of things.

Pitching more yeast directly in won't necessarily help either. One possibility is to take some fresh yeast and make a starter. Once your starter is at high krausen add that to the fermenter. By doing this you're ensuring that your yeast are awake and healthy and giving your beer a fighting chance.
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