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Old 03-04-2011, 07:56 PM   #1
olaf74
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Default Suspect Stout is stalled due to low temp - suggestions appreciated!

Hello -

I've got my first brew fermenting right now, an Irish Stout kit, that calls for an OG of 1.042-1.046 and a FG of 1.010-1.012. I used liquid White Labs Irish Ale yeast (WLP004) with the kit instead of the dried packet it contained.

When I took my OG reading, it was right about 1.0323 (with the correction for the temp I took it at). Bubbling kicked off in the airlock about 18-24hrs from when I got it started. I'd rate the activity in the airlock as low to moderate, it never did get super vigorous. Activity at this rate continued for about 2-3 days, after which it settled down to almost nothing. The ambient temperature in the basement room where I kept the bucket was an even 61 degrees F (which I suspected may have contributed to the performance).

I opened the bucket today to get a gravity reading, and it read as 1.020 at 63 deg F, so I'd call it maybe 1.021 if the correction is needed. Visually, there was little foam on the top (it looked like "flat" stout beer), but there was a ring of yeast/foam, etc at an inch or so above the beer level, so I do believe it had a head on it at one point.

I've moved the bucket to a room that's warmer (70 deg F), and plan to leave it set for the 2nd week here before even considering bottling it, but my question is - would anyone recommend agitating it (shaking, etc) to aerate it better and hopefully kick things off again, or pitching more yeast (I've got the original dried packet still) to see if that might get it churning again in the warmer room?

Thanks for your inputs!

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Old 03-04-2011, 08:00 PM   #2
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See if you can get it up to ~65F (the yeast's optimum range it 65-68F, not sure what it's tolerance is since that's not listed)

That OG you list seems rather low... Most of the time, kits are almost fool-proof for hitting the OG, unless you added too much water when putting it into primary.

I also wouldn't check on it (other than the temp showing on the side of the bucket) for another 1-2 weeks. Let the yeast do as it needs...

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Old 03-04-2011, 09:15 PM   #3
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Thanks for the advice! I've polled a few friends who brew as well, and "leave it alone" seems to be the general consensus, so that's what I'm going to do!

No clue why the OG was so low. It could be a bit of a misread, but I dont think i got it that far off. I boiled 3 gallons of wort (didnt lose too much during the boil), and topped off with water to the 5 gallon mark, so I'm not sure what else couldve contributed to the OG being so low!

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Old 03-04-2011, 09:41 PM   #4
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Did you forget any ingredients? Might want to look over the recipe again just to see... Unless you did really read the hydrometer really wrong... It happens. First time I read mine I had to look at it a few times to make sure I was reading it right. On mine, there's only adjustments when you go over 70F, or under 50F... Even then, it's in the .00x space... So, if you took the reading at 77F, and it came back as 1.026, you would adjust it to 1.028...

I do see refractometers as being better for OG readings, as well as other SG readings (you need to factor in the presence of alcohol once fermentation starts, otherwise it's not even close). It's much faster, and uses far less of a sample to get a reading... I have one on my list of things I need to get ASAP...

See how the brew is in another week or two... Take a SG sample and reading, then taste it... That's going to be your best gauge on how it's doing...

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Old 03-04-2011, 10:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Golddiggie
Did you forget any ingredients? Might want to look over the recipe again just to see... Unless you did really read the hydrometer really wrong... It happens. First time I read mine I had to look at it a few times to make sure I was reading it right. On mine, there's only adjustments when you go over 70F, or under 50F... Even then, it's in the .00x space... So, if you took the reading at 77F, and it came back as 1.026, you would adjust it to 1.028...

I do see refractometers as being better for OG readings, as well as other SG readings (you need to factor in the presence of alcohol once fermentation starts, otherwise it's not even close). It's much faster, and uses far less of a sample to get a reading... I have one on my list of things I need to get ASAP...

See how the brew is in another week or two... Take a SG sample and reading, then taste it... That's going to be your best gauge on how it's doing...
Didnt forget any ingredients, they're all in there! Probably a misread, if anything...
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Old 03-04-2011, 11:32 PM   #6
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If you didn't throughly mix it, the heavier syrups would go to the bottom and the lighter liquid on the top. Seems common to get a bad reading. As noted, it's really difficult to get it wrong with extract. Assume you got what the kit says.

It seems like the min temp on yeast specs is where it goes dormant and drops. the higher limit is where you start to get undesirable compounds in noticeable quantities, which could be fusel alcohols, or really wierd flavors.

Warm it up and somehow agitate the yeast on the bottom without getting air into it. Use a sanitized racking cane or similar, or just lift the bucket and put it down several times (that should kick some of the sediment up.

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Old 03-12-2011, 04:03 AM   #7
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Default Updates on the stout - trouble ahead, or business as usual?

I went with keeping it in a warmer room, which got the temp up to a consistent 70 degrees F for the past week. Didn't notice too much activity or anything (which is expected), but the readings have changed. Tomorrow is the prescribed bottling day, per the calendar (it's been 2 weeks in the primary, no secondary used). To try and determine if I was going to spend the time getting my bottles ready, I did a few things:

I took another hydrometer reading, and it's sitting at 1.016 @ 70 degrees F - if you add in a .0011 correction factor for the temp, I'd call it 1.017. Target FG is 1.010 - 1.012, per the kit's instructions.

I drew off a sample to check it out, and I'd say it smells like a stout (great!), looks kind of like a stout (so-so), and tastes like really watery stout. The color right now is sort of a ruddy brown, especially when held up to a light. The nose is actually pretty decent, IMO. Consistency is *very* thin, pretty much water-like. I realize the conditioning in the bottle will add the carbonation and a different mouthfeel, but I'm a bit torn as to going with additional time in the primary bucket vs. bottling and leaving it in those for minimum 4 weeks, probably longer.

Again, any thoughts are appreciated!

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Old 03-12-2011, 04:16 AM   #8
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I would give it more time. Only two weeks isn't all that much time for a stout. Even with a low OG... Take another SG reading in 3-4 days. If it matches the last one, then it could have hit a FG.

There are other things you can do to try to give it more flavor, if you want to. Just a matter of how much effort you want to put into this brew. Or you could just say F it, bottle it, suck it down, and brew something better the next time...

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Old 03-12-2011, 04:38 AM   #9
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What's the general consensus typically on letting it run for additional time in the fermenter, vs. bottling, and letting it sit extra time there? Or I guess option 3, let it sit in the fermenter another week or two, bottle and wait it out a month or two, and then hope for the best!

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Old 03-12-2011, 06:47 AM   #10
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More time aging in bulk is typically better. Plus, you can make adjustments up until you bottle it. Once it's in bottles, you're pretty much stuck with it.

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On Tap: Caramel Ale, Mocha Porter II, MO SMaSH IPA
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Fermenting
K1:
K2: Epic mead
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