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Old 04-20-2012, 04:36 PM   #1
BrewBQ1
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Default Please help a SERIOUSLY frustrated brewer

I have been brewing some great beer for about 3 years. Progressed from extract to all-grain about 1.5 years ago. We used a standard round cooler with SS braid. We do 10g brews and beers were great. All worts are getting 100% o2 and a yest starter off a stir plate. Starter size is determined by beer smith software.

My brewing partner and I decided to upgrade the rack. We replaced the cooler with a converted keg tun with a false bottom. This was heated with a burner. We also started recirculating the mash with a chugger pump. Here is where the problem starts.

Three worts are brewed for St Patric's day. All three are recipes from NB. All three beers suffer a stuck ferment. The culprit was assumed to be a cold fermenter. We purchased a dual stage controller on a chest freezer, fermentation temp is now a perfect 66.

Next we added a new SS RIMS tube controlled by a PID. Also added a chillzilla, with output thermometer. Got a digital PH meter as well.

The next beer also will not drop under 1.024 when it should be about 1.010. I can get into the recipes, but for brevity they are all recipes from NB that should finish much lower.

Frustrated we looked at our thermometers and found them to be about 4 degrees off. We assumed this was our problem and that our mash temp was too high (shooting for 152) Next brew 152 spot on for 60min, checked against a glass lab thermometer. Again beer refuses to drop under 1.022.

After reading an article about adding more enzymes we decided to try it. 1 lb of 2 row mashed at 140 for 10 min. Added liquid to beer. WOW a whole new krausen gravity drops (proof that the yeast is present and ready.)


Mash temp good 152
Water to grist good at 1.33qt/lb
PH Good
O2 Good
Yeast starter size good
Ferment temp Good

Only thing I could think of was a compacted mash from two high a flow rate. Next brew is the Number 8 from NB. All things kept the same flow reduced. OG 1.73 its been in the primary for two weeks now reading 1.035 with a calibrated refractometer.

I feel like crying in my beer please tell me what the hell is happening.

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Old 04-20-2012, 04:44 PM   #2
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I'd say depending on the yeast strain, 66 degrees is a good start for ale fermentation, but if you leave it at 66 the yeast may drop out prematurely, leaving unfermented wort behind. Start at 66 for 2-3 days then let it ramp up (artifically or naturally) to 70-72 to finish out. After the first 2-3 days the ester production should be completed, so raising to a finishing temp shouldn't of-flavor the beer and the gravity should get down to where you want it to. Also, if you're not using yeast nutrient, I'd say toss a bit in the boil as well.

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Old 04-20-2012, 04:45 PM   #3
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If adding enzymes is bringing it down then you are not getting full conversion in your mash for some reason. Could be your grain, crush, temp, water chemistry, process. Hard to say for sure but I suspect it's a mash issue.

Do you do a conversion test with iodine?

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Old 04-20-2012, 04:49 PM   #4
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Are you using a hydrometer and is it calibrated? Are you correcting your refractometer reading for the presence of alcohol? Thats a really frustrating problem and I'm very sorry to hear about it. Hopefully someone with more knowledge than I will chime in and get you sorted.

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Old 04-20-2012, 04:50 PM   #5
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Thanks for your willingness to help.

I will start doing an Iodine test. The crush looks great according to more experienced brewers than I (all stumped.) We use our own crusher. I totally agree its a mash issue. Just can't figure out what.

I clean everything with oxyclean and then rinse well.

Could the heating element be denaturing enzymes that contact it?

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Old 04-20-2012, 04:52 PM   #6
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Are you sure your pH meter is calibrated? Check your thermometer again too, lol.

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Old 04-20-2012, 04:54 PM   #7
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You say "calibrated refractometer" for your post-fermentation gravity readings. Does that mean you're converting your indicated reading to an actual reading since there is now the presence of alcohol and the indicated reading is not correct until converted? Or does "calibrated" mean checked using distilled water and getting a reading of 1.000? If it's the former, then okay. If it's the latter, then that's your problem since you can't use a direct refractometer reading post-ferment without running a conversion calculation. Forgive me if you already know this, as I'm just ruling out the simplest possibility.

Have you verified the high FGs with a hydrometer to see if it agrees with what your refractometer is telling you?

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Old 04-20-2012, 04:54 PM   #8
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I checked my refractometer again this morning with sterile water. 1.000

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Old 04-20-2012, 04:57 PM   #9
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OK didn't know about the need to do a conversion. It has a SG reading on it. I thought that was good to go.

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Old 04-20-2012, 04:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrewBQ1 View Post
OK didn't know about the need to do a conversion. It has a SG reading on it. I thought that was good to go.
Nope. Not once there's alcohol present.
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