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Old 05-07-2008, 06:09 PM   #1
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Default AHS Double Chocolate Stout, stuck fermentation?

EDIT: See last post.

Hi everyone,

I'm going to brew AHS Oatmeal Stout today when I get home from work. I've been reading a lot about the benefits of late extract addition (lighter color, better hops utilization, etc.) and wanted to do this with the kit. My concern is if it will overly bitter the kit?

Obviously I don't care about lighter color with this brew, but the reason why the late addition is attractive to me is because I do a partial boil (only have a 4 gallon pot). I plan to boil 2.5 gallons or so of water before adding the malt/hops and was concerned I might be getting less utilization than if I was doing a full boil (due to the higher gravity of the wort).

Forrest if you could comment and/or give some helpful tips that would be fantastic!

Like for instance, add 1/2 LME for the full 60min, then the remaining at 15min left or something to mimic the gravity if I was doing a full 5 gallon boil.

Thanks everyone.

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Old 05-07-2008, 07:43 PM   #2
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I have done this kit late addition and full time boil. There really aren't enough hops in this kit to worry about the utilization. I think the risk you run of an off-flavor from scorching that much LME in that little water outweighs the risk of being off on your IBUs a little. Put a little bit of LME (1/4 or less) in at boil and do the rest late. This kit was one of my best beers using that method.

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Old 05-08-2008, 12:05 PM   #3
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So they switched the yeasts around on me (Munton's in the Oatmeal Stout and Danstar in the Double Chocolate Stout), so I took it as a sign to make the DCS first. I just went onto AHS' site and found out they did in fact switch them up, but I'm not sad. What is very interesting (another testament to AHS and Forrest) is for the DCS they have replaced regular Munton's dry yeast as an option with Munton's Gold dry yeast. I assume this is in reference to the thread where many people were dissapointed with the poor results with Munton's regular. So hats off to AHS again...

OK, back to the topic at hand. So I boiled 2.5 gallons of water, slightly chilled in my sink, and then dumped it in my 6.5g glass carboy. Next I brought another 2.5 gallons to 155F, and started to steep the 2.5lbs of grains. Let me just tell you, this is the first time I wanted to EAT the grains and drink the liquid. The chocolate/coffee/grain aroma was incredible. After steeping I lifted the grains up and drained, then proceeded to gently ring out the remaining liquid (2.5lbs of grains REALLY retains a lot of precious liquid). Then I brought the water up close to boiling, removed from the heat, added in the maltodextrose (for body) and about 25-35% of the LME. Stirred this in well and returned to the heat to boil. At boiling I added in the 1oz of hops, stirred in, and for the next 35 minutes drank a couple beers and stirred every 30 seconds or so to prevent scorching. I was using a taller pot which made it really easy to boil because I just needed to keep the burner on high and stir whenever it started to boil too much (it would then calm down).

At the 35min point I boiled 1/4 cup of water in the microwave, and then set it in the sanitizing bucket to cool it quickly to ~90-100F. I followed the directions on the Danstar packet and simply dropped the yeast on the water. The directions specifically say DO NOT stir in yet. After 15 minutes in a covered warm area then you gently stir the yeast in completely. Then I added a couple TLBS of (cooled) wort 1 TBS at a time to get the yeast going, and then back covered in the warm place. I have to say by the time I was ready to pitch the yeast it had foamed up to the top of the glass I was preparing it in. So the directions seem to have worked better than what I normally do (froth up the yeast when added immediately).

Due to the water loss from the boil I filled a gallon jug with 1/2 gallon of water and now used that to keep the boiling from getting too crazy (still stirring every 30sec-1min). This turned out to be a really good idea because when all was added to the fermenter I was about 1/2 cup over 5 gallons (ie basically perfect). I'll be using this in the future to ensure proper volumes (my last/first batch when bottle was 4 gallons....yeah I goofed somewhere, but the brew tastes great!).

So at 5min to the end I started prepping out back for the chilling (large Omaha steak styrofoam cooler that perfectly fit the pot). I filled that with cold water. What I forgot to do was add in the cocoa powder. I ended up adding this in right before pouring into the fermenter, but I don't foresee a problem because the package was sterile and I was careful to add it quickly.

I brought the pot back inside and got ready to add to the fermenter. I had sanitized the bag the grains came in and pulled it over the funnel as a crude filter (this works really well). I now poured the wort into the carboy that had 2.5 gallons already cool sitting inside, and then dumped in the yeast. I swirled the bottle pretty good to get some oxygen in there, but have no concern really because of how active the yeast was in the glass when rehydrating.

Put my airlock on, filled it with vodka, and carefully carried it to the basement (this is still not a fun process).

Cleaned everything up and had a few more brews with a buddy.

Thanks everyone!

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Old 05-12-2008, 12:05 PM   #4
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Well it looks like I'm going to have to get a hydrometer finally. Either my yeast didn't do its job, or it did it so well that the bulk of the fermentation was over in less than 24 hours. It's been 5 days but ever since day 2 it pretty much has been silent. I've seen some bubbles coming out of the liquid but no krausen layer. There is a 3" ring of gunk on the sides which normally would indictate the krausen level has already risen and fallen, but I never remember seeing it and wonder if it was from the shaking after pitching the yeast (ie some krud stuck to the sides when swirling). My only concern is that if the fermentation were to go so quickly I would have assumed the krausen level would have come through the airlock since this isn't a very light beer. I wonder if the other additives (maltodextrose and cocoa powder) have some anti-foaming effect that prevent the formation of the krausen layer I'm used to seeing (only my second beer).

So basically I'm stumped right now and pretty much the only way to know where I am is to go out and buy a hydrometer...either it's almost done and I'll just let it sit another week or two before racking to secondary, or I'll need to pitch more yeast (it's possible the temp shock when pitching was more severe than I thought). Normally I hydrate the yeast and put it in my spice drawer to keep it out of the way. It tends to cool off to 70F or so because its not being heated. This time I left it on the stove (away from the burner), but the surface probably kept the yeast quite a bit warmer (80-90F). There was 4" of foam in the cup before I pitched it so the little guys were really going to town on the wort I added to the glass. I probably should have cooled the buggers down for 5-10 minutes before pitching but I wasn't thinking too clearly (due to the drinking while brewing as described in the above post).

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Old 05-12-2008, 12:11 PM   #5
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It sounds like it fermented out. I've had beers ferment out overnight, and others plug along for two weeks. As you know, the only way to be sure is to check with the hydrometer.

I'm wondering why you were adding water during the boil, though. Next time, just let it do its thing, and top up in the carboy if needed. For steeping grains, I always used a colander over the pot and let it drip. I know you wanted to extract all the flavor out of them, but according to howtobrew.com, you shouldn't squeeze. I honestly doubt it hurts anything, but Palmer says you can extract some tannins from that.

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Old 05-12-2008, 01:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YooperBrew View Post
It sounds like it fermented out. I've had beers ferment out overnight, and others plug along for two weeks. As you know, the only way to be sure is to check with the hydrometer.

I'm wondering why you were adding water during the boil, though. Next time, just let it do its thing, and top up in the carboy if needed. For steeping grains, I always used a colander over the pot and let it drip. I know you wanted to extract all the flavor out of them, but according to howtobrew.com, you shouldn't squeeze. I honestly doubt it hurts anything, but Palmer says you can extract some tannins from that.
I'm hoping so..it just seems to quick without having had a mini-explosion. Again I'm wondering if there was something with the ingredients (yeast?) that allows it to heavily ferment without a huge krausen layer. I did notice my vodka level in the airlock was much lower which might denote a lot of evaporation from crazy airlock activity, but its the lack of blow off that has me second guessing myself.

After my first batch ended up WAYYYY short, and since it was difficult to get the proper level of boil I figured I could kill 2 birds with one stone (keep the water level consistent and the boil perfect). I don't see how it could cause a problem?

Not super squeezing, just enough to get probably another 2-3 cups out of the grains (there were a lot).
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Old 05-13-2008, 02:17 AM   #7
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7Enigma,

I'm looking to do the AHS Double Chocolate Stout as well. I was wondering why you went with the dry yeast and not the White Labs WLP013?

I've never used liquid yeast before and was wondering if I need to make a starter or is this a product I can just pitch in as is? I'm going to be buying soon and would like some input about the yeast. I've only used Nottingham dry (never rehydrated it either) and am looking for something different.

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Old 05-13-2008, 11:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blackhawkbrew View Post
7Enigma,

I'm looking to do the AHS Double Chocolate Stout as well. I was wondering why you went with the dry yeast and not the White Labs WLP013?

I've never used liquid yeast before and was wondering if I need to make a starter or is this a product I can just pitch in as is? I'm going to be buying soon and would like some input about the yeast. I've only used Nottingham dry (never rehydrated it either) and am looking for something different.
Went with dry because it's easy, there's no need for a starter, and this particular beer doesn't get the majority of its character from the yeast. It's more in the grains and additives.

As for the WLP013, you probably could to speed up the fermentation, but it's probably not necessary. I'd start a new thread with your exact question to get a better answer. I always rehydrate my dry yeast, but this time followed the directions exactly on the package (as some of the instructions are not what I'm used to doing for the best results), and its possible I fermented out overnight. I have to get a hydrometer in the next couple days to take a quick test. I think for dry it's always a good idea to hydrate, even if you don't do anything special like adding some wort, just the time the yeast gets in the warm water will drastically increase the viability and thus shorten your fermentation times (and prevent stuck fermentation).

HTH
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Old 05-15-2008, 08:33 PM   #9
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So my wife so kindly went to the LHBS to get a hydrometer for me, some replacement yeast for my Oatmeal Stout, and another airlock so I can have both primary and secondaries going at the same time.

I took a measurement just now and here's where it stands (brewed on the 7th so its been a week):

-O.G.= 1.056 (as per the AHS paper that comes with the kit)

-F.G.= 1.012 (as per the AHS paper that comes with the kit)

My measurement: 1.025

So taking into consideration this number and the fact that my fermentation has been all but flat for the last couple days (airlock activity is very minimal, I know I know don't look at this, but still) I'm kind of at a quandary about where to go from here.

I have no problem letting it sit another week or 2 in primary, I just don't know if I should pitch more yeast, swirl the bottle (gently to wake up the yeast), or just wait. I like the idea of swirling the bottle but am afraid to get some of the dried krausen layer into the beer. I'd much prefer to wait, but I just don't see how anyone could tell the difference between a couple thousandths with these hydrometers and adding more yeast in another week or 2 just doesn't sound like a good idea. I can definitely tell the difference if its 0.004, but anything less than that and I wouldn't be confident my change is real.

Do they make beer only hydrometers with much larger spacing? Mine clearly is for both beer and wine and so the difference between O.G. and F.G. is under 2".

Thanks in advance for your help.

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Old 05-16-2008, 05:56 AM   #10
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AHS has hydrometers with more specific readings, yes. Not good that you are still at 1.025 Did you vigorously shake the fermenter after pitching to aerate? I would try the gentle swirl method. I used the liquid yeast for this recipe- no ideas past there....

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