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Old 10-16-2012, 12:45 AM   #1
chasefarais
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Default Amber Ale FIRST TIME question

So I finally did my first homebrew (!) and did an Extract Amber Ale. Received the kit, and it slipped my mind to put the yeast in the refrigerator after receiving it. It sat on my kitchen table for about a week, before I used it in the brew.

My brew did not start to ferment for about 36 hours or more, and then fermented for 3 days or so and then I did not see any more noticeable signs of fermentation. I am worried I have bad yeast, by my fault, and my beer is done.

Took a reading a week into it and FG is at 1.022 or so.

Thoughts?

PS--I am not obsessed with brewing and it is taking over my life.

That is all!

Thanks

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Old 10-16-2012, 12:55 AM   #2
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I'm in a similar boat with my first batch, also an amber ale, but with some differences. I used dry yeast and it was going well just 12 hours after the pitch, but it pooped out in something less than five days (was gone on a work trip and no activity in airlock when I got back). It's been two weeks and a day and it's sitting at 1.018 for at least three days now. Today on lunch break I swirled the primary pretty good to see if it will take off again. That said, based on some reading, it seems not unheard of for extract kits to stop at 1.020, give or take.

From what I know at present, about all you can do is give it more time and see if it comes down. Could give it a little swirl and see what happens opver the next few days if you're itching to mess with it....

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Old 10-16-2012, 01:02 AM   #3
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I think this is typical noob stuff. I am afraid to keep testing the FG due to the oxygen/contaminants I might gather up. I need to figure out how resilient fermenting beer is I suppose. I will give it a little swirl tonight. Going to leave it in for another 4 or 5 days at least.

Thanks for the input. Good luck with your first batch!

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Old 10-16-2012, 11:49 AM   #4
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Correction on first post: I am NOW obsessed with brewing and it is taking over my life.

Haha.

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Old 10-18-2012, 11:14 PM   #5
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Were you using a dry yeast packet or a liquid yeast culture? The dry yeast packets seem to be a little more resilient, so a week on the counter may not be a deal-breaker.

Also, what was your OG reading? 1.022 is a bit high of an FG for an amber, but then again, you're only a week in. Just because it isn't actively bubbling doesn't mean that the yeast isn't still at work. Keep it sealed up for another week or so and try taking another reading.

Don't worry and good luck!

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Old 10-18-2012, 11:38 PM   #6
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Dry yeast can be stored at room temp with no problem. My HBS keeps all their dry yeast on the shelf in the store. If you left liquid yeast out for a week, then I would say that is your problem and you might want to repitch more yeast. I usually leave my fermenter alone for at least 3 weeks regardless of the beer I'm making. Extract has a notoriously high level of unfermentable sugars so you may end up with a little higher FG than you anticipated. It'll probably drop a few more gravity points depending on what your OG was though. Whenever I use extract I usually replace around 10% or so of the extract with corn sugar depending on how low I want my FG to be. Good luck!

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Old 10-18-2012, 11:41 PM   #7
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If you did not aireate or oxygenate your wort before pitching the yeast it is common for the beer to stall at around 1.018-1.022. Yeast need oxygen in the lag phase to build their sterols (i.e. get ready to grow). So... that could be part of this if you didn't do a sufficient job of shaking the carboy or using oxygen. Second... if this was a dry yeast, leaving it on the counter won't matter - it'll have little impact. If it was a liquid yeast culture, it wouldn't have been exposed to anything, so its unlikely any serious damage was done to the yeast unless you exposed it to extremely high temps. My guess is your stalled fermentation is due more to a lack of oxygen. You could make a small starter (1 liter) and even use dry yeast - get the yeast fermenting and once its fermenting strong and there is krausen, dump that in the beer and it will drop the gravity further.

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Old 10-18-2012, 11:47 PM   #8
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Everything sounds normal. Your gravity may or may not drop further - as already mentioned above, extract batches have a tendency to finish higher than expected. The so-called "curse of 1.020" (do a search for it and you'll find plenty of threads). Proper aeration and pitching the correct amount of healthy yeast can help, but don't be surprised (or dismayed) if your beer finishes high.

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Old 10-19-2012, 05:22 PM   #9
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Thank you for all the responses. Tomorrow or Sunday I will be bottling, so lets hope everything goes well. Whatever day I don't bottle, will be the day that I brew again. This forum has been EXTREMELY helpful in answering some of the questions I have for my new found obsession.

I was using dry yeast, so it sounds like I was ok on that point. I shook it furiously when I added it to the carboy, but it may not have been enough. I am hoping I can at least produce something that remotely tastes like beer for my first time, so I have a good baseline to work off of to make my beer better!

Thanks again, and I look forward to more conversations.

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Old 10-19-2012, 06:02 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chasefarais View Post
Thank you for all the responses. Tomorrow or Sunday I will be bottling, so lets hope everything goes well. Whatever day I don't bottle, will be the day that I brew again. This forum has been EXTREMELY helpful in answering some of the questions I have for my new found obsession.

I was using dry yeast, so it sounds like I was ok on that point. I shook it furiously when I added it to the carboy, but it may not have been enough. I am hoping I can at least produce something that remotely tastes like beer for my first time, so I have a good baseline to work off of to make my beer better!

Thanks again, and I look forward to more conversations.
How long has the first beer been in the fermenter? Don't rush things - it is usually best to let it sit for at least 2 weeks before bottling (others will say 3 weeks...either way, the point is to be patient)
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