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Old 06-16-2007, 05:49 PM   #1
TSac
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Default Bad Batch/ Gravity Readings

I have brewed about ten batches of beer lifetime and got my first bad batch on my last attempt. In the past I have never taken gravity readings and with this batch it was the first time I have been hurt by that fact.
I brewed a Nut Brown Ale using a starter. I had tons of activity the following morning with my starter at about 70 degrees, it was still bubbling like crazy when I pitched it into my wart (which was at 70 degrees). I let the beer ferment in my basement which was about 60 degrees; it was in the primary for ten days and another ten in the secondary. I saw almost no activity in either the primary or the secondary, the krausen was barely half an inch up my six gallon carboy and I saw no bubbles coming from my airlock.

I guess that leaves me to my question, does anyone have a guess to what went wrong?
Since I haven't the foggiest what my gravity reading was (not historically taking one because I don't want to waste any beer) what is the proper technique for taking a gravity reading?

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Old 06-16-2007, 06:04 PM   #2
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First, I don't think anything went wrong, you just had a stealth ferment. With extract, the final gravity is really what is important. For a Nut Brown, I would expect a FG around 1.010-1.016. How you get a sample depends on your fermenter. For a carboy, you have to use a wine thief or a siphon. Ditto, for a bucket without a spout.

Sanitize whatever you use, slip it into the fermenter and remove the sample. Let it settle & check the reading.

Some people bad mouth hydrometers, but they are the only way you can be certain the ferment is done.

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Old 06-16-2007, 06:04 PM   #3
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If you pitched an active starter into 70 F wort you definately had fermentation.
No airlock activity is probably the result of a leak, maybe a bucket lid that didn't seal.
Shouldn't pose a problem since the offgassing of CO2 creates positive pressure in the primary, keeping out the beasties.
No bubbling in the secondary is pretty common.

To take a SG reading you need to fill the thing your hydrometer goes in, float the hydrometer in the wort/beer (give it a spin to knock off any bubbles), and read your SG. Don't forget to adjust for temp, most hydrometers are calibrated for 60 F.

I wouldn't worry about this batch, it should be fine.

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Old 06-16-2007, 07:32 PM   #4
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I'm still learning, but isn't 60deg.F a bit low for an ale? I'm currently brewing at about 70deg.F.

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Old 06-16-2007, 07:36 PM   #5
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I vote a leaky top as well.

Don't worry about wasting beer, you WILL drink what you use in the hydrometer. I like tasting very green, warm, uncarbonated beer you know it will only get better.

Also, you will need to check the temp of the sample, then make a correction for the temp. Check the hydrometer in water before just to make sure it reads 1.000.

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Old 06-16-2007, 07:37 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smithmikeg
I'm still learning, but isn't 60deg.F a bit low for an ale? I'm currently brewing at about 70deg.F.
it's a bit low and may slow fermentation, but also the temperature inside the carboy will be slightly higher than the ambient temp outside due to heat created by the fermentation.

i prefer to brew on the colder side...it generally gets better flavors. for instance, wlp 300 (hefe yeast) is listed as optimum 68-72 F, but i prefer to go a bit lower than that to mellow some of the banana flavor.

Check out white labs and their listing of optimum temperatures to get some idea:

http://whitelabs.com/beer/homebrew_strains.html
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Old 06-16-2007, 07:58 PM   #7
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TSac didn't say he's fermenting at 60F, I said most hydrometers are calibrated for 60F.

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Old 06-16-2007, 08:18 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TSac
I let the beer ferment in my basement which was about 60 degrees
i believe this is what he was talking about
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Old 06-16-2007, 08:19 PM   #9
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Oops, my bad.

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Old 06-16-2007, 09:32 PM   #10
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I'd like to jump in here if I can because I was all for taking gravity readings and racking to a secondary, but ran into troubles. Sanitizing is kind of laborious but having done so with the tubing I intended to siphon with I still ran into trouble getting a siphon started if I put much emphasis on cleanliness. Can you detail how you guys actually sanitize and start the siphon? Also, when I lost siphon halfway to racking to a secondary I think it was because my siphon tube was too short so I just used the small sample for a gravity reading and put the airlock back on. Now I have a big fermentation activity going all over again in the carboy. Does that mean fermentation on my IPA was "stuck" and I agitated it into going again? Gravity was at about 1.018. NOw I'm looking at about 1/4 inch of foam on the wort and a bloop every 20 seconds.

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