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Old 09-12-2007, 10:29 PM   #1
broomdalf
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Default Help! Trouble with Brewer's Best Irish Stout

Over this past weekend, I started brewing my third batch of beer (Well, the second was a braggot), picking up a Brewer's Best kit from the LHBS. I followed the instructions fairly well (had serious trouble getting the water to a good boil with my wimpy burners, and I'm not sure it ever reached one), added the wort to my fermenter, added water, let it cool, and pitched the yeast.

Since then, no airlock activity has occured. Assuming that the original yeast in the kit must have just been bad, I bought another packet of Nottingham Ale yeast at the LHBS yesterday, rehydrated it according to directions, and then poured that in.

As my airlock currently stands, the water level inside that cup thing is higher than the outside, which bodes very bad.

What might I be able to do to save my batch?

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Old 09-12-2007, 11:03 PM   #2
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To help, I'll need just a few more details- what is the temperature that the fermenter is at now, and what was the original gravity? What temperature was the wort when you added the yeast originally? And finally, what is the sg now?

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Old 09-13-2007, 12:04 AM   #3
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i can't believe you'd get two bad packs of Nottingham...are you fermenting in a bucket? maybe your seal isn't very tight...i'll bet she's going and you just don't know it...

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Old 09-13-2007, 01:02 AM   #4
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Do you have any signs of fermentation like a krausen? As Yooper asked, is the SG dropping on consecutive days?

These are better indicators of fermentation than airlock activity.

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Old 09-13-2007, 01:09 AM   #5
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How well did you aerate the wort? Odd...

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Old 09-13-2007, 02:25 AM   #6
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First, thanks for all the quick responses!

On to the details: Having a pot that only holds 2-3 gallons, I steeped the specialty grains at 165-173F, "boiled" the malt extract, bittering hops into it, then added the aroma hops after the boil was done, let it cool a bit, and...I believe I poured it into my brewing bucket, then added cool water, let it cool probably not as long as it should have, added the rehydrated yeast. I estimate the wort was 80-90F during this, maybe a little warmer.

In retrospect, I didn't aerate the wort very well.

The SG has, in fact, dropped, of which I am very relieved. It is down to ~1.021 from 1.37 (which seemed much lower than it should have been, but I think I measured that before it was done cooling). The temperature is ~70-80 (I currently use a cheap candy making thermometer; helpful for pasteurization and steeping, not for this).

I shall measure the SG in subsequent days to see if I can figure out what happened, the drop is reassuring. But still bothers me, having started on mead in which the airlock and fermentation goes visibly crazy for the first week. And in retrospect, for the other 2 batches of beer, I was away from home while they were fermenting, so I don't really have any experience watching beer ferment.

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Old 09-13-2007, 11:52 AM   #7
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Well, my guess is that your bucket lid isn't as airtight as it appears and the co2 leaked out around instead of the airlock. Don't worry about that- it is one of the reasons airlock activity isn't a reliable indication of fermentation.

Other things to keep in mind- you know that you pitched the yeast when the wort was too warm. You didn't kill the yeast, but higher temperatures lead to off-flavors. The best thing you can do for future batches is to do your best to keep your ales in the 68 degree range. They have those stick on thermometer strips that are ideal for this. You might have to stick your fermentor in a cooler or bucket with cool water and frozen water bottles to keep the temperature down in the summer, but believe me it's worth it!

Next time, steep your grains at 155 or so and keep the temperature there for the 20 minutes you steep. This is keep astringency and off-flavors from the grain from occurring.

Still, you made beer and it'll be fine. Each batch will get better and better and before you know it you'll be very comfortable with the process. (This is the most addictive hobby ever- even more than golf!)

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Old 09-13-2007, 01:08 PM   #8
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That kit was my first brew and from what I remember, you did not follow the directions.
If you put another pack of yest in there a few days after brewing you should be good. Try to get the temps down under 70* though and you will want to put this brew in a clearing tank (carboy) for a good month before bottling or kegging. Trust me on that one. That brew is heavy and needs that time to mellow out. That and the fact that you steeped at way to high of a temp you are going to want to give it that extra time.

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Old 09-13-2007, 01:41 PM   #9
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Sounds to me like your OG reading may have been wrong due to a lack of proper mixing of the wort and top-off water (the heavier wort with all the fermentables sinks). I suggest stirring for a few minutes next time to aerate and get proper mixing before taking a hydrometer reading.

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Old 09-13-2007, 03:54 PM   #10
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i agree with yooper...not aeratted enough, and not a perfect seal on the bucket...and a skewed OG reading.

you've already pitched a second sachet of yeast...don't add more. if anything, genttly stir the beer, or swirl the bucket to suspend the yeast. yer not quite done fermenting, and rousing the yeast will help wrap it up.

i'd also secondary this a couple of weeks, to let yeast fall out, and to ensure its fully fermented.

the only batch i had that resulted in exploding bottles was a stout recipe that was all extract.
i bottled too early, but the hydro wasn't dropping. had i done a secondary, i'm sure thte yeast would have kicked the fg down a few more points and my beer wouldn't have been explosive.

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