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Home Brew Forums > Home Brewing Beer > Extract Brewing > I know it's not ruined, but what should I do?
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Old 11-06-2008, 12:44 AM   #1
twig
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Default I know it's not ruined, but what should I do?

Been watching this forum for a few months, and learned lots of great info, but now I've got a question I couldn't find an answer to. I think I've got a stuck fermentation, and I'm not sure if it's too late to do anything about it.

Details: Octane IPA extract/specialty grains kit from Midwest. Brew went normally, OG 1.065 (recipe said 1.064-1.068), active fermentation (nice krausen for 2 days, then steady bubbling in the airlock 'till around day 4). Racked it to the secondary on Day 6. This was probably my first mistake as the SG was only 1.022 and I probably should have left it longer and/or tried to stir up the yeast a bit. After 8 days in secondary, tasted a sample (to decide whether or not to dry hop) and checked the SG again - still 1.022, but I went ahead and threw in an ounce of pellet hops in a muslin hops bag (not boiling the bag to sanitize was my 2nd mistake, but more on that later).

Then I get to thinking that with an SG steady at 1.022 (recipe calls for FG of 1.012-1.018) that I might be looking at a stuck fermentation. I went to look in the carboy to see if there was any yeast at the bottom that I could try shaking up a bit, and I noticed mould growing on the hops bag (which was unweighted, so floating on top). This is not good - quickly rack out from under it, and while I'm at it, sample and check the SG - still 1.022, beer tastes kind of bland, a little on the sweet side, little hop flavour or aroma, but doesn't seem to have been ruined by the mould.

Anyway, does anyone have any suggestions for where to go from here? Basically I've got a beer that hasn't reached the target FG, could taste better, and potentially has some mould in it. After racking twice, I doubt there's much yeast left, so I'm leaning towards whipping up a starter to try and finish the beer. Is this a good idea, or is it too late (i.e. should I just bottle it now).

If I do decide to pitch some more yeast, could I use the yeast I harvested(washed?) from the primary when I racked it the first time (Wyeast 1098 British Ale)? I'm thinking this yeast didn't do the job the first time, but maybe it just settled out early or got too cool, so a new pitch might work. My other yeast options are a) Muntons dry yeast b) Wyeast 1275 Thames Valley Ale (harvested from a Stout), or c) White Labs 400 Belgian Wit (harvested from a Wit).

Any suggestions greatly appreciated.

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Old 11-06-2008, 01:21 AM   #2
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Your yeast did it's job the first time, you just didn't give it a chance to finish up. Six days, IMO, is not long enough for any primary fermentation.

If I'm reading correctly, your beer is only 14 days old. You mentioned mold on the hop bag. You'd have to have a pretty aggressive mold to form in that environment in 8 days. I will mention that when pellet hops break apart they look pretty nasty, kinda like green mold. Your taste impression further leads me to believe that you're probably OK.

If this were my beer, with 8 days at a steady SG, I'd get a packet of fresh Nottingham or similar dried yeast ASAP and pitch on it. If that's not possible I'd start your harvested, original yeast and put it in there to finish it's business.

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Old 11-06-2008, 02:04 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cuinrearview View Post
Your yeast did it's job the first time, you just didn't give it a chance to finish up. Six days, IMO, is not long enough for any primary fermentation.
I got impatient, wanted to free up the primary for the next batch. Lesson learned.

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Originally Posted by cuinrearview View Post
If I'm reading correctly, your beer is only 14 days old. You mentioned mold on the hop bag. You'd have to have a pretty aggressive mold to form in that environment in 8 days. I will mention that when pellet hops break apart they look pretty nasty, kinda like green mold. Your taste impression further leads me to believe that you're probably OK.
It was actually 8 days in the secondary before dry hopping, then it’s been 4 days since I put the dry hops in. This was a white, fuzzy mould growing on top of the hops bag on the parts that were above the surface of the beer. I had actually used the hops bag earlier in the evening to boil some spices in a pumpkin ale, then rinsed it out, but wasn’t too careful about where I set it down. There was probably some residual wort from the pumpkin ale and I suspect I picked something up on the hops bag from the counter or somewhere. I wonder if repitching and getting a fermentation going would help knock down any mould which might still be in the beer?

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Originally Posted by cuinrearview View Post
If this were my beer, with 8 days at a steady SG, I'd get a packet of fresh Nottingham or similar dried yeast ASAP and pitch on it. If that's not possible I'd start your harvested, original yeast and put it in there to finish it's business.
I think I'll try the starter with the original yeast and see what happens. Thanks for the suggestions.
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Old 11-07-2008, 08:35 PM   #4
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I got impatient, wanted to free up the primary for the next batch. Lesson learned.
I had to learn that lesson a few times, and them I just started buying more fermenters. For about the cost of a batch of beer, I get a 6 gal Better Bottle, temp strip, airlock & stopper. Which seems to me much cheaper than worrying about racking a beer too early
And so far SWMBO hasn't noticed the growing horde of fermenters hiding in the basement.
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