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Old 02-21-2013, 02:57 AM   #1
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Default Back End Fermentation

Am reading a lot here about concerns about front-end fermentation, my newbie concern is a little different - although the answer may be the same - patience .

Am brewing my first batch - a 1 gallon all grain milk stout. Started it a week ago Sunday - fermentation right from the getgo - a full two inch krauzen - starting gravity 1055 (a little lower than the 1060 target) and within 4 days had a reading down to 1030. That's the good news. The bad news is that it is still at 1030 today (my target is 1016). I have tried warming it a bit, doing a little sloshing around, and no change. No real airlock activity (a bit after each warming or slosh) and no surface bubbles. Initially pitched a full Wyeast pack (more than enough for my gallon). There are no surface bubbles. Do I have to be more patient - give it a week and test again or just accept that this is the end of the line as far as gravity reduction and just wait for some more cleanup and bottle my 3% abv milk stout? It does taste good, but would like a bit more.

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Old 02-21-2013, 04:12 AM   #2
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What temperature was it at? Did you feed it some oxygen? Which yeast strand?

Give it a few more days, though, and check again, I'd be surprised if it isn't lower than 30.

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Old 02-21-2013, 04:39 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by libeerty
What temperature was it at? Did you feed it some oxygen? Which yeast strand?

Give it a few more days, though, and check again, I'd be surprised if it isn't lower than 30.


Irish Ale Yeast. Some pre-pitching shaking but no "real" oxygen. We have a pretty cool house, so it spent most of its early time around 64 degrees (maybe a little cooler at night). After the first couple of 1030 readings I brought out a heating pad and boosted the temp into the 70s (briefly was in the upper 70s but backed right off that) - this additional warmth brought on obvious signs of active fermentation but no further drop from the 1030 - and that was a few days ago. Since then the temp has been between 66 and 68. Have been considering a return to the heating pad but on a lower setting (have had some concern about taste artifacts from the heat, but have been reading that maybe this far into fermentation that is less of a concern - is that so?). It hasn't dropped a bit in 6 days.
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Old 02-21-2013, 11:37 AM   #4
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What temp did you mash at?

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Old 02-21-2013, 12:03 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by libeerty
What temp did you mash at?
Target was 158. Had some difficulty maintaining that temperature during the early portion so added an extra 15 minutes. As I said, my initial density was 1055 rather than the 1060 target.
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:16 PM   #6
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Target was 158. Had some difficulty maintaining that temperature during the early portion so added an extra 15 minutes. As I said, my initial density was 1055 rather than the 1060 target.
Hmm... well, honestly, you aren't that far away from the high end of that range, only 5-6 points, so I bet it is still going to taste great. You've already tried stirring the yeast, at some point all of the stirring isn't going to help you and might risk oxidation, so If I were you, I'd leave it alone for another week or more, try to keep it around ~70-72, see if it drops further. And if it doesn't, then it is definitely done, and you are ready to drink it.

Can't speak to why the yeast didn't do its job, though, maybe someone with more knowledge might be able to help you out?
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Old 02-21-2013, 10:50 PM   #7
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I have a few questions:
How did the sample taste? You said it tasted good, but you wanted a bit more. A bit more of what? Was it overly sweet? How was the mouthfeel? How much lactose did you use?

In my experience with milk stouts, I've not gotten the FG below 1.020, mostly because I use a fair amount of lactose (one pound per 5 gallons). My last milk stout finished at 1.028 and I thought it was going to taste cloyingly sweet and under attenuated. To my delight, the beer was excellent. The gravity numbers don't always tell the full story.

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Old 02-22-2013, 02:30 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by libeerty

Hmm... well, honestly, you aren't that far away from the high end of that range, only 5-6 points, so I bet it is still going to taste great. You've already tried stirring the yeast, at some point all of the stirring isn't going to help you and might risk oxidation, so If I were you, I'd leave it alone for another week or more, try to keep it around ~70-72, see if it drops further. And if it doesn't, then it is definitely done, and you are ready to drink it.

Can't speak to why the yeast didn't do its job, though, maybe someone with more knowledge might be able to help you out?
Yeah, I'm far more concerned with the difference between the 1016 and the 1030 than the narrower 1055/1060 gap. So, you think there is no problem (off favors, etc) with moving the temperature up to the 70-72 range?
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Old 02-22-2013, 02:43 AM   #9
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Yeah, I'm far more concerned with the difference between the 1016 and the 1030 than the narrower 1055/1060 gap. So, you think there is no problem (off favors, etc) with moving the temperature up to the 70-72 range?
I meant the milk stout FG range goes up to ~.1025 or so, so you are not that far off. I know the recipe called for .1016, but it should still be very tasty. At this point, where you are trying to just knock off a few points, I think that temp. is good. It's probably not going to hop down to .1020 all of the sudden, but it can easily crawl to .1024 or so.
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Old 02-22-2013, 02:50 AM   #10
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Why no focus on aeration? A one gallon batch should be pretty easy to aerate and initial yeast nutrients in wort (oxygen being one of the most important) really sort of "predetermine" your attenuation. 158 is a pretty high rest temp and will certainly reduce attenuation, but only a few percent. Unless you were way heavy handed with the lactose 1.030 is only 44% attenuation from 1.055 and indicative of a problem. The temperatures mentioned are in the ballpark and should not be a problem.
As for the 1 smack pack pitch, it should be plenty ASSUMING GOOD VIABILITY, but how do you really know? Did the pouch swell up tight in a reasonable amount of time? What strain was it?

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