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Old 12-31-2010, 12:47 PM   #1
voicelex
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Default Ginger Porter: OG at 1.440?! One Week Later Stuck at 1.040

***Hello! This is my obligatory first post disclaimer!***

I'm new to brewing and just concocted my 3rd 5gal batch. It is supposed to be a ginger porter.

Ingredients:
1.5# Crystal 90L
#1 Coffee
.5# Chocolate
.5# Cara Munich I
6.6# Light LME
3# Dark DME
6oz Smashed Ginger Root
1¼ oz Perle hop pellets
¾ oz Saaz pellets
½ tsp Irish moss last 15 min of boil.
¾ oz Saaz pellets (aramatic hops)
5gal of water


I brewed using the method described in the recipe I based this porter off of (here) and cooled the wort.

At 60F I measured the OG and got 1.144! That is much higher than I've ever got before. There aren't clear directions on how to measure OG with the hydrometer outside of putting it in the cylinder and minding the temperature. The beer was not settled and VERY heavy in suspended particles. Using my rudimentary college physics knowledge I thought that shouldn't matter. The particles, if not dissolved, affect the volume of the liquid not the density.... right?

In any case... I pitched 2 packets (per recommendation of the store employee) of a yeast I can't recall right now, while I'm away from home. I then stored the soon-to-be beer in my room at probably 60F. I left to visit family for just over 54 hours and upon return noticed nothing but some condensation in my fermentation lock. I gave it a few more days, nothing! Opened up the beer to find that fermentation had occured already! There was foam residue lining the walls of the bucket about 4 inches from the top of the liquid. So, I measured TG and got, a still very high, 1.040.

I tossed in some yeast energizer and food... I stared at the surface of the liquid and did notice a tiny bubble or two rising every 10 seconds or so.. but nothing big enough to move the fermentation lock.

It has now been a week since I brewed. What should I do?! :'(

PS - The 'beer' taste great already! Lots of ginger but obviously, still very sweet.

Thank you for any advice!

Cheers,
- A

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Old 12-31-2010, 03:57 PM   #2
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Unlikely that your starting gravity was 1.144 unless you significantly under shot the amount of water you used. Most likely a case of top of water not mixing properly with the thicker portion of the wort.

1.040 is quite high to finish, although there is a lot of crystal malt in the recipe and the fermentability of extract can vary quite a bit. I'd first try warming the fermenter a bit and gently swirling it to see if the yeast will start up again.

EDIT: Have you calibrated your hydrometer with 60* water? Its is quite likely that it is off a bit.

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Old 12-31-2010, 03:58 PM   #3
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Your gravity reading was off because the wort didn't mix with the top-off water, assuming you topped your wort off with water at the end. I punched that recipe into BrewPal and I get an OG of 1.082 for five gallons. That FG is way too high at 1.040. I'm starting to think your hydrometer is way off. Have you tested it in plain water?

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Old 12-31-2010, 04:03 PM   #4
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no way you hit 1.144 with that recipe. Obligatory question: are you sure you are reading the hydrometer correctly? Also, have you checked it's accuracy using just water? GIven that you have an unreasonably high OG and a current SG of 1.040, I wonder if your hydrometer is off.

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Old 12-31-2010, 04:12 PM   #5
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It seems like a right of passage to brew something big right out of the starting gate for new brewers, now all you need is a bottle bomb and you will be official

That gravity is pretty high, I would expect that to come out in the 1.075 range, but I do not know how much the coffee would impact gravity...probably not that much though since I brew my coffee pretty strong and it never tastes like its syrup. That said, I am guessing you have a significant measurement error. Your hydrometer should read 1.000 in water, so try that to see if it is calibrated.

Make sure the wort is well mixed before taking a sample. What I used to do when I used fermentation buckets was cool the wort, dump it into the ferm bucket, then take the reading in the bucket with a sanitized hydrometer.

60 is too cold to ferment most ales so there is a good chance they went dormant. The first thing I would do is raise the temp to the upper 60's and regularly agitate the bucket and hope that will get the yeast to kick off again. Let us know how your calibration test went and if warming up the beer helps get fermentation to kick in.

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Old 12-31-2010, 04:31 PM   #6
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My RIS I used 20lbs of grains and was around 65% efficiency and got 1.092.

With the DME and LME amount in this recipe mixed with all the crystal and chocolate malt etc, I don't think 1.144 is that far out of the realm. EDIT: if the volume was lower than expected.

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Old 12-31-2010, 04:32 PM   #7
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I agree with checking the hydrometer in water. It's probably reading way too high. I bet it measures water at 1.020-1.030.

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Old 12-31-2010, 05:10 PM   #8
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I just put this recipe together on brewmasterswarehouse.com's brewbuilder and came up with 1.112 without the Caramunich or coffee, or ginger.

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Old 12-31-2010, 05:31 PM   #9
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I used my own calculator - which has been accurate w/i .010 despite my flaws on brew days. I get between 1.07 to 1.08 depending on effeciency (varying between 70 and 90%).

If it is not the hydrometer, it must be the dilution. Looking at your reference recipe - did you remember to add the 2 gallons of water? I get 1.115 if it was 3 gallons instead of 5...

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Old 12-31-2010, 07:12 PM   #10
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Thank you for the input! ^_^

I'm new to this but... the beer was indeed at 5 gallons before I took the reading (then again; while doing tech support it is, sadly, always important to ask if the hardware is plugged in!). The idea of it not being mixed completely though, did not occur to me (my intellect has its limits). I added the water "on top" of the wort and did not stir, also I took the sample from the bottom of the bucket via spigot. --this strikes me as the most reasonable cause of the OG problem.

I never thought of the hydrometer being off but I will test this when I get home. This all may explain why my last beer had such a high initial gravity. I deemed it barley wine but it didn't taste as such... I calculated the avb at 10.2% but could tell it wasn't much past 8. There was a pound of honey involved but... still not enough to bring it up that high.

I think at least one person may have misunderstood my use of #1 of coffee. This was coffee roasted malt, not coffee beans.

Regardless, I'm hoping that a combo of a bad OG reading and a misreading hydrometer will give me a finished and delicious beer that will not need more attention than to be bottled :P

Thank you for the insight, I'll get back to y'all after I get home and check things out.

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