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Old 01-08-2009, 06:21 AM   #1
jharres
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Default Milk Oatmeal Stout - FG 1.034 - no sign of fermentation for 5 days.

Ok, I brewed the following on the 30th of December (I know, bare with me here).

Jake's Oatmeal Milk Stout

Grains/Extract
--------------
6 lbs Munich (Amber) LME
1 lb ESB/Mild Malt
1 lb Roasted Barley
.5 lb Crystal 120L
.25 lb Chocolate Malt
1 lb Flaked Oats

Hops
-----
1.5 oz Styrian Goldings (3.5% Alpha) @ 60 minutes
1 oz Tettnang (4.5% Alpha) @ 45 minutes

Additions
---------
1 lb Lactose @ 10 minutes

Yeast
------
WLP002 - White Labs English Ale Yeast

I steeped the grains at 155F for 60 minutes prior to a nice active 60 minute boil.

The OG was 1.070, fermentation started within a 6-7 hours.

For the first few days everything went fine, nice krausen, plenty of activity. I left it covered and in a room with a consistent temp. The thermometer on the carboy showed a consistent temp of about 69 degrees.

On the afternoon of the 3rd, I checked on the beer, the airlock was silent and the krausen had fallen (mostly). I took a gravity reading and it was at 1.034. The next morning, I swirled it around a bit (carefully) and decided to let it sit. There have been no signs of fermentation since, but I have been patient. I took a reading a few minutes ago and it's still at 1.034.

Even if the yeast only reached it's minimum attenuation of 63% it should still be closer to 1.026. Currently the ABV level is just shy of 5%, so that shouldn't be an issue.

I'm really not trying to be alarmist, but I think I have a stuck fermentation. Now, I didn't use a starter when I pitched the yeast (probably mistake number 1), but I'm wondering if I should pitch a packet of Nottingham to try to bring the gravity down another point or so?

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Old 01-08-2009, 06:56 AM   #2
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Yes, you would definitely want a starter with a 1.070 OG.

With 5% ABV already, I think a yeast packet might have a hard time on its own, but what do I know. I am still a noob and don't know much in the way of troubleshooting. I guess I would pitch new yeast with a starter, but I will defer to someone else more experienced. I'm just guessing by what I've read.

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Old 01-08-2009, 07:23 AM   #3
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Just out of curiosity, have you check the accuracy of your hydrometer in distilled water?

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Old 01-08-2009, 09:41 AM   #4
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Just out of curiosity, have you check the accuracy of your hydrometer in distilled water?
Yeah, I did and it's fairly accurate. That is one of the first things I checked.
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Old 01-08-2009, 02:30 PM   #5
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Im just a noob but if it was me for high gravity beers I would aerate the crap out if it, add yeast nutrients and have a sufficient number of yeast cells whether it is a starter or double pitching. I think those 3 things will help prevent fermentation that has stalled. But again I never brewed a high gravity beer yet this is just from what I read.

Do a search there is a graph on the gravity, volume of water i.e 5 gallons, and the recommended yeast cells than compare it to the manufacturer website on how many yeast cells per packet or for making a starter there is a graph for a gravity of .040 and 2 quarts of water with this many starting yeast cells at the end there will be this many billions of yeast cells.

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Old 01-08-2009, 02:59 PM   #6
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Lactose is an unfermentable sugar as far as your yeasties are concerned. That is what you are seeing with your hydrometer. I don't think you are going to get it any lower than it already is.

Oh, and DON'T aerate it now. It is too late for that. The only thing you really could have done would have been to eliminate some of the lactose. You will have a fairly sweet beer.

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Old 01-08-2009, 03:03 PM   #7
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I did aerate both the wort and the top off water quite well (at brew time), however I did not add any nutrients or use a starter/double pitch. Just to keep it in perspective, a good .006 to .01 of the gravity reading is due to the addition of the 1 lb of lactose, so the actual fermentable gravity was closer to 1.060. Either way, I know I should have used a starter.

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Old 01-08-2009, 03:15 PM   #8
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Quote:
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Lactose is an unfermentable sugar as far as your yeasties are concerned. That is what you are seeing with your hydrometer. I don't think you are going to get it any lower than it already is.

Oh, and DON'T aerate it now. It is too late for that. The only thing you really could have done would have been to eliminate some of the lactose. You will have a fairly sweet beer.
I understand about the lactose, but both promash and beersmith showed an expected final gravity of around 1.024, after the lactose addition which adds .006-.010 to the gravity. This is still an entire point lower than where it is at now. I tasted the beer when I did my gravity test last night and the flavor is good, but a tad sweet (which is to be expected in an Oatmal Milk Stout). Does a .010 difference in FG fall within the expected or acceptable range of variance? The OG was only .002 higher than what both beersmith and promash indicated I should expect (1.070 actual vs. 1.068 expected), so seemed to be on target.

From what I've seen, most recipes for oatmeal stout end up around 1.015, so even with the addition of the 1 lb of lactose, I should still be seeing an FG around 1.025.
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Old 01-08-2009, 04:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
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Yeah, I did and it's fairly accurate. That is one of the first things I checked.
Nice. Honestly, I'd be very cautious bottling a 1.034 beer. Bottle bombs scare me too much. What is the temperature of the beer now. You said you kept it a nice 69 thoughout right?
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Old 01-08-2009, 04:14 PM   #10
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Quote:
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Nice. Honestly, I'd be very cautious bottling a 1.034 beer. Bottle bombs scare me too much. What is the temperature of the beer now. You said you kept it a nice 69 thoughout right?
To be honest, that is one of the things I am most worried about. Bottle bombs would end my brewing quicker than it started (SWMBO would NOT be happy).

The temp in the carboy has been consistent at about 69 degrees (excepting, of course, the couple degree raise when fermentation started to take off). It's currently at 69 degrees and is in a room that is fairly consistent in terms of temperature stability.
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