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Old 08-25-2010, 07:30 PM   #1
ChrisNH
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Default Stalled Fermentation

Hi,

My name is Chris.. new member.. hello! I used to home brew a fair bit a decade again and have gotten sucked back in. Pretty much a newb again.

Anyway, on to the problem. I made up a recipe based on what was on the shelf of a new brew shop that opened in my area. I put that at the bottom here for reference. He was somewhat lacking in choices.. but I would like to see a local shop flourish.

36 hours after I pitched the yeast the fermentation slowed dramatically. It had been quite vigorous with streams of bubbles every few seconds. Now I know it still doing some fermenting but very very slow.

I did a little research and discovered that the Munton "standard" yeast i used isn't big on complex sugars and not meant for all extract brewing. I should have gotten the "Gold" or some other brand entirely. Oh well. My plan is to at a better yeast in when I transfer to a secondary if the SG has not dropped more in the hopes that it will finish off the sugars.

OG was 1.046
1.018 after 48 hr.

The beer tastes OK. I don not think there is any infection. Hoppy with the expected yeasty flavor of 2 day old beer.

The other possibility is the temp got low. Its been cool here in New England. Its been holding steady at 68 in my basement, but its possible it dips lower in the whee hours of the morning. I find it hard to believe it ever got colder then 65.

Unfortunately the shop is only open on weekends right now so I am stuck with the loaner package of yeast (Safyeast? Is that right?) and nothing to make a starter. I am not likely to get to a brew store for a couple of weeks.

I considered maybe taking some of my fermented beer, maybe 2 quarts and boiling it down. That would kill off the old yeast, boil off the alcohol, and concentrate the remaining sugars. Then i could pitch in to that to make a starter. If my theory is correct, it should have some complex sugars in it.. just want I want my new yeast to enjoy..

So my questions:

Is my line of reasoning on why I stalled, umn, reasonable?

Is my plan of attack reasonable?

Should I just leave it alone?

I chose not to stir it to rouse the yeast because it DID ferment a good bit.. it really seems like my yeast just can't eat the big sugars. I would prefer to let the crappy yeast sleep..

Thanks for your help,

Chris

2 cans 3.3lb munton amber LME
1/2 lb crystal malt
2 oz willamette pellet @ 60m
1 oz willamette pellet @ 30m
1/2 oz cascade pellet @ 10m
1/2 oz cascade pellet @ 2m

2x munton standard yeast
1tsp irish moss 15m

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Old 08-25-2010, 07:34 PM   #2
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If your beers is down to 1.018 after 48 hours there is no reason to believe anything is wrong, your beer is almost done. Don't monkey with it, just leave it alone, let the yeast do their job. Many of us just pitch our yeast and come back a month later an bottle. Giving the yeast plenty of time to do their job, and clean up after themselves.

So don't be in any hurry to do anything, and don't worry your beer is fine, and trying to fix what isn't a probably could result in ruined beer.

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Old 08-25-2010, 07:54 PM   #3
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+1 on what Revvy said. But here is some more info in case you wanted to know:

Some yeasts will attenuate better then others. So it IS possible that the Munton's yeast you used will not get down as far as some others.

The cooler temps likely will affect the rate of fermentation, but they are still well within the range for the yeast, so the effect would be minimal. Low 60s is actually the range I prefer to keep most of my yeast (excepting certain funky beers that you actually want the off flavors in...)

Fermenting warmer, like 75 or higher, can produce a hard and fast fermentation, which gets over quicker, but can lead to bad flavors. Yeast strain is big factor here though. Certain strains make more off-flavors than others, and lager yeasts like cooler temps yet.

What it looks like to me is that your yeast had a nice, healthy ferment for a few days and are running out of sugars to eat. It gets harder for them to find food as their numbers dwindle, and the sugars are fewer and farther between. This is normal!

At a certain point the yeast will stop eating certain sugars and move on to others. Then, as I am led to believe, they start eating other things, which we called "Cleaning up". They process compounds which lead to off-flavors and they produce a cleaner flavor. (They are actually eating part of their own waste product). This can happen even after bottling. It's part of what we call conditioning.

So, you definitely had fermentation. The temps don't look bad. The yeasts know what they are doing. Let them continue for another week or two. My standard is 3 weeks fermentation minimum. Except maybe some lighter beers like wit. And even then I always find out that the couple of extra weeks of sitting really make them taste much better. (but I am impatient by then!)

Cheers!

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Old 08-25-2010, 08:30 PM   #4
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Yes it is hard to wait. But wait you must.

Every batch, every brew, is a learning experience. The paradox is that the less you mess around with it, the more you learn. If you change this, monkey with that, and try to tweak the process too many times, the beer gods will punish you and you won't know why. So just leave it alone - bottle in three weeks, drink it in three weeks after that, and you'll know a lot about the standard process that you will never learn if you jumble it up.

One last thing - don't worry if your gravity never gets much lower than it is now. Extract batches are notorious for that, but it's really not a problem.

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Old 08-25-2010, 08:34 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frazier View Post
Every batch, every brew, is a learning experience. The paradox is that the less you mess around with it, the more you learn. If you change this, monkey with that, and try to tweak the process too many times, the beer gods will punish you and you won't know why.
So true!
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Old 08-25-2010, 09:10 PM   #6
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Thanks.. I will rack it into glass and let it sit. I do try to be patient but I have never had anything do its primary that fast "in the old days".

I may have over hopped a bit which will help if its a bit sweet. Happy accident?

Quote:
you'll know a lot about the standard process that you will never learn if you jumble it up
Truth.

One thing I never did in the "old days" was keep a notebook. I am changing that this time around (I wish I could remember my old red bitter recipe..) so this experience should do more for me then it would have before.

Thanks again.

Chris
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Old 08-25-2010, 10:27 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisNH View Post
Thanks.. I will rack it into glass and let it sit. I do try to be patient but I have never had anything do its primary that fast "in the old days".

I may have over hopped a bit which will help if its a bit sweet. Happy accident?



Truth.

One thing I never did in the "old days" was keep a notebook. I am changing that this time around (I wish I could remember my old red bitter recipe..) so this experience should do more for me then it would have before.

Thanks again.

Chris
Don't rack it yet! It may not be done, and may drop a few more points. 48 hours is WAY too early to think about transferring. That's part of the whole "patience" thing- leave it alone for at least 5 more days. Totally alone. Walk away from it.

When you're reading to transfer, do so only after you have at least a three day period with no changes in the SG readings. So, if it's still 1.018 in three days, it would be ok to transfer if you're that impatient. However, even after fermentation slows and stops, the yeast are still busy working. After there are no more fermentable sugars, they actually go back and digest some of their own waste products. That's why you want to leave it on the yeast cake for at least three days after it stops fermenting. Not only that, but racking prematurely may stall fermentation, if it's not completely done. So, if it is meant to finish at 1.012 and you move it now, you may permanently stall it.

I wouldn't rack to a carboy at all for this beer, but if you feel you must wait until it's at least a week old!
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Old 08-26-2010, 02:06 AM   #8
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I Wasn't going to until this weekend. It will have been a week. I could probably wait a little longer... just need it in glass before I go off on vacation in case bottling gets put off..

I didn't think that racking it would stop the fermentation. I had always done it after primary was done. I will have to look into that.

Thanks,

Chris

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Old 08-26-2010, 05:53 AM   #9
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No reason to put it into glass unless you're planning on being on vacation for a couple of months. A lot has changed in the past ten years. Secondary fermenters aren't used as much these days. If you're bulk aging, dry hopping or adding fruit then a secondary comes in handy, but people leave their beers in a primary, even a plastic primary, for a month or more these days as a matter of common practice. The yeast continues to clean up the beer for several weeks after the primary fermentation is over and, although plastic does allow some oxygen to pass through, oxidation is not something most people are going to worry about if they're keeping the beer in the fermenter for only three or four weeks.

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Old 08-26-2010, 12:09 PM   #10
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+1 to Shooter.

I would not rack to a secondary. I would let it ride in the primary for about 2 more weeks, personally. No reason to risk infection during transfer (although I don't subscribe to the theory that this is even very likely...)

Just give it some more time and if you can, crash cool it in the fridge for a couple of days just before bottling/kegging. This can help clear it up even more.

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