Originally Posted by amh0001
You seem to have the main aspects covered. Healthy Yeast starter, and well Aerated wort.
There are only 3 things I can see from your post that might have not been covered.
It seems you might be transferring from primary to secondary too soon? The term secondary "fermentation" is slightly misleading. You should have a steady FG in your primary for at least 3+ days before you transfer.
Second. You might want to pitch extra yeast for anything starting over 1.060. This either means using two packets of dry, or adding more wort to your starter and letting it sit for few more days to build up the yeast population before pitching.
Lastly, Fermentation temps. Sometimes yeast can rise your batch by up to 10 degrees by releasing heat while eating up all that sugar. The yeast binge on a sugar frenzy and then when they cool back down poop out early. You might want to look into better ferm temp control. You can look up "son of a mother" or find a cheap used fridge, and buy an external thermo to control it.
I too am a beginner. I hope this helps!
Thanks for the info, amh001.
I'll answer the questions in order.
In regards to racking to early to a secondary, I agree. On my first batch I transfered a "big" scotch ale to a secondary after only 7 days on the yeast. I had a really really vigorous fermentation and racked it after the krausen had fallen. My next two batches I didn't even use a secondary and left the beer on the yeast for 18 days before bottling. My sweet stout is still in the fermenter and will be for 3 full weeks. I'll start doing daily gravity checks three days before I plan to bottle.
For all to most future batches where I won't be adding fruit or dry hopping (even then maybe) I'll leave it on the yeast for 3 to 4 weeks.
I think this could be the reason why my scotch ale crapped out a little too high.
In regards to yeast pitching, I made a starter for the beer I'm most concerned about...my sweet stout. Should have had a starting gravity of 1.060. My reading stated 1.064. This was a partial mash recipe from an AHS kit. I used Mr. Malty's yeast pitching calculator and made a starter of 1100ml with a starting gravity right about 1.040. I made it on Thursday for a Saturday brewday. On friday night I took the starter off the stirplate and stuck it in the frig. I took it out on Saturday morning, decanted it and left it to acclimate to room temp before pitching into my aerate wort. I figured this beer would have a really fast complete ferm, but it hasn't so far 12 days in. The only other thing I can say about the starter is it smelled awful after sitting on the stirplate for 24 hours. I can't even really describe the smell. Just awful. I attributed the smell at the time to be caused by oxidation from being on the stirplate. It was my first starter so I didn't really have anything to compare it to.
About fermentation temps, the room is at an ambient 62-64F. During high krausen my adhesive thermometer on my primary never got above 69F. Probably no more than 68F even. I thought this was an ideal temp at high krausen (under 70).
I am brewing a Moose Drool clone on Saturday and began my starter today. I'm hoping that I nail down this issue so I don't have the same problem again.