I mostly just lurk around here but you guys are great! This place has been an invaluable resource to me in my brewing endeavors so far. I'm having some trouble with my latest batch of beer and need some help figuring out whether it's worth trying to save or not. This is gonna be somewhat long so bear with me...
The recipe I used was this
Fat Tire clone, extract+grain recipe from byo.com. It's my first time using this recipe. Before I begin I should mention that I am using a Mr. Beer plastic keg as my primary fermenter. It's worked well for me so far by simply cutting 5-gal recipes in half. So that's what I did with this recipe, I cut each ingredient in half.
I am pretty confident that I followed the recipe correctly, as I double-checked all my ingredients thoroughly before adding them. The only problem during the brew was a bit of boil-over as I heated it up to boiling (stupid mistake... I ran to grab the phone just before it started to boil and by the time I got back it was going over just a bit). I may have lost about 5% of the pre-hopped wort due to the boil-over, but I didn't think it should have made a ton of overall difference in the brew.
My local HBS was out of the Wyeast 1056 and the guy working suggested a dry Safale yeast which was apparently a 1056 clone. After the brew was complete and the full 2.5 gal wort was cooled to about 78 degrees, I shook the keg well to aerate the wort and then pitched the yeast. No starter, since the HBS guy said I shouldn't need it. I then left it to ferment at around 75-78 degrees (a little warm I know, but the best I can do here in TX).
My first clue that something may have been wrong with my brew was the starting gravity. It measured at a 1.040 prior to pitching the yeast, as opposed to the 1.050 which the recipe suggested. I figured this might be due to the over-boil incident I mentioned earlier, and didn't think too much about it.
Fermentation seemed to start within the first 24 hours. I noticed a lot of fizzing, but oddly virtually no foam as I've usually experienced with other brews. The fizzing kept up for about 2 days and then stopped. For the next 4 days there was no visible activity. 7 days after brewing, I took a sample and measured a gravity of 1.020 (as opposed to 1.011 which the recipe suggests). The beer was also VERY dark, similar in color to a bock (and way different from the Fat Tire I thought I was cloning...). I didn't notice the color until taking the sample since it had been inside the amber keg and the color was difficult to tell. No funny tastes or smells except for a strong sweetness which led me to believe fermentation was nowhere near complete.
At that point I read that yeast can sometimes quit due to poor aeration so I shook the keg to aerate it some more, and left it for 2 more days... but still no visible activity or change in gravity during that 2 days. Still no funny flavors or smells, just VERY sweet.
Finally I decided to try a new packet of the same yeast, just in case something had gone wrong. So I bought some new yeast, shook the keg and repitched the new yeast, and left it for a week. Still no visible activity during that week...
And that brings us to today. It's been 16 days since the initial brew and I'm still stuck at 1.020 with a VERY sweet, dark, bock-looking beer. It's way too sweet to drink and doesn't taste like beer at all, so I don't want to bottle it unless I can figure out what's going on and get it to finish fermenting.
Any ideas on what I could have done wrong? Has anyone ever had anything like this happen to them?