I just started brewing a few months back and am having some problems with high terminal gravity. I am looking forward to brewing a high gravity beer for Christmas, but not at the rate I'm going.
A little background...
I have purchased and brewed 3 brewers best kits. The first was an Amber beer. The recipe called for an OG between 1.042-1.045, and a FG of 1.010-1.014. The actual OG on this was 1.046 and FG was 1.018. I was not too concerned about the higher than average FG and really enjoyed this batch.
The second batch was a BB California Ale; recipe stated OG of .050-.060 and a FG of .008-.016. My results showed a OG of .068 and a FG of .028. I saw the higher than should be number and decided to use a starter in my next batch.
I just completed my last batch this weekend with higher than average terminal gravity; yet again. I am dissapointed for the reason that this time I used a yeast starter in order to get a lower FG.
Reading the forums online, it seems that getting through all the sugars in a high gravity beer takes a lot of yeast cells awake and ready to eat it up. I wanted to use a yeast starter to prove I could get the high atteunation required.
So, I'm asking the people out there for a little help. I have a feeling I did a bunch of things wrong so I'm hoping for a little guidance. Here's what I did this time that may have produced the high TG.
On Friday, I took a half gallon of water and combined with 1 cup of LME (which was about a third of a 3.3lb tin). I used LME because I could not find a DME of the same flavor as the DME in the kit. I was able to find a LME (a light LME) that match what was in the BB Red Ale kit at my local brew store. I boiled the LME and water, cooled, added yeast starter and the dry yeast packet that came in the kit to the carboy. I put on the topper and ferm lock. The following afternoon, I checked the beer and it was fairly active fermentation.
On Sunday (slightly less than 48 hours after brewing the starter) I prepared the kit according to the instructions. The recipe had about a pound of crushed grains, so I soaked those in about 165deg water for the 20 min required. The recipe called for 160-170; so I split the difference. I was able to monitor very carefully the temp of the water, and feel confident that it never droped below 164 and never above 166.
Next, I added the grain extracts. The kit had 2lbs of DME and 3.3lbs of LME. I also put the leftover 2lbs of LME I had from the starter into the brewpot. Boiled for an hour, adding hops, then cooled.
I added about 2 gallons of Cold water from my water dispenser on my fridge to the fermentation vessle (6.5gal plastic jug) then siphoned the beer in. I did filter the beer so most of the solids would stay out of the beer vessle. I measured the Gravity, at this point it was 1.060. It was above normal, but I added extra stuff, so this makes sense.
I also used a hand mixer in the water (before adding the beer) in order to stir up a large amount of bubbles in my attempt to add oxygen to the wort.
I then opened my starter, quickly sanitized the rim of the container with a lighter and then poured the entire contents of the yeast starter container into the fermentation container. By this point, the yeast starter wasn't too active (not too many bubbles from the lock) but I didn't think much of it.
I added water to the 5gal mark, then put downstairs in about 66deg weather. The following afternoon I saw very active fermentation (bubbles every second, much higher than any previous batches) but it fizzled out quickly and by Tuesday morning had stoped almost completly.
I left the beer for another 5 days, hoping something would happen. I check the gravity one week after brewing, it was sitting around 1.030. Dissapointed, I moved it to a slightly warmer area in hopes it would wake the yeast up.
I finally botteled it last night. The final gravity I took was about 1.026.
So, I ask the fourm as to why am I consistently getting higher FG numbers? I was hoping the yeast starter would give it enough power to get through the sugars. If I am to brew a beer with .080+ then what should I expect my FG to be?
A few other things I have noticed...
I do boil a lot of water and have noticed a lot of extra 'white film' on things lately. I assume this to be Calcium deposits, but I'm not sure. I don't have a softener in my house, but I have never known my water to be too hard.
It seems I had more beer than normal in this batch. I didn't drain my primary vessle completly and still ended up with 4 cases. It looks like the yeast in the bottom of the vessle was slightly less than average, although I'm not too sure.
I hope someone out there can help!! Thanks all!