Beer Not Fermenting

Homebrew Talk - Beer, Wine, Mead, & Cider Brewing Discussion Forum

Help Support Homebrew Talk:

dn151864

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2015
Messages
58
Reaction score
3
Hey Everyone,

I brewed a witbier on Saturday (very simple extract kit recipe, I was teaching a buddy how to brew beer). After brewing, I brought the temp down to 80 and pitched the yeast. After pitching the yeast I threw it into my kegerator which also doubles as a fermentation temperature.

I just purchased the kegerator and little did I know it doesn't actually "create heat". You can set the temp to 75, but I now believe that on a hot day it'll keep the beer at 75 not on a cold day bring the beer up to 75.

On Sunday I checked the beer and realized it was really cold, in the high 40's low 50's and it wasn't fermenting. I quickly put two and two together and brought it inside my house (the kegerator is in my sunroom with no heat). Since then, it hasn't started fermenting. At first I wasn't too concerned because I figured "Hey, it was being lagered, I bring it in and it'll warm up and the yeast will start fermenting like normal". Well, it's been 2 days and still no percolating.

Does anyone know what’s going on? Is the yeast dead? I believe the kit asked for a White Labs ale yeast. (Sorry, I didn’t think it important to pay much attention to that packet at the time…)


Thanks!
 

mredge73

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 21, 2011
Messages
1,332
Reaction score
231
Location
La Porte
So what is the current gravity, are you sure it isn't complete?
The yeast is not dead and you probably have plenty of yeast.
It may be dormant and sitting at the bottom; so rouse the yeast gently (stir it but be careful not to splash).
Keep it around 68F for a week and allow it to finish.

FYI
Do not teach anyone to pitch yeast at 80; it won't likely cause any harm to a witbier but will to most other styles.
Pitch at the low end of the fermentation temperature recommended on the packet/vial (75 is too hot as well).
A refrigerator isn't designed to keep things warm, however a frost free freezer can be creatively wired to generate heat if desired.
A cheap heating pad can be turned into a carboy warmer pretty easily.
 

ESBrewer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 7, 2017
Messages
765
Reaction score
481
Location
Helsinki/Finland
Yes, the yeast is not dead unless it was dead when you pitched. Did you make a starter and did you see activity there? If the batch is large it takes time to warm up, have u checked temperature? If the yeast flocculated in cold you could try to stir it up.After the cold shock there may be extended lag period on yeast growth.
 
OP
D

dn151864

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2015
Messages
58
Reaction score
3
Thanks for the great advise. I guess i didn't think of dropping the temperature down to what the yeast packet says is the target temperature. That makes a lot of sense!

I will sanitize my mash paddle and give it a stir. I don't have any way of adding O2 yet, I'm still saving up for more equipment.

edit: As for the original gravity, there is an issue with that. One of my other friends had the majority of my equipment so I wasn't able to take that. I can take the current gravity, now though. I was able to get my equipment from my friend yesterday. I didn't care too much about OG at the time. It was a last minute brew day and it was a very simple extract recipe with one hop addition and no specialty grains.
 
OP
D

dn151864

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2015
Messages
58
Reaction score
3
ESBrewer, I did not make a starter as I used a liquid yeast and I don't actually know how to make a starter just yet. That's actually next on my list of things to learn.
 

RM-MN

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 26, 2010
Messages
14,637
Reaction score
5,446
Location
Solway
Thanks for the great advise. I guess i didn't think of dropping the temperature down to what the yeast packet says is the target temperature. That makes a lot of sense!

I will sanitize my mash paddle and give it a stir. I don't have any way of adding O2 yet, I'm still saving up for more equipment.

edit: As for the original gravity, there is an issue with that. One of my other friends had the majority of my equipment so I wasn't able to take that. I can take the current gravity, now though. I was able to get my equipment from my friend yesterday. I didn't care too much about OG at the time. It was a last minute brew day and it was a very simple extract recipe with one hop addition and no specialty grains.
Malt extract will have a set amount of sugars in it so you can quickly calculate the OG if you know the quantity of extract and water. If it is lower than that then fermentation started.
 

mredge73

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 21, 2011
Messages
1,332
Reaction score
231
Location
La Porte
Thanks for the great advise. I guess i didn't think of dropping the temperature down to what the yeast packet says is the target temperature. That makes a lot of sense!

I will sanitize my mash paddle and give it a stir. I don't have any way of adding O2 yet, I'm still saving up for more equipment.

edit: As for the original gravity, there is an issue with that. One of my other friends had the majority of my equipment so I wasn't able to take that. I can take the current gravity, now though. I was able to get my equipment from my friend yesterday. I didn't care too much about OG at the time. It was a last minute brew day and it was a very simple extract recipe with one hop addition and no specialty grains.
Do not add O2 at this point in the process, should be avoided at all costs. My advice above was worded weird and was a little contradictory; I fixed it.

OG isn't a big deal unless you are looking at calculating your ABV; check your current gravity. If your current gravity is under 1.010 for example, it is probably done. My wheat beers tend to finish between 1.006-1.010.
If it is in the 1.02 or higher, rousing it (be gentle) should help it drop a few more points.
 
OP
D

dn151864

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2015
Messages
58
Reaction score
3
Quick update. The beer is fermenting. I opened it last night and there was a nice krausen on top. I took a gravity reading and it's at 1.030. It's just weird that I'm not seeing any percolating through the air lock. Maybe there is something wrong with my bucket. I'll replace it...
 

jfolks

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jun 7, 2012
Messages
282
Reaction score
49
Location
Portland
F buckets! They are notoriously bad at sealing (which probably explains your lack of bubbling). Replace it with a carboy (glass or plastic)
 

RM-MN

Supporting Member
HBT Supporter
Joined
Nov 26, 2010
Messages
14,637
Reaction score
5,446
Location
Solway
Quick update. The beer is fermenting. I opened it last night and there was a nice krausen on top. I took a gravity reading and it's at 1.030. It's just weird that I'm not seeing any percolating through the air lock. Maybe there is something wrong with my bucket. I'll replace it...
Bucket lids often leak. That isn't a good reason to replace the bucket, the beer won't know the difference. Airlocks are supposed to be a way to release the excess CO2 without letting in bugs or bacteria, not a way to determine fermentation. Krausen or a krausen ring are definite signs of fermentation but the one for sure way is to use the hydrometer.
 

GHBWNY

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 10, 2014
Messages
2,227
Reaction score
854
Location
Western New York
What RM-MN said. Your hydrometer --- and not airlock activity, krausen ring, or moon cycles --- can determine the state of fermentation. At approx. 10 days in ferm, take a reading. A couple days later take another. If they are the same, ferm is done, give a few more days to clean up. If numbers are not the same, let it ride. Repeat.
 
Top